How to play slot machines (2023)

How to play slot machines (1)

In the not too distant past, slots players were second-class citizens among casino patrons. The jackpots were small, the payout percentages were horrible, and slots players were simply not eligible for the kind of courtesy bonuses (free rooms, shows, meals) that table players are commonly given. But in recent decades, the face of the casino industrychange. Sports betting and internet gaming are growing rapidly and becoming a bigger part of casino revenue. But they are still no match for slot machines. While commercial casino gaming revenue declined in the US in 2020 due to the coronavirus disease pandemic, a large63 percentof those revenues came from electronic gaming devices and in many jurisdictions,that number is as high as 80 percent.(The American Gaming Association considers slot machines to be "electronic gaming devices" and includes video poker, instant races, and similar platforms in the category.)

Slots are more popular than table games for a reason. It's easy: just put coins in the slot and press the button or pull the handle. Newcomers may find personal interaction with dealers or other players at the tables intimidating; slots players avoid this. Also, the biggest casino life-changing jackpots are offered on the slots.


The following article will tell you everything you need to know about slots, from the basics to various strategies. We will start from scratch with an introduction to how the slot machine game works.

How to play

How to play slot machines (2)

In the early days of slot machines, all games used mechanical reels. But now, most slot machines display reels on video screens, and often receive and deliver payouts via bills, coupons, and tickets rather than coins or tokens. Slot machines offer various denominations, where the denomination is the value of each credit played. There are games in penny, 2-cent, nickel, dime, quarter, dollar, and up to $100 denominations, and some machines allow players to choose which denomination they want to use. After paying the machine, your money is converted to credits. Slots can take 45, 90 and even 500 credits at a time.

Once payment is entered into the coin acceptor, the equivalent number of credits is displayed on a meter. On revolving slot machines, press a button marked "play one credit" until you reach the number of coins you want to play. Then press the "spin reels" button or pull the handle on the few slot machines that still have handles, or press a button marked "play max credits" or "max bet" which will play the maximum credits allowed per spin on that machine .

In video slots, press one button for the number of paylines you want to activate and a second button for the number of credits wagered per line. A common setup has nine paylines that you can bet on from 1 to 5 credits. Video slots are also available with5, 15, 20, 25 and up to 50 or more pay lines, accepting up to 25 credits per line.

The symbols that land on a payline determine whether a player wins. The classic symbols are cherries, bars, double bars (two bars stacked on top of each other), triple bars, and sevens. But there are many others, such as fruits, playing card symbols andimages based on the theme of the game.

A single cherry on the payline, for example, can return two credits; the player can get 10 credits for any three bars (a mix of bars, double bars and triple bars), 30 for single three bars, 60 for three double bars, 120 for three triple bars and the jackpot for three sevens. However, many of the stops on each reel will be blanks, and a combination that includes blanks pays nothing. Also, a seven is not just any bar, so a combination like bar-seven-double bar pays nothing.

video slot machineThey usually have representations of five spinning reels on a video screen, but there are slot machines with more reels. The paylines not only run on the reels, but also in V, inverted V, zigzag and other configurations on the screen. — In addition, video slots often feature bonus rounds and "scatter pays." Designated symbols trigger a scatter payout if two, three or more appear on the screen, even if they are not on the same payline.

Similarly, scatter symbols will trigger a bonus event. For example, the bonus can take the form of free spins, prize pick interactions, or mystery bonuses. The player may receive a "second screen" bonus. An example of a second screen bonus comes in the popular WMS Gaming “Jackpot Party” slot. If three party noisemakers appear on the video reels, the reels are replaced on screen by a grid of gift-wrapped packages. Players tap the screen to open a package and collect a bonus payment. They can keep tapping packs for more bonuses until a pack finally reveals a "pooper", which ends the round. These bonus rounds helped video slots grow in popularity, butthey are not so frequent nowadays, as game designers experiment with the format.

