For decades, slots have been the most popular casino games and it is hardly a surprise that today, you can find thousands of slot games that are not just visually appealing, but also quite lucrative. Many online casinos, in particular, offer high average returns which attract more and more players and give them value for their money. Still, slots are chance games and there are no strategies or betting systems that will guarantee winnings, regardless of the sweet-sounding claims in a large number of gambling-related books and guides being released each day.
There are, however, rules that need to be followed by players, as well as certain strategies that may help them minimize their losses. Most experienced slot players know well that beating the house is impossible while spinning the reels, so playing slots should be viewed as pure entertainment. Certainly, with Lady Luck on your side, you can collect some winnings while having fun. But no system can improve your chances of winning so instead of falling for myths and misconceptions about slots, casino players should take their time to properly research these games before they start betting. As with all forms of gambling, good understanding and money management is essential, as is employing some simple strategies that may make your bankroll last longer.
Return to Player
Before investing real money in a slot game, or in any virtual casino game for that matter, players need to know which games are a good bet and which ones are a no-go. Understanding the RTP or Return to Player percentage may make the difference between an entertaining casino experience and losing all of your money. This is a term used by casinos and it refers to the average return players can expect to get from a particular game in the form of winnings. It is represented as a percentage of the entire bet.
For instance, if you bet $100 on a slot with an RTP of 95%, you can expect that, in the long term, the game will return some of the money you have invested in it or $95 to be exact. Online slots usually offer returns of 95% on average, although there are slots that would pay back only 87%, while others would promise 97%. So, when choosing a game or a casino to play at, gamblers would want RTP percentages to be as high as possible, as this would mean that after betting on such a game for a long time, they will be able to cut down on their losses and generate decent winnings. However, it should also be noted that the majority of online gambling operators do not disclose this kind of information.
Return to Player Additional TipsAnother key moment when speaking of RTP is the phrase “in the long term”. It does not refer to ten or twenty plays, nor does it suggest several hundred spins of the reels. What it actually means is an indefinite number of plays – tens of thousands or even more. For players, this indicates that they cannot expect to enter a betting session with $100 and walk out with $95. In reality, they are likely to lose in the long term, but as the game apparently has relatively good odds, it may pay out higher winnings in the short term. Alternatively, playing it may provide you with small, but regular wins.
The other term commonly used as a percentage is the house edge, which simply means the average profits made by the casino from a game. A slot with an expected return of 95% has a house advantage, or edge, of 5% – $5 out of the total $100 bet will remain for the gambling operator. When the house edge and RTP percentages are public as it is with many NetEnt games players are able to choose slots with odds that are more favorable. However, these percentages are average for a huge number of plays and for all players that visit the casino and place bets on that game. This is why RTP alone cannot determine whether a slot is really good to play at or there are other factors that should be taken into consideration.
Random Number Generator
One of the most important things about slots which, however, is poorly understood by a large portion of even regular punters is how these games work. In order to make the right decisions regarding your bets or choice of games, you need to know how winning combinations are determined and how payout systems are formed. Unlike mechanical slot machines that first appeared in casino floors around the world, modern slots do not have moving reels, large levers, and payout cycles, but are powered by Random Number Generators.
The Random Number Generator, or RNG, is a sophisticated piece of technology which generates long sequences of random numbers – technically speaking, they are not really random at all, but for all practical purposes, they do provide randomness. Each symbol in a slot game is matched with a number, so when the RNG picks a number, the symbol associated with it lands on the reels. The RNG also determines on which position the symbol will fall.
Random Number Generator Additional TipsIn practice, this means that the outcome of each round or spin is completely random and cannot be predicted. Moreover, it clearly indicates that every round is also an independent event and has no bearing on the following spin or the one that preceded it. In other words, a player can hit the jackpot twice in a row or to never hit it even after playing for several months.
Still, not all symbols are equally likely to appear on the reels and as a result, some winning combinations are much rarer than others. This is also determined by the RNG and more importantly, the slot’s PAR sheet, which contains all essential information for that particular game. PAR stands for Probability Accounting Reports and this document describes the entire configuration of the game – how many symbols there are on a reel, the probabilities of winning combinations, how much the game keeps as profits, etc. While these are complex mathematical calculations that are almost never publicized, they set the specifications of each game.
Another interesting fact about the RNG many slot players are unaware of is that it constantly generates numbers even when the game is not played at. More importantly, the outcome of the spin is determined the moment when the player places a bet for the new round. This means that by the time you push the Spin button, your fate has already been decided and the RNG has determined whether you win or lose.
Cold and Hot Slots
Among the most popular phrases in land-based casinos and even in casino guides is “hot” and “cold” slots. A cold slot is a slot which has not paid out any substantial winnings in a while, whereas a hot slot is just about the opposite. The idea is that you need to find a game that is either hot or soon will become hot so that you can win more. At the same time, cold slots should be avoided because they will only eat up your money.
