The Complete Guide To Playing Slot Machines
Introduction: The House Doesn’t Always Win
Are you planning a trip to a casino city such as Las Vegas, Nevada, or Macau, China, but don’t know the first thing about making the most of your time there? Aside from researching the best casinos in Las Vegas, you should also think about learning some of the tricks of the trade.
The slots are considered one of the simplest casino games there are, despite scaring a lot of people off due to the flashing lights and ominous buttons.
However, as there is no real strategy that you can follow as you play the slots they’re quite simple to use. All you have to do is insert your money and press a few buttons to get on your way. Despite this, there are a few tactics that people adopt to get the most out of the slots time.
Slot machines are single-use and don’t offer many opportunities for team sports, so they’re ideal for people looking for some quiet alone time. Just lookout for the lurkers who wait around the corner, about to pounce on your machine once you give up and poach all of your winnings (thanks Phoebe Buffay for that advice).
The slots were once the scum of the casino, where people were embarrassed to be seen. The jackpots were lacking and the players wouldn’t be allowed any of the complimentary bonuses that were given to the real players. However, as time moved on the slot machines got a lot more popular.
Now over 70 percent of revenue for casinos comes from the slots, and thanks to this the jackpots grew higher and much more appealing. So, you’ve decided that you want to know all about the slots before you hit the casino. You’ve come to the right place - by the time we’re done, you’ll be sure to be the star of the casino!
An Overview of Slot Machines
First though, to truly understand something you should first know about what they are and how they came to be about. So, if you’ve never played a slot machine before they can be described as tall machines with spinning reels as the main mechanism.
The reels have a series of symbols on them which land in a random order of three once you press the spin button. If you match the three symbols together or create a certain pattern that the machine displays, you’ll win a sum of money.
However, it’s not always guaranteed that you’ll be winning the jackpot. For example, matching three cross symbols might earn you $5 or however much you bet in the first place, but matching three gold bar symbols could win you much more money.
Slot machines have been around since the 19th century, and they have become steadily more popular since then. Their architecture is simple, using only gears and strings to spin the reels. As time progressed the machines became more flashy with lights and now some are completely electronic with touchscreen displays.
However, the premise remains the same. The symbols will still reveal themselves in a random order thanks to a computer program called a random number generator.
This program runs through thousands of numbers every second and only stops once you press the button. The numbers left will correlate to a symbol and therefore said symbols will be shown.
The odds of winning on a slot machine
Now’s the part that you’ve all been waiting for, right? How likely is it that you’re going to win on your machine? Unfortunately, it’s not as simple as knowing the odds and there is often a different likelihood of winning each new time you encounter a slot machine.
Early slot machines
As early slot machines were much more simple than they are today, the odds of winning were much easier to calculate. If there were three spinning reels on the machine with ten symbols on each, then the odds of getting the symbol that you wanted was 1/10.
However, if you wanted to know the likelihood of getting all three symbols matched together then you would have to multiply the odds together. Using the same instance as before, the sum would be 1/10 X 1/10 X 1/10 = 1/1000.
So, the chances of you getting all three symbols matching would be around 1 in 1000 games. Now that you know the odds you can compare them to the jackpot and see whether the payout was worth what you’d have to spend to win it.
Some manufacturers made it more difficult to work out the odds by adding a different amount of symbols to each of the reels. For instance, the first reel might have 10 symbols but the second would have 12 and the third would only have 7.
Modern slot machines
As everyone figured the maths out with early slot machines, manufacturers made it more difficult to estimate your odds of winning. They did this by using programming rather than spinning reels. Due to this change, they could fit many more symbols onto the reels without making the machine too cumbersome.
So, a modern slot machine that you’re playing on could have 20 or 30 symbols on one reel alone! Another feature of using programming is that manufacturers can adjust the odds themselves of a symbol coming up. For example, they could make the jackpot symbol come up in only 1/50 spins, while the cross symbol could come up every 1/10 spins.
This makes it more difficult for the player to estimate when they might win on their machine. Some prefer this due to the mystery while others are put off by not knowing their likelihood of winning.
Modern slot machines also come with a number of interesting minigames and variations of the traditional slot game, with wild symbols, progressive jackpots, scatter symbols, and many more. Perhaps this is why slot machines have become increasingly popular despite the fact that you can no longer work out when you’re due a win.
