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Why Should You Read a Slot Machine Pay Table?

Quick Spin Super Wheel 7s by Ainsworth pay table
Written by Joshua

Slot machines theoretically seem simple. You sit down, you put money in, you make a bet, you win or lose. And, to some degree, that was pretty fairly an assessment of how they worked. Older mechanical reel slot machines would even show their pay tables right on the machine glass, so understanding how the game worked was as straightforward as looking those over.

Things change with time, though, and so have slot machines, and as such there are valid reasons why not taking a moment to understand the game you’re playing could be a mistake. Most of those tend to be in the form of less money in your pocket. Let’s go over the key reasons why you should get to know a game.

You Might Be Missing Out on Pays

Some games have more complex betting structures nowadays. If you are not familiar with how those bets work, you could be missing out on a side bet, or a progressive, or some part of the game structure that would otherwise be available to you.

Or, conversely, if you’re trying not to bet too high, you may miss that you can adjust the bets downward and take away the side bet or skip out on chasing the grand progressive.

Dancing Drums and games of its ilk are among those; games with a more/better bet can be in this category too.

You Might Not Be Getting the Best Pays

Some games simply don’t pay you the best unless you’re betting enough credits. Mechanical reel games, Quick Hit games, games like More More Chilli, all have higher pays for those betting more.

Even beyond slot machines, Video Poker games traditionally require at least five credits wagered to get full pay on a royal flush, so if you’re not betting max, you’re giving away a meaningful portion of your payback over time.

But some video poker games can be programmed to allow a wager of more than five credits, and that doesn’t mean the pays improve. The same can go for a slot machine, and so you also may not have to bet max to get your better pays. This is where reading the pay table can be quite helpful.

There Could Be Persistent State Elements

Banking elements, or persistent state elements, could be present on a game, and while many make their presence known quite prominently, others are a bit more subtle.

These can be important because walking away at the wrong time could leave money on the table, especially for elements where you have a spin cycle and are almost through, a must hit by progressive that’s about to pay, and so on.

As the diversity of persistent state elements grows, it won’t just be gold borders, spin cycles and collecting wilds. So it’s important to understand when these mechanics are in play to make sure you don’t cash out at the wrong time.

Take Zorro Wild Ride, where you can keep buying games, and keep having a Wild Ride bonus in play, as long as another wild lands. You don’t want to cash out after a big win, only to find out another wager could have guaranteed another one.

Conversely, some games can make the chase near indefinite, so understanding how they work can also encourage a player to walk away at the right time.

Do you read the pay table? What information do you look for? Share in the comments.

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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