How to Pick a Slot Machine

Thinking Man and Slots
No gambler alive that can accurately predict the precise moment a slot machine is going to payout. Anyone telling you different is either sorely misguided or a flat-out liar.

Imagine if you could clearly pick out the exact moment a slot machine is due to pay. The casinos would have the machines loaded up on trailers and headed for a warehouse before you could snap your fingers.

An Objective View for How to Pick a Slot Machine Game

The casino industry is a fine-tuned example of capitalism. Its primary objective is to entertain the masses while relieving them of their hard-earned money.

Don’t slam the door on slot machines, though. You shouldn’t write off slot machines simply because they don’t exist to print money for hungry gamblers.

In fact, if you play smart, you can spend hours being entertained by the flashing lights and shrieking bells and sirens.

How to pick a real money slot machine is one of the most valuable casino lessons you could possibly learn.

But I see a constant stream of casino gamblers milling about the casino floor without any idea what machine to settle on.

Knowing Is Half the Battle

Slot machine odds are, as you likely know, centered on mathematical probability. Therefore, understanding how these odds work will enable you to use them to your advantage. You might even get lucky and turn a profit.

If you have the correct strategy at hand and at least know the basic return to player for a specific slot, you have a higher probability of winning at slots.

I’ve spent months scouring pages of slot machine best practices trying to learn the optimal strategy for how to pick a slot machine. I now feel like I’m well-equipped to offer you the most complete plan for hedging your bets while going for slot machine profits.

Get to Know the Payouts

This may seem like a no-brainer, but it’s more than surface-level banter. Every casino gambler is all too familiar with what the house edge is. If you’re scratching your head or just need a refresher, let me explain.

The house edge is a mathematical advantage the casinos have over the players. Over a long enough stretch of time, this manifests itself in a guaranteed percentage back to the casino. The casino will always, 100% of the time, beat the player in the long run. After all, the mega-casinos we see today weren’t built by tourists who left as winners.

Don’t give up just yet, though.

There’s still hope.

Slot Machines

Despite the odds being against you, you may still find yourself leaving the casino with “house money.”

Meet the return to player (RTP).

The RTP is based on a theoretical rate of statistical payout to the player.

For most Las Vegas or online slot machines, you can expect an RTP of 90 to 96%. However, there are outliers — both high and low. Some RTPs are as low as 75%, while on the high end, you can find RTP of 98%.

Clearly, you want to opt for machines at or over 96%.

You may think 2% can’t really have much difference, and, in a short sample, it probably does not. When you extend that same 2% bonus over several thousand spins, you’ll see a significant difference.

Do some research before you start slinging coins into the one arm bandit. If you’re playing online slots, most software companies will have published RTP available.

Your Entertainment Bang for Your Buck

Volatility can be another factor in choosing a slot machine. Commonly referred to as variance, volatility is used to calculate how well you may expect to do during your session. Think of it as a guide for what you should be winning or losing per hour.

Slot machines with a higher variance typically offer long dry spells with the sporadic substantial win. On these machines, you may quickly find yourself chasing these huge wins. You need to keep an eye on that bankroll, though, because you’ll be receiving a few of those intermittent wins that normally keep it supplied with the coins.

Of course, when the stars (or cherries) align, you’re in for a giant influx of cash. These colossal wins can be worth the extended drought if you have the bankroll to survive them.

Three Cherries

Juxtaposed with the high variance slots are the low volatility games. Payouts on these machines come much more frequently but in smaller sizes. Rest assured, massive wins are still a possibility with these machines. They are merely less frequent and not of the giant proportions of the high volatility machines.

Whether you’re interested in the incremental small wins or want to hit pay dirt with one crashing jackpot is an individual preference. If you’re going to leave the casino with bags full of the casino’s money, you should risk it on the high volatility games. If you’re content to just plug away for hours on end, taking small wins, the low variance games suit your needs.

As you might have guessed, the casinos aren’t handing out pamphlets with the particular volatility of their games. So, you may need to search for reviews from other players or, if you have the funds, do your own research.

Explore the Bonuses Available Online

If you‘re gambling in online casinos, you have a built-in advantage. The casino bonus can be a tremendous tool in the war on the house’s edge. Without exception, the top online casinos offer some form of free cash to incentivize new players.

These offers can help extend your bankroll long enough for the odds to turn in your favor.

Unfortunately, they will eventually dry up. When that time comes, it may be wise to start shopping around again. Be cautious to carefully read all terms and conditions of the bonuses before you settle on one.

When Can Be As Important to Your Success

Now that you have a reliable roadmap for how to pick a slot machine. Let’s talk about another vital factor in your winning.

When you decide to leap can play a role in hitting a huge jackpot or missing the boat entirely.

Because we now know about variance, we can use that to our advantage. Imagine you are on a long session and have been watching the time on a high volatility machine. No jackpots have been hit when suddenly the game erupts in lights and sounds. It takes a minute before you realize that you’ve just hit a huge win.

Since the machine has just paid a substantial pot, it’s not likely that the machine will soon pay out another massive jackpot. If you are going to continue playing, you may want to move to a different machine.

Shy away from games that are unpopular with fellow players. Games that get constant attention will more often have stretches of higher payouts. If you are wasting your time on a stale machine, you will quickly burn through your bankroll.

Remember, the objective here is to get maximum entertainment for your gambling dollar. If you see an empty section of slots, it’s typically because the games aren’t providing much in the form of entertainment. Usually, they won’t have the exciting features packed into popular games.

You should do as much to find out the RTP of these machines as possible. I have heard stories from friends in the casino industry about the lone slots player hitting it big.

One story comes from the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. There was a specific slot machine that had been released with little to no fanfare. While other casino patrons scurried past regularly, none dropping more than a few dollars in, one lady chose to challenge convention.

Perhaps she just preferred to avoid the crowds in other areas. Regardless, she reportedly played the same seemingly mundane slot for 3 consecutive days. For hours she would play morning, noon, and night. After 3 days, she was considerably down but had enjoyed hours of entertainment from the game, the cocktail server, and an occasional passer-by.

On day 4 there she was at 8 am like clockwork.

But today was different.

Lady Luck had shifted, and by noon, she was up over $5,000.

By that night, she had a 5 figure profit.

Shortly after she began winning, she had a bevy of new friends and a lot of company.


If you’re on the hunt for a massive jackpot, you have your work cut out for you. You simply can’t control when a slot machine pays out. You can control how much fun you’re having.

So, focus on that instead.

Keep in mind that the gambler’s fallacy is just that. Avoid being sucked into thinking you’re somehow due for a giant winning streak. You need to be willing to accept the losses as much as the wins. Then you are ready to pick a slot machine and enjoy its maximum potential.