Building and Streeeeeeetching your Slots Bankroll

Money, coinage, wealth, riches, jackpots, slots and a fun casino experience--now there's the ticket!

Before you enter the slots competition and win this ticket; you must qualify with some wager management basics.

Let's explore these qualifications that will build and stretch your slots bankroll visit the blog page. A pre-determined dollar amount to fit your slots budget is the best start. Does your favorite casino advertise slots with at least a 98% payback-- the better, looser slots? You will notice that the key words are "up to 98% payback." Most of the casino's slots do not pay back that much.

Also, this will never mean that for each $1 you put in, you will get back 98 cents. A lot of first time players make this mistake. What this really means is that over the fiscal year life cycle of that particular slot machine, it will average payoffs equal to 98% of all monies put through. Some casinos now offer "Certified" slots that are guaranteed to payback 100%. Usually dollars, these are a good play if all machines are 100%.

Did you know that even the loosest slots-those 98-plus-percenters-still average only an 80% payout to the players? That's because players don't play maximum coins or they don't make sure all their coins register before they spin. Slots make up to 70% of a casino's revenues. Let's stop giving the casinos what we can rightfully claim for ourselves!

Avoid the tight (low-paying) slots in restaurants, bars, airports and supermarkets.

After you have done your research and located a loose machine, read all the posted information before you play. Take your time; there is no need to hurry. Don't rush while you play, either so you can make sure you have received all the money due you when you win. Check for unused credits, money in the holder and cash-outs before you leave the machine.

Remember, too, that one of the principles of wager management is knowing when to quit. Never, never stay too long at a machine. The casino advantage kicks in if you overstay your welcome. After three, four or five pulls with no return, get out of there. Be a hit-and-run winner.

If you are tempted to stay at a machine, keep this in mind: most jackpot wins happen in the first five to ten minutes of play with a small cash outlay. So, if a slot doesn't produce for you in fairly short order, get upward and onward, looking for another slot.

Table game players will argue loud and long at me for this, but I submit that you can make just as much money or more on an hourly basis playing slots.

Cost per hour to play slots:

Denomination   1 coin    2 coins  3 coins

Nickel    $30         $60         $90

Quarter 150         300         450

Dollar    600         1200       1800

I rest my case for playing 2-coin basic slots. With quarter machines (the most played slots), I would have an extra $150 to play with; 300 extra spins at 2-coin machines-stretching those slot bucks. Of all the basic slots offered in casinos today, these specific machines will provide you with the most play, the best pays, and the best odds of hitting a top jackpot.

You should always test a slot machine before you commit yourself to continued play. (Testing applies to basic slot machines, not to progressives, where your aim is to hit the top jackpot with less concern for smaller wins along the way.)

Here is a method for testing straight quarter slots:

With a buy-in of $10-40 quarters-in hand, play through all $10 and leave all winnings in the tray (or allow the credits to accumulate).

If your winnings total less than 65% of your test amount ($6.50 in this example), get up and find yourself another slot machine. If your winnings total at least 65%, the slot may be in or near an "up" cycle. Try three more coins and, based on any payouts from that, decide if you want to stay. Of course, if you get back more than your original $10, you have found a sizzling slot! As you continue to play it, stash half your winnings. This is now your money-not the casino's!

Of course, all good things must end, and you know that even a sizzling slot in an up cycle will eventually have a down cycle. The informed gambler knows the signs of an impending down cycle.

One sign is that the machine just hit the top jackpot. Another sign is when the machine starts hitting a lot of near-misses-symbol combinations that are almost winners but not quite.

Don't be deceived. In both of these cases, the slot is turning from sizzling to sputtering. So find yourself another slot pronto, and repeat your test.

Practicing sound wager management not only stretches your gambling dollars but places you in the finals to win the BIG TICKET.

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Casino Selections - Part 3

There are some prime casino selections in the US and Canada not covered in previous articles, so let's forge ahead.

