Slot machine gaming is popular for many reasons. The game designs have become more attractive to be sure – but I’ve always believed the simplicity of slot machine games was their greatest appeal.
Whether you’re pulling an arm on an old machine or merely pressing Spin, you’re putting your fate into the hands of the figurative gods of gaming. Random chance decides what happens next.
How do you develop a winning strategy in a game like that?
Sure, poker players go into a game with a basic strategy but they still need to make decisions in every round.
Blackjack strategy is less complicated than poker strategy. In blackjack you look at your cards, the dealer’s cards, and pick the best strategy that game experts recommend. It’s simple enough that you can put nearly all blackjack strategies onto a single tip card.
Baccarat has an even simpler strategy. Bet on the Banker. Always.
But slot machine strategy is said to be non-existent. Merely suggesting to a hard-core card player that you have a slot game strategy brings out the eyerolls and snide remarks.
So keep it to yourself but if you play the slots you should have more of a strategy than “press Spin and hope for the best.”
Here are several ways to develop a slot gaming strategy.
1 – Begin By Choosing an Enjoyable Game
What makes a slot game enjoyable?
Obviously the game’s theme will be important to you and maybe even the incidental sounds and soundtrack. But what I mean is a game you’ll feel good about playing.
Look at the game’s payback estimates. Some games show you the theoretical return to player and some games only tell you they pay a prize every 1-in-X spins. The higher the RTP percentage the better and the lower the prize-to-spin ratio the better.
But look deeper. Many players are attracted to games with higher jackpots. My rule of thumb is the higher the top prize the more volatile the game is likely to be.
A high volatility game may pay bigger prizes but it pays them less often than a low volatility game. You either play for larger jackpots or more frequent jackpots. Either way you’re not guaranteed to win a jackpot at all.
Finally, verify whether making Max bets really matters. On most progressive games you must make a maximum wager to win the progressive prize. If it’s not a progressive game then if the max bet top prize is only a proportionate multiple of the minimum bet top prize you have some flexibility.
Your last area of control over the game is in the variability of the wins and losses. You cannot control this completely but – for lack of a better expression – the slot base variance of your wins and losses is proportionate to how much you bet.
In other words, your wins and losses are smaller with minimum bets and larger with maximum bets.
2 – Test the Game Before Committing Your Bankroll to It
Most people just put enough money into a machine for a few spins. This isn’t helpful. You can’t judge a game’s volatility by a handful of bets.
Set a budget for a “first run” of spins. I like 25 spins. Some people I’ve discussed this with recommend 100 spins.
This is easier to do with an Autoplay feature than if you try to count spins by hand.
The idea is to give the machine as much money as you’re willing to lose.
If your test run ends with about the same amount of money in your balance as you began with the game has proven itself to be playable. You could still lose all your money quickly but with a long enough test run you’ll get an idea for how volatile the game is and how much variance it has.
3 – You Don’t Need a Huge Bankroll
Some slot games roll up small bankrolls into nice big balances. If you’re lucky enough to do that you should be okay. Keep skimming some money off your balance so you always have some cash or cashable tickets in your pocket.
Even if you set up a 100-spin autoplay round, you’ll learn very quickly if the game is programmed to take your money. A high variance game tends to deplete small bankrolls quickly. It’s better to lose $100 than $1000 on your first series of spins.
That’s why I like to start spinning with minimum wagers. People roll their eyes at me but I don’t play slots often enough to feel confident about burning through a couple hundred dollars right away.
You’re not losing money if you hit a big prize on a minimum wager. People say that out of disgust but if your wins are proportional to your wagers it doesn’t matter.
How much you could have won by betting more on a slot game is no different from how much you could have won if you had placed your entire bankroll on a single number in roulette. Either way, always practice proper casino bankroll management.
Whatever happens, happens. Take the win and don’t beat yourself for missed opportunity. Somewhere in the world someone just checked their bank balance and found an extra $1000 in it – and that wasn’t you.
3 – Set Some Milestones Before You Play
Milestones are important checks on your game’s progress. Two common milestones are the stop loss limit and the total win limit.
A stop loss limit should be familiar to anyone who has made programmed trades on a stock or commodity change. You buy a position in an equity and tell the system to sell if the market price drops below a certain level.
The total win limit works the opposite way. It curbs your greed and that is its only purpose. People get carried away when they win at gambling and they keep playing.
Another milestone for slot machine games is to walk away if you never get a bonus game. Some bonus games are better than others but on many slot machine games the bonus games are where you make a lot of money.
Not every slot game has great bonus games. I’ve watched people play through bonus games that paid almost nothing.
Just getting to a bonus game is a big part of the fun. If you know the bonus game is there and you never see it you’ll probably be unhappy with the game.
Slot machine games range from mildly entertaining to really exciting. If you’re winning money hand over fist in a slot machine game you’re crazy if you’re not excited and happy.
The great thing about this slot gaming strategy is that you could use it for other games like baccarat, craps, and roulette.
It’s the best strategy I’ve found for any game that requires no skill. Whether you’re betting on a roll of the dice or who hits 21 first, passive betting is fun only when you still have money in the game.
If you’re going to kill time on slot machines you might as well take the experience seriously. You may not be able to improve your chances of winning you can reduce your chances of throwing money away.