Skip to main content
You have permission to edit this article.
Gaming mailbag

Gaming mailbag

  • 0
John Grochowski

John Grochowski

A shuffle through the Gaming mailbag:

Q. I was playing slots online, and there was a free spin bonus where I wondered if your choices made a difference.

A lot of the payback came on free spins. The minimum was eight spins, but 16 was pretty common and I got 32 a few times, 40 once and I think one was 96 spins. That was fun.

Free spins paid double the usual, and when you got 16 or more spins, you were given a choice. You could take the double pays, or you could have half the spins with four-times pays. So I could take 16 spins doubled our eight spins with wins quadrupled.

I get that the average win for the round will come out the same either way. You add some volatility by taking fewer spins, but the average should be the same, right?

Aside from volatility preferences, does it make a difference whether I take the 2x spins or half as many as 4x?

A. If it is possible to trigger more free spins during the free spin round, then I’d take the larger number of spins with the lower multiplier. That gives you more chances to add free spins to your free spins.

If free spins can’t be retriggered, then you’re correct. Your average payback will be the same whether you take half the spins with a 4x multiplier or all the spins with a 2x multiplier.

There is a diference in volatility. There larger multiplier means that if you happen to hit a big winner, it will be even bigger. The fewer spins mean a greater possibility that losing spins or a concentration of small winners could leave you with a low-paying round.

Whether you prefer higher or lower volatility is up to you. But if you can retrigger bonus spins, then I’d take the larger number of spins to maximize the shot at extra spins.

Q. I was thinking about video blackjack. Not the elaborate multi-player games with video dealers where you can get some pretty good rules. I mean the one-player games where blackjacks pay only even money. There’s no 3-2 payoff, and not even 6-5. You just win the amount of your bet.

Does that call for a strategy change? Is there any gain to playing a blackjack as 11 and doubling down?

A. Are those games still around? The one-player video blackjack games I’ve seen in recent years pay 3-2 on blackjacks.

If you’re finding blackjack machines that pay even-money on two-card 21s, your best play remains to take your payoff and move on.

A blackjack is no ordinary 11. It’s a 21, and it wins unless the dealer also has a 21 to push. It beats multi-card 21s.

That’s a really strong position. It’s not as good as getting the 3-2 payoff, of course, but you win every hand where there’s a decision.

I set up the blackjack hand calculator at for a single-deck game in which the dealer hits soft 17, but has a 1-1 payoff on blackjacks. Then I punched in a player hand of Ace-King vs. a dealer’s 6.

The average player win on the blackjack is $1 per $1 wagered. If you double down, you’re going to lose some of the hands you’d normally win or push. That decreases your average win to 68 cents per $1 of your original wager.

I wouldn’t play a game that returns only even money on blackjacks. But if you do, be grateful when the blackjacks turn up and don’t try to push the pace by doubling down.

Look for John Grochowski on Facebook ( and Twitter (@GrochowskiJ).

Look for John Grochowski on Facebook ( and Twitter (@GrochowskiJ).


Be the first to know

* I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its user agreement and privacy policy.

Related to this story

Most Popular

Get up-to-the-minute news sent straight to your device.