Las Vegas and gambling are almost synonymous, and for the beginner gambler, that first trip to a casino can be a little bit intimidating.
Slot machines, as it turns out, are slightly more complicated than putting in a coin and either winning or losing.
Nothing about slot machine gambling is actually difficult.
For someone who has never gambled or is just getting started, though, it seems like there’s a lot to learn.
This guide will help.
We’ll get into the details about how to play slot machines momentarily, but for now, here’s what you need to know about gambling as a whole:
Rule #1: Gambling is entertainment.
Especially as a beginner, you’re not going to win every time you gamble.
Gambling is not an income strategy.
Consider your gambling expenditure an entertainment expense, and you won’t be as disappointed when you lose.
Rule #2: Limit your losses.
Before you sit down at a machine or a table, determine an amount of money that you are realistically willing to spend.
Never gamble with borrowed money, and don’t try to make up your losses by gambling more.
Set a realistic budget, and you’ll have much more fun.
Remember, it’s an entertainment expense!
Rule #3: Respect other people in the casino.
Spend some time in a Las Vegas casino, and you’ll probably encounter that most dreaded creature: the inconsiderate gambler.
People who shout, throw chips around, overindulge in certain restricted substances, obnoxiously hog a row of machines, or get angry when they lose make casino games less fun for everyone.
Please, for the sake of everyone:
Use proper hygiene, respect your dealers and fellow players, and win and lose with grace.
Gambling is meant to be fun, so have fun!
By the way, most casinos have pretty strict rules against photography. However, Four Queens in downtown Las Vegas is photo friendly – most of the pictures in this post came from there.
Rule #4: Don’t miss out on freebies.
Most casinos in Las Vegas have rewards programs that give you complimentary bonuses, or comps, for playing regularly.
Before you sit down to play, go sign up for the rewards program.
As you play, you’ll “earn” free nights in their hotel properties, complimentary meals, bonus chips for more play, and other perks.
If you’re going to gamble anyway, there’s no reason to miss out.
With those 4 basic rules in mind, let’s talk about the most common casino game you’re likely to encounter in a Las Vegas casino.
How to Play Casino Slots
The majority of first-time gamblers begin on slot machines.
It’s so easy.
All you really have to do is insert money and push a button.
Compared to table games, slots are less intimidating for people who don’t know the proper etiquette when interacting with dealers, like placing your money on the table instead of handing it to the dealer.
You’re also playing solo, which is far more comfortable for anyone who worries that other players will find their novice habits annoying.
Modern slot machines are computerized, and they work with credits instead of coins…
Though you can still find a few vintage options in Downtown Las Vegas.
Depending on the machine, a credit might be a penny, or it might be a dollar. The denomination of the machine will be prominently displayed.
Once you’ve selected a machine and inserted your money to purchase credits, it’s time to start betting.
Before you bet, though, understand this:
The payline is the spot where symbols must line up in order for you to get paid.
It looks like this:
In the picture above, the machine only has one payline.
Not all machines are like that, though. Some machines have multiple paylines.
On this style of machine, you can select the number of paylines on which you would like to bet – see the “lines played” box. If you want to get paid for symbols that line up along the diagonal, for example, you’ll have to play multiple lines.
This also means that each spin will cost more than 1 credit, because it costs you a credit for each line.
The machine in the picture above also offers scatter pays. These allow you to win money, or in this case, bonus spins, if 3 of a certain symbol appear, even if they don’t line up. On this machine, it’s that BONUS symbol you see in the middle.
This and similar types of machines include bonus rounds that give you things like free spins, second screen bonuses (like a minigame where you can win extra money) and other special features.
Wheel of Fortune and similar types of machines are another good example:
When you get a “spin” symbol, you activate the wheel at the top of the game, which spins to give you the chance to win bonuses.
As for minimum and maximum bets:
Just like any type of gambling, the higher your bet, the higher the payout if you when.
Always read the payout information on the machine to determine how to bet – on some machines, referred to as buy-a-pay machines, you must bet the maximum if you want to be paid for all combinations that might come up.
A minimum bet on a buy-a-pay machine might pay if you line up cherries on the payline, but if three 7s come up and you only bet the minimum, you’ll get paid nothing. You must place a higher bet to be paid for cherries and 7s, and the highest bet for gold bars or other symbols to pay.
On machines like this, or on progressive jackpot machines that only pay the jackpot if you placed the maximum bet, it doesn’t make sense to bet minimums.
Wouldn’t you be upset if you hit the jackpot, but can’t get paid the jackpot amount because you placed a minimum bet?
Again, the machine will have instructions, so don’t stress about which one is which.
For the most part, all you’re going to do at a slot machine is insert money and push a button. They’re designed to be intuitive, so even if you’re confused reading this post, it will be much easier to get the hang of it at a machine.
Have fun. Don’t let other well-meaning gamblers take the fun out of it for you.
Everyone has strategies and advice, and most of it amounts to nothing but superstition. Just have a good time, and maybe win a few dollars if luck is on your side.