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Issue Date: August 2012

All In! : Spin City

Slot machines are mesmerizing, fun and, yes, sometimes confusing.
Barry Goodrich

You hear them before you see them. The Horseshoe Casino’s slot machines — 2,100 strong — call to those who believe a life-changing payday is one spin away. Make no mistake about it: They are big money, bringing in about 70 percent of the casino’s earnings. While there are older reel machines on the casino floor — you know, the ones where three aligned 7s still pay off — new digital slots, with elaborate themes such as The Hangover and The Dark Knight, multiple-line bets and progressive jackpots with huge dollar figures, can make deciphering the one-armed bandit a little tougher than you imagined. Here’s what you need to know.

MAX OUT The mantra of experienced slot players is to play the maximum credits every spin. “If you want to win the big jackpot, you have to play max credits,” says Rick Farley, a Horseshoe shift leader and 32-year industry veteran. If that’s too rich for you, or it’s more about fun than finance, there’s no shame in playing a single credit — unless you get lucky. You’ll never forget the look of disapproval that comes from a single-credit spin turning a $2,000 jackpot into a $300 payout.

MULTIPLE LINES, MULTIPLE BETS Multiline machines are popular among the nickel slot players who like the action of multiple chances to win on each spin. And while a nickel a line doesn’t sound like a lot, be aware that when you’re playing up to 15 lines per spin, you can burn through your bankroll quickly.

THE BIG ONE Progressive jackpots are the mother lode of all payouts. The huge jackpots are built from play on multiple machines at the same casino or across a far-reaching network. The logic is simple: More machines mean more contributions to the jackpot, until the winning sequence of symbols hits. Yes, your chances are astoundingly low, but like a lottery ticket, the possibility is alluring. Farley says he once witnessed a player hit a $250,000 progressive jackpot on a video poker machine.

ON THE MOVE Not even Bruce Wayne should sit at The Dark Knight machine all night. If luck doesn’t come your way, move on. Some machines seem ready to hit and don’t. Others pay out multiple times in the same hour. So, take a breather. As Farley says, “you don’t want it to become an obsession.”

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