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Can You Max Bet on a Penny Slot Machine for Better Payouts?

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Written by Joshua

In a slot community recently, a player had a question regarding payouts. It’s pretty well known that penny slots are traditionally set to a lower payout percentage than higher denomination machines.

So she was wondering – does your bet amount have something to do with it? If you max bet on a penny machine, does your payout improve?

STATUS: Mixed. Payback percentage is traditionally set per denomination, but there are plenty of games that require a max bet to unlock all pays, which improves your payback percentage.

When it comes to the actual payback configuration of a slot, the traditional configuration of payback is based on game and denomination:

  • If a game is a single game and denomination, then it would have a single setting.
  • If a single game is multi-denomination, modern games generally allow a setting per denomination.
  • If there is a multi-game set-up, a casino would generally have the ability to select a payback option for each game.

So just the act of changing your bet within a denomination, such as going from min bet to max bet, won’t pick up a different setting from that perspective.

That said, many games are designed to reward a max bet. Examples:

  • Quick Hit with progressive jackpots: When Quick Hit machines have progressive jackpots, they are only accessible to those betting max. You’ll still get paid for getting a lot of Quick Hit symbols on lower bets, but they’ll be flat payouts that don’t benefit from a progressive model. (There are times casinos will pay flat jackpots on max bet; those machines have no incentive to max bet, by comparison.)
  • When pays are tied to number of coins: This often happens on the old-school design of three-reel machines with a single line. When you add more coins, they can unlock more pay types and bigger pays.
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  • When progressive chances increase in a non-proportional basis: There are many games where betting higher has an impact on the progressive win chances buy more than your line multiplier. In the above example, you have a more than 20x better chance of winning the Royal jackpot on a 375 credit bet of this game than at 75 cents. Granted, it’s a very small chance either way, but it’s still a major improvement.
  • When “different reel sets are used at every bet level”: This can be a sign that they use different reel strips to line up different amounts of pays. That’s usually a sign that the types of line hits subtly shift per bet level as well.
  • When the game tells you to bet higher to get a higher payout: More More Chili and More More Hearts have a symbol whose pays increase as your bet moves up. While the differences are somewhat subtle, it still impacts your overall payback, so it’s worth considering whether you wish to lose out by betting less. (That said, you should never bet beyond your means to chase a higher payback – these are still all negative expectation games in the long term.)

Many of these key points are printed out on the paytable, so it’s always a good idea to take a quick glance, even at games you may already play, to make sure you’re betting appropriately.

But if there’s no progressives, no pays to unlock with extra coins, and no callouts to higher payouts, you probably aren’t leaving anything on the table by betting less than max. There’s definitely machines in the casino that don’t require max bets to get better pays, so if you’re not a max better you’ll have the ability to find them.

About the author


My name is Joshua, and I’m a slot enthusiast who works in tech as a marketer by day, and dabbles in casinos periodically during off-times. Know Your Slots will reflect my interests in understanding the various ways you can play slots, travel, casino promotions and how you can get the most out of your casino visits.

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