Stretch Your Dollar and Become a Winner on Penny Slots

Lincoln Penny With a Slots Background

Penny slots appeal to a wide range of casino gamblers. Many newbies stick to the machines because, after all, it’s only a penny. Veteran casino gamblers see it as a great way to extend their gambling bankroll.

Still, there’s a stigma surrounding the penny slots, and I’ve even witnessed prejudices against those who play them. Break the stigma to stretch your dollar and become a winner on penny slots.

What Are Casino Penny Slots?

My first casino experience was spent on the penny slots. I was a broke college student, and some of my friends invited me to go to Choctaw Casino in Durant, OK, for my birthday.

Choctaw Casino is a beautiful property with the latest amenities and a luxurious setting today. Twenty years ago, the small casino had 2 large rooms filled with slot machines and a bingo hall — and not a single table game.

I don’t think the parking lot was paved back then; I’ve been in dive bars with more ambiance. They didn’t offer free drinks, either; that goes a long way with a broke 21-year-old.

However, I was gambling in a casino for real money and couldn’t have been happier. I sat to real money slots and slipped in a $20 bill.

I spent an hour playing a single line at max credits $0.05 for an hour. Finally, a friend noticed my misplay and showed me how to bet max lines.

Closeup of Slot Machine

Wow, that was a game-changer. Suddenly, I was winning every other spin, it seemed.

I left the casino with over $135, and I was hooked.

Penny slots are among the most popular games in many casinos. In fact, many online casinos extoll the penny slots for their seemingly low cost.

I’ll stick to the machines in land-based casinos for our purposes. However, there are very few differences between the two.

Penny slots operate the same as any other slot machine you’ll find in the casino with a few major exceptions.

First of all, you’ll notice that these machines can run north of 25 pay lines. Actually, some of the most popular machines have 40 pay lines.

The sheer number of pay lines can quickly run the cost per spin well over $0.01, but the excitement of even small wins locks players into the game.

The Real Cost of Casino Penny Slots

You probably see penny slots and think, “Great, I’m gonna make this $5 last all night!”

Well, you very well might. However, it’s more common to find a penny slot machine and discover that there’s a 10, 20, or even a 50 credit minimum.

I’ve even played on “penny slots” with a 100 credit minimum. That’s not to say that the penny slots no longer exist, but you’ll need to pay attention.

I’ve seen a trend in casinos across the country regarding penny slots. The newer machines are trending upward on the number of pay lines they offer.

When I first walked through the darkened doorway of Choctaw 2 decades ago, I saw most games had 5-12 pay lines. Today, the penny slot machines being developed appear to have almost a standardized 40 pay lines.

Penny slots can quickly run up the cost of the machine you’re playing on. So, take that into account before you sit down.

Imagine you’re playing a game with 40 pay lines and play 5 credits per line. Suddenly, you’re spending $2 per spin.

If your bankroll isn’t built to play at this level, you’re going to be quickly relegated to the sidelines.

You should always bet max lines. If that means you start at a machine with fewer pay lines, so be it.

Betting max credits and max lines is the only way to get the most out of any slot machine’s return to player (RTP).

Pennies on The Dollar

When you look at the math between penny slots and the popular dollar machines, it becomes clear that the dollar slots reign supreme.

As I mentioned above, it’s not uncommon to find penny slots where the max bets can be much more than a penny, as the name would imply. If you’re on the hunt for the largest jackpots, you’ll often be required to wager up to $5 per spin.

The jackpots on penny slots start relatively low, even for the penny credits. However, you can find jackpots that soar to the life-changing sum of $1,000,000 or more.

Unfortunately, you’re almost guaranteed to drain your bankroll before you ever hit the jackpot. The RTP on the penny slot machines can be 91% on the high end, but many fall in the 88% range.

These RTP make penny slots some of the worst games in the casino from a strictly return on investment standpoint.

Conversely, many of the same players that flood the penny slots will scoff at the prospect of playing dollar machines.

Las Vegas Slot Machines

Many of the dollar slots are between $1-3 per spin. The jackpots start in the four-figures. Many of the mega-jackpots reset at $1 million or higher, like $7 million for Megabucks.

The games also come with a much higher RTP. You can get a return of 95% or higher on many of these games.

You’ll actually lose money on the dollar slots much more slowly. Assume you’re playing a 30 line machine for 10 credits at a penny slot machine, and your friend is playing a $3 max bet on a dollar slot machine.

You’re both wagering $3 per spin, and players average around 350 spins per hour. So, each player is putting $1,050 into play every hour.

Now, look at how the RTP affects that; at the penny slots getting 88%, you’ll lose $126 an hour. For the dollar slots and 95%, you’ll only lose $52.50 for the same hour.

Choose wisely before just blindly making a beeline for the penny slots.

Selecting The Right Penny Slots Machine

When choosing a penny slot machine, the most important factor is no different from any other denomination of slots, RTP.

How long you can play, which directly translates to how much entertainment you’ll be getting for your gambling dollar.

Volatility can play an important role in selecting a game. Some players prefer to extend their bankroll by taking small but frequent wins.

Other choose the less frequent wins, but the excitement of much higher dollar amounts.

One of the best resources for finding the hottest machines on the casino floor is other gamblers. Gamblers love to share their latest successes with pretty much anyone who will listen.

Closeup of Slot Progressive Slots

Take some time to do a lap through the massive casino banks, and you’ll bump into at least a dozen fellow gamblers itching to dish the latest gossip.

Above all, only play games that you enjoy. The number 1 rule of casino gambling is to enjoy yourself.

Otherwise, you’re just throwing money away. When you’re playing games in the casino, you’re paying for entertainment.

The excitement of gambling is electric and creates a buzz that hits you as soon as you walk through the doors. Please don’t feel like you’re stuck on a game because you think it’s due to hit. The best thing to do is walk away and find a game you actually enjoy.

Penny Slots Strategy for Success

Winning at real money casinos is a tall task. Still, there are several ways to extend your session and give yourself a chance at a jackpot.

The most important aspect of penny slots is finding the games with the highest Slots RTP. This should be fairly obvious at this point.

The less money leaving your pocket every hour, the better. Of course, you may get on a hot run and win over a couple of hours.

At the very least, I encourage you to pull those winnings aside. Your best option when you get a significant win is to simply walk away.

Unfortunately, this is much easier said than done. All too often, players will roll their wins into a long string of losses until they’re wiped out completely.

Avoid this common gambling pitfall by cashing all big wins out immediately and buying back in with your predetermined bankroll for the session.

Finally, set limits. Don’t simply make a win limit and call it good.

Savvy gamblers set strict limits on wins, losses, and time spent playing. More importantly, they stick to their limit.

Make realistic limits. Don’t set a win limit of $100k playing penny slots; that day will likely never come. Base a win limit on your bankroll and expected hourly losses.

Penny slots clearly don’t have the best odds in the casino, but by taking a few precautions, you can extend your time on the casino floor by hours.


Before you stretch your dollar and become a winner on penny slots, do the research. By carefully examining the RTP and jackpot structure of the games you play, you’re in a better position to walk out of the casino happier than ever before.

While you’ll always want to play max lines, remember that there’s a wide range of games on the market today. You’re in control of how much you put into action on every spin, and if you’re having the maximum amount of fun, you’re doing it right.