These casino selections are based on the highest reported payouts including the preferred 'certified' slots, newest BVS versions placed, lots of slots offered, club card-comp benefits, superior customer service and top-level amenities to include dining, shopping and activities.

Although casino gambling is available in 33 states and 7 provinces in Canada, there are few that monitor and report their slot payouts and it borders on a scam, in my mind. See Editors Rant in the first issue of the Slots Report: http://www.casino.com/newsletter/.

I strongly urge American and Canadian casino players to write, telephone and/or e-mail their local gaming commissions and request a slots payout percentage report monthly. More on this in a future article.

In order to subjectively select the better casinos; only those areas that report payout %'s are listed below:

Colorado: three major gaming areas: Cripple Creek, Black Hawk and Central City. With payouts usually 94%+, it's a horse race among them every month. Black Hawk-Central City casinos are near Denver and offer a shuttle service. Bullwhackers Black Hawk Casino is the largest with cash back slots club and ongoing promotions. In Central City, Harvey's offers Senior discounts, cash back club, live shows and is a top pick. Cripple Creek near Colorado Springs boasts the largest state casino: Double Eagle Hotel/Casino. Optional choice is Bronco Billy's Sport Bar/Casino with a huge sports theater.

Illinois: Chicago area--Grand Victoria, Harrah's Joliet, Empress Casino and Hollywood--all compete on the river. Victoria usually wins the top payback and best slots selection spot. The Casino Queen near E. St. Louis is a consistent state winner for pays and promotions. Honorable mention to Par-A-Dice in Peoria for placing newer versions, fun book and senior discounts.

Indiana: Chicago players can easily hop over to the Gary area for Blue Chip, Trump, Harrah's East and Empress in that order. The best in the state is Argosy-Lawrenceburg. Count 4 restaurants, over 74,000 sq ft and 4000 passenger boat among the Argosy benefits.

Iowa: Rarely do horseracing/pari-mutuels combined with slots produce high pays, however Bluffs Run and Prairie Meadows are the exception to the rule.

A consistent top pick, Bluffs Run, open 24 hrs with the generous Players Club

is a must-see, if only for the horsies and doggies.

Lakeside, Harveys and Diamond Jo casinos will keep you dancing around the state looking for loose slots.

Louisiana: Slim pickings in this state, not for the sheer number of casinos and/or racetracks, bars and restaurants where you can play but the lowly paybacks. North: Shreveport/Bossier area where Texans flock--choose

Casino Magic or Isle of Capri (good promotions). No luck? The two H's--Harrah's and Horseshoe perhaps? Hop in the car to Baton Rouge and the Belle or Casino Rouge. Head west, young man to Players with two boats or Isle of Capri, Lake Charles. Save New Orleans for a vacation only--great food and jazz. I have to pose this question to LA players--Wouldn't the extra time and travel to Mississippi be more beneficial to your wallet?...hmmmm.

Missouri: Show Me Argosy Riverside, Harrahs KC & St. Louis where I can play some loose slots, get comped and dine in style. What a great selection of riverboats here and most offer at least 94% paybacks. I haven't forgotten Hilton, Players, Stations and President casinos, however Aztar with their forever lowly paybacks better re-think their gambling plan.

Canada: is also very stingy about reporting payouts; only two provinces comply. Alberta claims a 92% average that would be in line with the other reporters as follows:

Quebec: Charlevoix--92.7, Hull--92.6 and Montreal--92.5.

Larger, as with Montreal, is not always better for payout %'s.

Nova Scotia: Sydney--92.5, Halifax--92.2, Sheraton Casinos are located in each city. There are machines available in bars and restaurants but savvy players know better; have a good meal and drinks only-Cheers!

Have I left out some of your best casino selections? Let me know and why. I will be glad to share in a future Slots Report: slotsreport@casino.com.

CALLING ALL INTERNATIONAL SLOTS PLAYERS: I need your help. This column and the Slots Report are welcomed globally, therefore we want to include all slot playing opinions. If you play slots and/or know players who live outside US or Canada, I would like to e-mail them a short question page.