How To Play Slot Machines
There is a lot to do in Las Vegas, with lakes to explore, mountains to climb, and thrilling roller coasters to ride. And yes, there are even things to do in Las Vegas with kids! But have you really been to Vegas if you haven’t spent some time in the casinos?
Playing the slots is monotonous and can become tiresome if you don’t have a strategy. Below we’re going to be taking you through the basics of playing slot machines, as well as some rules to follow to make sure that you don’t stick out as a beginner in a crowd of professionals.
How To Play: Overview
There are lots of different types of slot machines at the casino, and not all of them have the same odds of winning or the same rules.
If you’re a beginner you might want to stick to the classic machines that have only three reels, as these are the most simplistic machines to practice on.
Classic machines will only have the basic symbols such as cherries and bells, without all of the scatter and wild symbols that other machines have to offer.
There will also be fewer paylines meaning that if you do win the payout will be more impressive than a slot machine with more paylines.
What are the advantages of slot machines?
The main advantage of slot machines and why so many people play them is because they’re a lot easier than the table games at casinos. You also don’t have a crowd of people watching you so there is a lot less pressure to hit the jackpot.
How you play slot machines is simple - place your bet and spin the reels to reveal your combination of symbols. Slots allow you the opportunity to place small wagers instead of hefty ones that many other casino games require. Instead of placing a $25 minimum wager, you can have a game on the slot machine for as little as 1 cent!
So, if a 1 cent machine had 30 paylines and you wanted to pay for each one, you’d be able to play for only 30 cents. This is one of the reasons why slot players were looked down upon in the past as rich people viewed them as being too poor for the real games.
However, the inexpensive nature has now become one of the main draws for slot machines. Another reason why slots are so popular is that they offer impressive chances to win big money. Some games allow you the opportunity to win millions of dollars, and others have a jackpot of thousands.
The largest ever recorded win was in 2003 by a software engineer. From his $100 wager, he won 39.7 million dollars. Now, don’t get us wrong - these types of jackpots are not seen every day. However, isn’t it exciting knowing that you could be the next big winner from such a small wager?
The final advantage that we’re going to talk about today is simply how fun they are and how exciting it is when you win. You don’t have the pressure of a high wager hanging off of you as the reels stop turning, which means you have more time to enjoy the experience rather than worrying about losing your money.
Other than the money side of things, the development of switching from physical slot machines to digital alternatives allowed designers to go wild with their imaginations, creating a much more entertaining and enjoyable experience.
Instead of simply watching the dice roll where they may, you’ll have an entire show folding out in front of you in between spins.
There are some slot machines that even allow you to take a picture of yourself and add yourself into the game as the main character. Slot machines are a bit of fun with the added bonus of potentially winning some money off of an impressively low wager.
Symbols on slot machines
So, it seems pretty simple to play slot machines, right? But we haven’t gone over what all the symbols mean just yet. The standard symbols are ones that you’ve probably seen before somewhere in your life, whether it be on television or in a video game.
These are the traditional fruit symbols, although some slot machines prefer to use card symbols instead.
The standard symbols are the ones that you need to match up in a certain way to win the prize. But what about all of the other symbols? Let’s take a quick look.
Think of the wild symbol as the joker in a card game. If this symbol shows up in your combination it can take the place of any other symbol in a winning combination. So, having a wild symbol will drastically improve your odds of winning.
Scatter symbols are often associated with bonus spins that offer a great advantage to the player. They are usually rather rare to land on and have some terms and conditions that need a meeting before you can benefit from them. However, a scatter symbol is often a gambler’s best friend.
Another rare symbol is the multiplier symbol, and it multiplies your winnings should you find it. The amount they increase your winnings is up to the individual game, but it can be 2x, 4x, or even 6x. As you can imagine, they’re very valuable and sought after. Unfortunately not as many slot machines have them.
If you land on a sticky symbol, the reel remains in place for several spins. This means that you only need to match two symbols together to get a win. They’re often tricky to land on as the manufacturers place them at the end of the reels so that you have less of a chance of getting one.
Similar to a scatter symbol, a bonus symbol takes you away from your next spin and allows you to play a bonus game. This game will often be relating to the machine’s theme, such as a stack of cards or poker. Bonus games often rely on luck rather than strategy, so there’s not much you can do to win the game.
