5 Slot Machine Rules and Strategies Most Players Don’t Know About

Row of Casino Slot Machines Background Image, Slot Reels Displaying 7, Jackpot Logo, Icon of Yellow Lightbulb
The rules of slots are simple enough on the surface. You put some money in the machine, press the “SPIN” button, and wait to see what happens.

In reality, though, you’ll notice that modern online slots game have evolved from the old 3-reel “spin and stare” dynamic.

Why You Need a Slots Strategy

Today’s slots use advanced video technology to shower players with an endless stream of graphics, animations, and sound effects. These modern slots have been designed to offer side-screen bonus games, free spins, scatter pays, and wild symbols. There are even skill-based elements like target shooting, memorization, and trivia.

With so many rules to factor in, successful players try to apply certain slot strategies to give themselves an edge.

Check out the list below for a bunch of slots strategies that most players don’t know much about. They can help you navigate the maze of rules and strategies needed to thrive as a modern slot enthusiast,

1 – Betting the Maximum Number of Coins Is Always the Best Approach

Take a look down below at the Wheel of Fortune slot machine from IGT. Pay close attention to the placard below the wheel and the jackpot amount displayed.

Up Close View of Wheel of Fortune Slot Machine Placard

As you can see, this version of the wildly popular Wheel of Fortune game distinguishes between “1st Coin Winners” and “2nd Coin Winners.”

By reading the paytable, you will see that 1st Coin Winner table offers a top payout of $10,000. You need to land three Wheel of Fortune logo symbols to win. That’s a pretty sweet return on a $5 per spin bet, which is this particular machine’s coin denomination.

But over to the right, those 2nd Coin Winners score much more than 10 dimes. They trigger Wheel of Fortune’s famous progressive jackpot.

At the time this photo was taken, IGT’s $5 Wheel jackpot kitty had climbed to $3,070,893 and change.

That massive haul clocks in at 307 times what you’d win for a single coin wager. All you have to do to earn it is bet a second $5 coin.

Reels on Wheel of Fortune Casino Slot MachineAnd I do mean “have to.” You can’t collect the seven-figure payday unless a max bet was in play.

On a $5 machine reading “Play 2 Credits” like the one in the photo, a max bet comes to $10. Other versions of the Wheel of Fortune game read “Play 3 Credits” instead. No matter how many credits the max bet comes to, just multiply that number by the coin denomination to figure out your per-spin cost.

Betting the max on today’s top-rated online slots is also the only way to activate all of the bonus features. This could include side-screen games, prize multipliers, free spin rounds, and stacked or wild symbols.

Without these features in play, you’ll be spinning with one hand tied behind your back. The game’s payback percentage plummets without all of those additional ways to win.

And on a final note, don’t let that $5 -> $10 example scare you off the max-betting path. You can always find the same game using a lower coin denomination nearby. Online slots make it easy to toggle between bet sizes with a few mouse clicks.

You can bet pennies, nickels, quarters, or dollars. Just make sure you’re always multiplying that coin denomination by the machine’s max bet. This lets you unlock the biggest jackpots and the best bonus features.

2 – You Can Track Progressive Jackpots to Ensure You’re Always Playing for Max Value

Casino Slot Machine, Gold Coins Falling Into Pile Behind Slot MachineSpeaking of the Wheel of Fortune progressive jackpot, the top prize amount is seeded with a different starting amount. It is based on coin denomination and resets right after a lucky winner cashes in.

For the $0.25 machines, the starting seed is $200,000. Players must max-bet three coins ($0.75) to be eligible. The starting seed climbs to $1 million on both $1 and $5 machines, which both require a two-coin max bet.

But check out the list below, which highlights a sample of Wheel of Fortune jackpots at the quarter stakes. The winning spins took place between August 2018 and February 2019. See if you notice a curious disparity in payout amounts.

