Reason I like Bovada #4:

It's fair and safe

As always, the best way to avoid losing money by gambling is to not gamble in the first place.  That goes double online, because online gambling is largely unregulated in the U.S.  That means the casinos serving the whole U.S. don't answer to anyone.  If you have a problem with a casino (like they won't pay you), then you're usually out of luck.  I can't count how many players have written to ask me for help because they didn't get paid by some other casino.  (Not that I helped them, it's not what I do—if a dodgy casino won't pay you then you're on your own.)

So if you're intent on gambling online, then the #1 most important thing is to pick a good casino.  The good ones know they make more money with fair games and consistent payouts than the dodgy casinos, because fair play means repeat customers and good word-of-mouth referrals.  It's no coincidence that the most successful online casinos are the ones that focus on their customers.

Many casinos try to find excuses to not pay winning players, especially players who have won big.  Outright cheating (rigged games) is pretty rare, but it happens.  Either way, with the lack of regulation in the U.S., if you have a problem with an online casino, you're usually out of luck.

So all this is another reason why I advertise Bovada, and have done so for over ten years.  They use industry-standard software, it's absolutely fair, and players get their payouts, consistently.  I have a choice in whom I advertise, so I purposefully picked a casino with a good reputation where I'm confident my readers will have a good experience.

To be clear, Bovada's not perfect.  Once they got duped by a bad vendor (Betsoft) who provided progressive slots whose jackpots weren't winnable.  When I discovered this I alerted Bovada, and they pulled all the Betsoft games from the site, but I thought they were slow to do so and didn't offer proper restitution to affected players. (more on this)  Still, even with this incident, their overall history is better than most; as just one example, there are many other casinos still offering Betsoft's questionable games.

Another good thing about Bovada is that they allow me to mediate if one of my readers clicks over to them, plays the games, and has a problem they can't get Bovada to resolve.  My time is valuable and I wouldn't offer that service if I had to do it very often.  I think I've gotten maybe one or two inquiries from affected players in the 14 years I've been advertising Bovada.

Bottom line: I'm confident that Bovada is fair and reasonably safe.  You might have a good experience with another casino...and you might not.  I trust Bovada, and that's why I picked them.

Visit Bovada

Gambling problem?
  1. Call the 800-522-4700 hotline or get online help
  2. See these horror stories.
  3. Know that Parkinson's drugs encourage gambling.

The domain name is for sale now on Sedo for $6,000 Buy It Now.
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Play these
free slots now

Gambling problem?
  1. Call the 800-522-4700 hotline or get online help
  2. See these horror stories.
  3. Know that Parkinson's drugs encourage gambling.

Slot Machine Simulator


1 coin
2 coins
3 coins
B7 B7 Db 0 2500 5000
B7 B7 B7 0 500 1000
R7 R7 Db 0 300 600
R7 R7 R7 0 150 300
A7 A7 Db 0 250 400
A7 A7 A7 0 100 200
3B 3B Db 120 120 120
3B 3B 3B 60 60 60
2B 2B Db 80 80 80
2B 2B 2B 40 40 40
1B 1B Db 40 40 40
1B 1B 1B 20 20 20
AB AB Db 20 20 20
AB AB AB 10 10 10
-- -- Db 4 4 4
-- -- -- 2 2 2
Symbols: Db=Double, B7=Blazing 7, R7=Red 7, A7=Any 7,
3B=Triple Bar, 2B=Double Bar, 1B=Single Bar, AB=Any Bar, -- blank

This is a simulator of a Blazing 7s slot machine, using the actual PAR sheet from the manufacturer which specifies the symbols on each reel. There are no graphics, it just does a bunch of spins and tells you the results.

Number of coins played:

Multiplies the probability of each winning combo by the payout for that combo to get the payback for that combo, and sums all such paybacks to get the total payback for the machine. This shows that I did the programming correctly, because I get the same result as the par sheet.
Spin a bunch of times and see what return you get.
Number of sessions:   Number of spins per session:
Bankroll: coins
Win goal: coins



Jackpot's portion of total return

In most slots I've seen, the jackpot comprises <1% of the total return. But Blazing 7s is tricky. Since the payback on the machine is 92.70% for three coins and 92.52% for two coins, you might conclude that the jackpot is only 0.18% points of the return. In reality, if you played three coins but there was no jackpot prize, the return would be reduced by 1.8% points. What's going on?

