Does Putting in a Bigger Bill Yield Better Bonuses?

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Cash being inserted into a slot machine

Today’s question is sort of the inverse of what another player talked about with bonuses in a previous question:

Do you get quicker and better bonuses when you start a game with a $100 bill vs a twenty dollar start? My impression is I seem to do better on a slot machine if I start with the $100 bill.

Kathy B.

Slot machines do not behave differently because more or less money is put in, or a ticket vs. cash, or if it’s free play. But when you put more money into a slot machine, presuming the same bets as if you put in less, you’re giving yourself something you don’t get as much of with a lower start: More chances.

Slot machines are designed with various things in mind, and one of those is bonus frequency. The amount of spins, on average, it takes to get a bonus has been rising over time, in part due to the increased amount of money placed into those bonuses when they do occur, and the inclination of many games to have multiple bonuses and features nowadays.

So what does that have to do with $100 vs. $20? Well, if you’re doing $1 a spin, for instance, that $20 bill gives you a minimum of 20 chances for something to happen, vs. 100 spins on $100 bill (presuming you sit and spin on any machine without a plan to get up at a certain point or anything like that). Many new slot games have a bonus frequency on average of about 1 in every 100 to 120 spins.

How much do you like to put into a slot machine?

When we asked players on Brian Christopher’s YouTube channel how much they put into a machine, nearly half put less than $100, with a third putting less than $50.

Many players don’t give themselves enough runway to get to the good stuff. This isn’t a slots-specific thing either – on table games, despite them having a lower house edge, the house handle tends to be a higher percentage than the expected house advantage. 

A variety of things can come into play around that, such as poor play vs. strategy (splitting 10s anyone?), but one is running out of money because of betting the money too aggressively. Going to a table with $100 and doing $25 a hand, it’s not unreasonable to expect at times you’ll lose four hands in a row, and then you’d be done. 

The same can be true for a slot, but on some games the number of dead spins can be extensive, depending on its design, and so having a longer runway lets you push through dead streaks and hopefully reach a bonus. 

Of course, because outcomes are random within the set of possibilities, it’s certainly not a guarantee, but that may very well be why you notice it working out better with a higher starting balance vs. a lower one.

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