Stuck On a Slot Machine – What Should You Do?

Man Sitting on Slot Machine in Casino, Woman Frustrated with Hands on Her Forehead, Time Clock Ticking
Gambling experts say one should never play the slots. The slots pay terrible RTP. It’s a waste of time and money.

Card and table players may turn to slot games to kill time. Some may do it for love. Others may do it because they are down to their last $5.

I remember sitting down on a slot machine one night next to a talkative lady. Now, I’m not a serious slot player, so I indulged her. She chatted away about how she loved the slots.

She had been there all evening. She wasn’t sure where her husband got to. I asked which game was her favorite.

“This one,” she said. “It’s the only game I play.”

The conversation led from one thing to another and I finally had to ask: “What do you do if you need to take a break?” I meant to visit the Ladies Room.

She laughed and said that sometimes it was a big gamble. She waits for her husband to come to hold her seat when he drops by every now and then to check on her.

1- Do Casinos Allow Players to Reserve Slot Games?

Casino Slot Machines, Man Wearing Suit, Arms Folded

I can’t say I’ve played at every casino, but none of the casinos I play at have game reservations. A slot machine is available until someone sits there.

The most excruciating time to win a jackpot is during a change of shift. The staff is counting money, checking out, checking in, or doing whatever it is that they need to do. If you win when you need to get up, you’re stuck.

I asked the casino staff what happens if the player has to leave. If the staff has your ID card, then they know who won the jackpot. Otherwise, you forfeit the game. I don’t know if that is how all casinos handle the situation, however.

You can’t ask the staff to hold a game for you, nor can you put a sign on the game. You can’t do anything to the game to make it unplayable for others.

2- Innovative Ways Players “Save” Their Slot Machines

Some years back, I visited an Indian casino where all the slot games had 4-legged chairs in front of them. The players who needed to get up leaned their chairs into the games. Near as I could tell, no one ever took a game away from a player.

As the years rolled by, I noticed that more and more slot games had seats that can’t lean over or move.

Is this the way the casinos deal with players who “hold” their machines?

Slot Machine in a Casino, Reserved Card Sitting on Slot

When the night is young or during the graveyard shift, there are only a few players at the machines. Saving a machine is easy. I’ve even seen players drop a stack of bills or a tray of chips on their game.

One woman was clever. When she needed to get up for a few minutes, she leaned over, pulled an empty wallet out of her purse, and laid it on the console. “It’s empty,” she assured me. I don’t know anything about women’s wallets, but I was certain it was cheap.

Some people drape their jackets or coats on the seats. While it makes sense in the winter when it’s cold outside, I’ve seen coats hanging on chairs in mid-summer when it was 90 degrees outside.

Another woman used a paper bag she got while shopping. I didn’t look to see what was in it, but no one took her seat.

One man left a paper plate with a half-eaten sandwich on his slot machine. Casino staff came by and picked it up as trash. Surprisingly, he didn’t bat an eye when he came back.

3- My Slots Rule: Don’t Play the Slots Alone

Scroll Reading Rules, Don't Play AloneIf I have any silly gambler superstitions, this is one of them. It’s a crazy thought, but it’s to never play the slots when you’re alone.

I tell myself it’s a rule that I have made. Instead of worrying over who will take my slot machine, I stay beside my partner as much as possible. She and I take turns watching each other’s machines.

And it’s more liberating. If I want a sandwich, I can go get one.

Plus, playing slots with another person is more fun.

It’s a hard choice to make when I want to hit the tables. My partner doesn’t like blackjack. And the machines near the tables aren’t much fun.

We have a “tap out” system. We gently brush each other on the back to quietly say, “I need a break.” The other partner is supposed to pay attention to your game until you return.

4- Do People Ever Fight Over Slot Games?

I’m sure there are stories circulating about fights. I’ve never seen one. The closest I’ve seen to a fight was on a crowded night. A man was sitting at a machine, and the woman standing behind him grew impatient.

Silhouette of Two People Arguing, Woman and Man“Are you ever going to play that thing?” she asked. She was obviously fuming. He explained that his wife was getting more money.

She eventually showed up with a wad of bills, and everyone went their own way.

I remember playing a slot game next to my partner. She was betting the max, and I was betting the minimum. I wasn’t really interested in the game. And I hit several jackpots in a row.

“He’s wasting all the good spins,” I heard someone say behind me. I didn’t realize there was a crowd watching us play. We were on two of the most popular machines in the casino.

The disgust and frustration I heard in that voice behind me were bothersome. After 30 minutes, when no one behind us had moved, I suggested to my partner that we go get something to eat.

I was up about $50.

5- Sometimes I Choose Games No One Else Is Interested In

This is a cardinal sin for all gamblers. If people aren’t playing a game, it must be terrible, right?

Empty Slot Machines in Casino, Backside of Guy Looking at Slot Machines

In my defense, I look for the payout and RTP information on the game’s help screen if it’s there. If the casino has displayed one of those cards explaining how often the machine pays, I read it.

I do avoid the really bad RTP games. If I’m with someone, I play the minimum until I start winning or we move to another part of the casino. I don’t see the point in betting the max on a game where skill doesn’t apply.

It’s a lot like playing musical chairs. Only, instead of everyone scrambling for the last chair, the players do their best to avoid playing certain machines.

If I’ve been walking around for a while and want to kill time, I’ll just sit down until someone asks if I’m playing the game. Then I’ll politely give it to them.

6- Why Not Play When the Crowd Is Small?

This isn’t rocket science.

Every popular casino has a “hot” time, usually from about 8 PM to 11 PM. It starts a little earlier and lasts longer on weekends.

Group of People Sitting on Row of Slot Machines, Time Clock Displaying 8pm

During this “hot” time, the crowd is so thick, you are lucky if find an open game. There are lines everywhere. Even the buffet has an hour-long wait.

We try to enjoy our favorite games before the crowd shows up. But sometimes we stay too long. You can chalk that up to the environment the casino creates.

Plus, if I have to drive 40 minutes to get to a casino, I want to spend a full evening there.


I don’t know why I feel trapped on a slot machine. Statistics says each spin should have about the same chance of paying as the last. The RNG is supposed to ensure that.

But I feel more comfortable at the blackjack table. I have a sense of control. Every hand, I decide how far to take my wager unless I bust out early on.

Knowing I can leave a busy table and come back later should feel no different from knowing I can leave a slot machine. But it does.

The 1-person nature of a slot machine makes it feel like a premium game.

I think that is why people are territorial about their favorite slot machines. What do you think?