Both landbased and online casinos are well-aware of the fact their customers love to play slots. In some countries, slots are the most played type of casino game. In others, one-armed bandits are close to the point of rivaling mainstays like blackjack and roulette in terms of popularity.
Despite this huge demand, slots are not the type of gambling game you can beat with skills and smart play. There is no optimal strategy here because the odds are set in favor of the house and inevitably remain the same on each spin. Nothing you can do within the law can increase your winning chances.
What To Do To Maximize Wins
Only scammers and hackers have succeeded in beating the one-warmed bandits so far. We take it you do not belong to either category, so we offer you a few hints about maximizing your slot profits while keeping your losses to the minimum.
Play Slots That Pay Disproportionately for Max Bets
Slot players are often encouraged to bet the maximum number of coins per spin but does this really work to their advantage? The answer is it all depends on the type of slot one is playing. This practice is usually recommended on classic games that play on 3 reels.
You have to check the game’s paytable first to see whether betting maximum coins gives you higher value and better payouts. Examine the paytable below and you will see what we mean.
|Paytable of a Classic 3-Reel Slot That Pays Proportionately to the Wager Size|
|Winning Combination||Payout for 1-Coin Bets||Payout for 2-Coin Bets||Payout for 3-Coin Bet|
|3 x Diamond||800 coins||1,600 coins||2,400 coins|
|3 x Lucky 7||100 coins||200 coins||300 coins|
|3 x Triple Bar||50 coins||100 coins||150 coins|
|3 x Double Bar||25 coins||50 coins||75 coins|
|3 x Cherry||20 coins||40 coins||60 coins|
|3 x Single Bar||10 coins||20 coins||30 coins|
|Any 2 Cherries||5 coins||10 coins||15 coins|
|3 x Any Bar||3 coins||6 coins||9 coins|
|1 x Cherry||2 coins||4 coins||6 coins|
As you can see, the payout multipliers are proportionate to the number of coins you have triggered the respective winning combination with. Wagering two coins per spin brings you precisely double the pay for each winning combo while winning three-coin bets earn you triple the payout for a combo.
The return percentage here remains the same regardless of your wager’s size. In other words, there is no incentive for the player to bet the maximum number of coins.
However, this is not the case with slots that come with disproportionate multipliers on top-paying combinations. Below is an example of one such paytable.
|Paytable of a Classic 3-Reel Slot with Disproportionate Payouts for Max-Coin Bets|
|Winning Combination||Payout for 1-Coin Bets||Payout for 2-Coin Bets||Payout for 3-Coin Bets|
|3 x Gold Nuggets||1,000 coins||2,000 coins||4,000 coins|
|3 x Triple Bar||160 coins||320 coins||480 coins|
|3 x Double Bar||40 coins||80 coins||120 coins|
|3 x Single Bar||10 coins||20 coins||30 coins|
|3 x Any Bar||5 coins||10 coins||15 coins|
Here we have a big jump in the fixed jackpot for winning three-coin bets. The game no longer pays proportionately to your bets’ size. The prize for the highest paying combination of three gold nuggets is four times greater for max bets than that for one-coin wagers.
This disproportionate increase in the payouts has a positive effect for players because it leads to a leap in the average return percentages for winning maximum-coin bets. The same applies to progressive three-reel slots where the jackpot increases incrementally. In such games, players can only qualify for winning the progressive pot if they wager the maximum number of coins.
The Discrepancy in Return Percentages for One-Coin and Three-Coin Bets
Now, let’s see how this condition impacts return percentages in a slot with the same paytable as the one above. Suppose the one-coin wager here is $1 and the return percentage with three-coin bets is equal to 94.00%.
Let’s say the probability of landing the top jackpot is 1 in 20,000 rounds. This means you are betting $60,000 (3 coins of $1 x 20,000). Since the return percentage is 94.00%, the game would pay around 0.94 x $60,000 = $56,400. You get $4,000 from the jackpot combination while the remaining $52,400 from the lower-value combinations.
With one-coin bets of $1, you are wagering $20,000 every 20,000 spins. The game pays proportionately for other winning combinations, so you end up winning 1/3 of $52,400, or $17,466 on average.
The jackpot for one-coin wagers is only $1,000 when you land three Golden Nuggets. Therefore, your profits from $20,000 in bets amount to an average of $18,466. How much is the theoretical return percentage for one-coin bets then?
To calculate this, you must divide your average profits by the overall amount you have wagered, or 18,466 / 20,000 = 0.9233. This results in a payback percentage of 92.33%.
The conclusion we can draw is that the classic slot from the above example offers a 94.00% average return for maximum bets of three coins. If you do not bet the maximum credits, this percentage drops to 92.33%.
