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Slots 101: How To Play Slot Machines
Lesson 1: Maximize Your Chances
Lesson 2: Slot Machine Myths
Lesson 1: Slot Machine Basics and Strategies

There is at least one slot machine for every eight people living in Las Vegas. They tend to take up the majority of the floor space in your average casino.

So what's all the hype about? Well, in 2004 a lucky software engineer from Los Angeles won $38.7 million on a single spin of the reels. How's that for incentive?

There are many different kinds of slot machines, single-line slots, multi-line slots, progressive slots, video slots, and online slots to name a few. They all work on the same principle.

RNGs and Payback Percentages

Each slot machine is governed by an RNG or Random Number Generator, which determines the combination of symbols that you see when you spin. This combination of symbols is based solely on math and is predetermined as soon as you hit the Spin button or pull the Arm. It has nothing to do with how often you spin, how much (or how little) has been paid out, if it's your birthday, if you use a player's card, or any other condition you can control.

So if slots are random, how do you play slot machines and win? The hard truth is; there's no way to guarantee consistent winning when playing slots. However, there are some things you can do to improve your chances of winning. It all starts with understanding how slots work.

Each slot machine has a predetermined payback percentage. The average payback is around 90%. What does this mean? A machine that has a 90% payback rate will return 90% of players' money throughout the life of the machine.

If 10 million dollars are played on this slot machine over several years, you could expect it to payback 9 million dollars over this period. This does not mean that every time you sit down at the machine it will return 90% of your money. If you've ever played slots before you'll know this isn't what happens. Most of the payback occurs when the big jackpot combinations are spun.

Maximizing Your Chances of Winning

Payback percentages typically vary anywhere between 80% and 98%. The higher the payback percentage the better chance of return you have. Unfortunately casinos don't post the payback for each machine.

The good news is that there are ways to find these high payback machines, known as "loose" slot machines.

1. Try Machines in High Traffic Areas

Casinos like people to see winners. For this reason the higher payback machines tend to be located in higher traffic areas such as near aisles, cashiers, and restaurants.

2. Play Higher Denomination Slots

If you have the bankroll, higher denomination machines tend to have higher payback percentages than low denomination penny slot machines. If you're looking for a higher payback you'll have better luck trying dollar machines than nickel machines.

3. Avoid Progressive Slots

You should also avoid progressive slots if you want to play slots with higher payback percentages. It's true that you aren't going to win millions on one spin at non-progressive slots, but these machines have a much higher payback in the short run. In general, machines with smaller jackpots payout more often.

4. Play Progressive Slots

Wait?! Didn't I just tell you to avoid progressive slots? Yes, I did. But there's an exception with online slots. More specifically, the Random Progressive Slots at Winpalace Casino. Their slots have good-sized jackpots (sometimes $20,000+) that hit randomly.

Here's the key though: You can qualify for the progressive regardless of how much you're betting per spin. That means on a 20-line machine, you can play as little as $0.01/spin and hit the jackpot. I like to play at least $0.20 per spin on these in order to have a better chance of hitting free spins or a bonus round. But either way, that makes those progressives well worth playing and affordable for any budget.

5. Read and Understand the Payscale

All right, so now we know where the looser slot machines are located, but don't just down and start spinning those reels. Make sure you read the slot machine instructions before you start to play. Even machines that look the same may have different play rules. Many machines pay special bonus jackpots when you play the maximum coins. Standard slot machines will often allow you to play 1 to 3 coins at a time. A machine may pay different level jackpots for a good combination like "777". For example it may pay 100 coins for a 1-coin bet, 200 coins for a 2-coin bet, and 500 coins for a 3-coin bet. If you were playing this slot you would always want to play the maximum 3-coin bet. When in doubt always play the maximum bet.

6. Take Advantage of Comps

Remember, even if you're playing low denomination slots, you're still a valuable player to the casino. That means you need to take full advanage of all the free stuff you can get. Comps are complimentary (free!) items like food, giveaways, and rooms, given to players as an incentive to play at that casino. You can earn tons of comp points while playing slots, regardless of whether you're winning or losing. Before you start playing slots, make sure you sign up for a player's card with the casino and always use it when you're playing.

7. Know When to Move On

At most casinos you will find a large variety of different types of slot machines, both in denominate and play. Your choices may run the gambit anywhere from penny video slots to high stakes slots. Which one you decide to play is ultimately up to you, but remember to move on if you're not having any success. Sometimes all it takes is a new machine to turn your luck around.

Next >> Lesson 2: Slot Machine Myths
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