Finally, stacked symbols allow normal symbols to take up more than one space on a reel. This means that you’re more likely to match the symbols together. There is sometimes also the opportunity to land on a stacked wild symbol which increases your chance of winning impressively.
Slot Machine Etiquette
Like with any activity, there is a certain etiquette that you should follow to ensure that you enjoy your time as much as possible without upsetting any other players.
Of course, not everyone sticks to the slot machine etiquette rules (that’s where the lurkers come in), but that doesn’t mean that you should ignore them.
To prevent having a public argument with another gambler in the middle of a casino, make sure that you stick to the below rules.
Someone might still try and pick a fight with you, but at least you’ll know that you were not in the wrong.
Don’t be a lurker
You should never sit at a machine when you’re not playing it. You’re taking up space for someone else to play, so go sit somewhere else. There are plenty of other seats in a casino - go find one.
It’s also important not to lurk around players on machines that you want. Even if you have a favorite machine that is currently being used, no one wants a stranger breathing down their neck while they’re trying to enjoy themselves. Find another machine until that one is free.
Saving a machine
You can save your machine if you need a break from gambling, but try not to make this longer than 15 minutes. There will often be slot attendants walking around the area so you can ask them for the policy on saving machines. It is possible that there won’t be one and you cannot save your machine, so don’t be offended if this answer comes up.
If you are allowed to save your machine and you walk away from it for a few minutes, always take your valuables with you. Likewise, never leave credits unplayed on a machine. You will not get these back if another player uses them while you’re away. As it is possible to save your machine, always make sure that a machine is available before sitting down.
Don’t be greedy
While it is possible for you to use more than one machine at a time, as some gamblers like to have multiple games on at once, don’t do this when the casino is busy. Stick to one machine so that you’re not taking away from other players who want to enjoy themselves.
Again, make sure that the machine you choose is free and available. People who like to use more than one at a time will be back and forth, so an empty seat does not always mean that the machine is available for you to use.
Keep your cool
No one likes a sore loser. Slot machines are meant to be fun and enjoyable, so don’t let a string of losses get in the way of that. Don’t take it out on other players, casino staff, or the machines themselves. Doing so might get you banned from the house.
If you see another player win, be happy for them and even congratulate them - they got lucky, they shouldn’t be made to feel bad because of it. If you’re on a losing streak, take the time to cool off and step away from the slot machines.
Head up to your hotel room or venture out and see the sights. Make sure to explore our guide of the best hotels in Las Vegas so that you have the best place to unwind and relax after a string of losses.
Be ready for the slots
The best experiences come from you being content and excited to play the slots. If you’re in a bad mindset about winning, chances are that you won’t have fun. Make sure that you’ve eaten, had a full night of rest, and are in a good mood to get the most from your experience.
Las Vegas is full of restaurants and buffets, so why not treat yourself before your gambling session? Research the best buffets in Las Vegas to avoid being disappointed. If you’re well looked after you will most likely also be able to make the best decisions regarding your game.
The obvious main goal to achieve by playing slot machines is getting a nice payout at the end of it, right?
The payout percentage is the average amount of money that will be returned to you through winnings.
Bear in mind that we say average as there is no guarantee that you will get the payout in a number of spins.
For example, if your slot machine had a payout percentage of 80% and you placed a $100 wager on it, the average payout would be $80 in the form of winnings.
So, you are always looking for a machine with a higher payout percentage so that you have a chance of winning your money back.
However, just because the average payout is $80 it doesn’t mean that this is the highest amount of money you can win. You could hit the jackpot and win big, or you could lose every spin and leave with nothing.
Finding a machine with the best odds will increase your chances of winning big and losing little. While some people prefer to play only for entertainment purposes, we think that winning would improve the enjoyment factor drastically!
But how do you find the payout percentage? You need to look at how each machine has been programmed. Not every manufacturer publishes these numbers, so you might not be able to find the payout percentage for every machine.
However, you might get lucky and find the answer online. A quick Google search could lead you to forums of past players who have done all the hard work for you. Bear in mind that it is also true that the more you set as your wager, the higher the payout percentage is.
Slot Machine Strategies
Some people prefer to play the slots without any strategy, while others enjoy the structure of having a clear strategy. We have tested both of these methods, and we would always recommend trying out one of the below strategies.
