Top Slot Machines of All Time

Nickel Slot Machines

Slots are the easiest games in the casino to play - spin the reels and take your chances. Players have no control over what combinations will show up or when a jackpot will hit. There is no way to tell when a machine will be hot or cold. Still, there are some pitfalls. It's important to read the glass and learn what type of machine it is. The three major types of reel-spinning slots are the multiplier, the buy-a-pay, and the progressive.

The multiplier. On a multiplier, payoffs are proportionate for each coin played-except, usually, for the top jackpot. If the machine accepts up to three coins at a time, and if you play one coin, three bars pay back ten. Three bars will pay back 20 for two coins and 30 for three coins. However, three sevens might pay 500 for one coin and 1, 000 for two, but jump to 10, 000 when all three coins are played. Read the glass to find out if that's the case before playing less than the maximum coins on this type of machine.

The buy-a-pay. Never play less than the maximum on a buy-a-pay, on which each coin "buys" a set of symbols or a payout line. The first coin in might allow the player to win only on cherry combination, while the second coin activates the bar payouts, and the third coin activates the sevens. Woe is the player who hits three jackpot symbols on a buy-a-pay with only one coin played-the player gets nothing back. A variation is the machine with multiple payout lines, each activated by a separate coin. All symbols are active with each coin, but if a winning combination lines up on the third-coin payout line with only one or two coins played, the payoff is zero.

The progressive. You also have no reason to play less than maximum coins on a progressive machine. A player who eventually lines up the jackpot symbols gets a percentage of each coin played. The first progressive machines were self-contained-the jackpot was determined by how much that particular machine had been played since the last big hit. Today most progressives are linked electronically to other machines, with all coins played in the linked machines adding to a common jackpot.

These jackpots can be enormous - the record is $39, 710, 826.26, a $1 progressive at a Las Vegas casino. The tradeoff is that frequency and size of other payouts are usually smaller. And you can't win the big jackpot without playing maximum coins.

If you must play fewer than maximum coins, look for a multiplier in which the final-coin jump in the top jackpot is fairly small. Better yet, choose a machine that allows you to stay within your budget while playing maximum coins. If your budget won't allow you to play maximum coins on a $1 machine, move to a quarter machine. If you're not comfortable playing three quarters at a time, move to a two-quarter machine. If you can't play two quarters at a time, play a nickel machine.

With so many paylines and the possibility of betting multiple coins per line, video slots are different. Some penny slots with 20 paylines take up to 25 coins per line. That's a $5 maximum bet - a pretty penny indeed! Most players bet less than the max on video slots but are sure to cover all the paylines, even if betting only one coin per line. You want to be sure to be eligible for the bonus rounds that give video slots most of their fun. Some progressive jackpots require max coins bets, and some don't. If a max-coins bet is required to be eligible for the jackpot and you're not prepared to roll that high, find a different machine.

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