Are Slot Machine Bonuses Rigged?

Do you always seem to get the short end of the stick on slot machine bonuses? Find out if you’re just unlucky, or if the games are rigged to deliver smaller prizes.

Halloweenies Slot Machine BonusesToday’s slot machines are a lot more entertaining then the classic reels of old. Manufacturers are always looking for new and exciting ways to keep a player on the edge of their seat. The most common way is to infuse games with one or more special bonus features.

If you’ve ever played one of these slots and gotten lucky enough to trigger the bonus round, you may have noticed something. The vast majority of the time, they tend to deliver smaller prizes. It’s not often that a player hits ‘the big one‘.

Slot Machine Bonuses Explained

There are many different types of slots bonus games. Today’s informal discussion applies specifically to games in which the player is asked to select one of several hidden prizes. Most of the time, a player will be shown three mystery items. The player selects one, the prize beneath is revealed, then that amount is instantly awarded.

In other cases, there may be a large number of items to choose from; often as many as 20. This time, the player will be allowed to unveil several of the prizes, receiving all of them as instant winnings.

Either way, players have come to find that the lower end prizes are awarded much more often than the largest ones. After enough tries, it can be rather disappointing.

Unraveling the Mystery of Low Payouts

Many players have pondered the outcomes of these bonus rounds. Is the lower payout is by design? Or was a player’s luck all used up in triggering the slots bonus? According to some experts, both answers may be correct. It all depends on the machine, and the way the bonus is played out.

Michael Shackleford is an industry expert, specializing in all casino games, strategies and odds. He’s even helped companies design some of today’s online slot machines. If the name isn’t familiar, you may know him by his nickname, which also happens to be the name of his website, Wizard of Odds.

Shackleford offered his two cents worth on the topic. Despite being a foremost authority on the subject, even he could not offer a 100% guaranteed answer. However, he did provide some interesting insight, based on his observance of par sheets and multiple conversations with industry insiders.

He came to the conclusion that, if the bonus round ends by revealing all of the “alternate choices”, (the prize amounts the player did not select), “the game is honest about them”. If that’s the case, players who are constantly getting the short end of the stick really are just unlucky.

“However,” continues Shackleford, “in games where the alternative choices are not shown the odds are likely similar to a prize wheel, with lower probabilities for the higher wins.” Thus, if all unchosen mystery prizes are not displayed, there’s every chance that the game predetermined the player’s winnings the moment the bonus was triggered.

Unlucky, or Not Lucky Enough?

It’s also worth noting that the majority of eligible prizes will be smaller ones. If there are three prizes, and all are revealed by the end of the game, take note of what those prizes were. If the lowest is $5, and the largest is $100, chances are the middle prize will also be relatively small – maybe $15 or $20. In games with up to 20 prizes in the mix, only 2 or 3 will probably be worth a significant sum.

By this assessment, the odds of picking a larger prize are already stacked against you. It may not be that you’re unlucky at slot machine bonuses, but rather you’re just not lucky enough to get the bigger prizes.

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