Strategy for Playing Slots

Slot Machine Strategy

The phrase "slot machine strategy" causes the eyes of some players to light up with visions of untold riches. For others, it makes about as much sense as "skydiving without a parachute strategy."

This polarizing topic has long been the subject of debate among gamblers. Some insist that employing various strategies can give the player a long-term advantage, while others dismiss the notion as nonsense.

No matter which side of the fence you're on, we hope this article is able to shed more light on the subject. We'll be examining a number of slots strategies, as well as explaining how modern games work and dispelling some of the more popular myths.

How a Slot Machine Works

Before you can even begin to think about applying a strategy, it helps to know how a slot machine works. In this section, we'll offer a basic rundown on the inner workings of the games once known as "one-armed bandits."

The main element of any modern slot machine is the random number generator. If we want to be entirely accurate, the random number generator is actually the function, while the chip installed in every slot is known as an EPROM (or "erasable programmable read-only memory"). For the sake of simplicity, however, most refer to the EPROM as the random number generator, which is what we'll be doing for the remainder of this article.

What Is a Random Number Generator?

The RNG is constantly selecting a series of numbers, and the result can range from miniscule up to several billion. This function takes place whether or not the machine is being played, which means every unattended slot machine on the casino floor is generating a flurry of numbers every millisecond.

It should also be noted that the generated numbers are in no way determined by the size of a potential jackpot, the number of credits deposited, or whether or not a slots club card is used. No matter the circumstances, the computer spits out its numbers with pure impartiality.

Once a number has been generated, it's divided up using a formula that's been programmed into the heart of the slot machine. The resulting number corresponds to a "stop" on the reel of the machine.

What's a Stop?

As the name would imply, a stop is a stopping point on the reel. This could be a cherry symbol, a blank space, or the face of some popular movie character on a licensed game.

Older slots had a smaller number of stop, often around 10 per reel. That's changed significantly in the last several decades, and now anywhere from 25 to 50 stops is commonplace. The reason for this is because old-school slots had fixed images on their reels, while video slots can produce virtual icons as needed.

When a game is created at the factory, some symbols are programmed to show up more often than others. This process is known as "weighing," and it's the main reason why slots aren't paying out massive sums of money every few spins. Let's say, for example, that you need three "Jackpot" symbols to get a big payday, but each of these icons only appears (on average) every 100 spins. While the odds of getting one aren't great, the odds of getting all three would be one in one-million.

How Do Slots Work?

The actual gameplay of a slot occurs differently than what most players would imagine. Since the game is constantly generating numbers, pressing the spin button simply selects the most recent string of numbers to be randomly produced. Once this has occurred, the reels spin and eventually stop to display the icons that correspond with those numbers.

Spinning Reels Create Suspense

The real outcome of a spin takes place the moment the customer presses the button, as a randomly generated number is selected. These numbers correspond to various stops on the reels, and some icons are weighted to show up more often than others.

Common Myths (When Slots Strategies Go Wrong)

myth /
a widely held but false idea or belief.

While most associate the word myth with tales of ancient gods and epic heroes, you'd better believe that the world of gambling has its fair share of myths and legends.

In this section, we'll be looking at some of the most popular and/or persistent slots myths. To make your life easier, we'll also verify or debunk their credibility, although anyone hoping for the former is likely to come away disappointed.

Myth #1

At land-based casinos, loose slots are always placed by the doors and heavy traffic areas to attract more customers.

This is inaccurate. A number of third-party studies have been conducted about the placement of slot machines, and no evidence has been found to suggest that casinos engage in this sort of practice. People are already coming to the casino to gamble, so resorting to such tricks would just be a waste of time.

Myth #2

You're more likely to win on a slot machine by pulling the lever instead of pressing the spin button.

Also inaccurate. Most slots no longer have a lever on the side. Those that do, however, offer no advantage to the player who chooses it over the spin button. All the winning combinations are being generated internally by the RNG, so it doesn't matter which method you decide to use.

Myth #3

The looseness or tightness of a slot machine varies by the hour of the day and the day of the week.

Not true! In order to ensure repeat business, casinos must find a balance between making money and paying out a certain amount to players. If they were to somehow tighten up their slots during the busy times of the day or week, they would likely notice a significant drop-off in their business. In addition, somehow magically adjusting all the machines on the casino floor would be a major pain in the rear.

Myth #4

In a land-based casino, employees have the inside scoop on the loose slots.

False. The average cocktail waitress has no clue about the payout percentage of the slots. We've heard of some customers offering employees a cut of their winnings if they direct them to the loose machines, but we would certainly advise against this. Not only do they not have the answers you're looking for, but some might still play along in the hopes that you'll win and give them a cut of the profits.

Myth #5

Using a player card reduces the potential payout of a slot.

Don't let this garbage trick you into skipping the slots club. The only purpose of the player card is to keep track of player spending for the purpose of awarding complimentary items such as meals and show tickets. If slots actually tightened up when club cards were used, the casinos would render these items useless and send comp hunters to the competition.

Myth #6

If a slot machine hasn't paid out a big win in a while, then it's due to hit. Conversely, a slot that just delivered a winner is going to be cold for a while.

A slot machine's random number generator ensures that each spin is independent of the last one. While the odds are stacked against getting multiple top jackpots on the same machine within a short span of time, there's no special internal program designed to prevent such a thing. Ultimately, blame it on the math.

Myth #7

The casino can remotely alter the payout percentage of a slot.

This myth is dangerous because it is based on fact. There are certain slots that now allow their payout percentage to be altered remotely, but these are in the vast minority. In most states, they don't exist at all. But even in a market like Las Vegas where such devices are being tested on a limited basis, the state laws regarding a minimum payout percentage still apply.