When you get a winning combination, the winnings will be added to the credit meter. If you want to cash out the credits shown on the meter, click the "Withdraw" button and most machines will print a barcoded ticket that can be redeemed for cash. In some older machines, the coins still drop into a tray.

slot machine label

Many slots players pump money into two or more adjacent machines at the same time, but if the casino is crowded and others are having trouble finding places to play, stick to one machine. As a practical matter, even with a few people, it is advisable not to play on more machines than you can easily keep an eye on. Play too much and you could find yourself in the situation faced by the woman who was working up and down a row of six slot machines. She tossed coins into machine number six, while machine number one down the aisle paid out a jackpot. There was nothing she could do when a passerby grabbed a handful of coins from the first tray.

Sometimes players who take a bathroom breaklean a chair against the machine, leave a coat on the chair, or leave some other sign that you'll be back. Watch out for these signs. A nasty matchup can ensue if you play on a machine that has already been re-staked.


How to play slot machines (3)

Payout percentages, or the proportion of bets returned to players as winnings, have increased since casinos discovered that it is more profitable to have 5% of a dollar than 8% of a quarter or 10% of a nickel. In most of the country, slot machine players can expect around a93 percent payoutpercentage, although payments in Nevadarun higher— Note that these are long-term averages that will hold up over a sample of 100,000 to 300,000 pulls.

In the short term, anything can happen.It is not unusualGet 20 or 50 or more draws without a single payout on a revolving slot, though the payouts are more frequent on video slots. It's also not uncommon for a machine to pay out 150% or more for several dozen pulls. But, in the long term, the programmed percentages will be maintained.

Since earlier slot machines were mechanical, if you knew the number of stops (symbols or blank spaces that might land on the payline) on each reel, you could calculate the odds of hitting the biggest jackpot. If a machine had three reels, each with ten stops, and one symbol on each reel went to the jackpot, then three jackpot symbols would line up, on average, once every 10,310,310 draws, or 1,000 draws.

On these machines, the big payouts were $50 or $100, nothing like the big numbers slot machine players expect today. In systems that electronically link the machines of several casinos, progressive jackpots reachA million dollars.

The microprocessors that control today's machines are programmed with random number generators that control the winning combinations. It no longer matters how many stops are on each coil. If we equipped that old three-reel, ten-stop machine with a microprocessor, we could put ten jackpot symbols on the first reel, ten on the second, and nine on the third, and even program the random number generator so that three jackpots symbols aligned only once every 1,000 times, or 10,000 times. And in video slots, the reel strips can be programmed to be as long as necessary for the game odds to reach the desired percentage. They are not limited by a physical reel.

Each possible combination is assigned a number or numbers. When the random number generator receives a signal, from pressing a button to pulling a handle, it sets a number and the reels stop at the corresponding combination.

Among the signs, therandom number generatorit operates continuously, going through tens of numbers per second. This has two practical effects for slots players. First, if you walk out of a machine and see someone hit a jackpot right away, don't worry. To win the same jackpot, you would need the same fraction of a second as the winner. The odds are overwhelming that if you had stayed on the machine you would not have gotten the same combination.

Second, because the combinations are random, or as random as possible for the program to define, the chances of matching any particular combination are the same each draw. If a machine is programmed to pay out its jackpot once every 10,000 draws on average, your chances of hitting it are one in 10,000 on any given draw. If you have been inactive for days and played 10,000 times, the odds on the next draw will still be one in 10,000. These odds are long-term averages. In the short term, the machine could do 100,000 pulls without missing the big one, or it could pay off twice in a row.

So is there a way to ensure you win big on a slot machine? Not really, but despite the predominant elements of chance, there are some strategies you can employ. We will cover them in the next section.

slot machine myths

Since most players don't understand how slot machines work,complete sets of beliefslearned when to play a machine and when to avoid it. There is little truth in any of them. Here's a look at some of the most widespread slots myths:

Change machines after a big jackpot - the machine will not win again for some time.From a money management perspective, it makes sense to lock in one big hit and move on. But the machine is not "supposed" to cool down. In fact, the chances of the same jackpot reaching the next draw are the same as the first time around.

Play on a machine that hasn't paid for a long time: it's about to crash.Slot machines are never "hit". Playing on a long losing streak too often results in a longer losing streak.