Looking forward to your replies at:

Gaming Expo Trip Report

I was excited and anticipated this Vegas trip more than any other. I found myself counting down the days to when I could explore this huge show and it's multitude of new slot versions. More important to me, though was to meet the Casino.com staff and my fellow gaming guides who were only pictures on a computer monitor up to this point.

On Wednesday, the first day, I found myself in a booming 'casino-room' feeling like a shopper on a unlimited budget surveying all the new toys on display.

According to data beforehand, there were over 700 exhibits and a sold out show for the first time in 14 years. Gaming is big business and the proof

was before me. As I made my way to the Casino.com booth and staff members, I was at a disadvantage in that they knew what I looked like, but I did not have the same benefit. However, recognition has its own reward in that I was soon introduced to people with whom I could match faces with names.

I was impressed with their warmth, hospitality, knowledge and commitment to Casino.com. Now I know why this unique online venture offering seven newsletters, gaming guides, gambling options and graphic innovations leads the pack in the competitive world of gaming dot.coms. I thank Henrik, Janna, Jeanette, Patrick, Markus, Mikael and Per for a successful and fun Gaming Event. Also thanks to the many internet gaming friends who stopped by.

My fellow gaming guides or the Dream Team, as we are collectively known, provided a steady, friendly and informative stream of 'gambling talk' that covered writing, books, business, specific games, new products, Casino.com and oh yes, the lady in the booth close by who posed for pictures as a

Marilyn Monroe look-alike.

I have found in my unusual career in the world of gaming that being the solitary female can, at times, be intimidating and other times, be a pleasant advantage. The latter proved to be the case on this trip. I learned, they taught and I found when I taught, they learned and listened-very refreshing.

The games of poker, craps, roulette, blackjack, video poker and slots are now viewed from a different perspective in terms of knowledge, writers' opinions and remembered for the inclusion of a heavy dose of laughter. I thank my fellow writers for their generosity and that essential requirement 'to play the game'--a sense of humor. Truly, a group of 'winning guys'.

Finally, I did take a few hours to 'walk the floor' of the show and would like to report these slots to watch:

JUMBLE was my favorite new slot at the Williams Gaming Booth. Based on the word scramble game that I never miss in our daily paper, I found zany bee characters and two bonus rounds. Reel symbols consist of the JUMBLE logo, bee characters, alphabet letters and a dictionary. Top screen shows the JUMBLE puzzle and beehive where three BUZZ symbols activates a choice of one of the five words in the puzzle. If the bee places the letters for a correctly spelled word then a multiplier is added.

The player goes on to reveal further words and multipliers until the final answer is solved and credits are tallied for that round. A second bonus for the letters JU-MB-LE activates a game show round with a gallery of animated bee characters and their hostess Queeny Monroe. This was the round that I reached during demonstration with each pick receiving a

letter or special tile to complete the puzzle and rack up points. What a hoot and not an easy choice when the bees stare out at you with antennae and 'buggy' faces tempting you with that 'pick me' look in their eyes.

Bally's offering was the Thrillions progressive series. Big Dough, Meal Ticket and Big Spender yield a mid-range jackpot of $25,000 every few days. Betty Boop, and Big Hit in the series have jackpot offerings of $100,000 with hits every two weeks based on past averages. Look for these in CT and CA. Millionaire 777's for the dollar crowd with a possible million dollar win every 115 spins--take that Regis!

Also the hundred-hand video poker game caught my eye, for in one blink--whoosh--100 new hands appear but, in such small graphics that you are forced to trust the calculation of accumulated credits. There are penny versions but a quick calculation of 500 pennies=$5.00/hand folks--ouch, my strained bankroll.

Next time, we return to reviewing newer BVS inventory. Also, be sure to check out the latest Slots Report where the feature article is about slots payout reporting, contact information, plus a call to action.

Whoever said slots were boring hasn't visited slots.casino.com lately or signed up for their free copy of the Slots Report.

Come on board, join the fun.