Keep in mind that betting the maximum number of coins does not affect the odds of the jackpot hitting. Nevertheless, the odds built into the slot combined with the disproportionate top payouts for three-coin bets have a positive effect on the game’s theoretical return percentage.
Play All Available Paylines on Video Slots
How about modern video slots that play on five instead of three reels? The payouts there are proportionate to the credits you bet per payline. There is no increase in payouts when the player is betting the maximum number of coins.
It follows that return percentages in such games remain static, i.e. they do not jump when the player is wagering maximum coins. If you examine the paytable of a video slot, you are to arrive at several observations.
- First, such games utilize more symbols, grouped into two categories – high-value and low-value ones. This allows for more winning combinations than those in three-reel slots. Some games even award payouts for as little as two matches.
- Second, the player is awarded a given number of credits when the matching symbols align on an active payline, with the number of win lines varying in different five-reel slots. Winning combinations fail to pay if the symbols land on a deactivated payline, i.e. a line that is not covered with a coin bet.
- Third, multi-line slots have much higher maximum bets because each line must be covered with a wager to pay. Many video slots support bets of up to five coins per line. For example, a 25-line slot requires 25 coins if you bet a single coin per spin and 125 coins for the five-coin bets.
Such games do not offer an additional incentive to place maximum-coin bets. Nevertheless, players are recommended to bet on all available paylines as this increases their chances of scoring winning combinations.
Many modern video slots do not give players the option to deactivate and bet on fewer win lines than those available. The number of coins per line is fixed. Such slots are known as “forced bet” games. One such slot with 20 paylines may feature buttons that read Bet 20, Bet 40, Bet 60, Bet 80, and Bet 100 for one, two, three, four, and five coins per win line.
Also, you sometimes need to play all available paylines for the chance to enter the bonus game. In such cases, you trigger the bonus by landing a specific symbol combination on an active payline.
If said combination occurs on a deactivated line, you will not unlock the bonus event, be it a round of free spins, a pick-me game for extra cash prizes, or a wheel-based game.
Bonus games, no matter what type, give players the opportunity to build a balance without actually making additional bets. Therefore, you can increase your rewards if you ensure you qualify for the bonus features. It is best to cover all available paylines when you play video slots, even if you use coins of lower denomination.
Research the Games' Return Percentages
Many landbased casinos refrain from publicly revealing the return percentages (RTP) of their slot machines. If you play online, you will experience no such issues. All reputable web-based casinos publish the long-term return of their slot games.
The RTP is even listed in the paytables of slots developed by specific software suppliers. This information is important because it is an indicator of how a given slot performs in the long term.
Like all casino games, slots pay at less than true odds. Their average return is always under 100%. The return percentage denotes what proportion of all wagered money goes back to players. The house keeps the remaining portion of all wagers, which gives it a permanent edge over players.
A slot with an RTP of 95% pays an average of ¢0.95 per dollar wagered and retains the remaining ¢0.05. Similarly, a game with an RTP of 98% returns ¢0.98 per dollar wagered and the house keeps the remaining ¢0.02.
It follows that slots with lower RTP give the house a bigger advantage because it retains a bigger portion of the money players feed into the machines. Slots with high payback percentages are better for the players because they yield a lower house edge.
A higher return percentage does not necessarily guarantee you end up on the winning side. The more plays you make on a machine, the bigger your chances of ending up a loser.
With that in mind, games with high payback percentages are recommended because they exhaust your bankroll at a slower rate.
Always do your research before you spin the reels online. Compare how the games perform return-wise and pick the ones offering you the highest long-term paybacks.
Play High-Denomination Games If Your Budget Allows It
Slot coin denominations are a good indicator of whether or not a given game has a high return percentage. Games with higher coin denominations generally have better return percentages and lower house edges.
Quarter slots perform better than nickel slots, nickel slots offer higher paybacks than penny games, and so. Due to this, the general recommendation is to play the machines with the highest coin denominations you can afford. With that said, you should never overbet your bankroll if you are playing on a limited budget.
Keep in mind that this approach is mainly recommended when one plays slots in landbased casinos where the payout percentages of the games are not readily available. It is a good reference point but it does not guarantee consistent profits in the long term.
Use a Slot Player Card and Participate in Casino Promotions
Slot players are among the most valuable customers of the casino. They lose the most money because they play against some of the biggest house edges on the floor. The silver lining here is that this renders them eligible for the best comps.
Most landbased casinos allow reel spinners to sign up for a player card. You insert this card into the machine before you start playing and it tracks down your action, i.e. the amount of money you wager on a given game.
By using a card, you make sure you get back something in return for the expected value you generate for the casino. The rates at which comp points are awarded differ based on where you play, but the general rule is players get about one-third of the amount they have played in the form of comps.
Some casinos offer promotions where they multiply the comps you generate by 3x, 5x or even 10x. It is recommended to visit the casino when it benefits you the most. The bottom line is you should refrain from playing if you are not getting rewarded in one way or another.
