Pennies From Hell

I like to play slot machines and I know that the lower the denomination put in, the lower the payout.  I like to think of myself as a somewhat intelligent gambler.  Well, when it comes to the loud noises and bright lights of penny slots I become zombie-like and move forward slobbering for a new penny slot.

Dr. Dave Schwartz at Die Is Cast has a breakdown of which slots are most played and make the most money.  The answer this year is penny slots.

The information is from Las Vegas and I’ve certainly contributed a few bucks to the totals for 2009.  Dr. Dave has more information on the subject and economy on Die is Cast.

Even though I know penny slots will take my money, I’m pretty sure I’ll keep on playing.  Thankfully I have the one bill rule per slot now to quell my losses.

Slot Machines Slow The Bleed

Sex And The City Slot Machine
Sex And The City Slot Machine

New slot machines look to slow the bleed of your money and I’m ok with that.  IGT recently released their “Sex and the City” slot machines which include more small bonuses that look to prolong game play  as opposed to big jackpots that may provoke you to leave after getting a big win.

I have a love/hate relationship with low limits slots.  I hate knowing that I’m playing only to lose money.  The lower the denomination on a slot machine the lower the payout percentage.  I love the lights and noises that come along with these games.  I’m easily attracted to the shiny objects.

After having a bad time with penny slots earlier this year I learned how to have fun with them again.  I usually only play early in the morning while I drink coffee and ramp up the day.  I need at least one cup of coffee before I can gamble socially.  I will also play penny slots with friends that enjoy them the same way.  It’s fun to hoot and holler over winning $1.12.

These games aren’t about winning to me.  They’re about having fun.

Look At Penny Slots

As I’ve detailed before, I’m a sucker for penny slots.  I like the noise and bright lights.  Call me a simple person.  I know these machines pay out less than higher denomination slot machines, but I can’t help but drop a bill in if I hear a fun sound.  Recently, I swore off these games…kinda.

On a trip earlier this summer I went with a friend that will play just about any penny slot.  I don’t like all penny slots, but it’s easy to get caught up in the fun.  After all, gambling can be an addiction.  After that trip I decided to cut back how much I’ll put into penny (or nickle) slots because I was losing my shirt because they pay out about 90% as opposed to 95-97% for higher denomination slots.

Instead, I’ve put in one smaller bill to explore new games.  On my last trip I found a new fun and loud game at Bally’s called X-Treme Reels.


It’s a 3 reel slot machine that plays every line imaginable.  If you win the basic game you activate the bonus reels and the X-Treme lights and sounds.


Reels 4 and 5 are multiplier reels that don’t hit big very often, but they are what make this game fun for me because of the noise and lights.

Much like most low limit slots the excitement wears off after a little while.  My new tactic of playing less games with smaller bills allows me to get bored and move from game to game, which was my original tactic with these games.  I’m going to stick with this “strategy” because I had a really good time playing this way on my last couple of trips.  Penny slots are fun for the relaxing time and the mindless gamble.

Writing up my low limit slot strategy was inspired by “Penny Machines Have Growing Appeal, but also a Price” in the Las Vegas Sun.

Penny Slots are NOT Your Friend

As I’ve mentioned before, the lower the denomination on a slot machine the worse the payout.  Todays Press of Atlantic City goes a little deeper into that subject.  Here are some nuggets from the article.

  • Penny machines outperformed all other slot machines in 2008.
  • While Atlantic City’s casino revenue has plummeted overall, the take from penny slot machines and their 2-cent counterparts rose 8.4 percent last year, compared with 2007, to nearly $698 million.
  • Every property in town except for Showboat Casino-Hotel added more penny machines last year. There are currently 7,584 penny slots, a nearly 20 percent increase from 2007, New Jersey Casino Control Commission statistics show.
  • They represent 22 percent of Atlantic City’s 34,000 total slot machines.
  • Borgata boosted its penny slots inventory last year by 32 percent and trails only Bally’s Atlantic City and Trump Taj Mahal Casino Resort in the number of 1-cent machines. At the end of 2008, Bally’s had 991, the Taj Mahal 946 and Borgata 927 of those slots

Casinos will only add a game if it makes them money.  Clearly there are of these machines and they are making casinos money.  It’s humnan nature to think anything that costs a penny will allow your dollar to go farther.  When it comes to gambling, that is counter-intuative.  

I’ve noticed more slot machines in casinos, but never consciously thought about it.  Now that I think about it, I’ve definitely been drawn into some of these penny slots over the past year.  For me, they are little more than entertainment.  I enjoy playing slots with bonus games like Top Gun or Golden Monkey.  If I win, it’s a bonus.  I know going in that I shouldn’t expect to win.  With that mindset I can happily enjoy these games for what they’re worth.