They make it seem like you know what you’re doing, rather than pressing the spin button relentlessly without getting anywhere.
The progressive slot machine takes a portion of your wager and places it in a bank that adds to a maximum jackpot.
Your money, as well as other players’ bets, will go towards the jackpot and hike up the overall winnings.
If you were to bet $1, the jackpot might increase by $0.25 to $0.50.
There is a maximum jackpot for the prize pot to hit, so when it hits this number the jackpot can be won by a player.
The player whose bet was the one to increase the prize pot to the maximum jackpot will win all of the winnings, so timing is crucial when it comes to progressive slots.
You can choose from two strategies when it comes to progressive machines - ignore the maximum jackpot altogether or wait until the prize pot is nearing the final jackpot number. Playing on a progressive machine as you would a non-progressive machine gives you much better odds on winning the smaller amounts up for grabs.
This is because the payout percentage for progressive machines is better than many of the non-progressive machines. So, you’re more likely to win your bets back even if you don’t win the jackpot.
But we hear what you’re saying - the whole point of playing a progressive slot machine is to win the big bucks. If this is still your goal, you need to time your plays and hold off until the prize pot is close to the maximum jackpot number.
Unfortunately, there is sometimes no way of knowing the exact number that the jackpot has been generated to. Otherwise, it would be carnage around the machines once the price pot got close to the final number.
However, you can make an educated guess by seeing how many players are by the machines. If there is a lot, it’s a good indicator that it is almost time to pounce. You will have to stay close and hope that the current player runs out of money before they hit the maximum jackpot.
A buy-a-pay slot is a machine that requires you to unlock pieces of the potential pays with each coin that you wager.
For example, wagering one coin would allow you to benefit from the middle line of the reels only.
So, if you lined three up on the middle line you would get a payout.
However, what happens if you match three symbols on the line above the mainline, or below it?
Betting two coins can allow you to benefit from the higher line as well as the centerline, and three coins give you the maximum benefit of being able to play with all three lines.
Another example of buy-a-pay machines allows you to unlock more symbols which offer better chances for you to win big. For instance, wagering three coins might unlock the 7s symbol. If you haven’t wagered enough coins to unlock this symbol and match three of them up, you will win nothing.
Buy-a-pay machines are ruthless and many people have lost out on big winnings because of them. However, if you’re willing to wager enough coins you can benefit from amazing advantages.
The strategy? Bet maximum and play. Take advantage of all of the symbols and the extra lines for potential winning combinations. Trust us, you will regret it if you bet low. Either bet the maximum amount or move onto a new machine.
We’ve already mentioned the multiplier symbol on a slot machine and how it can multiply your winnings.
This is a very obvious advantage to the player, which is why the multiplier symbol is not on every machine.
You will have to do your research to know which machines to look out for if you wanted to use this strategy.
Some multipliers have been seen on the spinning reels while others are only shown in bonus games and free spins.
If you match three symbols together you might get the opportunity to play a bonus which allows you to play for by how much your winnings will multiply. Multipliers might range from X2 all the way to X1000.
There are other variations to the multiplier symbol such as wild multipliers, which can act as a serious advantage to you and your game. Wild symbols take the place of another so that you can win with two matching symbols and a wild symbol. However, if it’s a wild multiplier symbol you will not only have won but your winnings will be multiplied as well.
The disadvantage of multiplier symbols is that they are random and you cannot do anything to increase your chances of landing on one. However, if you wanted to use the multiplier symbols or variations of it to your advantage, you should research the machines that house them as well as the payout percentage for these machines.
Doing so will allow you to see which machines you can use this strategy with as well as the ones with the best odds of you receiving a portion of your bets back.
5 Tips To Remember For Playing Slot Machines
Just before we leave you to go try your luck on the slots, we have a final few beginner slot machine gambling tips to get you ready. Slot machines are designed for a fun experience while gambling, so if you don’t think that you’ll be able to enjoy even the losses, perhaps the slots aren’t for you.
Slot machines are completely random
Perhaps the most important thing to remember about the slots is that they are random - the symbols are randomly generated, bonus games and free spins too.
Remember that it’s not the machine’s fault, the staff of the casino isn’t playing a trick on you, and that the other guests are not laughing at you.
Take the losses graciously as you can and accept that it might not be your day.
Keep in mind that gambling should be fun, so as soon as you start feeling anything other than the enjoyment you should stop playing.
