Slot machines are usually considered as the worst-paying games in the casino. They’ve earned this reputation to some degree.
After all, may penny slot machines only deliver between 88% and 90% RTP. This payback is really poor compared to most casino games, such as video poker and baccarat.
However, slot machines aren’t always so bad. In fact, numbers from Las Vegas reveal that slots are actually among the fairest games.
Is everything that you’ve been told about slots all along a lie? I’ll answer this question by covering more on slots’ reputation along with why they pay better than many other games in Las Vegas.
Slot Machines Normally Carry a Terrible Reputation
You need only look at the fact that real money slots are nicknamed one-armed bandits to realize these games don’t have a great reputation.
The term one-armed bandit comes from two aspects:
- Slot machines used to feature pull levers.
- Many gamblers lose a significant amount of money on these games.
You can tell from the first point that one-armed bandits is an antiquated phrase. But the part about the heavy losses is still valid today.
The reason why gamblers lose so much through these games isn’t because slot machines don’t pay much back. Slots are actually competitive with many other casino games in terms of RTP.
For example, American roulette and Caribbean stud feature 94.74% and 94.78% RTP, respectively. You even need to use perfect strategy in Caribbean stud to achieve 94.78% payback.
The average slot machine in a land-based casino delivers between 94% and 96% payback. The typical online slot offers between 95% and 97% RTP.
Few gamblers sit around and blast Caribbean stud for its below-average payback. Why do they do so with slot machines, though?
Many gamblers don’t even realize that the primary reason why they lose so much with slots is due to the play rate—not the payout percentages.
Slow machines play at a faster rate than any other casino game. The only game that matches the speed of slots is video poker.
Here’s a comparison between land-based slots and American roulette to show how play rates affect losses:
- House edge is 5.26%.
- You play for one hour.
- You make one $5 bet each round.
- The table sees 50 spins during this hour.
- 50 x 5 x 0.0526 = $13.15 in theoretical hourly losses
- House edge is 5.26%.
- You play for one hour.
- You make one $1 bet per spin.
- You perform 600 spins in this hour.
- 600 x 1 x 0.0526 = $31.56 in theoretical hourly losses
You’re risking 5x more with each roulette bet. However, you’re still suffering greater theoretical losses with the slot due to the faster speed.
Simply put, slots expose you more to the house edge. You’re playing more rounds per hour, which increases the chances that you’ll lose money.
Vegas Slots Aren’t Actually That Bad
As covered above, play rate is the biggest culprit for why gamblers lose major money through slots. However, the house edge really isn’t that bad when compared to the rest of gaming.
Statistics from the UNLV Center for Gaming Research show that Las Vegas slots feature competitive payback.
This win rate isn’t at the top of the gaming world. However, it’s also not terrible in the grand scheme of things.
You Could Do a Lot Worse With Other Casino Games
Theoretically, slot machines should be among the lower-paying games in the casino. 93.1% payback isn’t amazing by any standards.
You can actually achieve much higher RTP in plenty of other games. Here are some of the top-paying options in the casino:
- Baccarat = 98.94% house edge (w/ banker bet)
- Blackjack = 98% to 99.5% (w/ proper strategy)
- Craps = 98.64% (w/ don’t pass line bet)
- European roulette = 97.3%
- French = 98.65% (w/ even-money bets)
- Three-card poker = 97.68% (w/ proper strategy)
- Video poker = 99.54% (on Jacks or Better)
These games all give you a favorable chance to win…at least in theory. However, UNLV’s numbers show that many gamblers don’t take advantage of these favorable payout percentages.
Instead, they use bad strategies and make poor bets. In the end, they lose much more than they would on slot machines.
Here are 2019 statistics on table game win rates in Las Vegas casinos:
- Baccarat = 12.93% win rate (or house edge)
- Blackjack = 14.12%
- Craps = 16.03%
These numbers definitely contrast what’s possible with each of the games presented above. You can do much better if you know proper strategy.
The average person doesn’t take the time to learn, though. That said, the typical Vegas gambler is better off playing slot machines, which don’t require extensive strategy.
Keys to Winning More With Vegas Slot Machines
Slots are impossible to beat on a consistent basis. After all, they feature lots of volatility, which puts you through plenty of cold streaks.
Luckily, though, you can boost your odds of winning by following a few simple tips. Here’s what you must do to win money when playing the slot machines in Vegas.
Avoid Penny Slots
Many gamblers flock to penny slots. The reason why is because they think that these games are cheap to play.
Of course, you may have no trouble playing for these stakes. But the downside to penny slot machines is that they have lower RTP than high-coin denomination games.
In many cases, you’re only looking at between 88% and 91% RTP. Contrast this with quarter machines, which typically deliver between 93% and 95% payback.
Bet Within Your Means
Las Vegas offers the widest range of slot stakes anywhere. You can play games that only require a $0.25 bet to those featuring $1,000 bets.
I doubt that you’ll be wagering anywhere near the latter range. However, you can still get carried away in Sin City even if you’re not risking $1k per round.
You should strongly consider spending time on bankroll management before jetting off to Vegas. You could map out a decent plan in just a few minutes.
Here’s an example on how to perform slots bankroll management:
- You have $500 to spare on slots during a Las Vegas trip.
- You normally bet $0.50 per spin.
- You spin the reels an estimated 600 times per hour.
- The average Vegas slots house edge is 6.90%.
- 600 x 0.5 x 0.069 = $20.70 in hourly losses
- 500 / 20.7 = 24.16
- Your bankroll will theoretically last for 24.16 hours.
Sign Up for the VIP Program
You definitely don’t want to miss out on loyalty rewards when playing slot machines. Otherwise, you’ll put yourself at a disadvantage when compared to other gamblers.
You need to sign up for the player’s club to take advantage of VIP perks in Las Vegas casinos. You can either complete the registration form at the player’s desk or online.
Once you finish joining the program, you’ll receive a player’s club card. You insert this card into the machine to track your play and earn rewards.
Don’t Play Just for Comps
Loyalty rewards are important when playing slot machines—but they’re not that important! The problem with some gamblers is that they overemphasize the value of comps.
They may extend sessions even when they don’t feel like playing just to get more rewards. Upon looking at the math, though, this decision looks extremely silly.
Here’s an example to show why you shouldn’t be a slave to VIP benefits:
- You bet $1,000 on a slot.
- The RTP if 95% (5% house edge).
- 1,000 x 0.05 = $50 in theoretical losses
- The comp rate is 0.1%.
- 1,000 x 0.001 = $1 cashback
- 50 / 1 = 50
- The theoretical losses are 50x greater than the rewards.
If you’re going to play slot machines at land-based and online casinos, you should definitely take advantage of a loyalty program. On the other hand, you never want to make casino comps your sole purpose for playing.
This post isn’t single-handedly going to shred the one-armed-bandit perception that slots have carried for decades. However, I hope that it shines light on the reality of slot machines.
On a per-dollar basis, the average gambler has as good of a chance of winning with slots as they do with most other casino games. They don’t realize this, though, due to the quick play rate and high volatility.
Of course, gamblers would have a better opportunity of winning with table games like baccarat or blackjack. But they don’t make the right bets or use good strategy and, thus, lose even more money with them.
Long story short, you don’t need to fear slot machines in comparison to other casino games. The only things you have to worry about include your play rate and being smart with your bankroll.