Slot Machine Tips
Millions of people play slot machines around the world and online every day. Slot machines are probably the most popular form of gaming on the planet, and you won’t have to go far in many major cities or towns to find a casino or bar with some slot machines. We cover some useful Slot Machine Tips that will help you while playing
Unfortunately, this popularity certainly isn’t a good indication of the value you can get from playing slots. The odds are heavily stacked against you and you won’t be able to win money in the long term, or even come close. So when you play slots, make sure you’re playing for entertainment purposes only. View your slot machine play like going out to eat or seeing a movie instead of a chance to win money in the long run. Follow these slot machine tips, and you will enjoy playing this game, and maybe even win money while you’re having fun.
It may seem strange to start talking about slot machine tips with a section on your goals, but before you decide how to use everything else on this page you need to make a clear decision about what you hope to accomplish while playing online slots for real money.
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You may want to instantly win money, but if that is your only goal you wouldn’t be playing slot machines. Everyone wants to win money when they play slots or participate in any gambling activity. But if you want a chance to win money you can find quite a few opportunities that offer better chances to win than playing slots. We cover a few of these options in the alternatives section below.
Besides making money, most players want to accomplish one or more of the following:
- Play as long as possible
- Forget about the rest of the world for a while
- Have fun playing slots with friends
- Earn comps from the casino
Notice that the longer you can play, the closer you get to each of these goals. So most of the sections on this slots strategy guide are directly related to extending your playing sessions.
Basic Slots Tips
Button Layout on the Machines
When playing in a live environment most machines will usually have two lines of buttons. The top line of buttons will indicate how many units of the relevant denomination of the machine you wish to bet per line. The bottom line shows how many lines you wish to play per spin. Some machines require that you hit the top line and the bottom line to make a bet. While others make you select both of these buttons and then hit the spin button, or pull the arm if the machine has one. As part of our effort to give you the best slot machine tips, make sure you know what the machine requires you to do before making a bet so you don’t make a mistake and bet more or less than you want to.
Play for Fun
The most important slot machines tip we can give you for playing slots, either online or in a live casino, is that you should be playing to have fun. That’s it. You’ll never win playing slots and no betting method will change anything. Slots are for fun and entertainment purposes only. If you go into it knowing this then you’ll never have any problems at the slot machines.
Extend Your Session
Slots are designed to make a play as fast as possible. Taking this into consideration with the fact you’ll lose over time, if you’re planning on having a slots session then you should slow down your play. Take your time in spinning and let the machine fully spin itself instead of auto-stopping it. With this slot machine strategy your session will be a lot longer and you’ll get your fix without losing as much money.
Have a Clear Bankroll Strategy
Like many other casino games and gaming in general, you must have a solid bankroll strategy when playing slots. This will see your play extended as long as possible and will mean you aren’t impacting your day to day expenses. You should set limits for each slots session and never chase your losses or dip into the money that you use for rent, food, the mortgage, and so on.
Set Win Limits
In order to make slot sessions more enjoyable and to actually walk away with a profit sometimes, you should set win limits before you start. By setting this amount you can finish up and walk away with some money in hand. If you don’t set a win limit, then we can guarantee that however much you’ve won it will never be enough and you’ll keep playing until you lose it all.
That One Machine is Not Special
You won’t be able to find slots that pay out differently or well based on their location in the casino and how much traffic they get. We have already covered this one in our slot machine tips list, but it’s worth mentioning again that every spin is random and independent and slots are weighted to retain a theoretical amount of money.
Know the Local Laws
When playing slots in the United States, make sure you know about the local laws in that state. In some states, traditional Las Vegas-style slots are banned. These are known as class 3 slots and are the type using a random number generator. To get around the bans, casinos and race tracks in other states developed class 2 slots which are basically an automated bingo game that has reels and graphics for entertainment purposes. Class 2 slots are networked in the casino you’re in and the results are predetermined for a certain number of players, who are chosen at random based on bingo draws, to win. Generally, these should be avoided as they have even worse odds than class 3 slots.
