Should You Try to Become a Professional Slots Player?

Man in Suit and Casino Slot Machines

Most routes to becoming a pro gambler are well known. Daily fantasy sports (DFS), card counting, poker, and sports betting are all common forms of professional gambling.

Slot machines, on the other hand, seem like the last type of gaming that would offer an opportunity to become a professional. Aren’t these the games that people mindlessly play for hours and lose lots of money? Yes, to a degree.

However, slot machines can offer a chance to win profits under the right circumstances. That said, I’ll discuss different ways to win with slots and if this career choice is ultimately worth the effort.

What Are the Different Ways to Beat Slots?

You might think the only way to beat a slot machine is by praying to the heavens. If so, you’ll be surprised to find there are actually three different ways to win with slots.

Banking Slot Machines

A banking (a.k.a. accumulator) slot machine features a bonus meter that gradually fills as one collects special symbols. A bonus feature will be triggered once the meter reaches the top.

The premise behind these games is that they entice gamblers to play longer in order to unlock bonuses. But some players don’t manage to trigger the bonus, because they either run out of time or money.

Assuming they leave, you can swoop in and take advantage. You can theoretically gain an edge with accumulator slot machines when the meter is nearly full.

The problem, though, is that these opportunities don’t come around often. Instead, you have to watch these games like a hawk and be the first to jump in when a player leaves.

What’s more is that many gamblers continue playing so that they can earn the bonus. In these cases, you may need to build up the nerve to persuade a gambler off their slot machine beforehand.

Those who engage in this practice are often referred to as slots “vultures.” They hang around games and do anything possible to get a seat when the bonus is set to come.

Therefore, you not only need the time to find nearly full meters, but also need the nerve to talk somebody off a slot.

Mystery Jackpots

A mystery slot machine offers a progressive jackpot that pays out at a specific point. For example, a game may deliver its top prize at exactly $250.

Much like with accumulator slots, some gamblers leave a mystery jackpot slot machine before it’s set to pay out. This creates another opportunity where you can gain an edge by stepping in at the right moment.

Front of a Slot Machine at Casino

The biggest challenge in getting this advantage is knowing when to play a mystery jackpot slot. Here’s a formula via Michael “The Wizard of Odds” Shackleford for calculating a mystery game’s most-profitable point.

  • Formula: t = m × (h + r) / (h + 2r)
  • t = Target point
  • m = Max jackpot
  • r = Rise of meter (percentage of each bet that goes into the jackpot; e.g. 2%)
  • h = House edge (including average value of progressive jackpot)

This formula isn’t perfect. After all, you may not know the house edge and/or jackpot contribution for the game you’re playing.

But you can at least guess these variables and come up with a reasonable target point. For example, most games see around 2% of every bet go towards funding the progressive jackpot.

Here’s an example for using these variables to determine when you’ll have an edge:

  • Formula: $250 jackpot x (0.05 + 0.02 rise in meter) / (0.05 + 0.02×2) = $194.44
  • You should begin playing when the jackpot reaches $194.44.

Progressive Jackpots

Progressive jackpots play a huge role in the popularity of slot machines. After all, some of these prizes can be worth seven or even eight figures.

For example, somebody won a jackpot of $21 million through Microgaming’s Mega Moolah in 2019. This prize is an exception to the norm, but it shows just how large slots jackpots can get.

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Interestingly enough, the Mega Moolah jackpot is “only” seeded at $1 million. Its base return to player (RTP) is 88%.

You definitely can’t expect to win profits on a game with 88% payback. This RTP is as bad as it gets in the slots world.

However, Mega Moolah’s payback grows along with the jackpot. At a certain point, this slot, or any other progressive game, can feature such a large jackpot that the game itself offers over 100% payback.

Assuming you play progressive slot machines at this point, you’re theoretically earning profits. But this is a huge “theoretical,” because you’d have to actually win the jackpot at some point to eventually be profitable.

The odds of winning the biggest slots jackpots can be 1 in 10 million, or even greater. You certainly don’t have any guarantees with these games.

Why You Should Chase Slots Profits

You can see from the above description that slots winnings aren’t easy to come by. However, you may still find this pursuit worth the effort for a few different reasons.