Wheel of Fortune Jackpots (Quarter Stakes)
2/22/2019 McCarran Airport $485,673.54
1/22/2019 Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino $262,696.85
1/15/2019 Excalibur Hotel and Casino $406,718.17
12/14/2018 Cosmopolitan Hotel & Casino $1,023,743.22
9/21/2018 Palazzo Hotel & Casino $374,769.07
9/3/2018 Green Valley Ranch Casino & Hotel $294,780.30
8/25/2018 Harrah’s Las Vegas $254,347.80
8/19/2018 Rio Hotel & Casino $265,866.77

As you can see, four of the eight jackpots topped out under $300,000. Two climbed a bit higher to between $370,000 and $485,000.

But in December 2018, one lucky winner walked away with a hair over $1 million on a $0.75 wager.

That juiced-up jackpot of more than five times the seed amount. The massive prize was only made possible because of a long gap between wins. It took more than three months after the $374,000 was hit before a Wheel machine at the Cosmopolitan casino triggered the jackpot.

Conversely, the player who scooped a jackpot only a week after the Excalibur paid out $406,718 on January 15 “only” received $262,696.

Think about it like this: one jackpot winner earned more than $800,000 over the seed amount. Another had to settle for a premium of just $62,000.

You want to give your progressive slot spins as much earning power as possible. Use the handy Nevada jackpot tracker above to see exactly how much time has passed — and how much money has been added — between jackpots. When you see a game that hasn’t hit in a good long while, target those machines until they finally hit.

This strategy is especially effective because an extremely high jackpot reward actually increases the game’s overall payback percentage.

3 – Shopping Around for Venues Offering the Highest Possible Payback Percentage

Woman Playing Slot Machine in Casino, Yellow Cycling Arrows in Circle, RTP Text in Green
The internet makes it possible to Google many popular casino games, including slots, to find out their exact rate.

You might see this figure expressed as the Return to Player rate, or RTP for short. Simply put, the higher the payback percentage a slot game offers, the better value you’ll receive over the long run.

After all, would you rather play a NetEnt slot like Devil’s Delight with its 97.6% payback or Mega Joker, which offers only 76.9% payback?

4 – All Paylines Need to Be Played for You to Enjoy Every Bonus Feature…

This is a variation of the max-bet rule. Whenever you’re playing a slot with multiple paylines, never risk a single cent without activating every last one of them.

Slot Machine Screen with 10 Paylines, Bonus Text in Green on Top of ScreenOn a 10-payline game like Big Bang, for example, the interface will choose just a single payline by default. Thus, a $0.10 coin denomination would put a dime on that payline, and that payline only, for each spin.

But with 10 paylines on the screen, every spin you make will produce winning combinations that don’t produce a payout.

That’s because these combos land along one of those nine paylines you neglected to activate.

Only by turning on all 10 paylines can you collect on every winner the reels produce. This also ups the ante to $1.00 at the dime stakes ($0.10 x 10).

5 – …Unless You’re Playing a “Ways to Win” Model Like Aristocrat’s Reel Power

With that said, a version of slot gameplay known as “ways to win” exists. This style of game removes the concept of paylines from the equation.

The most well-known “ways to win” slot brand is Reel Power. It was designed by leading software provider Aristocrat to provide 243 unique ways to win.

Reel Power slots, which can also offer 1,024 ways to win, use the following relationship between credits wagered and ways to win:

Ways to Win on Reel Power Slots
1 Reel 1 Credit 3 Ways
2 Reels 3 Credits 9 Ways
3 Reels 7 Credits 27 Ways
4 Reels 15 Credits 81 Ways
5 Reels 25 Credits 243 Ways


Many players do not think of slot machines when they discuss casino game strategies. However, as you can see, there are plenty of tactics smart slot players can use to get an advantage. Knowing loopholes and how to exploit them can greatly increase your chances of winning.

Check out our other casino blogs to learn more about slots and other real money casino games.

Posted in: SlotsStrategy

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