When Should You Max Bet?

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Max bet vs. play button

Conventional wisdom on many machines on the casino floor is that it is wisest to max bet. However, machines and times change, and there’s a lot more diversity on the casino floor.

So today, let’s look at some machine types and when you need to max bet, and when you don’t.

Quick Hit

Quick Hit was one of those games which was designed at the time to encourage a max bet. This came via the use of progressives that were only available when you max bet the machine. That max bet grew and varied over time – a lot of the early machines were as low as $1.50 but some have been $10 or higher more recently.

However, two recent Quick Hit options, Quick Hit Explosion and Quick Hit Link, did away with the progressives altogether in favor of flat jackpots that update proportionally with your bet. This means you don’t have to max bet anymore.

Explosion has a wide area progressive (we’ll cover that shortly) that has a minimum bet amount to be eligible, so to be eligible for all bets, you just need to reach that threshold, but a max bet is not required.

Quick Hit Link has progressives available to any bet, but the smaller progressive becomes easier to hit by being set to a lower number of Quick Hits as the bet increases. But you do not have to max bet to be eligible for it; it just gets easier to hit with higher bets.

Some casinos will freeze the progressives at their starting value, effectively taking away the little extra you were getting for max betting. At that point because the pays are proportional, like they are on the other games mentioned above, there’s no reason to need to max bet anymore, and you can bet what you wish.


Megabucks Mega Vault wide area progressive

For years, the traditional Megabucks machine had a $3 max bet, and $3 was also coincidentally how much you needed to wager to be eligible for the progressive.

But more recent entries to the series can feature higher bet levels. For instance, Megabucks Mega Vault can allow up to $10 bets. But you still only need to bet $3 to be eligible for Megabucks.

In situations like this, like other progressive machines, betting higher will increase the odds of winning Megabucks (although the odds are so bad overall that minimal increase is as likely to help as buying two Powerball tickets instead of one). But it’s not required to be eligible.

So be sure to review what the game structure is about, and whether you really need to be betting that max bet or not.

Wide Area Progressives

Zooming out wider, the specific bet eligibility of wide area progressives will vary by machine, but that $3-$4 range is pretty common on those big six and seven figure options.

But that isn’t even always the case nowadays. Dollar Storm with its Super Grand, and Dollar Storm Mega Grand Link with its Mega Grand, both have players eligible on any bet level. One way they solve this is a higher minimum bet requirement of $1 vs. 50 cents on the rest of the series, but that still means you’re eligible at a lower per spin bet than many of the others.

The bet panels will generally tell you which bets are eligible for that progressive. Higher bets will mean you have higher chances, but at that point it’s up to you what you want to bet. 

With multi-denomination machines adding a new wrinkle, each bet level will have different levels for unlocking the top progressive as well.

Video Poker

Brian Christopher sits at a video poker machine

A conventional video poker machine setup is based on a five-credit wager. Wagering all five credits, which would often also be max bet, unlocks the best payout for a royal flush. You can bet less credits, but the royal flush would pay considerably less per coin, which impacts the overall payback considerably given a royal flush is about 2 percent of your overall payback.

But some casinos now configure video poker machines to allow more than five credit wagers. We’ve seen examples of 10 or even 20 credit options. Hitting max bet may not be required, because in many cases you still get the full payout potential at the five credit mark, the casino has just kindly let you bet more credits should you choose to.

It doesn’t seem to often work out, because in many casinos where this configuration exists, I see labels on the machine warning players – like they didn’t realize players would get surprised by having a max bet out of the traditional norm. But this means players should review the pay table, how many credits are required to get fully paid on the royal flush, and wager accordingly.

Physical Reel Machines

Some physical reel machines only unlock all pays with all the credits wagered. Top Dollar and Pinball unlock the bonus on the last credit wagered, so if you bet less than max credits you lose the bonus.

Some games are nine-line games where you are only eligible for the biggest progressive if you’re playing all nine lines, because the progressive can only be won on line 9.

Ainsworth has a number of games (like Royal Legacy) where the top progressive unlocks on line five, and if you play nine lines, you’re eligible on lines 5 through 9. This means playing a minimum of 5 lines makes you eligible, but playing more than 5 lines gives you more chances to win.

At that point it’s up to the player which you wish to play and how much you want to play for that top progressive.

In other situations, you’re eligible for all pays when you activate all lines, but a line multiplier is also offered. In many cases that line multiplier isn’t necessary to be eligible for everything, so max betting is just getting you to bet more than needed to be eligible for everything. 

So review that as well to ensure you’re not betting more than you have to. Of course, it’s no issue if you want to!


Slot design continues to evolve, and with that some of the old school rules are less true than they used to be. It helps for players to know what they’re playing for, and be sure not to leave potential payouts on the table. 

But once you’ve covered that, it’s your decision, based on your risk appetite and budget, to decide if you want to max bet or not. But in many cases games you used to have to max bet aren’t always required.

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4 Replies to “When Should You Max Bet?”

  • Jake M. says:

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    • FlipTheSwitch.com says:

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