Tips on Rate of Play in Online Slots
Slots players can spin the reels hundreds of times per hour depending on the machine. Even when you’re wagering a small amount per spin, if you’re spinning the reels 200 times per hour it can add up quickly.
One of the best slot machine tips is to extend your play, and slow down. If you simply slow down to take one spin per minute you can play over three times as long as the player taking 200 spins per hour. At one spin per minute, you still take 60 spins per hour, but it’s still less than a third of 200 spins per hour.
Here’s an example of this slot machine strategy:
You take a trip to Las Vegas every year and usually play slots for four hours a day for five days. You spin the reels as fast as possible and average 180 spins per hour. You usually play the slot machines for 20 hours total on your trip. It’d be nice to be able to play more, but you always have to watch your money because the slots don’t let you have a winning session often.
Over 20 hours of play, you make 3,600 spins. If you can reduce your spins per hour to 60 you can play 60 hours on the same amount of money. This slot machine trick means you could play slots for 12 hours per day instead of four.
Even if you can cut your rate of play from 180 spins per hour to 120 per hour you can play 30 hours on the trip, or six hours a day instead of four. Any drop in spins per hour increases how long you can play with the same amount of money.
Welcome the Distractions
Many players think they’ll quickly get bored if they reduce the number of spins they take, but if you train yourself to slow down you’ll find that it isn’t much of an adjustment. While many slots players like playing alone, among the best slot machine tips is to find a friend or two who like to play you can go as a group and visit while playing.
If you carry on a conversation with a couple other people while playing slots you can spend more time talking and less time hitting the spin button or pulling the handle.
Don’t Play Like the Casino Wants
The casino wants you to become a mindless zombie while playing slots and keep spinning as fast as possible until they have all of your money. Then they want you to walk 27 steps to the nearest ATM, take out more money, and mindlessly play slots again as fast as possible until they have all of that money too.
Just because you play slots doesn’t mean you have to play them the way the casino wants you to play. If you play online slots instead of playing in a live casino try to combine two or more things while you play. Grab a book and read it while playing or watch television in between spins or catch up on your paperwork.
Reduce the Number of Spins
This slot machine tip is the same as when playing live. Anything you can do to reduce the number of spins you take per hour will help you play longer. If you practice taking a spin every minute, you’ll quickly adjust and it’ll become natural. One player let us know that she used a kitchen timer to adjust her play. She took a spin and set the timer for 60 seconds. When the timer went off she took a spin and set the timer for 60 seconds again.
After she did this for a couple playing sessions she found she didn’t need to use the timer at all.
Another player reports that she likes to cook while she plays online slots. She has a place for her laptop computer in the kitchen and takes a few spins between adding ingredients and while waiting for things to cook.
Finally, a couple sports fans have let us know that part of their slot machine tips is to play their favorite online slot machines during commercials while they watch football games or baseball games.
Amount Per Spin Slots Strategy
The next big thing in your control is how much you invest per spin. If you’re betting $2.50 per spin and taking 200 spins per hour you’re total amount bet per hour is $500. While there’s nothing wrong with this, if you reduce the amount you bet per hour you extend your playing time.
If you bet $1 per spin instead of $2.50 per spin, even if you stay at the same number of spins per hour, you only wager $200 per hour instead of $500. This means you can play two and a half times longer on the same amount of money. If you reduce this to 50 cents per spin, you can play five times as long as at $2.50 per spin.
Here’s an example tying both of the first two examples together.
If instead of playing 200 spins per hour at $2.50 a spin, you play 100 spins per hour at 50 cents a spin, you can increase your playing time 10 times. If you could normally play 20 hours, now you can play 200.