Various factors that determine the rate at which you are comped, including average bet size, average playtime, the games’ house edge, and your customer status. The most loyal spinners who frequent the casino are in for the biggest perks.
The niceties you get are different across casinos but usually include airfare, dinner and entertainment comps, free hotel accommodations, free slot tournament participation, and so on.
Online slot players are also treated to comp points but these do not come in the form of free beverages, meals, and show tickets. Instead, you accumulate loyalty points when you bet real money and can exchange them for free spins, free play credits or withdrawable cash.
The average online casino converts points at the rate of 100 points for $1. At some websites, you can even convert your points into free merchandise like smartphones or cruise trips. While these perks cannot completely overturn the house edge in slots, you still get more value for your action.
What To Avoid To Maximize Wins
Part of our tips to maximizing slots wins include a number of mistakes players tend to do which should be avoided.
Avoid Machines at Airport Terminals and Other Non-Casino Locations
In major gambling hubs like Reno and Las Vegas, the availability of slots is not restricted only to the casino floors. Slot machines are broadly available across non-casino locations like airport terminals, bars, and even convenience stores.
Should you give these games a try? Bluntly put this is an awful idea and here is why. The reason again has to do with return percentages. Games at non-casino locations are notoriously bad payers and offer some of the lowest theoretical returns ever.
What is worse, this information is not openly available so that passengers and convenience-store shoppers have no way of knowing what monstrous edge they are up against.
A research conducted by gambling expert Wizard of Odds showed that the machines available at the McCarren International Airport in Sin City yield an average theoretical return as low as 85.02%.
This is worse than any landbased casino in America’s biggest gambling metropolis. Statistics published by the Nevada regulator revealed that the average slot machine payback percentages for the period between July 2017 and June 2018 range from 91.96% to 94.34%. These numbers are averages for all inspected machines across the Strip, Downtown Las Vegas, Boulder City, and North Las Vegas.
As you can see, the difference is quite substantial where RTP is concerned. But why do slots at airport terminals pay so poorly? Landbased slot manufacturers give casinos a choice from several return-percentage schedules for the same machine.
The gambling operator then chooses an RTP that can compete with that of other similar machines in rival neighboring establishments. Otherwise, players will bust their bankrolls at a faster rate and ditch the casino for the competition.
More importantly, landbased casinos are guaranteed to turn a profit from their slots regardless of whether they pay back 91% or 94%. Things are different at locations outside gambling establishments, though. Airports, bars, and convenience stores are not competing against each other for the gamblers’ action.
Nobody visits a convenience store or an airport terminal for the sole purpose of playing slot machines. Most passengers who arrive at the airports head straight for the bright lights of the big casinos of Reno and Las Vegas where they get to enjoy a far more sophisticated environment.
Airports and stores are not in competition with gambling venues. They have a guaranteed customer base for their machines since many people are prone to play out of boredom while waiting for their flights. Furthermore, an airport is not reliant on slot players for its profits. Most travelers would spin the reels for a limited time before they leave the airport never to return again.
Spinners who insist on maximizing their chances of turning a profit would never play games with such low theoretical returns. Betting on such machines is next to throwing cash away with both hands, especially if you do it with regularity. If you are looking for more value, you should go for online slots where the payouts are within the 94%-to-99% range.
Avoid Overplaying the Slots
If you insist on playing slots, you should try to play the machines in moderation. Slots are a fast-paced type of game and carry some of the biggest house edges on the casino floor. They can easily gulp down your entire gambling budget if you are not careful.
Play for short periods and try to go through as few spins as possible. Pressing the spin button every two seconds does not guarantee you a huge win. The more spins you play per hour, the higher the hourly losses you incur in the long run. Slowing down the pace will help you stretch your playtime and minimize your losses.
Avoid Progressives when Their Jackpots Are Low
With slots tied to progressive networks, the jackpots accumulate from players’ bets and are reset to their starting values whenever somebody wins the top prize. Fans of progressive games should only play them whenever the jackpot meter has reached a high amount.
The bigger the progressive jackpot, the better the odds. This is a piece of especially good advice if you prefer games with mystery jackpots that hit whenever the prize pools reach a specific range. Some machines even tell you when the jackpot is about to hit.
For example, let’s suppose you play a machine where the major progressive jackpot hits between $250 and $500. Your odds of winning this prize are quite decent when the game’s jackpot meter has escalated to $485. Play only when the pot is closer to the point of hitting.
With games whose progressive jackpots can keep increasing until somebody wins at random, you should do some research to find out their average win. Play the machines when the jackpot has reached twice the average win amount.
The odds of progressive slots tend to improve as their jackpots grow bigger. This does not necessarily mean the pot will drop but at least, you will win more money if it does.