Casino Selections - Part 2

After the trip through Nevada last time, it’s time to explore other recognized US gambling destinations in our search for the best casino selections. I include Atlantic City, Mississippi and Foxwoods/Mohegan Sun. These casino selections are based on the highest payouts including the preferred 'certified' slots, newest BVS versions placed, lots of slots offered, club card-comp benefits, superior customer service and top-level amenities to include dining, shopping and activities.

Atlantic City

Harrahs consistently leads the pack with highest slot payouts and now with their Total Rewards slot-card promotion--a guaranteed first place. Sands, Tropicana, Trump Plaza, A.C. Hilton and Caesars follow closely behind with slot payout %'s. Most slot clubs offer cash-back benefits, however, for infrequent visitors to AC--be aware the mailed check must be used within 90 days. A.C. is a 'day-trippers' paradise while overnight guests usually choose the summer season for longer stays. For that reason, the casinos are generous with comps for 'bussers' and when you sign on for a slot card, you can almost be guaranteed an invitation for an overnight stay--casinos know that's where the real potential lies.

Foxwoods/Mohegan Sun

In the Connecticut woods sit two casinos--one, the largest in the world with 5800+ machines and nearby Mohegan Sun that most say is cozier and more inviting. As presented in the first Slots Report issue, the payouts for these two casinos were exactly the same, therefore the casino selection comes down to big versus small. A tip of the scale in favor of Foxwoods because between 9/2-10/31, there will be 60 cars given away if you use your Wampum Club card, certainly a consideration.

Mississippi

The state is divided into three gambling jurisdictions: North, South and Coastal including Biloxi, Gulfport and Bay St. Louis where the most casinos are located, thus the most popular destination in the state. Vicksburg, Natchez and Greenville (South Region) boast the higher payouts for nickel and quarter slots. Suggest Harrahs, Ameristar, Isle of Capri and Lady Luck. North Region: Tunica, Lula and Robinsonville. Best casino selection for the area is the Grand with most ‘certified’ dollar slots. Sam’s and Bally’s follow behind. Take note that the area payout %’s are the best in the state for high end $25 and $100 slots, however with low-end payouts, the North is not a prize winner. Coastal--The two Grand casinos in Gulfport and Biloxi are your best choice as in the North by offering more ‘certified’ slots. Also don’t overlook the pair of Casino Magic casinos in Bay St. Louis and Biloxi. Isle of Capri in Biloxi is another twin offering in the state.

Note: I am not now or in the past on the payroll of any casino. The casino selections are based on the criteria above; from readers of my Casino Gambling Made Easier books & booklets, friends and my personal experiences. Highest slot payout percentages from reporting gambling jurisdictions are offered in each issue of the Slots Report, a twice monthly publication.

Subscribe now at: http://web.casino.com/newsletter/ I ask that you send me your favorite casino selections and the reasons why. I will include some of them in a future Slots Report.

E-mail: gayle.mitchell@casino.com.

There are still some prime US casino selections we have yet to cover and then onward to Canada and the World! Make sure you have your passport ready.

Au Revoir.

BVS Adventure - Newer Versions

We continue your BVS education by showcasing ten of the newer Bonus Video Slot Versions. This is the fun part for a writer like me -- searching out current bonus video slots, playing them and presenting them to eager slot players who want to know the latest scoop in slotsland. Your next casino visit will produce a real adventure, second bonus screen action and more than pocket change when you explore the following:

1) Where’s Henry: No, not Waldo, I want to find Henry! So do the police cars, bloodhounds, binoculars watching out and the Sherriff=scatter-pay. Head to the bonus screen when Henry appears on the first, third and fifth reels and you are welcomed to Henryville and five building choices. Reveal the bonus amounts, but finding Henry will double that particular multiplier. Secondly: first and third reel Henrys allow one chance to find the elusive fugitive. The higher hit frequency and opportunities to find the main character increase with the 9 line version. Start the search!

