How to Choose a Winning Slot Machine

Row of Slot Machines With a Man Standing at one of Them

I’d put up money that there’s never been a gambler of sound mind who woke up at the casino one morning and thought to herself, “I can’t wait to give the house all my hard-earned money today.”

Choosing a winning slot machine isn’t easy. Roadblocks exist – the fact that you’ll never really know your odds of winning, the huge variety of games and styles – but with a little experience and online research, you can point yourself in the direction of slots that lead to more winning.

Winning at slot machines doesn’t just mean winning cash rewards, either.

This post is all about helping people learn to identify winning slots – games that win them cash, cost them very little to play, and help them have a brilliant time in the casino.

Defining a Winning Slot Machine

When most people think of the word winning in relation to a slot machine, they’re thinking about money.

The potential for financial gain is the reason real money slot machines exist. Very few people would put hundreds of dollars an hour into a non-gambling video game, which is what a slot machine would be without the potential for winnings.

Obviously, one definition of the word “winning” as it relates to slots is winning real money. But I think there are other ways to win while playing slots.

Choosing a winning slot machine might just mean choosing a slot that helps you have fun. After all, slot machines are meant to be fun. Slots (like all gambling) is a form of entertainment. You can’t be a professional slot machine player, since there’s no way to create a positive expectation of profit-playing slots. That means all of us are amateurs, playing the game because we love it.

Another way to choose a winning slot machine is to pick a slot that offers the best value. That’s shorthand for “the slot that costs the least to play while keeping you sufficiently entertained.” This may be a slot with a high theoretical RTP, a game that gives you frequent bonus rounds, or a game that costs so little per spin that you don’t care how much you lose.

How to Choose the Best-Paying Slot Machines

If you want to play the slots that pay the best, you’ll need to do some research.

You’ll also need to spend some time thinking about what you’re looking for – do you want to play the slots with the biggest progressive jackpots? Are you more interested in fixed jackpots? Or maybe you prefer a slot game that pays out frequent small amounts?

All of these games could make some claim to the title of “best-paying,” and every player has a different set of circumstances in mind when seeking out high-paying slots.

The biggest slot machine payouts come from progressive games. On these games, a fraction of every bet goes into a pot that grows over time. The jackpot is paid out to the first player to spin a very specific (and unlikely) set of symbols on an active pay line. At that point, the jackpot resets to its minimum value, and the process starts over again.

Row of Casino Slot Machines

Progressive slot jackpots in the tens of millions of dollars are relatively common. Winning millions for a single pull meets anyone’s definition of “best-paying.”

Some slots fans prefer to play fixed-jackpot games, for which the top prizes are always the same amount, with no progressive aspect. While these jackpots tend to be smaller, they have the benefit of being more likely to win. Rather than thinking in the tens of millions, with a fixed-jackpot game you should be thinking in the tens of thousands.

It’s easy to hunt for the best fixed jackpot slots – you can examine a game’s pay table for no charge, and when you find a game with a top prize large enough to meet your needs, there’s your best-paying slot machine.

How to Choose Fun Slot Machines

Slots players most interested in having as much fun as possible are really living in the best possible slot machine era.

It wasn’t that long ago that slot machines were all essentially the same 3-reel game, with just a few pay lines, the same symbols on every game, and very little in the way of variety.

These days, you can take your pick from hundreds of different slot titles on the same floor, often available in different denomination sizes. There’s the high-limit slot section, skill slots, Asian-style slot machines, and slot games with every kind of imaginable bonus round and side game.

If you’re the type of gambler who’s most motivated by the entertainment value of slot machines, you’ll first need to work out what it is about slots that are fun for you.

If you like top-notch graphics, video cut scenes, intricate soundtracks, and that sort of thing, there are modern slots designed to capture the attention of the video game generation.

Licensed slots offer slots players an entirely different way to enjoy themselves, playing a standard slot game with an overlay of a popular character, sports team, or other cultural touchstones.

If slot machine fun is, for you, all about bonuses and other in-game features, know those modern slot libraries are stuffed with bonus games. Some modern slots have entire libraries of bonus rounds to choose from, and these bonus slots come in all denominations.

It may take some time to figure out for yourself what makes a slot fun. That’s going to require a few casino trips and some wasted time on slot games that you just don’t enjoy.

How to Choose the Best Value Slot Machines

One way to be sure you’re playing the best value slot machine is to only play slot games with the highest possible theoretical return-to-player. You’re going to have to do a little work, and it’s not a perfect process, but you can find the RTP of land-based slot machines.

In some US gambling jurisdictions, a state gambling board or other authority posts regular details about slots and other casino games within their state lines. In most cases, these details include average RTP figures for slots, broken down by denomination.

Finding the best value slot machines in a given jurisdiction means looking up which denomination slots pay the best. No US state or other gambling authority requires casinos to post actual RTP figures for each slot on their floor – that would be extremely useful to slot players, but it’s just not the reality we live in.

Here’s what I do – if I’m planning a trip to Las Vegas, I look at the most recent statistics released by the Nevada Gaming Control board to figure out what denomination is averaging the highest RTP.

Rows of Casino Slots

If I were heading to Vegas this week, I’d know that the multi-denomination slots are currently the best value in terms of average RTP, at 93.61%. Vegas penny slots are currently averaging an RTP of 88%. Choosing to play a multi-denomination slot over a penny slot means getting a better value, theoretically, over time.

Unfortunately, you can never truly know the RTP of the slot you’re playing. Even if you tracked play for an hour, the RTP figure you’d work out would be nowhere near the real one, since RTP is figured out over an infinite amount of time.

Still, heading into a casino with a sense of which slots offer you the best average value should help you focus on games that cost you the least to play.

How to Choose a Losing Slot Machine

I know – nobody wants to choose a losing slot machine.

But I thought I’d offer some thoughts on how a person might go about finding a losing slot, for instructional purposes.

Choosing a losing slot machine mostly means going into the casino blind, with no sense of what you’re looking for or what’s available.

A gambler looking to have a bad time at a casino should start by not doing any kind of research beforehand whatsoever. Don’t look up what games are on site, don’t look at video reviews of the property, and by all means don’t talk to anyone who has been there before.

For added misery, drink a little bit too much, and be sure to go into the casino hungry and in a terrible mood.

If you do all of those things – skip your homework, get a little drunk, and ignore your physical needs – you’ll be sure to have an awful time playing a real loser of a slot machine.

Choose Your Slot Machines Carefully

I’ll say it right out here in the open – I don’t have a secret list of winning slots that I’m keeping from my readers. Nobody has a list like that. Slot machines are programmed to take in more cash than they pay out. There’s never been a slot machine designed to give players consistent wins, and there never will be.

Having said that, this post is full of tactics designed to help slots players find winning slot games.

Resist the temptation to play the prettiest, loudest, or most popular slot on the casino floor. Look instead for the games that help you win – whether the prize is money, a great value, or a good time.