Well, if you look carefully at the paytable, you'll see that wins aren't multiplied for multiple coins on most wins, which is unusual for a slot. So, on wins up to Triple Bars, those wins contribute more to the total return on 2 coins, and less to the total return on 3 coins. That depresses the overall return fer 3 coins vs. 2. To make up for that, for all prizes higher than Triple Bars, there's a bonus for playing 3 coins. Usually there's a bonus for only the top jackpot, but on this slot the six top prizes contain a bonus for 3 coins. It might not look like there is because each prize, is doubled, but it shouldn't be, it should be only 50% higher. Take a look at the prize for three of Two Any 7's plus the Double symbol. If the prizes were distributed evenly across the number of coins, they would be 100, 200, and 300 for 1, 2, and 3 coins respectively. However, instead of 200 and 300 for two and three coins, it's 200 and 400. This bonus for six of the top prizes makes up for the fact that it's shortchanging 3-coin players on the lower pays, relative to the 1- and 2-coin players.

So how do we figure how much the jackpot comprises of the total return? We simply multiply the odds of getting the jackpot times the size of the jackpot, divided by the number of coins played. From reels 1 to 3, there are 2, 2, and 1 symbols respectively that can trigger the jackpot, among 72 stops total for each reel. So the odds of hitting the jackpot are 2/72 x 2/72 x 1/72, which is about 0.0000107. Multiplying that by the 5000-coin prize gives us 5.35% points, and dividing by 3 coins played gives us about 1.8% points.

So, without a jackpot, this game at three coins would be 92.7% - 1.8% = 90.9%. Ouch.

*Calculated Machine Return According to Symbol Frequency*

It's possible to estimate the payback of a machine by doing lots of spins, recording which symbols hit, and then using the frequency of the hit symbols to calculate the payback, but it takes lots of spins.  Assuming you could record 800 spins per hour and played for a full week (40 hours), then here are the results for the Blazing 7s slot, according to the sim I just ran, for 1000 attempts and 1 coin played:

  • 50% chance of being off by within ±0.7% points
  • 10% chance of being off by within ±1.4% points
  • 1% chance of being off by within ± 2.2% points

When you run the spin simulation, the program does the same thing, recording which symbols landed on the payline, whether they were winning combinations or not, for each session.  Once a session is over, it uses that frequency data to calculate what the payback on the machine would be, assuming that the frequency we observed was in line with the expected frequency. That's where I got the figures I just mentioned. We do see that estimating the payback that way, rather than looking at the raw return, is much more accurate. Actual returns are in a much wider range than those predicted by using the symbol frequency.

Play slots online

I suggest you play something other than slots because the slot odds are so bad.  You could also play online with fake money, because then it doesn't matter if you lose.  A good casino for free-play is Bovada, since it requires no download and no registration.  (If you see a registration box, you can close it and continue without registering.)  You can play with real money too, though I hope you won't (or at least won't bet more than you can comfortably afford to lose).

The domain name is for sale now on Sedo for $6,000 Buy It Now.
(bid now)

Play these
free slots now

Gambling problem?
  1. Call the 800-522-4700 hotline or get online help
  2. See these horror stories.
  3. Know that Parkinson's drugs encourage gambling.

All my slot machine articles

  • Slot machine basics.  How much it costs to play, how much you can win, expected loss, why they're a bad bet, why they're popular, how you can limit your losses, speed of play
  • How to play slot machines
  • Slot returns.  How much they pay back.
  • The Randomness Principle.  Slots don't continually get looser and tighter as they're played.  They don't have to.
  • How they work. Explains the randomness principle, and runs through the math to show how a game returns a particular payback percentage.  There's a companion page on Par sheets.
  • Slot Machine Myths
  • Slot Machine B.S.  Wrong info that's published elsewhere.
  • Strategies. Tips for increasing your chances of winning, and saving money.
  • Slot Jackpots.  Odds of hitting the jackpot, progressive jackpots, and other jackpot topics.
  • Skill-Based Slots.  The scoop on the new games in which your results aren't entirely determined by chance.
  • Slot Machine malfunctions. How and why slot machines screw up, causing players to think they've won the jackpot when they really haven't.
  • Slot Machine Simulator.  I programmed an exact replica of the Blazing 7s slot (odds-wise).  Click it to play thousands of spins in one second and see how you do.
  • List of good Bovada slots.  I spent a full day surveying Bovada's voluminous offerings and extracted only the few with nice, modern graphics and mobile-compatibility.

Practice gambling with play money

Before you throw down your hard-earned cash in a casino, PRACTICE FIRST!  Learn the games with play money where it doesn't cost you anything if you lose.  Seriously.





Site Contents ©2001-2020 Michael Bluejay.
I believe everything herein to be accurate, but I'm not responsible for errors or omissions.  I'm pretty irresponsible, actually.

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