For newcomers and casino pros alike, slot machines are among the most popular games of any casino. They’re convenient because each pull only takes a few seconds, so you don’t need to worry about getting stuck in the middle of a game when you have somewhere to be.
They’re also low-stakes, letting you choose how much you want to bet and avoiding the potentially pricy minimums at some other games. And, of course, they also have that great excitement any form of gambling holds: the potential for something amazing to happen.
Some gamblers enjoy the challenge of trying to figure out how to maximize their odds, rather than just playing on luck. If you’re one of these ambitious types of slot machine player, we have a few tips to help you figure out how to pick a winning slot machine.
Slot Machine Tip #1: Pay Attention to Paylines
In any slot machine, a payline is a line of symbols that has the potential to pay out a winning. For instance, the classic vintage slot machines with three reels had one payline because the only line that determined the payout was the horizontal line across the middle. On the other hand, if you had a slot machine with a 4-x-4 grid of symbols, and you could win either horizontally or diagonally, you would have six paylines (four horizontal lines, a diagonal line from the top left to the bottom right, and a diagonal line from the bottom left to the top right).
Some modern slot machines can have as many as 100 paylines. When you’re selecting a slot machine, look at how many paylines each one has (the more paylines, the more opportunities for a payout), and make sure they’re all activated for each bet. The number of paylines is really a matter of personal preference, too, so it can be a good idea to experiment with different slot machine formats to see what you enjoy.
Slot Machine Tip No. 2: Look for the Features of Each Machine
Slot machines are incredibly varied, and part of picking a winning slot machine is figuring out what features you enjoy most. For instance, does a slot machine offer extra incentives, such as bonus spins? Does it have the option to gamble your winnings, or does it automatically put out coins with every winning spin? Does it have scatter symbols, where you just need the right symbols to show up, rather than lining them up in a precise way?
Some machines also have features that up your chances of winning or increase your potential payout, so you should be on the lookout for these as well. Slot machines are all about having fun and taking a chance. Look for your favorite features to make it a great experience.
Slot Machine Tip No. 3: Notice the Advertising
It’s in a casino’s best interest to attract its guests to the machines that give it the highest profit margin. The slot machines that are advertised with the flashiest signs and the most exorbitant jackpots are likely to pay out much less frequently.
Instead, take a lesson from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. Look for the most nondescript, easy-to-overlook slot machines you can find. Venture into the middle of the aisles rather than sticking to the machines on the end, and avoid the slot machines that make huge promises, such as a free car or a six-figure payout.
Some casinos also place frequently paying slot machines near its entrance to encourage guests with small winnings. After all, a person would be more likely to head into the casino and be more adventurous with his or her cash after he or she has already scored a win.
This can be another effective strategy – to stay at these door-adjacent machines that are programmed to pay out more often. However, this is not a hard-and-fast rule. In fact, some casinos take the opposite approach.
They want their big winners to be in the middle of the casino floor so that other gamblers will see the excitement of that jackpot and will feel hopeful and they’ll keep gambling. If you have a favorite casino or two, start observing and taking notice of whether its front-and-center slot machines pay out more or less often than the average.
Slot Machine Tip No. 4: Watch Other Gamblers
Your fellow casino guests can tell you a lot about which slot machines to play … but not overtly. Really, do not walk up to another gambler and ask how to get more money out of the house. There might not be a faster way to get yourself labeled as a person of interest with the security team. Instead, there are a few strategies you can use:
Strategy No. 1: Look for the patrons who really seem to know what they’re doing. Whether they’ve studied the art of slot machines or they’re just observant frequent flyers, some gamblers get a firm grasp on the best machines to visit and the best time to hit them up.
Strategy No. 2: Look for patrons who have given up after staying at a machine for a long time without a payout. While slot machines don’t outwardly have a set number of times they will “lose” between each payout, there may be a formula happening behind the scenes. So, if you’re choosing between a machine that hasn’t paid out for a while and one that’s just coming off a winning streak, you might as well go for the one that may be due for a jackpot.
Slot Machine Tip No. 5: Look for Machines that Increase Your Winnings for Betting the Maximum
One of the earliest rules of winning big on slot machines has always been to bet the maximum bid every time at a slot machine. However, this doesn’t increase your chances of winning a large amount. For example, if a machine allows you to bet anywhere between $1 and $10 on each spin (for the sake of easy math), you have just as much chance of winning a profit if you bet $1 10 times as you would if you bet $10 one time because every spin has the same random probability of being a winner. There is, however, an exception.
Some slot machines will amplify your winnings exponentially if you bet the maximum. In these cases, it’s probably worth it to max out each bet. There’s nothing worse than hitting a jackpot and thinking about how much more money you would’ve won if you’d bet higher.
When you head to a casino, there are two things you’re looking for: to have a great time and to ideally win at slots a little bit of extra cash.
For those who aren’t into the higher-stakes games or who don’t want the social component that games like craps involve, slot machines can be the perfect way to relax and enjoy their time at the casino. The tips above can help you learn how to pick a winning slot machine and enjoy your time while doing it.
And, remember, it’s all about what you enjoy and what works for you. So, don’t be shy about hopping around and trying different machines, formats, and casinos to find your favorites.