Casinos place "hot" machines in the halls.This belief isso widespreadthat the final machines play a lot regardless of how they pay. It is true that not all machines in the same casino are programmed with the same payback percentage. And it is true that casinos want other customers to see the winners. But slot placement is more complex than just placing the hot ones at the ends of the aisles.

The return percentage is reduced when the crowds are larger and the demand is higher.It is not so easy to change the programming of a machine. Changing the programmed return percentage requires opening the machine and replacing acomputer chip. This is not something that should be done arrogantly. Server-based slot machines that allow casinos to change payout percentages remotely, but there are still regulations on how to make these changes.


slot machine strategies

How to play slot machines (4)

Slots are the easiest casino games to play – spin the reels and take a chance. Players have no control over which combinations will appear or when a jackpot will be won. There is no way to know when a machine will be hot or cold. Still, there are some pitfalls. It is important to read the help window or menu and know what type of machine it is. The three main types ofrevolving slot machinesThey are the multiplier, the buy-a-pay and the progressive.

the multiplierIn a multiplier, the payouts are proportional to each coin played, except, in general, for the highest prize. If the machine accepts up to three credits at a time, and if you play one credit, three bars pay ten. Three bars will pay 20 for two credits and 30 for three credits. However, three sevens can pay out 500 for one credit and 1,000 for two, but jumps to 10,000 when all three credits are played. Read the glass to see if this is the case before playing less than the maximum coins on this type of machine.


Buy-un-paid.Never play less than the maximum on a pay buy, where each credit "buys" a set of symbols or a payline. The first coin can allow the player to win on the cherry combination alone, while the second coin triggers the bar payouts and the third coin triggers the sevens. Woe to the player who lands three jackpot symbols in a buy-a-pay with just one coin toss: the player gets nothing in return! A variation is the machine with multiple paylines, each activated by a separate credit. All symbols are active with each credit, but if a winning combination lines up on the third credit payline with only one or two credits played, the payout is zero.

The progressive.You also have no reason to play less than the maximum number of coins on a progressive machine. A player who finally lines up the jackpot symbols receives a percentage of each coin played. The first progressive machines were independent: the jackpot was determined by how much that particular machine had played since the last big hit. Today, most progressive machines are electronically linked to other machines, and all credits played on the linked machines add up to a common jackpot.

These jackpots can be huge - the record is$ 39.710.826,26,a $1 progressive in a Las Vegas casino. The downside is that the frequency and size of other payments are often smaller. And you can't win the big jackpot without playing the maximum number of credits.

If you must play less than the maximum credits, look for a multiplier where the final coin jump in the jackpot is fairly small. Better yet, choose a machine that allows you to stay within your budget while playing with maximum credits. If your budget won't allow you to play that many credits on a $1 machine, switch to a quarter machine. If you're not comfortable playing three quarters at a time, switch to a two-quarter machine. If you can't play two coins at once, play a slot machine.

With so many pay lines and the ability to wager multiple credits per line, video slots are different. Some penny slots with 20 pay lines accept up to 25 coins per line. That's a maximum bet of $5, quite a penny! Most players bet less than the maximum on video slots, but they will certainly cover all paylines, even if you only bet one credit per line. You want to make sure you're eligible for the bonus rounds that give video slots most of their fun. Some progressive jackpots require maximum bets and some do not. If a maximum bet is required to be eligible for the jackpot and you're not prepared to roll that high, look for a different machine.

Money Management

Managing your money wisely is the most important part of any casino game and also the most difficult part of playing slots. Even in the 25-cent machines, the amount of money involved adds up quickly. A dedicated slots player on a machine that plays with credits can easily get 600 spins per hour. In two rooms at once, that means betting $300 per hour, the same amount a $5 blackjack player risks at an average table speed of 60 hands per hour.

Most of this money is recycled from smaller payouts: at a casino that returns 93% on quarter slots, the average $300 expected loss on play is $21. .

One method of managing money is to divide your day slot balance into smaller session balances. If, for example, you took $100 on a two-and-a-half hour boat cruise, set aside $20 for every half hour. Select a 25 cent machine ($1 machines can devastate a $100 balance in minutes) and play $20 once. If you received more than $20 in payouts, save the excess and play with the original $20. At the end of the half hour, save what's left and start a new session with the next $20.

