biggest change in Las Vegas casinos over the last
decade has been the massive shift in popularity from
the traditional table games—blackjack, craps
and roulette—to slot machines and video poker,
which are everywhere.
While most of the slots still display the traditional
three reels of cherries, melons, bells and 7s, advanced
computer technology now also provides multireel action
and branded games—Wheel of Fortune, Jeopardy!
Monopoly, Let’s Make a Deal, Elvis and Three
Stooges—with entertaining bonus wheels, music
and video screens.
Slot machines also now can be linked electronically
to a wider network, in order to pay "progressive
jackpots" comparable to state lottery jackpots.
The more people who play, the larger the payout. In
November 1998, the 700-machine Megabucks network paid
a record jackpot of more than $27.5 million. Of course,
word travels fast when that much action is on the
line, and it isn’t easy to find a seat at a
Hint: Ask the slots supervisors which of the machines
offer the highest percentage payouts and what it takes
to win the biggest prizes. To take advantage of the
best odds, video poker—“the crack cocaine
of gambling”—must be played with an eye
toward hitting the most difficult hand, using the
maximum amount of coins at all times. Machines truly
do run hot and cold, so develop a strategy as to when
to give up on a particular game and move to another
By the way, more than half of all new slot machines
now come minus the familiar handle of the one-armed
bandit. In addition to the vast array of slots, it’s
also possible to play electronic versions of traditional
table games with multiple players and virtual dealers.
The world's largest regular slot machine (certified
by The Guinness Book of World Records) is located
in the Four Queens Hotel in downtown Las Vegas. It's
about the size of a small motor home, and six people
can play it simultaneously.