Myth #8

Warm coins increase your chance of winning.

False. There's an old belief that rubbing your fingers against a coin makes it more likely to produce a winner. This is one of the more ridiculous slot machine myths out there, especially since most players no longer even use coins. If you buy into this one, you'll just wind up looking like an imbecile.

Myth #9

Slot payoffs are produced on a predictable cycle.

False. While each slot is programmed to pay back a certain percentage of money over the long haul, this takes place during millions of spins. There's also no pattern to predict, as the RNG ensures that each spin is completely self-contained and unrelated to what's come before.

Myth #10

If you use a player card at a land-based casino, it enables the establishment to report your winnings to the Internal Revenue Service.

The casino monitors your winnings when you go to the window to cash out. If your payout is larger than a certain amount ($1,200 in Las Vegas on slots and bingo), then the casino fills out a W-2G form and sends it along to the IRS, along with the size of your winnings and personal information. There's no escaping the tax man.

There are a significant number of myths surrounding slot machines. Falling prey to these false beliefs can result in everything from players looking foolish to losing money. Your best bet is to pick a machine that looks like fun, insert your money, and ignore the superstitious ramblings of fellow gamblers.

Simple Slots Strategies that Work

The outcome of a slot machine is impossible to predict. In addition, a number of the suggested ways to win are nothing more than ridiculous myths. When these facts are combined, it might seem as though no successful strategy can be applied to slots. Luckily, that's only half true.

There's no magical way to "beat" a slot machine. Casinos and game developers have spent a considerable amount of time and money making sure that these games can't be overcome on a consistent basis. There are, however, steps that can be taken to give yourself the best possible chance of winning.

If you prefer real-world practicality to pipe dreams, we suggest committing the following slots strategies to memory and utilizing them each time you set foot in the casino or log into a virtual establishment. Even though your win/loss ratio may not increase immediately, you're bound to be better off in the long term.

Watch for High Advertised Payback Percentages

In an effort to attract business, some casinos may advertise slots with a specific payback percentage such as 98% or 97.5%. These are always a wise decision, as the casino has just revealed the long-term expected payout (such information is usually closely guarded). Always watch for deceptive practices, though, as "up to 99% return" is not the same as a guaranteed 99% return.

Manage Your Bankroll

Before you start playing at a casino, take careful stock of your finances and determine how much money you can afford to lose. If you can't afford to lose any, then you shouldn't be playing in the first place. If you have a certain amount of disposable income, set a number and never play beyond that figure. This can mean the difference between a losing session and a session that forces you to borrow money or miss a car payment.

Always Take the Game's Advice

An increasing number of slots are beginning to include skill features, and it's commonplace for these machines to offer some basic advice on how to succeed at such in-game elements. Unless you designed the game and know some special trick, it's always a good idea to follow such advice.

Play a Table Game Instead

While slots can be a lot of fun, they're also one of the biggest bankroll killers in the casino. They rely almost exclusively on the element of chance, and a machine can sometimes go years without delivering its top jackpot. Meanwhile, table games offer better odds and interaction with other players.

Remember Your Ticket

After you've hit a jackpot, the machine prints a ticket that can be redeemed at the cashout window. While it's natural to get excited after a big win, don't walk away and forget to grab your ticket. If you do, then someone else may wind up snatching the ticket and walking out of the casino with your winnings.

Get a Player Card and Use It

Player cards are used by the casino to keep track of how much you're betting at their establishment. If you're a frequent player, you can expect to be rewarded for your patronage in the form of comps, which often include free meals, rooms, or tickets to a show. Since you're not paying for these items, comps can turn an otherwise losing session at the casino into a profitable gaming excursion.

Play Physical Reels

Games with actual reels are quickly becoming a thing of the past. If you can find one, though, you'd be smart to play it. That's because these games almost always offer a higher payout percentage than their virtual counterparts. That's because fancy video slots take longer to play, which means the casino has to make up for this lost time by siphoning off more of your money.

Slow and Steady

By adopting a slow rate of play, you can satisfy your craving for gambling while also limiting the amount of your losses. This might not seem like much of a strategy, but we've seen people blow their whole bankroll at a slot within five minutes of sitting down. Don't be that person.

Simple Games Have Better Odds

While massive games with spinning wheels and impressive video displays are popular, they're often not the most profitable machines. That's because casinos know that these games are going to attract customers regardless, so they can get away with setting the payback percentage lower. The more basic machines, meanwhile, offer better odds to make up for their more straightforward presentation.

Avoid Statewide Progressives

Sure, it would be nice to hit the Megabucks statewide progressive in Nevada and become a multi-millionaire. The odds are against it, however, and you're likely to receive far fewer payout while fishing for that top jackpot. That's because twenty-one cents of every dollar wagered goes toward either the jackpot or the casino's profits. That doesn't leave a lot of money to return to the player on smaller wins.

Higher Denominations Have Better Odds

Since a game with a higher denomination is ultimately making more money from players, it can afford to offer higher payouts. Use this to your advantage by sticking to games with a larger minimum bet. For example, playing one coin per line on a nickel game offers you better odds than playing five coins per line on a penny slot (even though you're spending the same amount of money on both).


Anyone seeking a foolproof way to beat slot machines is going to be disappointed, as these games are consistently the biggest revenue generators for any casino. However, by utilizing tactics such as playing slowly and signing up for a free player card, you can increase your chances of winning. Considering how much the odds are stacked against you, this is about the best you can hope for over the life of your gaming career.
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