Monday, 15 March 2010

Why play for free?

Walk through the doors into any real world casino and you hit the slot machines. There's a slight difference of opinion between the casino operators. Some believe the machines are the most popular form of gambling and make everyone walk into the floor area where the machines are sited before they get to the table games. Others have a floor plan called the premium strategy that pitches their operations at the non-slot players who spend more per head on the table games. The machines are still featured as you walk into the casino, but the view of the tables is more obvious. Interestingly, there seems to be very little difference in the spend-per-machine in both layouts. The people who favor slot machines will play them no matter where they are sited in the casino. It's also a fact that, except for the contributions made by individual whales, casinos make more money from slot machines than from the table games, the balance shifting depending on whether the premium strategy is in operation. Online, there are sites that are exclusively based on slot machines. Other sites operate the full spread of casino games. This leaves the operators to compete on the bonuses (welcome and otherwise), comps and the quality of the service. In real world casinos, the operators can comp you on the machines but it's technically difficult to enable free play. Online, all that changes.

Every site allows all users the opportunity to play some of their games for free. Why should anyone want to play for free and give up the chance of winning some real money? The answers are both simple and complicated. The spinning reels are essentially the same in both real world and online casinos with the games easy to understand and so quick to learn. Once the reels are set in motion, all you can do is wait for them to stop moving. This means no particular skill is required to play. As a bald description, this misses out two key factors. The spinning reels are quite hypnotic. You almost feel you can reach out and stop each reel in just the right position to score a big win. Secondly, it's fun to play. This fun element is what sells free play. Yes, you lack the extra excitement by giving up the chance of winning. But it really is still fun to play. More importantly, with more and more new games coming online every month, it's very useful to be able to study them without risking your money. Although the basic concepts are the same, the individual variations still have to be learned. In the real world, you can stand and watch others play, learning from their mistakes. Online, you are denied this opportunity. That makes free play a fair offer from the casino operators.

There is one final reason and this may be a little complicated depending on your view of luck. Many people who play slots believe in flows of good and bad luck. If your luck is out, it's good to be able to keep on playing for free. No-one wants to keep feeding money into a machine when you know you are not going to win. Slots and Lady Luck do go together so mix and match free and paying play as you come into and fall out of her favor.

Friday, 12 March 2010

What are the options for betting?

Although there are a number of slot games repeated on some of the sites with shared operations, the reality is an expanding universe of different games. Like the Big Bang which supposedly began our universe, the inventiveness of the different software producers knows no limits. This fuels the competition for players between the sites with the endless rollout of new games. As a result, it would take you years to try them all. Nevertheless, the actual betting choices to be made come down to a few simple steps. The three main variables are the number of paylines to play on each spin, the number of coins to bet on each line, and the value of the coin(s) to bet. The majority of the games allow a free choice on the three variables. But some games restrict the choice on the second or third options (none of the major games eliminate both). So, some fix the value of the coin to be bet or only allow one coin to be bet per payline. This allows us to offer this summary. The amount you decide to bet per payline is the value of the coin multiplied by the number of coins. The total bet on each spin of the reels is the bet per payline multiplied by the number of paylines.

Now we come to an odd truth. The majority of games allow you to choose the number of paylines to play. Where the number of available paylines is great, there can be a real decision to be made. If you are betting one coin of value per payline, one hundred paylines per spin can work out quite expensive. Yet answer this question. What is the point of playing with paylines disabled? With the exception of games permitting scatter wins, you only win on enabled paylines. While this is merely a source of frustration in a conventional game when you see winning combinations on disabled lines, it can be critical on progressive machines. Often the jackpot only pays out when the highest payline has the winning combination. If the total bet looks outside your budget, reduce the value of the coins. If the bet is still too high with the minimum coin size selected, this suggests you should not be playing this game.

When you first approach a game, look carefully at the choices you can make. The critical differences lie in the coin sizes and the gaps between each coin. The best games have a big range of coin sizes with even gaps between them at the lower end and gently scaled gaps at the high end. This allows you the maximum flexibility to fit the line and total bet per spin to your budget. In calculating your budget, factor in the length of time you prefer to play. Slots is a game meant to be fun. If you burn your budget in ten minutes, this is not fun. Always remember to set a loss limit before you start playing. Decide the point at which you will stop. Slots is only fun so long as you are not digging yourself out of debt for the next six months. If you win, as everyone does from time to time, you should also stop. These winnings can buy you a drink and a meal. They can pay for your next session of play.