If, at any time, the original $20 for that session is depleted, that session will end. Finish that half hour with a walk, snack, or drink until it's time for another session. Don't wallow in the money you've already pocketed.

This may sound rigid, but players who don't use a money management technique very often keep pumping money into the machine until they lose their entire bankroll. The percentages guarantee that the casino will be the winner in the long run, but keep a portion of the money on the go and you will walk out of the casino with cash in hand more often.

There is much more to slot machines than meets the eye. But if you learn the ins and outs of playing them, you can use some strategies that can help you hit the jackpot.

slot machines of the future

Interest and revenue from iGaming, or online gaming, wasGrowing fast. Online slots are attracting more players as mobile gaming technology advances and the law changes. And it doesn't hurt that they also have great payouts, like the€18.9 million($22.4 million) Mega Moolah payment in 2018.


Original Post: May 23, 2006


Is it better to play one slot machine or move around? ›

Well, mathematically speaking, there is no difference whether or not you are playing one slot or moving around the casino. Due to the fact that slots are built around RNGs, and the consequence of every spin is totally arbitrary, you'll get the same fate whether you play at one slot the entire day, or move around.

Is there a secret to winning on slot machines? ›

There is no way to win at slots every time. In fact, you may end up losing more often than winning regardless of how you play. Just like with roulette or other games, the house always has an edge. However, playing the most favorable games will give you a better chance at a winning session.

What is the best amount to put in a slot machine? ›

Generally speaking, you can start playing from just a few cents on each spin if you want to. Or you could go up to the maximum and play with hundreds of dollars every time you hit the button to spin those reels.

What should a beginner do in a casino? ›

A Beginner's Guide to Casinos
  1. Know Your Budget. Before you go, know how much money you can spend and are willing to donate if luck isn't with you. ...
  2. Start with Slot Machines. ...
  3. Move on to Roulette. ...
  4. Learn the Game Before Playing. ...
  5. Sign Up for Rewards Cards. ...
  6. Find the Loose Slot Machines. ...
  7. Know Casino Etiquette.

What are the luckiest slots to play? ›

Top 10 slot machines with the highest RTP in 2021
  • Ugga Bugga 99.07% RTP - Playtech. This curious offering is unlike other slots. ...
  • Mega Joker, 99% RTP - NetEnt. This NetEnt classic is beloved by slots fans. ...
  • Jackpot 6000, RTP 98.8% - Netent. ...
  • Blood Suckers, 98% RTP - NetEnt. ...
  • White Rabbit Megaways, 97.77 RTP - Big Time Gaming.
Jan 28, 2021

Do $5 dollar slots pay better? ›

It's well-known that the higher the denomination of slot machine, the higher the return percentage. This makes mathematical sense; since these machines handle much larger action, they can be set at a lower hold. Look at it this way: It takes 20% of a quarter wager to return the same as 5% of a dollar wager.

What 1 slot machines win the most? ›

What slot machines have the highest payout percentage? The Ugga Bugga slot machine game has the highest payout percentage, at 99.07%. The second highest is Mega Joker by NetEnt, with a 99% RTP.

How often do slot machines hit big? ›

Real-world conditions vary. Not all slots within a casino have the same jackpot hit frequency, most paying a lot less often than once per 10,000 spins. On a game with a big multimillion-dollar jackpot like Megabucks, the jackpot chances are closer to 1 in 50 million.

What is the best day of the week to go to a casino? ›

Payouts are higher throughout the weekend: Many gamblers believe payouts are higher on Saturday and Sunday due to a higher turnout during the weekend so that casinos can encourage more spending.

How do you know if a slot machine is hot? ›

How to tell if an online slot machine is hot
  1. Looking at a slot's return to player (RTP) percentage. For those hoping for a speedy return on the bulk of their spins, the RTP % of the game is all they need to know. ...
  2. The slot's volatility. ...
  3. Tournaments of slots.
May 30, 2022

What is the easiest casino game to win? ›


Blackjack has the best odds of winning, with a house edge of just 1 percent in most casinos, Bean said. Plus, you are playing against only the dealer, not hooded poker champions. "Blackjack is one of our easiest games to play," Bean said.