The perception of slots going hot and cold derives from old, mechanical fruit machines which really had winning cycles and experienced, more observant players were, in fact, able to notice the patterns and exploit them. There are no patterns and no winning or losing cycles in modern slots, however. The reason for this is the Random Number Generator which we have already discussed. After it was introduced and became a standard, slot games, both online and in brick-and-mortar casinos, became games of pure chance.
Cold and Hot Slots Additional TipsToday, players simply cannot predict whether a game will go hot or cold, as spins do not depend on previous outcomes. In fact, you can lose 10 consecutive spins or win two jackpots in a row. Losing and winning streaks are all just based on luck. Many experienced players recommend quitting a particular slot after it landed a certain losing combinations and finding a new one. Such consecutive losing spins are called “naked pulls” and some players say you should not play a game if it gives you 9 naked pulls, others claim the “magic” number is 11 or 13. The logic behind this idea may sound convincing but it is totally wrong – there are no magic numbers and slot games are neither hot nor cold.
However, some games are more generous than others – they are programmed in such a way that their RTP percentages are slightly higher. Such slots are referred to as “loose” slots, while games that seem to pay out less or not that often are considered “tight”. Nowadays, the terms hot and cold slots are associated with how popular a game is. There are even online casinos that advertise hot slots – these are more likely new or popular games than slots that would pay out more or slots with guaranteed wins.
Adjusting Bet Size
There are many betting systems recommended by different experts and experienced players. But there is no single evidence that any of them would help you win at slots and beat the casino. None of these systems is, in fact, effective in increasing your winning chances. What you can adopt as an effective strategy is to adjust your bet size in accordance with your experience, your bankroll, and of course, with the type of game you are playing at.
For instance, many players recommend starting your betting session with the lowest bets accepted by the game and once you start winning, doubling the bet size. Some claim the best strategy is to gradually increase the number and denomination of the coins you play with, while others recommend that you should bet the maximum if you start winning. While there might be some logic behind these strategies, employing them independently from factors such as the type of game or its average RTP is unproductive. If you hit 4 or 5 consecutive wins on a game with a low theoretical return, you cannot expect the next combination to be another win. So, if you bet the maximum amount, you can lose a larger amount of money.
Adjusting Bet Size Additional TipsA better betting system would be if you adjust the bet size depending on what type of game you are playing at and your knowledge and experience. It is highly advisable that you start with minimum bets if you are a novice or you are trying a new game. However, you should pay attention to the pay table of the game where all winning combinations are explained. If you are playing a slot with a progressive jackpot, for instance, see the minimum bets that will qualify for the jackpot. Typically, these games have a lower RTP percentage and will, on average, pay out less in smaller winnings. Simply avoid progressives, unless you are really going for the big jackpot, in which case you will need to play with maximum coins.
Another strategy used by many players is gradually adjusting the bet size on a winning streak where the wins can make up for any potential losses. For example, if you started your betting session playing with 2 coins of $0.10 and you seem to be lucky, you should increase the number of coins you play with instead of choosing a higher denomination. Also, it is always better to bet on as many pay lines as possible, as this is how you will have more chances to hit a winning combination. So, a proper strategy when starting to play slots is choosing a lower value coin ($0.01 to $0.10) and playing with 1 or two coins per line.
Note that the amount you bet per spin will always depend on how much lines you activate. If you play with 5 coins of $0.10 on a 25-line slot, you will, in fact, bet $12.5 per spin. And if you have already won $30 on that slot, for instance, losing $12.5 would be acceptable. The perception of “acceptable loss” would be different for every single player, but in general, you should try to keep your losses at the minimum. According to most players, your losses on any given game should never amount to half of your initial bankroll or more. All this, however, will be part of your money management strategy and will depend on your budget.
Bonuses and Free Spins Advantages
Online casinos offer their customers various bonuses but many players often either overrate or underestimate them. It is essential to understand that with deposit bonuses and free spins, most gambling operators are targeting slot players. Almost all casino promotions share this characteristic – they were specifically designed to maximize the gambling experience of slot fans. Those who prefer blackjack or roulette games, on the other hand, are not offered this kind of advantage.
Most bonuses, either welcome or regular bonuses, come with specific wagering requirements which can be fulfilled by betting on slot games. Players are usually required to wager the amount of the bonus they receive a specific number of times (from 10 to 50, depending on the casino). Typically, bets on slots contribute 100% towards this requirement, while games such as roulette or video poker contribute only 50%. For instance, you received a $20 bonus with a 25 times wagering requirement – this means that you need to place bets equal to $500 or more before you can request a withdrawal. If you bet $500 on roulette, only $250 will contribute to the wagering and you will need to bet another $500 if you want to meet the casino’s requirements.
