Dear Mark: I have heard that the loosest quarter machines pay better than the tightest dollar machines. Is that true?
It depends, Shelly. Some casinos do have some very high-paying quarter machines and some stingy dollar machines. The only way to know for sure is to ask someone with authority in the slot department like the slot director or slot manager.
It’s the slot manager that decides the slot mix, which is the placement, positioning and payoffs of slot machines on the casino floor. Typically though, dollar machines usually have higher long-term paybacks than quarter machines, even loose ones.
Furthermore, Shelly, even on a loose quarter machine side-by-side to a sparing dollar machine, it is important to remember that the paybacks on both are based on the long haul, not a short run. So-o-o-o-o, the $200 you play through a loose quarter machine won’t necessarily return to your pocket more than the same couple centuries fed into the tight dollar cousin.
Dear Mark: Which is a better choice, playing a Megabucks slot machine or the Powerball lottery?
If you are asking about hitting the “Big Kahuna,” you are more likely to hit the top jackpot on a Megabucks machine than to win the top prize with the Powerball lottery.
The odds of hitting a life-altering Megabucks machine are about 30,000,000 to one and in Powerball are one in 195,249,054. Either way, your chances of hitting the big one are a teensy weensy bit better than zilch, so we should put the top prize numbers aside, and look at a couple different reasons to see whether a Megabucks slot machine offers a better bet than does a Powerball lottery ticket.
Lotteries don’t offer returns of 80 percent or more of the money wagered by its players. Sure, Megabucks’s downside is that its long-term paybacks are usually the lowest in the casino, but still, that jingle in the coin tray is more than you typically get from a lottery ticket.
Megabucks is paid in annual installments, whereas you can get your Powerball payoff, albeit half, up front. Two hundred dollars gives you a year's worth of Powerball tickets, whereas $200 on a Megabucks machine can be lost in mere minutes.
Personally, Susan, I would just stick to casino wagers that have less than a two percent house edge. Advice aside, I’ll leave the long-shot choice up to you of either bucking up three dollars (3-coin bet) a pop versus a weekly contribution to state education. Get back to me on which you choose.
Dear Mark: On slot machines that have buttons to stop the reels, does stopping them at different intervals have anything to do with your chances of winning?
Many players, Marge, get their jollies from the display of the spinning reels awaiting the “where it stops, nobody knows.” Pressing the Stop Spin button cuts out the fun factor that some enjoy, but it has no effect whatsoever on the results of the spin. The outcome would be the same whether you did or did not press the button.
Gambling Wisdom of the Week: Gambling is neither an immoral nor a noble exercise; it is motivated by both foolish and rational considerations. - Alex Rubner author of Fringe Benefits: The Golden Chains 1962 and The Economics of Gambling 1966