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Is Bigger Always Better? Real Talk About Slot Machine Hold!

This GGB paper provides a compelling analysis of the casino industry’s response to the evolving RTP (Return To Player) dynamics.

With 25 years of experience in the industry, including over a decade dedicated to inventing Cooe highly profitable slot machines, I can definitely identify with and concur with many of the ideas expressed in the article. While I cannot disclose all of my professional secrets, I would like to provide a few extra thoughts and observations:

Indeed, players cannot ascertain if a certain machine, on average, holds more or less than another based on a single brief play session.
Additionally, it is true that a player does not require any knowledge about RTP or slot machine mathematics to simply see that $100 does not have the same duration at the casino as it once did.
Everything is relative: Transitioning from an 8% hold to a 12% hold may seem like a mere 4% gain in absolute terms, but in relative terms, the house is retaining 50% more of the player’s funds. The player will undoubtedly see the impact, if not the underlying reason (as it is, in fact, the rationale behind the $100 not lasting as long as it once did!)
FALSE: Players will not perceive an increase in hold if the frequency of relatively low-value (but quite frequent) payouts is extended.
Indeed, it is true that as an event occurs more frequently, the player becomes more responsive to variations in that frequency, especially when those variations occur within the usual duration of a play session. When shifting a relatively modest reward from a time interval of 1:40 to 1:50, the player is more likely to perceive the decrease in frequency compared to moving a significantly larger reward from 1:2,000 to 1:2,500, despite the fact that the percentage change remains the same (25%) in both scenarios.
Typical versus average: The average or “mean” statistics about pay per spin, spins to bonus, and other factors are crucial for validating the theoretical RTP. However, they are generally inconsequential to the player as the player seldom encounters the “average” scenario. Game designers should prioritize the average player experience, taking into account median and modal values rather than mean values, as this is how the player’s evaluation of the game will be based.
Truth and falsehood: Players always prefer a higher RTP. While this may hold true in a broader context (as mentioned above regarding the duration of a player’s funds), it may not always be applicable when comparing individual games. This is because:
The method of payment holds greater significance than the amount of payment. RTP is merely one ipl win of several factors that contribute to the overall experience of the game. Considering that players are indifferent is an error, but assuming that more challenging games are invariably inferior for the player is also incorrect.
To exemplify the aforementioned point, I present two theoretical mathematical models:

Model A comprises a solitary award with a value of 9 times the stake. This award is encountered once every 10 spins, resulting in a return to player (RTP) of 90%.
Model B comprises a solitary prize valued at 9,500 times the wager. This prize is awarded once every 10,000 spins, resulting in a return to player (RTP) rate of 95%.
Between the two options, which model do you think most players would prefer?

Both games are subpar, and while these instances are extreme, they serve to illustrate my thesis. However, the majority of players will undoubtedly choose the game that, in this scenario, potentially retains twice as much of their money.

What is the reason?

Although Model B provides a better overall playing experience on average, Model A offers a significantly superior typical player experience. During a play session of 100 spins, Model A is projected to have approximately 10 successful outcomes, resulting in a total payout of 90 times the bet. On the other hand, Model B, despite having a higher Return to Player (RTP), is expected to have no successful outcomes.


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