All About Slot Machine Percentages

There are several percentages associated with slots, and you should know them all. That way, you'll know how to make the best investments and what to expect as a result.

Payout Percentage of Slot Machines

In several types of gambling, such as craps, roulette and blackjack, house edge is expressed with a percentage. A 0.5-1% house edge has been determined for blackjack when players use perfect basic strategy. Thus, out of each bet of $100, $0.50-$1.00 will be lost, if the game is played long enough. Immediate results are basically unpredictable.

As for slot machines, house edge is not used nearly as much as payout percentage. This is, as its name implies, the portion of money that will come back out of the machine if enough games are played. So, for a 99% payout percentage, $99 out of each $100 comes back in the long term.

The Hold Percentages

The term in slot gambling that actually should be compared to house edge is hold percentage. This percentage comes from determining 100% minus the payout percentage. Thus, it's the same concept as house edge. Therefore, with our same slot payout percentage of 99%, the hold percentage is 1%.

Typical Payout Percentages

Payout percentages tend to vary across the country and with the denominations of the money the slots accept. Slot machines are only profitable if the operators are making some money, so they tend to withhold more when they have fewer customers. However, they usually raise it for higher monetary denominations.

Consider these examples from Atlantic City's Trump Plaza (in August of 2006):

  • Slots that used quarters were paying out 92.6%
  • Going up to dollar slots, the percentage changed to 93.3%
  • Five-dollar slots were even more at 97.3%

Cost of Slot-playing Per Hour

Andrew Brisman, a writer who specializes in casino gambling topics, set up an equation for determining the cost by the hour of gambling games. His equation says to multiply the amount wagered by the average bets in an hour, and multiply that product by the percentage known as the house edge (hold percentage in slot gambling). With that, you have the amount you can expect to have lost each hour if you play long enough.

So let's do a sample calculation. We'll take roulette, a game that averages 65 bets in an hour. With each bet being $5, each player would have a total bet of $325 per hour. The house edge of 5.2% would compute to a net loss of $16.90 in any given hour if the game was played for a sufficient length of time.

Now let's move on to slot machines. Making 100 bets in an hour, players can expect losses of the following amounts at Trump Plaza in Atlantic City:

With five-coin maximum bets on quarter-operated slots, players bet about $125 in an hour. With enough time, the player would, on average, lose 7.4% of all bets, which is $9.25.

If we moved up to dollar slots, the wager per hour goes up to $500 with a five-coin maximum bets. The hold percentage is 6.7% and $33.50 is the expected loss.

The expected loss increases to $67.50 with five dollar slots. This is a rate of $2,500 bets per hour using the five coin maximum with a 2.7% hold percentage.

Yes, you get a greater portion of your money back over long term use of machines that operate through higher denominations, but they still cost you more than the less expensive ones.

Knowing a Slot's Percentage

When people ask how a slot machine's payout percentage is determined, I have to be frank: You can't really know for sure. The reason is that casinos usually don't want this information let out to the public and it would take an enormous amount of spins, and thus time, to accurately estimate. Let's say you were going to just go with 4,000 spins. Well, that means playing for forty hours and you still have to realize jackpots will throw off the accuracy.

All of the information provided in this article is meant to give you a better understanding of the percentages used with slot machine gambling. That way, you can improve your strategy and chances of profiting from slot machines.

Slots Guide
Popular pages
  • Smart Slot Playing

    Whether you're playing an internet slot game or a physical one, the same sly tricks work all the time.

  • Play Slots for free

    Online slots are viable options for those who want to play slots for free, and below is some general information you'll want before you get started.