Advantage Tactic: Turning Slot Data into Useful Information

If there was anything that was worth taking away from the last couple of posts, it is that there is value in recording actual data on slot machines.  The reason for this is because unlike video poker, the frequencies cannot be determined by using calculated outcomes of drawing from a standard deck of cards.  Instead, you need to approximate the frequencies of the event that is of interest so you have an inside shot at getting to the total payback of the machine.  In this article, I would like to walk though taking raw data that I gathered and turning that into a meaningful analysis of a machine.

The general formula for a variable state machine is:

Base Game + Meter Speed + Bonus Value = Total RTP

Collecting data on these components of a game is easy enough…  Making use of the data is a bit more challenging.  Let’s work though a game. 

Here is a subset of the data I gathered on a machine from 2018.

Here is some information I was able to produce from this data:

If you know anything about this game, you’ll see that some of the metrics are really close and others are well off the mark compared to what was commonly accepted in the community for actual values. 


-          The Mega data was WAY off the mark.  This is the primary reason why I never chased Megas. I don’t know if I just ran cold or if the data in the community was wrong, but I don’t really care if I just ignore them.  As a general rule of thumb, if you don’t understand a bet, you are better off not making that bet.

-          The value per banked spin for the Mini & Maxi was spot on (or at least very close) to where the final numbers landed.  The base game drop was right where it was supposed to be as well.

-          The frequencies for triggering the bonus game were relatively close, but there was a fair amount of error from the final values with only 10,000 spins recorded.  I was running well on the mini, but poorly on the maxi.

The last bullet is why you don’t want to play a game that is 100.1% RTP if your goal is to win on a slot machine.  You just won’t get enough spins to have your data match the actual value of the machine, so you need some pad in your play.  The more data you have, the less pad you need.  At the end of the day, you need to either trust your data or whatever some guy told you…  Both are likely to have a margin of error. 

Anyway, back to making information out of data…

With the frequency of the event being triggered and the payback per banked spin, I could almost calculate the value of the meter speed.  The data that was missing was how often two bonus symbols landed.  The reason I needed this is because 1) the meter moved when the mini symbol landed without bonus / bonus and 2) the meter did not move when the bonus event is triggered.  As a result, I lose 1 banked spin from the meter speed when the bonus game is hit.   

I came up with 1 in 13 spins for bonus / bonus.

Here is how the meter speed calculation works.

13 spins – 1 * the payback per spin in # of bets * 1 / the frequency of the event

Note:  1 / the frequency of the event = the probability of the event.

I don’t want to publish the actual final values for this game on my website, but if you really want them and don’t already have them, I can help you in private conversation.  Using the early data above, here is what the meaningful values would be:

I like the way an 85.5% game feels, so I’m relatively happy with this data set if you don’t consider the mega data.  Note: this is the second article where I have dismissed mega data.

Hopefully it is intuitive that you can multiply the return per spin by the number of banked spins to get a total return for the game you come upon.  What is less intuitive is the way you handle the meter speed values.  If you are not chasing the maxi, you cannot include the value of the maxi meter in your final calculation for the game you are playing.  This is because you will not play until you hit the maxi, so you will not realize the value of the increased meter.

So, for a pure mini play, you have:

Base Game + value of all banked spins + mini meter speed = Total RTP

I count all banked spins because the value of prizes that I’m not targeting will be won occasionally as a result of dumb luck.

But what do you have if you find a situation where you will play until either the mini or the maxi hits?

Notice from the frequencies, you are going to hit about 5 minis for every 1 maxi.  5 minis for every 1 maxi means that 83% of the time I’ll hit the mini and 17% of the time I’ll hit the maxi.  Again, this analysis is not right; it is based on what I knew after 10,000 spins… 

So, for a mini / maxi play the formula would be:

Base Game + all banked spins + 83% of the mini meter + 17% of the maxi meter

Now that I have this, I can calculate the total expected RTP for every value of banked spins I find.  That is useful information. 

These calculations are too complex for me to do in my head in real time.  As a result, I built a spreadsheet where I could record the number of banked spins and how much of the meter speed I want to use.  In a world where you can do excel calculations on your phone, a spreadsheet is a super useful tool.