Slots are the least competitive type of game you can play at the casino. Here the gameplay tends to get monotonous over time, largely due to the absence of the social element inherent to table mainstays like roulette, craps or baccarat.
One way to break away from this monotony is to sign up for a slot tournament. Tournament play introduces a competitive element into your slot experience. Instead of playing against the house as usual, here you challenge fellow spinners for the top positions in the leaderboard.
If you lack previous experience with such tourneys, this article features all the information you need to get started with competitive slot play. We explain the registration process, break down the different tournament formats in slots, and finish off with several useful tricks that can help you improve your winning chances.
Registering for a Slot Tournament
1The Competition's Date and Starting Time
The registration process for slot tourneys is quite similar to that in poker tournaments. The online or landbased casino announces the competition’s date and starting time and specifies which game or games are eligible for participation. Some casinos host slot tournaments on a daily basis while others organize them one or several times a week on specific days.
Scheduled tournaments have a fixed start and finish time. You can sign up for a scheduled tourney in your chosen casino’s tournament section once registration opens. Players are usually required to contribute with a buy-in fee to qualify for one such competition. Depending on the specific conditions, you may be granted the option to re-buy one or more times.
The prize pools of scheduled tournaments are bigger due to players’ buy-in contributions. Here it is more difficult to emerge a winner. A greater number of players take part since the tourneys are open to everyone as long as they buy in. With scheduled tournaments, winning gets tougher the more players join in the race for the top spots in the leaderboard.
The duration of scheduled competitions can be as little as several minutes or as long as a couple of weeks to a month. The longer the tourney lasts, the bigger the prize pools get. One example is the Grand Slam of Slots tournament that took place back in 2009.
It started on July 1 and lasted until November 2. As many as 9,000 people took part in this massive tourney’s final. The prize pool reached €1.3 million, with €1 million reserved for the first-place finisher.
3Sit and Go Slot Tournaments
Many online casinos host the so-called Sit and Go slot tournaments where there is no fixed starting date or time. Instead, registration remains open until a specific number of players have signed up for participation. Only then can the tournament start.
Sit and Go tourneys are usually short in terms of duration. Since the number of participants here is fixed, the prize pools do not grow to massive proportions as is the case with scheduled competitions.
Nevertheless, Sit and Go tournaments give you better chances of winning because here you have fewer contenders to compete with for a spot in the leaderboard. On the downside, re-buying if you bust is not an option. The results in the leaderboard are made available immediately after the Sit and Go ends.
4The Registration Process
It makes sense that you are expected to sign up with the online casino before you become eligible for slot tournament participation. The registration process involves providing some personal details such as your name, permanent address of residence, phone number, birth date, and email.
Once you register, you must process a real-money deposit into your new account to buy your way into a slot tournament. This entails navigating to the casino’s banking page, selecting your preferred payment method, and entering your banking details.
Slot Tournament Formats
Similarly to poker, slot tourneys come in several widespread formats depending on the entry conditions. Some are reserved exclusively for the most loyal members of the respective online casino while others are open to everyone who buys their way in. Some gambling operators even host free tournaments with no entry fees. Below we break down four of the most common types of online slot tournaments.
Invitational Slot Tournaments
Online casinos reward their slot players for their real-money action, giving them access to a loyalty club of some sort immediately after they open accounts and start spinning the reels for real cash. Loyalty programs are multi-tiered, with each subsequent level offering bigger and better perks such as comps, free spins, and invitations for exclusive slot tournaments.
It makes sense tournaments in this format are not open to all members of the respective casino. Customers with qualifying loyalty status are invited to partake via email. Participation is either entirely free of buy-in charges or at a discounted fee, depending on the invited player’s current VIP status.
These events start at a scheduled date and time during the month. Taking the smaller number of entries into account, invitational events come with quite decent prizes for top-paying positions.
Most scheduled tournaments require participants to pay a buy-in fee upon registration. Part of each player’s buy-in goes toward the prize pool. The casino also collects a portion of the entry fees as a means of compensation for hosting the tournament.