Bonuses and Free Spins Advantages TipsAnother bonus that gives slot players a leverage is the free spins bonus offered by many online casinos. Free spins are often given as a no-deposit bonus where the player simply needs to register a real money account in order to receive 10 or 20 spins on a particular slot. Welcome packages for new players may also include free spins alongside match bonuses on the first deposit. They are often given over the course of several days – the only requirement is that you make a deposit into the casino and log into your account daily to claim your free spins.
Free spins also have wagering requirements attached to them but it is the winnings generated that need to be wagered 20 or 30 times. Of course, if you did not manage to win anything from the free spins, you will not be required to bet any further money. So, you are not actually losing anything. Some casinos, on the other hand, offer wager-free spins where you get to keep all of your winnings. Usually, you will be given only 10 or 20 spins on a particular game and there will be a cashout limit attached to the promotion. Typically, you are allowed to cash out no more than $100 from free spins.
Despite the different requirements and limitations bonuses always come with, they can be a great advantage for slot players as they are given more chances to win. Still, it is recommended to look at the terms and conditions of the bonus before claiming it – or you may end up spending hundreds of your own dollars in order to meet the wagering requirements determined by the casino you play at.
Choosing Games with Many Bonus Features
Another good strategy you can employ is choosing slot games with bonus features. Unlike most casino games, slots often come packed with plenty of extra features such as free spins, multipliers, bonus rounds, and special symbols. Free spins are exactly what they sound like – free rounds that may be triggered in many different ways such as hitting three scatter symbols. Some slot games even allow for free spins to be re-triggered, which means that you may win a new set of spins during a free spin. Often, winnings during such free play are doubled or tripled. Multipliers also appear in bonus rounds or when you hit a specific combination of symbols.
Traditional-style slots, known as classic slots, usually have several different symbols such as fruits, liberty bells, lucky sevens, etc. They also have 3 reels and a single pay line. More advanced slots, on the other hand, have 5 reels (sometimes even 6 or 7) and multiple lines, which significantly increase the winning chances. Another exciting feature is the presence of special symbols – Wilds and Scatters. Wild symbols make forming winning combinations much easier as they act like wild cards and substitute for any other symbol on the reels. They need to be lined up, while scatter symbols, on the other hand, earn you free spins or bonus rounds wherever they appear on the reels.
Games with Many Bonus Features TipsMany modern video slots also feature bonus rounds which are essentially games within the game and often come in the form of card guessing, Wheel of Fortune or Pick Me-style games, where you pick a box with some prize. Some game developers add more interactive bonus rounds such as a shooting practice or other arcade-style games which have several levels and may activate the big jackpot.
Choosing games with more bonus features is always a good strategy even if you are a novice player. Before betting real money, however, you should take a look at the pay table and the rules of the game you wish to play. Many online casinos also offer games in practice mode where you bet demo credits and cannot lose any real funds. At the same time, you will test the game and see whether the bonus features are good enough.
Pay Lines and Two-Way Payout Games
Pay lines are one of the basic features of slots and one of the first aspects every player should consider before starting to play any given slot game. Pay lines are those lines where matching symbols fall in order to form a winning combination. Older slot machines used to have a single pay line which ran right across the middle of the reels and players had to hit three cherries, for instance, in order to win. Modern slots have not just 5 or sometimes more virtual reels but they also feature multiple lines in a variety of shapes – straight, V or upside down V shapes, zig zags, and many others.
Most of the popular video slots you will find at online casinos come with 10, 25 or even 50 pay lines, but there are also games with a hundred lines. The number of lines essentially equals the number of chances the player has to hit a winning combination. Thus, you should look for games with higher average returns and more bonus features, but also for games that offer more chances to land three or more matching symbols.
Pay Lines and Two-Way Payout Games TipsTraditionally, combinations pay out when they run left to right. However, in recent years some developers have introduced the so-called two-way or two-side payout system in slot games where winning combinations appear in both directions. These slots are also known as “pay both ways” or “win both ways” slots and are being developed by some of the largest gaming studios such as Microgaming. An increasing number of games include this feature which is quite popular among players. Obviously, the chances to score a winning combo are increased, while the gameplay remains almost the same and there is nothing complex about playing such games.
However, the odds in “pay both ways” are made to compensate the higher winning chances. In many of these games, the winnings are smaller, or it is generally harder to form matching combinations. Once again, a look at the pay table of the game is recommended. A similar feature in some slots is the “all ways” payout system. It allows you to win when getting any right-to-left combination of matching symbols. The idea of traditional pay lines in these games is, in fact, removed completely and they are becoming very popular among players looking for something different.
