This page has two purposes. The first is to debunk some of the so-called “slot machine strategies” being sold by the ignorant and unethical. The other is to provide some legitimate slot machine tips that might actually help you win more often and have more fun while you’re at it.
The first thing you need to understand about slot machines is how they determine winners. These games use a computer program called a random number generator (RNG) to constantly generate numbers. Those numbers determine which stop each reel winds up on after you spin the reels.
One important fact to remember is that this process is entirely random, and there’s no way to predict what’s going to happen on any given spin. Another important fact to remember is that each spin of the reels is an independent event. That means that the results of previous spins have NO effect on the results of the next spin.
The final fact to keep in mind is that the random number generators are programmed in such a way that the casino has an insurmountable mathematical advantage. If you play long enough, then the casino will win, because that’s the way the game is set up. That doesn’t mean you can’t walk away a winner in the short run, but it has nothing to do with picking hot or cold machines.
Here are a few of the strategies that are touted as winning techniques on the Internet. Some of them are obviously ludicrous, while some of them seem to make sense but fall apart when examined with cold hard logic.
The zig zag system is one of my favorite nonsensical strategies. The idea is that you look at the reels at the various machines in an attempt to find a pattern. For example, you want to find a “V” shape or an “X” shape being drawn by any particular symbol. The idea is that such a machine is ready to pay off soon.
Of course, when you understand that the symbols on the reels are just for show, the entire strategy breaks down completely. Slot machines never become ready to pay off. Every spin is an independent event.
Money management systems are often touted as a way to make sure that you’re a winner, but the reality is much different. The idea behind money management is that you set win goals and loss limit. The goal is to limit the amount of money you lose when the machines are cold, and to quit while you’re ahead when the machines are hot.
Of course, we understand that slot machines don’t really get hot or cold, so in the long run, any type of money management scheme is irrelevant.
Often, money management techniques are combined with methods of predicting whether or not a slot machine game is hot or cold. Author John Patrick has an entire book of strange-sounding “strategies” based on this combination.
One of these is called “the straight 60” strategy. The idea is that you’ll walk away from the slot machine once you’ve either won or lost 60% of your bankroll. The other stipulation in this system is that once you’ve had 9 naked pulls, you’ll also walk away. (A “naked pull” is one in which you win absolutely nothing on that spin.)
So, for example, suppose you start with a session bankroll of $25. You’ll play until you’ve done one of the following:
Honestly, that’s a pretty simple system, and remembering it and putting it into practice is a no-brainer. But the idea that it’s going to help you win more money and/or lose less money is ludicrous. Nothing about the system changes the odds in your favor.
Another system from that same book is called the “play and run” system. The idea behind this system is that you don’t spend more than 5 or 10 minutes at each slot machine game, then you run off with your winnings. Patrick suggests that you divide your bankroll into 5 or 10 sessions of 5 or 10 minutes each. Like all of his systems, you quit on any machine when you hit 9 naked pulls.
How anyone could think that this strategy would help them win more money playing slot machines is baffling.
Now that we’ve discussed a few of the strategies on slot machine games that don’t work, let’s look at some real, hard-nosed, fact-based slot machine tips which might actually make a difference to your bankroll. These tips are all based on the realities of how these games actually work.
Tip #1 – Play for fun. The house has a mathematical edge, and you can’t beat it. So you should go into your gambling sessions expecting to lose, but hoping for the occasional win. Your goal should be to have some fun while you’re at it.
Tip #2 – Join the slots club. Almost all casinos have loyalty bonuses, rebates, and rewards for players who patronize their establishments. They provide you with a card to insert into the machine so that they can track how much action you’ve bought to the casino. They then return a tiny percentage (something like 0.1% or 0.2%) to you in the form of rebates, food, travel benefits, and entertainment.
One slot machine myth you should ignore is that slots pay out less when you’re playing with your slot card inserted. That’s just nonsense. We discussed how the random number generator works earlier.
Tip #3 – Skip the progressives, unless you’re determined to win a life-changing amount. Since the potential rewards on progressive slot machines are so high, the machines pay out less often. They have to in order to afford the rare huge jackpot. For the casual gambler, playing a machine with lower jackpots provides more opportunities to win, even though the winnings are smaller.
On the other hand, if you’re determined to win a million dollars, stick with the progressives. Just understand that you’re still unlikely to change your life with a huge slot machine jackpot. The odds are similar to those of winning the lottery.
Tip #4 – Don’t play with the rent money. This should be common sense, but if you’re gambling with money you can’t afford to lose, then you have a problem and should seek professional help of some kind. You cannot play slots professionally.
Tip #5 – Try video poker. These games are similar to slot machine games, but they provide better payout percentages and an opportunity to use strategy to improve your chances. Video poker isn’t for everybody, but I know lots of slots players who’ve made the switch once they tried it.
Tip #6 – Slow down. Some slot machine players make 600 spins per hour or more. Keep this in mind though. The more action you bring to the casino, the more opportunities the house edge has to whittle away at your bankroll. So slow down. Talk to the gamblers next to you. Sip your drink between spins. Anything you can do to reduce the amount of money you’re putting into action each hour is going to make your bankroll last longer.
Tip #7 – Don’t play the slots at the airport. These are the worst games in town in any gambling destination. Wait until you get to the casino to play the slots, and your money will last longer, and you’ll improve your chances of winning.