The Minimum Bet
When choosing a slot to play make sure you factor in the minimum bet as well as the denomination that the machine advertises. Quite often penny slots have a minimum bet of 40 cents. It’s just that the bet on an individual pay line or way is 1 cent, however, you must bet on 40 of these as a minimum on the machine. You can find penny machines that allow you to bet one penny per spin, although these are quite rare these days.
Resist the Top Payout Wagers
Most slot machines let you choose how many lines you want to bet and how many coins per line you want to commit. The key is they often force you to wager the maximum amount of coins per line to unlock the top possible payouts. They may also require a bet on every possible pay line in order to be eligible for the top payouts.
You can battle the minimum coin push in a couple different ways. You can simply ignore everything else and only activate one pay line and only play one coin per line. This slot machine tip works fine, but what usually happens when you do this is eventually you miss a big payout on a line you don’t have activated. Then you’re tempted to start betting more per spin again.
The other way to apply slot machine strategy to this scenario, is finding a machine that has a lower maximum amount required to activate all of the lines and play max coins. Find a machine that has a maximum total bet of 50 cents or $1. You may have to play a slot machine with fewer total pay lines, but you can find thousands of different slot machine set ups so you should have plenty of options to choose from.
The return percentage of a slot machine dictates how much of each dollar placed in the machine is returned to the player. This is a long term calculation and will vary in the short term.
If a slot machine has a 95% payback rate, it means that for every dollar put in the machine it gives back 95 cents. You can see why your entire slots bankroll seems to disappear so quickly without a proper slots strategy. If you’re putting $500 an hour through a machine at 95% return you’re losing an average of $25 per hour. And in the short term, it can be hundreds per hour or you can win.
A Common Misconception
Slot machines are never hot or cold. The only way to get a long-term edge against the slot machines is to cheat or hit a huge progressive jackpot and avoid playing so much that you give all of it back over time. A slot machine is never due to pay out or hit.
Here’s the problem with slot machine payback percentages. The manufacturers, the casinos, and the software developers don’t want you to know what the payback percentage is. Most slot machines have payback percentages between 88% and 98%, but you usually don’t know where a particular machine falls in this range.
Of course, the best slot machine tips include playing an online slots game that offers the best payback percentage, but it’s rare to be able to access this information. We’ve included a few resources at the end of this section that can help.
Determine your Expected Loss Rate
If you know the percentage a machine offers you can determine your expected loss rate per hour. Here’s how you do this.
Determine how many spins per hour you take and the amount you wager on each spin. Then multiply these two numbers and then multiply them by the payback percentage. Finally, subtract this number from the total amount wagered and you get your expected hourly loss rate.
If you take 200 spins per hour at $2 per spin and the payback is 95% you multiply 200 times $2 for a total amount wagered per hour of $400. When you multiply $400 times .95 you get a payback amount of $380. Subtract this from $400 and you find that you lose an average of $20 per hour using these numbers.
Research Before Playing
It’s widely accepted that the house edge on slots can range from 5% to 15%. If the casino is nicer and is marketed towards the mainstream the slots will be tighter. If it’s a local’s casino it will be looser. You’ll be able to find the best odds on slots online, like with most casino games. If a casino doesn’t advertise anything about the odds they offer in slots then they won’t be great. Additionally to these slot machine tips, you can find the best slots to play with a little bit of research, starting with our online slots page. You’ll rarely know the actual payout percentages offered, though.
Quite often video poker is considered in the same category as slots. This misrepresents video poker quite a lot as the odds you can get in those games are far better than you’ll ever get in slots. At the same time in video poker, you must implement a strategy to do well, however, in slots you won’t have to implement any strategy at all. You just hit the button and hope that you get a win.
Strictly Slots magazine prints payback percentage details for individual slot machines sometimes. They also have average payback numbers for different parts of the United States. Here’s a page that has state by state details for slot machine percentages. Finally, the Wizard of Odds has a page covering slots payback percentages.
