A player I routinely converse with shared with me an example of a game he plays often, and how at two different casinos there appeared to be a difference on the fourth reel. One version had a pair of wilds stacked on top of each other. Another version had a single wild.
His supposition was that the game had different software in it. But I said that it might be something else, which led to the question. Could you spot differences in the game that could give you an indication as to its payback?
STATUS: A game could be designed with discernible differences that a player could spot. But then you’d not necessarily be sure which one pays better.
When designing a slot machine, a certain number of payback settings are created within the software. Once a base game is developed, there are a variety of ways that games’ payback can be established. Examples of how that can be done can include:
- Adjusting the weighting of a reel stop. This is of course common on mechanical reel slots, which have a physical limitation, so adjusting the frequency of how often each stop on a reel occurs can be one way to adjust the payout percentage.
- Meters moving at different speeds. There are games with accumulators such as progressives, free game counters, etc. that progress at a different pace on one payback versus another.
- Different versions of a game. The most famous example is Buffalo being required to be redesigned for Nevada because of regulatory requirements, but in very rare situations a game may differ in one slot market versus another.
- Adding, removing or replacing symbols on reels. On virtual reel slots, which are basically just animated on a computer screen, you could adjust how often a symbol appears to get to a different payout percentage.
It’s that last one that my friend was potentially identifying. But here’s the challenge: Without more information, you may not be ever 100 percent sure which one pays better without other information, such as a PAR sheet, to truly confirm the answer.
But regardless of that, there are scenarios that if you play a game enough, and begin to spot those reel strip differences, you could very well be seeing a difference between payback of the same game in two different locations. It’s not a guarantee, but it could be a sign.
But whether that can tell you anything else is a bit more difficult to answer without other backing information.