Are slot machines programmed to win? ›

Modern gaming machines use computer technology to operate their functions. Slot machine outcomes are determined unsing a Random Number Generator (RNG) which is a mathematically-based program that selects groups of numbers to determine which symbols are selected to produce a winning or losing outcome.

Is there a strategy to slots? ›

The best slot machine strategy, in this case, is to play high RTP games for a shorter time, exiting when you are ahead. Equally, allow longer sessions on the lower RTP games, knowing that the bigger prize money comes along less often.

How do slot machines decide to pay out? ›

So how do slot machines decide who wins and who loses? “Payouts on slots are statistically calculated,” says Ambrose. Pressing spin activates the random number generator, which is an algorithm that determines whether each spin is a win or a loss, and how big a win is.

What does 777 on a slot machine mean? ›

Gambling and luck

777 is used on most slot machines in the United States to identify a jackpot. As it is considered a lucky number, banknotes with a serial number containing 777 tend to be valued by collectors and numismatists.

When should you leave a slot machine? ›

A sure sign that it is time to walk away from a specific slot machine is multiple losses. No one is going to give you much of a recommendation in this case. It will be up to you to determine how many losses is enough. If you keep spinning and coming up with losses, it is time to try another machine.

Is it better to bet high or low slots? ›

Smaller bets may allow you to get more entertainment out of slots, but they also reduce the win potential. This is especially the case when considering that most maximum payouts these days are based on your stake. In the past, many games offered progressive jackpots that could be won with any bet size.

What does it mean when a chair is leaned up against a slot machine? ›

Some ways to signal that you're taking a short break but will be returning to the same game include tipping the chair so it rests on the machine, leaving a drink or inexpensive personal item on the game screen, and asking other players to hold your game.

Do casinos control the slot machines? ›

A video slot machine is controlled onsite by the central computer at the casino. A video lottery terminal is controlled offsite by the state lottery. The only sure way to tell the difference between these two slot machine types is to take a look at what the state gaming commission says they are at that casino.

How often do slot machines pay out? ›

The 1:1 payout comes every 8 plays. The 5:1 payout comes every 33 plays, whereas the 2:1 payout comes every 600 plays. Most players assume the likelihood increases proportionate to the payout.

How to win at the casino with little money? ›

As far as casino games go, here are the things you can do to win a little more (or lose a little less).
  1. Find The Best Games. ...
  2. Find The Best Machine. ...
  3. Find The Best Payouts. ...
  4. Find A Two-Seater. ...
  5. Know When To Bet The Max, Or To Bet Less And Play More Lines. ...
  6. Walk Away After You Win. ...
  7. Take Breaks. ...
  8. Don't Chase Losses.
Aug 10, 2018

What slot pays the most? ›

While nickel slots have the highest payout rate, they're also very rare.

How many spins should you play on a slot machine? ›

In most cases, players choose to play ten spins but this does not mean you cannot opt for another number. However, you have to stick to your chosen number. The next step you have to take before you start spinning the reels is to set an amount you want to invest in playing your preferred slot game.

How do you win big at a casino with $20? ›

So, the best way to win at the casino with $20 is to implement a stop-loss limit. This limit can make your $20 feel like $200. Basically, a stop-loss limit is an amount you predetermine that you are allowed to lose before you stop playing.

Can a casino refuse to pay out? ›

Yes. There are lots of reasons that your win can be voided. Improper identification, player ineligible*, machine malfunction, dealer error and cheating.

What is the best game to win at a casino? ›

Blackjack has the best odds of winning in any game, with a 49% chance of winning. The reason blackjack is so appealing to players is that it is not a game of luck, but rather one based on numbers.

What is the most money someone has won at a casino? ›

1. MGM GRAND, LAS VEGAS: $20- $40 MILLION. One night, famous Australian billionaire Kerry Packer decided to try his hand at some blackjack and baccarat just for fun, and to find out what these games were like. Well, as the story goes, he won between $20 and $40 million.

What are the odds of hitting a jackpot on a slot machine? ›

Slot machine odds are some of the worst, ranging from a one-in-5,000 to one-in-about-34-million chance of winning the top prize when using the maximum coin play.