Progressive Jackpot Machines
Progressive jackpot slot machines offer both good and bad things for slots players. On one hand you can win a life-changing amount for a small investment of only a few dollars, but on the other hand, they usually have some of the lowest payback percentages in a casino.
Slot machine tips like these are true for both live play and when you play online. It’s difficult to find exact details, but many suggest that the average payback for progressive machines is 88% to 90% on average. This is a huge house edge and drains your slots bankroll at a fast rate.
If you put $1,000 an hour through a machine with a 90% payback you lose an average of $100 per hour. It’s $120 per hour if the same machine pays back 88% instead of 90%.
Large Payouts are a Lure
Of course the lure of large payouts, often over a million dollars, give these machines the same basic psychological advantages that the lottery does. Players start dreaming of what they’ll do with a huge win and reason that it only costs a few dollars to take a shot.
This is one way the casinos get you to bet more per spin on average. Progressive jackpot slot machines have a minimum bet you have to make in order to be eligible for the top prize amount. This is often $2 or higher. Even penny slot machines with jackpots may have a $2.50 minimum bet. We’ve seen machines with $5 and higher betting limits.
Responsibility of the Payout
It’s fine if you want to ply progressive slots, just be aware of what the casino is going and how they use these machines to get you to lose more money. And the best news of all for the casino is most progressive slots have the top payout paid out by the company that designed or programmed the machine. A portion of each bet is retained by the manufacturer to fund the growing progressive and the casino isn’t responsible for the payout. The casino and manufacturer share the profits from the machine.
This is how some machines, called wide area progressives, can be found in numerous land based casinos or in many different online casinos. The machines are all tied together and all add to the jackpot and are eligible for the top prize.
Treat Progressive Like a Lottery
A few possible alternatives to playing a progressive machine with a high house edge are to simply not play a progressive machine or find a machine that has a smaller jackpot but offers a higher payback percentage.
Another sensible approach to a progressive jackpot slot machine is to treat it just like the lottery. Determine a set amount you’re willing to use to try to hit a big jackpot and stick with it. If you‘re willing to try your luck with $100, put it in the machine and play until you lose it all or hit the big jackpot. Then go back to playing a machine or other game with a lower house edge.
Slots Bonuses Strategy
One of the best slots strategies in online slots when you play for real money, is to increase the time you can play by getting a bonus. Most online casinos offer generous bonuses for slots players when they make a deposit.
Common bonuses are 100% up to a certain amount, but if you look around you can find hundreds of different options. One online casino may offer 100% up to $500 and another may have 200% up to $1,000 and yet another may have 100% up to $5,000.
Read the Terms Carefully
It’s important that you always read all of the terms and conditions before you accept a slots bonus. You’ll find that not all bonuses are the same. They all have play through requirements you must meet before you can make a cash out request, but some of them let you keep any money you have left and others deduct the bonus from your account before you can withdraw your winnings.
Imagine how much longer you can play with a big bonus. Remember the example of where you can play 10 times as long on the same amount of money by reducing your average bet and spins per hour? If you get a 100% bonus from an online casino on top of making these changes you can double the amount of time you can play. So instead of going from 20 hours to 200 you can play for 400 hours.
Get the Most Out of the Bonus
If you’re a slots player and aren’t interested in turning 20 hours into 400, there’s probably not much more we can do for you. But if you want to find a great bonus and get started playing right away simply check out any of our recommended online casinos listed on this page. They all offer generous slot machine bonuses and you can get started right away.
Before we move on from bonuses to the next section, you need to know that not all bonuses can be used to play all the games offered by an online casino. Most of them can be used to play slot machines, but many bonuses can’t be used for video poker or blackjack.
While this is minor compared to many of the other slot machine tips we cover on this page, it can be just as important if you miss something and it costs you a big win. Each slot machine has its own set of rules and playing procedures.
