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Dancing Drums Progressives: Pennies vs. Dimes

Dancing Drums by Shuffle Master progressives
Written by Joshua

I received this question to my site from reader Kevin, asking about Dancing Drums:

I have a question I thought you’d probably know the answer to. I really think this is unfair how several of the games operate at my casino.

An example: One of the games I like to play is called “Dancing Drums.” My casino doesn’t offer the high-limit version, like many of their games including “Ultimate Fire Link.” Due to this, for example, the only option available to choose is “1 cent” credit option, with a max bet of 880 credits, which is $8.80 per spin. On games like this, I know betting more will give me more money on a regular line hit but does NOT increase the progressive jackpots – meaning I can bet 88 credits (88 cent per spin) and win the same mini jackpot as betting the max 880 credits ($8.80/spin). I can accept this outcome, since, in this case, since at least I have a better chance at a better paying line hit.

A video of me playing this came at 1 cent at 880 credits, $8.80 per spin is here: which shows the mini jackpot at $10 (which is how it starts) and usually will payout around $20… I’ve played it hundreds of times and rarely does it go above $20.

On the high-limit version, as you can see in this video, has a 10 cent version that is offered. You will see at the beginning before changing her bet, she can bet 88 credits at 10 cents each, which again is $8.80/spin the same as me — but because it’s on 10 cent, the mini jackpot is over $200. I have seen this on countless videos and I just don’t get it that someone else can win 20x more than me on a progressive, betting the same amount of money per spin on the same game, just because the game has more than a “1 cent” credit option.

Can you help?

Kevin, via email

Thanks for your question about Dancing Drums, Kevin! I can definitely offer some help.

An $8.80 bet on pennies is not the same as an $8.80 bet on dimes. The line hits will generally even out, as 10x pennies is the same payout as 1x dimes. The key difference is in those progressives, specifically the frequency of hitting them.

When max betting pennies you have the best chances of triggering a progressive because you’re wagering . The way DD is designed, the higher your bet, the more often you’ll enter the progressive pick. Regardless of bet, the odds of getting the mini vs. the grand are the same once you’ve entered that screen – this is how an 88 cent better can win the grand. So you figure at $8.80 you’re getting 10x as many chances for those progressives (or something like that, they don’t tell you how much better your chances are, but let’s use it for simplicity).

Now think about that dime machine. You’re betting 88 credits. So you’re getting 1/10th the chance as a max better, give or take, to win a progressive that’s 10x as much because it’s dime denomination. So you win that $100+ mini 1/10th as often as the $10 mini on pennies, and that’s how it all balances out.

This difference is also reflected many times on multi-denomination games, by the way, so this isn’t unique to Dancing Drums.

Now, theoretically a 10 cent machine payout is set a bit higher than pennies, given casinos’ normal mode of setting higher denomination machines at slightly higher payouts. So long term you’d expect to fare slightly better. But to your question about the higher progressives, you’ll simply hit them less often on an $8.80 dimes bet because the pot won’t close as often, and that’s how it balances out. 

So it effectively becomes a higher variance play, increasing the volatility by wagering the same bet on a higher denomination – if you hit that pot on dimes, you win much faster, but if you struggle to hit it, you might’ve done better on pennies because you’d probably have caught some progressives on that max bet.

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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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