Slots tournaments offer an alternative way to enjoy the most-popular games in the casino. Rather than playing against the house, you’re spinning against fellow gamblers in tourneys.
Considering the absence of a house advantage, you can theoretically win profits in slots tournaments. You just need to develop an edge over the average player to do so.
Assuming you could accomplish this goal, what could you expect to win from slots tourneys? I’ll discuss more on slots tournaments in general along with what kind of profit potential they offer.
How Do Slots Tournaments Work?
Not all slots tourneys are the same. They can differ in the following aspects:
- Entry fees (if any)
Many slots tournaments are freerolls, meaning they don’t charge a buy-in. Instead, you can compete for a real-money prize pool as long as you register (online) or visit the casino (land based).
Other tourneys require a buy-in of sorts. Bigger online slots tournaments are especially known for charging entry fees.
You’ll generally only pay between $1 and $5 to enter such events. But you will need to pay something, nonetheless.
Regarding format, land-based casinos often give you a certain amount of credits and a time limit. Your goal is to win as much money within the allotted time and move up the leaderboard.
Online slots tournaments often differ from land-based events in format and length. They can last for a week or even a month and allow rebuys.
A rebuy lets you enter the same tourney again and again in hopes of improving your score. Rebuys are especially common in $1 tournaments, because they help drive up the prize pool.
What Kind of Prizes Are Available in Tournaments?
Tourneys can vary greatly in terms of how much money they offer. Prize pools are dictated by the following factors:
- The casino’s popularity
- Entry fees
More-popular casinos draw and reach more gamblers. Therefore, it only makes sense that their slots tournaments are highly popular.
Generally speaking, you can expect freeroll prize pools worth between $50 and $100. You normally must meet additional terms and conditions before withdrawing your money.
Rebuys allow extra money to be pumped into the prize pool. Even a tournament with a $1 buy-in can feature large prizes with enough rebuys involved.
Finally, many casinos feature tournaments with guaranteed prize pools. Such tourneys guarantee that the prize fund will be worth a certain amount (e.g. $1,000).
Larger guarantees attract more players. Assuming enough gamblers enter, then the prize pool can far exceed the original guarantee and deliver even bigger payouts.
How Can You Separate Yourself from the Pack?
Slot machines aren’t like blackjack or poker in terms of skill. In a standard situation, you can’t use any skill to improve your slots odds.
Tournaments present a slightly different situation, though. Considering that you’re going against other gamblers, and then you can gain separation through certain means.
In a timed tournament, for example, you can spin the reels faster than your opponents and get extra chances.
You aren’t guaranteed anything just because you spin the reels quickly. However, you will at least earn a small edge over opponents.
Rebuys offer another avenue for increasing your odds of winning. If you strategically use rebuys, then you can walk the fine line between having more chances to win without going broke.
Here’s a sample rebuy plan:
- You play in tournaments with entry fees ranging from $1 to $5.
- These tourneys feature matching rebuys.
- You vow to only use 5 rebuys per tournament (extra $5 to $25 per event).
You can also improve your odds by playing the featured game ahead of time. If a tournament is based on Realtime Gaming’s Bubble Bubble, for example, then you can practice this game beforehand.
You want to use this time to familiarize yourself with the betting options and figure out potential winnings strategies. At worse, you’ll determine how to use the betting and gameplay options without wasting time doing so in the tournament.
Analysis of Potential Tournament Profits
Your slots tournament profits should be measured in terms of expected value (EV). In other words, you’re considering how much you stand to win based on buy-ins.
Freerolls always feature positive EV, because they give you the chance to win something for free. Anything you win from such events will be profit.
However, freerolls do come with some cost: your time. You may spend hours trying to earn just a few dollars in slots freerolls.
The prize-pool-to-player ratio is really bad in these tourneys. Hundreds or even thousands of players may compete for a $100 prize pool.
You also need to satisfy terms and conditions before withdrawing your winnings. For example, gaming sites often force you to meet rollover (e.g. 40x) in real-money slots before cashing out. You could battle through a tournament and win $10, only to lose it trying to satisfy rollover.
Tournaments with buy-ins offer a much better prize-pool-to-player ratio. But they also force you to win to profit.
Even if you manage to gain an edge over opponents, your advantage will be slight. You may only hold between a 1% and 5% edge.
Here’s an example on what kind of profits you’d win under such a scenario:
- You hold a 2% advantage over the average field.
- You spend $10 per tournament (including rebuys).
- You play in 1,000 tourneys throughout the year.
- 1,000 x 10 = $10,000 in total buy-ins
- 10,000 x 0.02 = $200 in profits
You must dedicate lots of time towards slots tournaments just to win small profits. Therefore, you don’t really have any chance to win big with these events.
Slots Tournaments Don’t Offer Enough Skill for Consistent Profits
As you can see from the example above, slots tourneys aren’t very profitable in the long run. They don’t give you a chance at becoming a professional gambler like daily fantasy sports or poker does.
The main problem with slots tournaments is that they don’t involve enough skill. Again, you can become better than opponents in some respects.
However, skills like spinning the reels faster and managing rebuys better don’t help you separate much from the competition. Even if you’re the best slots tournament player in the world, you probably won’t have much more than a 5% edge over the field.
Your only chance to win serious money is to combine skill with a high enough playing volume. Even in this case, though, the amount of winnings won’t justify how much time you play into the matter.
Should You Still Play Slots Tournaments?
If you’re looking to play slots tournaments for the pure sake of winning money, then you should find a different game. Assuming you want to play tourneys to trying different games and have fun, then you’ll be more than pleased with slots events.
You also have a chance to earn free money. Most of the best US online casinos and some land-based venues offer freerolls on a consistent basis.
Certain tourneys even feature big prize pools worth $10,000 or higher. In these cases, you can win a top prize worth $3,000 or more.
In the end, slots tournaments offer far more than just profit potential. They feature several benefits that make them worth trying.
You can win profits in slots tourneys. The only problem, though, is that you can’t win enough to justify taking them too seriously.
Slots tournaments aren’t like poker in terms of profit potential. They don’t feature a high degree of skill that helps you gain serious separation from opponents.
Instead, they’re mostly non-skilled events that offer some degree of skill. Even if you play thousands of tournaments per year as a good player, you’ll probably win less than $1,000 in profits.
My top suggestion is to treat slots tourneys as fun events. You’ll have the most fun with tournaments when you focus on trying new games and playing in a different format.
Assuming you’re banking on these events for serious profits, then you’ll be severely disappointed. You should focus on games that offer real advantages if you dream of becoming a pro gambler.