Let’s say you decide to register for one such tourney where the buy-in condition reads “$50 + $2.50”. This is to say each player contributes with a $50 fee that goes toward the prize pool while the gambling operator collects the other $2.50 for the trouble of organizing the event.
The cool thing about the buy-in format is that it allows the prize pools to grow quite large, with some tourneys boasting pools that reach the six-figure and even the seven-figure mark.
Here it is important to mention that once they buy in, each participant gets a fixed number of credits to play with in exchange for their entry fee. The casino keeps track of each player’s credit score to determine their position in the leaderboard.
Much like poker tourney events, the winnings you register during the tournament are not yours to keep. The prize you potentially collect is determined by your position in the leaderboard. Only the top positions pay, which is another thing to keep in mind.
Many online casinos host freeroll tournaments where spinners are not required to contribute with buy-in fees to participate. There are two main types of freeroll tournaments.
Some freerolls lack any entry fee whatsoever, which means any member of the respective casino can join for the chance to win a slice of the prize-pool pie. This works to the advantage of rookie players as it helps them build a slot bankroll.
Of course, you need to be a registered member of the online gambling operator in order to gain access to this type of free tourney. In landbased casinos, new players are generally requested to sign up for the operator’s mailing list before they are allowed entry into the free competition.
One shortcoming of this entirely free format is the ratio of prize pool to registrants. Since there are no entry fees of any kind, hundreds and even thousands of entrants are competing for a share of the prize pool. The latter is usually around a couple of hundred dollars, sometimes even less.
The second category consists of freerolls where you buy your way in with the comp points you have accumulated through real-money play. Such competitions are understandably more exclusive because not all slot players at the casino would have collected the number of points needed to enter the event.
With fewer participants in the freeroll, the prize-pool to participants ratio is better. Yet, there is a catch here as well because you need to spend real cash to accumulate enough points to become eligible. The point accumulation rates differ from one online casino to the next but many operators offer a point per every $10 you play on the slots.
Events that utilize this format are also knownas “reloader” tournaments. This is pretty much the re-buy option some poker tournaments offer. As the name of the format suggests, here players are granted the chance to re-enter the race if luck turns against them and they suffer a bad streak.
We can distinguish between two sub-types of tournaments that utilize this format. With standard re-buy tourneys, you can pay the entry fee again but only on condition you have lost your entire stack of coins.
More often than not, the re-buy fee is to the same amount you have bought in for in the first place. In some tournaments, you can re-enter the contest a limited number of times. Others allow for unlimited re-buys. Once you buy-in, your original score is completely erased and you start afresh.
The second sub-category consists of the so-called “add-on” tourneys. These have a different structure. The participants again pay an entry fee in exchange for their starting stacks but their original scores are not erased after they buy-in but add up, hence the name of the format.
The number of add-ons is limited and is stipulated in the tourney’s conditions. Let’s say a given tournament allows for six add-ons at the same fee. Smart spinners will calculate their investment at 7x their buy-in fee so they can purchase all allowed add-ons.
Players who get far ahead in the race sometimes decide to do away with their remaining add-ons. However, this is not a smart move because the add-on fees are typically much smaller than the prizes in the leaderboard.
In Timed Tourneys
Qualifying leaderboard criteria differ depending on what tournament you play. In timed tourneys, spinners are granted a limited time to play. The participants who have earned the most credits after the time elapses receive prizes based on their finishing positions in the leaderboard. Below is an example of how one such tournament might work.
- Each participant joins the race with 2,000 coins.
- The tourney continues for half an hour.
- Coins are deducted from your starting balance each time you hit the spin button.
- The coins you win are added to a separate balance.
- Any coins you lose are irrevocably deducted from your original stack, i.e. they cannot be replenished.
- If you finish the 30-minute race with 300 remaining coins, these are annulled.
- The players who have earned the highest number of coins within the stipulated timeframe qualify for the respective prizes in the leaderboard.
In Other Slot Tournaments
In other slot tournaments, participants are not facing any time-limits but play until they run out of coins, instead. Leaderboard positions depend on the number of credits players have managed to generate before they have run out of coins. Generally, it works like this:
- Each participating player is given a starting stack of 1,000 coins.
