You’ll find plenty of awful slot machine strategy advice on the Internet. Over the years, we’ve seen it all. There are electronic gadgets you can buy that promise to trick slot machines into paying out.
Endless reams of paper have been wasted printing books that promise can’t-lose slot machine tactics.
It’s all garbage. Let us make one thing clear from the beginning – nothing on this page (or anywhere else online) will make you a consistent winner at the slot machines. That sort of advice doesn’t exist.
That’s because slot machines are designed to return less money than they take in. In other words, they guarantee a profit, and nothing you can do as a player affects that design in any meaningful way.
Good slot machine strategy focuses on two things – increasing your chances of winning and helping you save money you might otherwise lose.
We believe that if you spend a half hour or so reading a few thousand words we’ve put together on the subject, you’ll walk away a more confident and informed slot gambler.
An Unfortunate Truth About Slot Machines
We have lots of good things to say about slots. We like all the visual effects – it’s more entertaining than watching a ball bounce around a spinning wheel. We like the variety of games. We like the variety of wager sizes available.
Truth is, we could wax poetic about the charms of the humble slot machine for thousands of words, but that wouldn’t get us anywhere in terms of game strategy.
There’s one thing we don’t like about slot machines that we wanted to get out in the open right away. The worst thing about slot machines, from the perspective of a player interested in strategy.
You can never know the house edge for a particular slot machine. In fact, it’s the only casino game we can think of for which you can’t come up with anything like a house edge.
It has to do with the design of modern slot machines. Because slots depend on a random number generator and a potentially-infinite number of virtual reel positions, we don’t know the likelihood of spinning the different symbols that lead to payouts.
Think of a video poker game. Video poker is an easy to game to calculate a house edge for, since we know the likelihood of different hands appearing. We know that because the winning hands are based on poker hand rankings.
That means that we can look at a video poker game’s pay table, use the information we already know about the odds of drawing different hands, and come up with the casino’s built-in edge. We can actually do this for any game.
A roulette wheel has 38 positions where the ball might end up. We can figure out the odds of any single number (or feature of a number) coming up, because we know the overall odds of any number appearing.
Without information about a slot machine’s house edge, things like bankroll management and game strategy get tricky. Slot machine strategy is thus more of an art than a science. Have no fear, though – it’s an art that we’ve studied and participated in for decades.
Bankroll Management Tips for Slots Players
1. Create a Win and Loss Limit
This tip will save you a lot of time. You don’t have to work out a budget. You don’t have to figure out a unit bet size. You don’t need to do any math. So long as you create a limit for winnings and a limit for losses, then quit playing as soon as you reach one of them, you can cross bankroll management off your to-do list.
Slot players have an easy time of keeping track of wins and losses.
You can track your play through your slot club card. (We discuss joining the slot club a few paragraphs down.) You can also track your play simply by how much money you have in the machine.
When we go to the casino to play slots, we figure out how much money we can handle losing, then we divide that by the number of hours we hope to gamble. Take a look at an example. Let’s say you plan to gamble for ten hours over the course of a weekend trip to your nearby casino.
You’ve done your personal budget for the month and you’re bringing $1,000 with you to burn at the slot machines. In order to have enough cash to play for ten hours, you can’t afford to lose more than $100 an hour. That means if you hit $100 in losses for a given hour, take a break until the next hour starts.
As for win limits, that’s more of a personal thing. For some, if they head to the casino with $1,000, as in the above example, they’d start to get nervous if they doubled it, winning another $1,000.
But up to that point, they’d probably keep playing. Maybe you’re more conservative than that. It doesn’t matter where you set the win limit, so long as you have a point where you agree to walk away.
Creating a win limit will keep you from turning a big win into a loss
It can be tough to stick to win and loss limits. The desire to keep gambling, or to gamble and make up for losses, can be a powerful thing. If it helps, you can recruit a friend to help you stick to your win and loss limit commitments.
You could also set yourself an alarm every 45 minutes to gauge how you’re doing and remind yourself of your limits. The point isn’t to nag you about your finances, but to keep gambling entertaining, and to prevent a budget disaster.
2. Play the Lowest-Denomination Machine That Interests You
This trick is designed to help you extend your bankroll. We’ve noticed that newcomers to casino and especially to slot gambling often have no idea how to pick a machine. They gravitate towards $1 slots, because that’s a nice round number they can understand.
However, not many people walk into a slot session ready to play at $1-per-credit games, and a lot of these players watch their bankrolls evaporate.
So how do you know what denomination to play?
We recommend that you look at all the available denominations, then pick the cheapest one that still piques your interest. Obviously, penny slots offer you the least risk, but that’s because they offer the least in terms of rewards.
You’re not going to get rich playing penny slots, but you’re probably not going to go broke either. High-dollar slots work just the opposite – you stand to win more large prizes, and you’re going to play more side games and other features, but you’re likely to lose a lot of money in a short period of time.
Picking a denomination is all about finding your comfort zone. Maybe you hate losing money, and you want to play slots just for a diversion. Penny slots may be perfect for you, in that case.
If you have a sizable amount of money to blow on slots and you want the latest and greatest in slot entertainment, a high-denomination game is probably just right.
3.Join the Slot Club
You should always join the slots club, player’s club, rewards club, loyalty club, or any other club that a casino is offering. It won’t cost you anything, it’s easy to use (you just swipe it in the slot you want to play before you start), and it’s literally the only way that a casino can track and reward slot players.
If the casino can’t track your play, you can’t earn free stuff. Believe it or not, those free adult beverages you’re earning are shaving a tiny fraction off the casino’s edge. That means joining the slot club is good for your bottom line, not just your taste buds.
For starters, you can exchange casino club card points for cash at most casinos, but only once you’ve accrued a certain number of points. Most clubs offer $20 per 2,000 points or something like that.
Those points really add up, and if you’re playing high-dollar games or making large per-spin bets, you’ll be surprised how much free cash you can earn. And cash is the easiest prize to redeem – accepted everywhere, recognized by all.
Of course, you could also use those casino slot club card points to get free food and drinks. Don’t look down your nose at these offers – the exchange rate is usually way more friendly than the exchange-for-cash rate, so you can get a lot of goodies for very little betting.
Take note that only some casinos will let you use club points to buy booze – casinos like to hand out drinks of their own accord. Heck, even just having the card will often get you a percent-off discount at a casino restaurant or bar.
The last reason you should join the slot club – you’ll start getting coupons and other offers in the mail in exchange for your membership.
These emails and letters will include coupons for cheap stays, free meals, or even free betting cash, depending on “how loyal you are,” read: how much money you handed over on your last trip.
Using these casinos is another way to cut into the casino’s edge. You’re not going to stuff your bank account taking advantage of casino club promotions, but it’s better than going in with nothing.