There are plenty of articles on the internet speculating about how slot machines might not be randomized, but this is not true. The machines use random generators to determine the numbers and symbols.
The only slot machines that are not random are progressive slots, and even the only thing not random about them is when the jackpot is going to be released. Even the jackpot amount is selected at random! We may have been able to work out the odds of winning with early machines, but it is almost impossible now with the modern-day versions.
Get to know what the paylines are
Every machine will have different paylines and varying quantities of them. A payline is a combination of winning symbols, such as CROSS - NOUGHT - CROSS or JACKPOT - JACKPOT - JACKPOT.
The more paylines there are the better your chances are of landing on one and winning.
Some paylines are much more common than others and therefore have less substantial winnings.
However, there is still a chance that you’ll win big time! Anyway, it’s important to remember that not every machine has the same paylines.
Picture this: you move to a new machine without looking at the paylines, place your wager, and press spin. The spinning reels stop on BELL - GOLD BAR - BELL and you start celebrating your win, jumping up and down and screaming.
That is until you realize that there are no flashing lights or music and no one else is celebrating with you. Only now do you realize that the paylines on this machine are completely different from the last machine you were playing on.
… The second-hand embarrassment is almost too much to handle. So, don’t be that person that doesn’t look at the paylines. Trust us, it does happen!
Don’t convince yourself that you have a lucky game
It’s never a good idea to get too arrogant over your slots game.
As we’ve already mentioned, the chances of you winning are completely random, so convincing yourself that you have a lucky game is likely only going to bring embarrassment.
Especially if you’ve been all over the casino bragging about how today is your lucky day and that you’re going to win the big bucks. This will only draw a crowd to watch as you play, putting more pressure on you to perform.
You’ll feel a slough of negative emotions such as embarrassment, anger, and stress that is going to throw you off your game even more.
Convincing yourself that you have a lucky game also might force you to bet more money than you were planning to.
It’s very easy to spend more on the slots than you can afford. This is because the big prizes are much harder to win, but we hold onto the fact that someone has to win them! So we keep betting with the belief that if we don’t, someone else is going to take over the machine and win our winnings within a few spins.
Accept you will never win at slots!
Similar to the point above, accepting that you will never win at the slots will make it much easier to leave a machine once your bet allowance has been used up.
What’s more, if you think that you’re not going to win and end up with a perfect combination of symbols, you’ll be pleasantly surprised and much happier than if you thought you were going to win in the first place.
There are plenty of articles online that state accepting that you won’t win is how you get better at something.
While you use luck to win slot machines, you can get better at working out your next moves.
Instead of rushing your spins, you can work intricately and precisely. So, don’t get cocky and accept you’re never going to win any money anyway!
Slot machines are placed in casinos to be fun and offer guests somewhere that they can still bet without as much of the pressure as there is on table games.
Instead of having a crowd around you while you bet big wagers, you can play on the slots by yourself betting as little as one cent.
As slot machines are built to be fun, why do people put so much pressure on themselves to win?
Gambling should be fun, and you should stop as soon as you feel that it’s not offering you entertainment anymore.
Some tips to make sure that you’re still having fun while gambling is: to know your limits and don’t push it; take breaks in between bets, and play for fun rather than winnings.
Summary: King Of The Slots
And there we have it - our complete guide to playing slot machines. The slots are some of the easiest machines to use in a casino and it doesn’t take too long to grasp the basics. Place your bet and press the spin button, waiting to see if you get a winning combination of symbols.
However, there is more to it than that for people who are serious about playing the slots right. If you’re getting ready to hit the casino you might want to do your research on the slot machines they have there and the payout percentages.
You should also be aware of the different symbols that you might encounter. If you want to take advantage of the bonus symbols such as the multiplier and the wild symbol, you can research what machines house these and whether or not the casino uses them.
Luckily, there are plenty of online forums with people who have already done the hard work for you. Just make sure that the information they’re giving you is relevant to the casino you’re going to be visiting.
There are a few strategies that you can use to enhance your game, such as using progressive slots rather than non-progressive machines. You can also learn how to use the special symbols to your advantage.
The most important thing to remember when playing the slots is to have fun and don’t ruin the experience by taking it too seriously. If you’re worried about losing money, use the slots that work with small wagers. So, what are you waiting for? Go spin some slots!