Slot Tournaments

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Playing slots is usually an individual undertaking—one person versus one machine with one result, win or lose. Slot tournaments, however, add a social dimension to slot games, allowing players to compete not against the House but against one another and the clock for the chance to win a variety of prizes.

In a slot tournament, the objective is to accumulate as many credits as possible within an allotted period of time. Those who gather the most credits get the biggest rewards. And because a fixed fee is paid to participate, the potential loss can never be more than the cost of entry, running anywhere from a few pounds to several hundred.

Slot tournaments have become extremely popular at casinos around the world, so much so that many hold contests several times a day. Quite a few different formats exist, with some conducted as sit-and-go competitions while others follow a strict schedule of sessions for play.

When playing in scheduled tournaments, the players register, pay an entry fee and receive a reservation for a seat at a machine at a specified time. All of the slot machines used in the competition are identical to one another and quite similar to those found on the slot floor. A few special adjustments are made for tournament play, such as a preset number of credits and the addition of a timer. The slots are typically positioned in a separate room or roped off from other areas of the slot floor.

Larger tournaments are conducted in a series of “rounds,” starting with qualifiers. The participants for each round are seated at numbered machines that have been assigned at random, typically by drawing lots. All of the slot reels are pre-set so that the machines display exactly the same starting positions, quite often a line of jackpot symbols positioned just beneath the center payline.

The same number of credits is loaded for each machine, too, as is a fixed amount of time for playing them. For example, 500 credits might have to be played in five minutes or 1,000 credits in ten minutes. The credit allotment decreases with each spin until it reaches zero. Any winning combinations result in a payout, which is added to a total on a separate counter.

Players continue to spin the reels of their machines and accumulate winning credits until all of the pre-loaded credits have been spent or the allocated time runs out, whichever comes first. The winner of each qualifier is the player who gathers the most winnings.

Any unplayed credits are lost and not counted; that means players must set a pace that uses them up in a timely manner. Because it is often necessary to use the credits at a rate faster than one per second, almost all players use the Max Bet button for wagering on each spin. Max Bet is also the only way to ensure that any big jackpot pays out the highest amount possible. Some players will continuously press the Max Bet button to activate the reels as fast as possible following a win, never pausing to check on the number of winning credit accumulated.

The number of total entrants determines the cash prizes that are awarded to the highest scorers among the qualifiers, who then advance to the next round of play. In many slot competitions, losers have opportunity to reenter the tournament in another qualifying round if they pay an additional entry fee and sufficient seats are available. The winning totals do not carry over from round to round. At the beginning of every new round, participants must start again from zero.

When the final round ends, the player with the highest score claims the top prize, which may be a few hundred pounds, tens of thousands, a new automobile, a dream vacation or even a house. The value of the prizes depends on the number of entrants and total amount of entry fees collected.

One of the biggest slot tournaments in the world was conducted at eleven Harrah’s casinos in a various countries. The tournament was organized to narrow the field to regional qualifiers, who then gathered in a central location to play for a grand prize of $1 million.

For sit-and-go tournaments, a similar approach is used. The main difference is that there are no scheduled start times. Participants may buy in at any time, take a seat at a vacant preset machine and play to obtain the highest score possible before the machine’s timer winds down to zero. The tournament ends at a specified time or after a predetermined number of entries, and then the highest scores are announced and the respective winners are paid without a play-off round.

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