If you’re going to play slot machine games you might as well have fun doing so. I look at playing the slots as being like paying to see a movie. A really expensive movie in a crowded theater 100 miles from home.
Slot gaming may be the most popular form of casino gambling but it’s less likely to produce the kinds of results people hope for. I’ve won some jackpots over the years but none to write home about.
Popular tips for playing the slots include ideas like play machines in open areas because they might be more loose and stop playing when you’ve lost half your money. These strategies cater to your fears.
People are afraid they’ll play the wrong slot machine or that they’ll play too long.
But how long is too long if you’re winning?
You only play too long if you keep losing. And since you can’t legally force the game to make you a winner you always have the option of changing games or not playing any longer. Research shows that slot gamers are more likely to become addicted if they lose themselves in the game experience.
What that means is that maintaining situational awareness is key to successful slot gaming. And by “successful” I only mean you play the games on your terms, not the casino’s.
They want you to keep playing. You want to keep playing only if you win. The best we can hope for is a compromise between an enjoyable evening that doesn’t cost much and keeping the casino in business.
With that goal in mind, here are the best strategies I’ve found for playing slot machine games.
1 – Only Play as Much as You’re Willing to Lose
One bit of advice I’ve read – and shared – across the years is to stop playing the game when you’ve lost half your money.
But why should we budget $100 for a game if we only intend to play it for $50?
The idea behind this stop-loss strategy is to treat the wins and losses on the slot games like price fluctuations in the stock market. That is exactly how someone explained the idea to me the first time I heard it.
If you buy a share stock at $100 you want to set a stop-loss sell order at, say, $80 to protect most of your capital. Instead of riding the storm out you dump the stock, letting some other investor eat the continuing losing value, and then get back in when the stock turns around.
But we can’t play slot machine games that way. You’ll never know when you can get back into the game because every new spin is a whole new game.
On the other hand, if you’re willing to lose $50 before you abandon a slot machine game then just put $50 in the machine. Don’t deposit your entire bankroll. You’ll have to cash out your tickets a few times during the night but you’ll never lose more than $50 a game if you don’t want to.
2 – Only Play A Game That Pays You on the Next Spin
Some people drop a max bet into a slot machine game and move on if it takes their money. The idea behind this tactic is that a game is more likely to keep paying you if it pays on the first spi.
Admittedly that is completely illogical. Every game is a new game. The random number generator that controls the results could be right on the cusp of a long losing streak for players when you push Spin the first time. You’ll win a nice prize and then the machine takes your money.
So treat every spin as the first spin.
What’s the difference between putting $5 in one machine and $5 in the machine next to it?
The idea in this strategy is to only play a machine as long as it keeps paying you. Abandon the game as soon as it takes your bet.
This is a fast-paced, haphazard strategy that works best for people who are bored, almost ready to leave, or who need to kill some time.
There is no way to guarantee that you’ll win the next spin.
3 – Use the Buddy System
Instead of playing the same slot machines side by side, play 1 machine with a partner.
I’ve used this system with my wife a few times. She picks the slot machine and I check on her every hour. She takes a break while I keep the machine “warm”.
When she comes back I’ll cash in her tickets and adjust her gambling fund. If we’re winning, of course.
This is a hard system to follow because everyone wants to be in the game at some point in the evening. And if you’re in a crowded casino on a Friday or Saturday night you may not have a place to sit beside your partner.
The buddy systems well because it helps both players stay alert. You check each other’s progress frequently and you’re only managing one bankroll. This is a good strategy for a date night but friends will most likely want to play their own games.
4 – Only Play Max Bets
Some people are afraid to push that Max Bet button. Now if you’re down to your last $15 you may think you want to keep playing but in reality you have almost as little chance of winning a decent prize in fifteen $1 spins as in three $5 spins.
The mathematical difference between 15 and 5 spins on a machine that may only pay a big win is less than 1%. Most prizes that slot machines pay are pretty small with respect to their largest possible prizes.
What the Max Bet button gets you a larger multiple. The prize you win could be 2X your bet, 5X, 25X, 100X, or more. If you only bet a dollar then you’ll win anywhere from $2 to $200 in a typical game.
That same spin can pay you anywhere from $30 to $1500 on five-dollar bet.
The variation between prize amounts is directly proportionate to how much you wager. This is common knowledge but it’s easy to stop feeling the power of the multiplier when you’re almost out of money.
The biggest prize goes to the boldest player. You shouldn’t be playing slots hoping for a lot of small wins. These games are designed to slowly or rapidly siphon away players’ money over time.
5 – Write a Game Off If It Takes Your Money
Budgeting is the number 1 piece of advice for gamblers who play slot machine games. From watch how much you lose per hour to cut your losses short, slot strategy articles focus on the money.
Metaphorically playing the slots is a lot like surfing a giant wave. You’ll never have the skill you need to always catch the big waves and ride them as far as you can go. You’re just lucky to get a good ride every now and then.
Your strategic judgment tells you when to stop winning or losing money. If you’ve divided your bankroll into tickets that total how much you’re willing to lose on a slot game resist the urge to put another ticket into the machine.
The game doesn’t owe you anything. You’re falling for the classic sunk cost gambling fallacy, thinking you’ve lost too much money to stop playing now.
If all you’ve done on a game is lose then walk away. There are hundreds of other machines you can try.
The best way to play the slots is to keep your eye on the real prize: having fun. The bonus games are fun, the ambient sounds are fun, and the graphics are fun. Enjoy what you’re paying for and don’t think about how much of your monthly budget you can pay out of your winnings.
If it were that easy to win slot machine games the casinos wouldn’t stock hundreds or thousands of them. They’d find some other way to keep players entertained and losing money.
Your time in the casino should be relaxing, not stressful. The games you play should be amusing, interesting, or somehow entertaining. It helps to have someone to talk to and share those occasional wins with.
If you’re looking for the best strategy to use for playing real money slots, no one has found anything better. At least, nothing legal comes to mind.