For example, you have to activate all of the paylines to be eligible for wins on every pay line and some machines have a minimum amount of coins per spin that you have to wager in order to have an opportunity to win the top payouts.
Most players assume they know everything there is to a machine and just put money in and start playing. But as a good slot machine tip, you should always read all of the rules before you start playing. Some slot machines have the rules printed on the machine but many have a rules screen that you access by pushing a button.
It’s usually safe to hit the max bet button if you want to make sure you have everything covered, but remember this is also the way the casinos get you to wager the maximum amount and lose the most money.
Find Your Favorite
If a slot machine doesn’t have the rules you like or won’t let you play a lower amount of coins, simply find another machine. If you play at the same online casinos or same land-based casinos regularly, you’ll quickly build a list of favorite machines that offer everything you’re looking for in your slots play.
As an alternative to playing slots, you could play another casino game. Here are the popular games available in most casinos and how they’re similar and different than slot machines. We have pages and sections about all of these games if you want to learn more about any or all of them.
Poker, like Texas Hold’em and Omaha, offers a chance to play against other players instead of the casino. But these games don’t offer an easy road to riches. Even if you want to get good enough to play break even poker, it requires quite a bit of practice, study, and work. To get to a place where you consistently win requires even more time and effort and some players never reach this point.
Bingo is usually played in a room full of people so if you play live you need to enjoy social interaction. But the nice thing about playing bingo is you don’t need to do much thinking and the games are slow so you can play all night for a few dollars.
Keno is probably the only game that can be played with less thought than slot machines. We aren’t saying that playing with little or no thought is a bad thing. Everyone needs to take a mental break after a hard day every now and then, so slots and keno are great options when you need a break. If you play video keno you simply hit a button and the play is instant. When you play in a casino you have to fill out a bet slip, but you can check the box for an auto pick and the number of numbers you want.
Craps is a fun game that has some low house edge bets and doesn’t require a great deal of thought to play. But if you like the solitude of playing slots by yourself the craps table may not be the place for you. Most craps tables are surrounded by players who all seem to be having a great time. It’s almost as much of a social interaction game as bingo.
Blackjack is one of the few casino games where you can play a break even game or get a small advantage over the casino if you learn certain strategies. But it’s on the opposite end of the stick from slots when it comes to using your brain. You need to always be thinking and making the best playing decisions while playing blackjack instead of just hitting the spin button.
Whether you play slots in Las Vegas or an online casino, you should always join the slots club or player’s club before you play.
Most casinos have some sort of rewards program for all of your slots play. You might be able to earn free meals, free hotel stays, free travel, cash back, additional bonuses, or all kinds of other gifts and merchandise. If you’re going to play, you might as well earn some comps while you do.
If you visit a land based casino, ask the first casino employee you see where to sign up for a player’s club card. When you play online, you need to look for a link to the club. Some online casinos automatically sign you up for the program, while others make you request membership. A few online casinos don’t have a rewards program and offer additional bonuses instead. If you can’t find the player’s club, send an email to the support department and ask what they have and how to sign up.
Play For Free
The final method we need to cover is skipping the entire need for a strategy. You can play online slots for free, so you can play as long as you want without risking any money. Simply sign up for a free account at a reputable online casino and start playing their slot machines for free.
Some players don’t enjoy playing slots when they aren’t playing for real money, but it is a great way to get free entertainment. If you simply can’t stand playing without risking real money, make a minimum deposit, get the biggest bonus you can find, locate a machine that lets you play a single line for a penny or a nickel, and use the methods described above to extend your play as long as possible.
Every once in a while you can find an online casino that gives you a no deposit bonus. This is a bonus you can use to try the slots without initially risking your own money. If you clear the bonus and have any money left, you might be required to make a future deposit before you can make a cash out request.
While it’s difficult to find a slot machine strategy that can reduce the house edge, you can do the next best thing. If you follow the advice on this page you can play 20 to 40 times longer while still enjoying great slot action.