Video poker has been described by some groups that oppose gambling as being addictive. It derives this reputation because it is marketed as a game of chance that incorporates an element of skill.
If any genre of electronic gaming device deserves to be accused of having obsessive qualities it would have to be the penny slots.
The intriguing nature of the games is complex. They come in a wide variety of game formats that are attractive to the senses and to the nostalgic inclinations of "baby boomers".
They can cast a hypnotic spell on people who are lulled into thinking they are playing an entertaining game rather than gambling. They add an exciting interactive dimension that traditional reel slots never had.
Penny slots are huge money makers for the casinos. The hold (casino win) dwarfs that of higher denomination slot games.
Penny slots, because of the unit of currency required to play them, are perceived by the gambling public as "affordable". Gambling neophytes and players on strict budgets are attracted to them, only to discover that they're not the one-coin-at-a-time mechanical antiques of yesteryear but rather computer-charged monsters with voracious appetites for money: As much as $1.00 up to $5.00 for a single spin.
When you're subjecting a couple of dollars to a 4.8 to 5.8 percent hold on dollar slots that's one thing, but when you're taking that same couple of bucks and exposing it to a 11.7 to 14.3 percent hold on one-cent play, you can see that the theoretical value of your gambling dollar is weakened appreciably by the penny games.
When you play high denomination slots, the hold is comparable to the built-in house advantage found at table games, including roulette, Caribbean Stud Poker, and some bets at craps.
The only difference is that you play slots at a must faster rate per hour, which increases the amount of time you are putting your money at risk and making it easier for the edge that's working against you to wear you down.
There are some proposition bets at the craps table, such as wagers on the hard ways, that the experts will caution you never to make. They'll tell you they're "sucker bets" that range around 9 to 10 percent (and even higher in some cases) against the player, mathematically speaking.
Even though house advantage at the tables and percent hold at the slots are not comparable, they are close enough that one could infer that betting on penny slots should be avoided during your gambling ventures.
My advice is not to avoid them if you have fun playing them, because there is a certain price you must place on entertainment value. But don't be tempted to play inordinate amounts of money in them, or get trapped in what can be an obsessive pursuit of bonus rounds.
Successful bonus rounds and the frequency with which they come can turn a twenty-dollar buy-in into a hundred dollars, two hundred, or even more in no time. It can be exhilarating but all too often followed by an onset of the "greed factor". Then your winnings are destined to dwindle off to Never Land.
It is knowing when to stop chasing the bonuses, knowing when to cash out for a session profit, and knowing when to stop spending all that money on such a high volume currency vacuum cleaner that separates the good gamblers from the reckless ones.
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