- You continue to hit the spin button until you are left with no coins to play with.
- The coins you bet are again deducted from your starting stack in real time.
- The wins you register are added to your win balance.
- You exhaust your starting stack in full and are through.
These are the two most common winning criteria in slot tournaments. Some events might continue for a week or even a month. One example would be a weekly competition that starts on Monday and runs until Sunday.
Such multiple-day events typically give participants the re-buy option if they want to improve their score or if they happen to burn through their starting stacks before the tournament’s end.
A certain level of strategy is called for when a tourney allows for unlimited re-buys. The player must determine how many times to re-enter the race depending on the size of the prize pool.
On rarer occasions, the winning condition is unlocking bonus features like pick-me games or free spins. The players who have managed to trigger the feature within the fewest number of spins end up at the top of the leaderboard.
Tips and Tricks for Winning a Slot Tournament
If you are reading this, you probably are well-aware of the fact that winning and losing in slots depend on pure luck. It all comes down to whether or not the RNG generates a winning combination for you on any given spin.
With this in mind, there are certain ways to improve your chances of qualifying for a top spot in the leaderboard. Here are several suggestions about how to do that.
Play as Fast as You Can
Going through as many spins as possible is especially important in timed slot tournaments. Here you strive to use as many of your allotted credits within the designated timeframe. Hit the spin button as fast as is humanly possible. You will not be reimbursed for any purchased credits you leave behind after the tourney buzzer goes off.
Avoid Doing Anything That Distracts You
There is no need to check the leaderboard every two seconds. We understand you are eager to see how you are doing compared to fellow participants in the tourney. However, you are wasting valuable time this way – you better use it to spin the reels. Remember that your goal is to play as fast as you possibly can, so you better avoid doing anything that distracts you.
Bet the Maximum
Betting the maximum is again recommended in tournaments where there is a time limit. You will not be reimbursed for any remaining coins from your buy-in. These are annulled instead so you better put all coins you have purchased to good use. Additionally, playing for higher stakes helps you generate higher payouts on winning spins, which can also work to your advantage.
Bet All Paylines
Bet all paylines if the tournament involves games that play on multiple win lines. This is important for a couple of reasons. For one, you will exhaust your credits quicker when you cover each available payline with a coin. Secondly, you stand better chances of forming winning combinations when you activate all lines because this allows for more winning patterns.
Checking the Terms of the Tournament
Checking the terms of the tournament is of great importance. Otherwise, you risk missing out on important conditions whose violation may result in your disqualification from the tourney. The terms give you valuable information about the tourney’s structure, the winning conditions, and the slots that qualify for participation in the race.
Take Advantage of Freerolls
Take advantage of freerolls until you gain enough experience in tournament play and build a large enough bankroll that affords you to buy your way into tournaments. It is true the prize pools in freerolls are smaller compared to those in buy-in events. But you cannot really look a gift horse in the mouth, can you?
Pros and Cons of Slot Tournaments
One of the biggest advantages of slot tourney participation is that you stand good chances of winning a decent amount of money. Don't get us wrong. The slots' return percentages remain the same but the prize pool can sometimes compete with some jackpots in terms of size.
While the odds of winning said jackpots are often rather poor, the same cannot be said for tournament prizes. For example, if only 1,500 players participate, you stand a 1-in-1,500 chance of winning.
The disadvantages of slot tourney play are fewer. The greater dynamics, concentration, and speed required here are aspects that might not appeal to spinners accustomed to betting at a more leisurely pace.
You have the opportunity to win quite decent prizes in exchange for a small buy-in.
The second and last drawback that comes to mind has to do with the game selection. The slots eligible for participation in the tournament may not be your personal favorites. However, this is nothing to cry about considering your main priority in a tournament is to finish in a top position.
Those who have climbed to the higher tiers of a given casino's loyalty program can even enter the tournament at no cost or buy their way in with the comps they have accumulated.
Another advantage results from the fact that here you know exactly what amount you will lose if worse comes to worst and you do not qualify for a share of the prize pool.