2) Little Green Men: There are aliens among us! ‘Keep out’ scatter pays send you flying through space to one of two bonus screens. Pick one of the spaceships racing across the skyline and receive your bonus amount or abduct one of your fellow humans: cowboy, fat man or schoolgirl to send up as a sacrifice to the aliens who then return your bonus bounty. You’ve been warned --this version will leaving you howling with delight.

3) Indigo Swing: Back to the swing era. Line up the right scatter pays and watch the production begin. Four dancing couples offered for your choice, have a listen and when the music stops, collect coin and/or multiplier. Get in that swing and get credit for it too.

4) Banana Rama Deluxe: I find that I now earnestly search for the word ‘deluxe’ on slots because it always means better options/bonuses in a ‘take-off’ version. All the original players are in this updated BVS, but now you get more winning combinations and credits. Gorillas and monkeys perform more, especially when you tickle their tummies. Watch for three shell symbols and move over to the Oyster Bar bonus round. Touch the oysters for mounting credits until the ‘collect’ sign stops the rush of coins. Another ‘take-off’ slot that is taking off with casino players and becoming a frequent BVS occurrence.

5) Desert Racer: Aline a couple of cactus symbols or camel crossing signs to start. Three desert race cars activates the second screen and the race begins. Even if your selected car loses, the bonus amount is still paid based on your placing. Add this slot to the ‘race for cash’ category.

6) Reel-Estate: Back to one of my favorites: Monopoly. This 9-line version offers a bonus round every 75 spins--better than the 5-liner. The rest of the game is the same as the earlier version with scatter pays that lead to the board of multiplying payouts. Chance, Community Chest, rich Uncle Pennybags and extra bonus points for collecting three of the same color properties. Love this game and this newer version with the added benefit of remembrances of a spent childhood playing this familiar, challenging board game.

7) Who Dunnit? Another childhood game--Clue--comes to mind with this BVS slot. The bonus screen produces several figures and one of them did it--you choose. Along the way you come across the ‘wild fruit’ multiplier screen and three ‘detective’ or ‘sidekick’ signs to take you to the line-up around the table. Of course--the sound of thunder, a dark room and something valuable is missing--time to find who is guilty. The sooner you find Who Dunnit?, the bigger the bonus. Guaranteed to make you feel like you are in a play with sounds and action all around you -- no time for boredom here.

8) Slingo: A very popular game merging slots and bingo. The bonus round screen shows a bingo card and 25 numbers, thirteen are already chosen for you. Your job is to match the remaining 12 numbers with free spins while mounting up credits for ‘filled’ numbers. Cherubs, devils and jokers play another game for you on the reels for extra profits. This BVS has produced several winners in Atlantic City casinos.

9) Boxcar Bonus: This slot finds you waiting at the station in the old-time West. As you line up five train car symbols--caboose, boxcars and engine, you are transported to the bonus round. Take your pick of three boxcars at the depot for your bonus amount. Scatter pays are railcar symbols with multipliers and the wild prospector subs for other symbols. Five prospectors and you’ve arrived at the top jackpot. All aboard!

10) Yahtzee: Another familiar game presented in three versions: 1) Yahtzee Bonus: Third reel triggers bonus round throwing the five dice. You can choose to hold any or all dice and re-roll if you are looking for better payouts. 2) Yahtzee Take a Chance: You want to roll ‘chance’ or no straights/matching values as often as you can. 3) Video Yahtzee: This is the best and most popular version. Nine line and bonus screen of the game are played with a ‘mystery bonus’. Watch the animated dice dance around and show off the spots on their tummies. Accumulated spots and bonus credits are paid depending on the total coins bet. Another screen bonus is activated by three shaker cups with five dice on a baseball diamond providing a lit paytable background to ‘shine’ on your winning credits. Make your ‘hold’ decisions and rack up those bonus points. Watch for more Yahtzee versions as this slot is sure to be a mega-success.

To stretch your gambling bankroll, start off with 1-2 coins per payline; you can then risk occasional maximum spins as your credits mount. You have now been issued your latest slots ration and training--let the adventure begin!