When you play slot machines – both online and at brick and mortar casinos – it’s important to understand that there is a difference between frequency and payback. Many players mistakenly think they are one in the same, but the truth of the matter is that they are not. To clear up the confusion, payback is the overall percentage that the slot machine you are playing will make you a winner. This number is set by the manufacturer, not the casino you’re playing at, and it can be in the range of 75 to 99 percent. There are states that regulate the payback of their machines and this is done in conjunction with the slot machine manufacturer.
If you should happen to hit the slots at a casino that advertises that their machines are the ‘loosest’ in town, which means their payback is on the high end of that 75 to 99 percent. Slot machines that are referred to as ‘tight’ are one that pays at the lower end of the percentage range. Machines that are simply not paying out at all are said to be ‘cold’. ‘Cold’ machines have nothing to do with payback and everything to do with frequency. Keep in mind that while there may be two identical machines on the casino floor right next to each other, one could be ‘loose’ and one could be ‘tight’.
Frequency – as compared to payback – the percentage of spins it takes a player to get the machine to pay out. How often a slot machine pays out money or tickets depends on the way the symbols fall into a winning combination. Anyone who has played slot machines knows that there is a wide variety of winning combinations that can be hit. Low frequency payouts are on machines that have a winning combination only hit one in so many spins. These machines pay out the larger wins on a very infrequent basis. High frequency slot machines pay out small wins more often, although occasionally they too can be considered low frequency for the amount of large payouts they occasionally offer.
The newer, multi-coin and multi-line slot machines tend to be high frequency payers although you may only a get a portion of the money you put into the machine back. Because all of the machines are programmed prior to installation at the casino – or given specific computer programming for online casinos – there is no way of knowing how it is going to react when you play. Take a look at the slot machines payout table to get a feel of the winning combinations. Multiple combinations could indicate a high frequency machine that pays out in small quantities. Fewer combinations could indicate a low frequency slot machine that pays out big.