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Changing Denominations and the Impact on Payback

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Written by Joshua

A reader looking over a previous post I did on denominations and how to select the right one for your budget, and had this question about changing denominations and the RNG:

Wouldn’t changing denom/credits actually shake things up?

Each one has a different payback rate, different prize tables (minor etc is going to be lower at 1c vs $2 etc.) Surely they don’t share the exact same RNG sequence regardless of how much you choose to play (for instance: 1c may have had hundreds of thousands of spins put through & already put out almost all jackpots etc while the $2 may have had only 10’s of thousands of spins and paid out no jackpots.)

Therefore the RNG sequence needs to change between denom selections & thus going higher or lower may get you better ‘luck’ on future spins.

Or is this wrong?

James, via site comment

Unfortunately you are going about this the wrong way. A denomination will never put out all jackpots because the whole point of the RNG is to randomly work through the set number of outcomes the machine has.

Let’s presume the top jackpot is a 1 in 100,000 situation (meaning there’s 100,000 total outcomes a game can have). On any given spin, the odds of hitting that top prize will always be 1 in 100,000. If the top jackpot is hit on a given spin, the next spin’s odds are still 1 in 100,000.

That’s because the RNG isn’t a sequence – it’s not going through a sequence of numbers and going back to the top – it’s purposefully designed to randomly work within that range out of outcomes. That’s why the word Random is in there – it’s not a linear path, but jumping around within a range of possibilities.

The fact that more spins take place on lower denominations, generally speaking, than higher also doesn’t matter, because whenever you’re playing in a given denomination, the range of outcomes is still the same.

It’s also important to remember while the overall payback is achieved over hundreds of thousands of spins, there can be a wild divergence from that number in the short term, because you could hit a handpay or get routed within a single session. That’s sort of part of the magic about slots – a game can have a high house advantage but you can still win big on any given session!

What’s more likely to happen than a different RNG is different reel sets will be active on different denominations, because the overall payback percentage is generally different, and therefore the set of outcomes it’s working within are different. That’s why if you can play a higher denomination, which is expected to pay back more over time, you should – because in the long run, your overall return should be higher.

But the number of overall outcomes are likely the same, and the RNG the same – it’s just working with a different set of outcomes on each denomination. At the very least, when the line counts change, like between 50 lines and 25 lines on a game like Lightning Link, presume there’s a different set out of outcomes in play than at a denomination with more or less lines than you’re playing.

For examples about how this works, you can see an earlier post I did on PAR sheets, which break down the reel sizes and paybacks and so forth, and you can see how games with multiple different paybacks still have the same reel sizes, so the RNG is still the same – but space 31 of the third reel on a higher payback reel set may differ from that same space on a lower payback reel set – that’s how the differences are baked in.

And finally, as far as shaking things up, a player will never know if shaking things up helped or hurt them – there’s no “if you stayed at one cent denomination this is what you would have won” outcome that appears on screen when you change denominations.

Players like to presume they have more control over their destiny on slots than they do. I highly encourage players not to overthink those things as it will just drive further superstitions and so on that aren’t really accurate to what’s happening under the hood.

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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