There are many myths surrounding casinos and slots, in particular, and although all of them have been debunked and proved wrong on many occasions, many players still believe in them. Some people would visit casinos only on a specific day of the week or on their “lucky” date of the month. Other would rub their fingers against the coin believing they would have a greater chance at winning this way. There are plenty of misconceptions related to online slots, as well, and although they are strange to the point of being ridiculous, there are still players regarding them as true.
Cold and Hot Slots
The perception of slots having hot and cold streaks is widely spread in both land-based and online casinos. In some gambling sites, you may even see slots described as “Hot”. All virtual or automated casino games, however, whether they are slots, roulette, blackjack or video poker games, are programmed in such a way that they are truly random. The RNG technology guarantees the games are fair and that for each individual spin, the chances of winning are exactly the same. This means that there are no hot or cold slots, but it is rather the player who is experiencing a winning or a losing streak.
Slot Payouts Are Based on Predictable Cycles
Several other myths are related to the idea of coldness or hotness of a slot. For instance, one of the most popular ones is that after paying out a huge jackpot, the game will not pay out a large winning. And the reason for this is the cycles slots are supposedly programmed on. RNG-powered games do not have such cycles and the outcome cannot be predicted. Older slot machines, on the other hand, were really based on cycles and after a big win, players had to shift to another game.
Online Casinos Manipulate Slots to Make Sure the House Always Wins
This is one of the strangest myths surrounding online and brick-and-mortar casinos. In fact, the house always wins – this is one of the golden rules of gambling every player should be aware of well before starting to play for real money. Casinos do not need to “fix” or manipulate games because they already have the advantage. This is valid for all games and all casinos and the odds are always against you.
There are a few little exceptions, however. Players who have the knowledge and employ the right strategy can increase their chances of winning particular games such as poker, blackjack or video poker. Essentially, all games which involve skills will allow you to change the odds and turn them in your favor. But when it comes to slots, the odds are quite clear and they are most definitely against you. No casino with the proper licenses and certificates would even think of manipulating the games, so as long as you are playing at a good, reliable online (or land-based) casino, you should not worry about slots being rigged.
You Are Less Likely to Win at Slots if You Play with Bonus Funds
Many casinos attract new players and reward regular ones with different bonuses, but many customers hesitate to use such bonuses. Some believe that the likelihood of winning declines when you play with any bonus or free money. This is simply not true. In fact, the odds of winning are the same whether you are playing with your own money or with the bonus funds you receive. The same applies to any free spins you may play with. The RNG simply cannot distinguish real money from bonus money or free spins.
Using the Autoplay Feature Decreases Your Chances of Winning
This is another widespread myth surrounding playing slots in online casinos. It is not based on any actual facts or any reasonable logic. On the contrary, it shows how confusing online casinos still are for some players. The truth is that the Autoplay feature found in most slot games has nothing to do with the odds. For evidence or explanation, review the RNG section again.
One of the most effective slots strategies, if not the most effective, is properly managing your finances when playing online. Before you start playing, you need to determine how much you are willing to lose – if losing is unacceptable, you should not start gambling in the first place. Remember that slots are mostly for entertainment and if you are planning to generate regular income, you should find a new hobby. However, you should know exactly how much you can lose. Most experienced slot players recommend quitting your play session after losing 50% of the initial amount of money you started with.
You may find many other tips in slots and gambling guides but if you are a new player, you should try playing only familiar games and betting little sums. Those with many years of experience under their belts know never (or almost never) to gamble all of their winnings. This is a good strategy everyone could stick to – if you win $50, save $25 and do not use them for betting. This is how to guarantee you will never lose all of your funds. Another golden rule of gambling is to never chase losses, or in other words, stop playing if you lose a larger amount of money. Even with the highest payback game, there is no guaranteed win and sadly, the next spin is highly unlikely to hit the jackpot and return your losses.
Money Management Additional TipsMany players tend to quit while they are still winning but this principle is not the most reasonable one. In fact, it is a good idea to keep playing while you are on a losing streak. If you won 10 times in a row, a single losing spin after that can be considered an acceptable loss. You can easily create a win and loss limits – never allow losses to be more than 50% or 60% of your bankroll, while you can stop playing a particular game if your winnings reach a maximum of 60% of that same sum. If you keep playing that slot, you are very likely to start losing as all slots have a certain house edge. Eventually, you will lose even though you may be winning in the short term. You can also decide to quit when you increase your bankroll by 25%. The important thing is to know when to cash out – you can lose a spin two, you can lose 5 spins, but do never play until your bankroll allows it. This will certainly mean losing. These are only some of the money management tips you should try to follow when playing online slots, whether you are a novice player or you consider yourself an experienced gambler.