What time of day do most slot machines hit? ›

Morning or Night

Most gamblers agree that the best time of day to play slots is either in the morning or at night. In fact, the peak hours are somewhere between 8 pm and 2 am.

Do slot machines hit in the morning? ›

Casino games have shown us hefty bettors, all day and all night! So, when the question comes, whether slot hits in the morning, the answer is- IT DOES! You can play slot games anytime you want!

How much does the average person spend in a casino? ›

How much does the average gambler spend at casino? The average amount of money visitors budgeted for gambling in 2021 according to the LVCVA is wide-ranging, with 7% budgeting $99 or less, 23% budgeting $100-$300, 30% budgeting $300-$600, and 39% budgeting over $600.

Should I max bet on slots? ›

Most of the time, unfortunately, no – there is no benefit to placing a max bet. On most slot machines, the payout ratio for wins will increase equally with the bet you place. If you wager $1 and win $2, a $10 bet would have won $20, just as a $100 bet would have won $200.

Do slot machines have cameras in them? ›

When a player plays a game, such as a slot machine, the player is scanned at the machine by a digital or video camera to acquire and develop a digital image of the player's face.

Can you tell if a slot machine is going to hit? ›

You cannot tell when a modern slot machine will hit because the outcome of each spin is random. No matter how many times a machine has spun, and no matter what the outcomes of those spins were, the probability of the next result remains the same.

Do casinos monitor your play? ›

Some players believe that casinos track hot/cold players in an effort to see who may be winning or losing, including perhaps those winning or losing too much. STATUS: They do track every player, and how they're doing, but the reasons are generally more benign than some players believe.

What is the 5 spin method? ›

Put your chosen bankroll into a machine. Make five minimum bets but stop if you win anything at all. If you win anything on the first ten machines, continue until you've tested twenty machines.

What is the easiest slot machine to play? ›

Starburst. A timeless classic that's super easy to play and great for both big and small bankrolls. As far as slot games go it's quite basic, however, it offers high payouts and the opportunity to win big with the Starburst Expanding Wilds.

How are slot machines set to pay out? ›

Modern gaming machines use computer technology to operate their functions. Slot machine outcomes are determined unsing a Random Number Generator (RNG) which is a mathematically-based program that selects groups of numbers to determine which symbols are selected to produce a winning or losing outcome.

How can you tell if a slot machine is hot? ›

How to tell if an online slot machine is hot
  1. Looking at a slot's return to player (RTP) percentage. For those hoping for a speedy return on the bulk of their spins, the RTP % of the game is all they need to know. ...
  2. The slot's volatility. ...
  3. Tournaments of slots.

What to do before going to casino to attract fortune? ›

Lights: Before you head to the casino or your next poker night, turn on all the lights in the house. It might seem like wasted energy, but apparently leaving the lights on will bring you luck! Lady Luck: Have you ever seen someone ask a woman to blow on their dice, roll them, or choose where to place a bet?

What is the easiest game to win money in a casino? ›


Blackjack has the best odds of winning, with a house edge of just 1 percent in most casinos, Bean said.

Do slot machines pay out during the day? ›

Why Do People Believe Certain Days and Times Are Better for Gambling? Casino games are for entertainment, and their payouts are random, so there's no specific time of the day or week where you'll experience more wins.

How often do slots pay out big? ›

Real-world conditions vary. Not all slots within a casino have the same jackpot hit frequency, most paying a lot less often than once per 10,000 spins. On a game with a big multimillion-dollar jackpot like Megabucks, the jackpot chances are closer to 1 in 50 million.

How often do slot machines have to pay out? ›

The 1:1 payout comes every 8 plays. The 5:1 payout comes every 33 plays, whereas the 2:1 payout comes every 600 plays. Most players assume the likelihood increases proportionate to the payout.

Should you play all lines on a slot machine? ›

Those who want to win the progressive jackpot should play as many lines as they can afford. This will maximize the amount of time you spend on slot machines, and offer you more chances to win the jackpot. Assuming you're just looking to have some fun, it's best to keep the number of paylines under 5.


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