Make Money With Entertaining Games

Millions of people around the globe play slot machines on a daily basis for the entertainment value alone. Now, just imagine if you could also make a living while enjoying these games.

Row of Slot Machines

Professional slots play gives you this opportunity. You can hang out in casinos and play different slots for hours while earning a living.

Pick up Comps on the Side

The profits that you accumulate from slot machines aren’t the only benefits to this profession. You can also earn rewards on the side of your play.

You simply need to sign up for a slots club card at any casino where you gamble. From here, your bets will be comped based on each casino’s formula.

Generally speaking, you often receive 0.01% of your total bets as rewards. Remember, this money is on top of the profits that you’re already making.

Make Your Own Hours

Many people dream of working a job where they can make their own hours. Professional slots play offers this very chance.

You decide when to visit the casino and how long you want to play. You can also choose which holidays to work and which ones to enjoy.

Of course, you may have to play at the busiest hours to truly capitalize on these opportunities. But you always have the choice of when to gamble.

Visit Different Casinos

If you want to be a professional slots player, chances are that you’ll have to move to Las Vegas to do it. After all, Sin City offers the most accumulator slot machines, mystery jackpots, and progressive jackpots in the world.

Assuming you enjoy visiting different casinos anyway, then you’ll love this aspect of being a slots pro. Vegas, for example, offers well over 100 different casinos.

Not all these gaming establishments offer great opportunities to make profits. But you may include over a dozen different casinos in your rotation.

Why You Shouldn’t Try to Be a Slots Pro

Professional slots players aren’t very common. One reason why is because there are a number of downsides to this job, including the following.

Inconsistent Income

Even if you have an advantage with slot machines, you’re never guaranteed profits on a given day. You’ll have a very small edge in any game and must rely on the luck of the draw in some cases.

If you’re playing an accumulator slot with a nearly full meter, for example, you still need to collect the one to two required symbols to trigger the bonus. Sometimes, you’ll get the required symbols very quickly. Other times, you’ll have to wait and lose money in the process.

Assuming you keep playing slot machines with an advantage, then you’re going to make profits. But you never know how much you’ll earn during each day or even week.

Limited Opportunities

Accumulator slot machines used to be more common over a decade ago. However, many casinos found out that these slots caused major problems.

As covered before, vultures try to persuade gamblers off of machines with nearly full meters. Fistfights sometimes break out when vultures are too persistent or even downright rude.

Casinos realized this problem and got rid of most of their accumulator slot machines. You can still find these games in Vegas, but not in the same frequency as before.

Mystery jackpot games aren’t heavily prevalent in casinos either. They’re just not as popular as standard progressive jackpot slots.

Deal With Slots Vultures

Slot machine vultures are one of the ugliest parts of the trade. If you pursue accumulator bonuses, or even mystery jackpots, then you’ll be competing with these very same players.

They may harass you for infringing on their turf. Furthermore, they’ll try beating you to the punch when a favorable opportunity exists.

You may have no problem with this competition. But more competitors mean you’ll have a tougher time making profits.

You May Become a Vulture Yourself

In the end, you might discover that the only way to earn consistent profits is to become a vulture. Are you prepared to try and trick gamblers off of slot machines just so you can profit?

If the allure of being a professional slots player is that great, then you may answer “yes” to this question. On the other hand, you might hate the idea of bothering other players just to get their seat.

Conclusion

Slot machines aren’t my favorite route for trying to win gambling profits. Nevertheless, they can be beaten under the right conditions.

Banking slots, mystery jackpot machines, and progressive jackpot games can all offer an advantage. You just need to go about playing them in the correct manner.

Accumulator slot machines have meters that trigger a bonus when filled. If you continually play these games right before the meter fills, then you’ll have a long-term advantage.

Mystery jackpot games pay their top prizes at a specific point. When you play these slot machines near the payout point, then you can boost your chances of winning.

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Standard progressive slots can provide you with 100% payback when the jackpot grows large enough. However, your chances of winning the jackpot and realizing your advantage are slim.

That said, accumulator slot machines and mystery progressive jackpots are the most feasible paths to winning. But they also have their downsides.

Both types of games are available in limited supply. With banking slots, you also have to worry about vultures swooping in to steal profitable opportunities.

In summary, becoming a slots pro is far from easy. But you may still consider this path if you really love slot machines and want to profit from them full time.