How to Play Slots

It goes by many names – slot machine, chewing gum dispenser, fruit machine, one-armed bandit, and Big Bertha. Regardless of what slang you use, slots remain one of the most popular casino games ever. The concept of slots is simple. Push a button and watch as three or more rotating reels display a series of symbols. If a reel shows the same winning picture across the payline, you’re a winner. Some single images are also automatic winners. Your payout is dependent on which symbols land along the payline.

Basics of Playing Slots

It’s no secret why slots have become big business in casinos across the globe. They’re easy to play, there’s a massive variety, minimum bets are affordable, and there’s a chance to win big even with small wagers.

While slot machines pay back significantly less than table games, they remain a go-to for gamblers at all skill levels due to their ease of use. There is virtually no learning curve and few strategies to master. Just insert your currency, push a button or pull a handle, and wait until the reels stop spinning to see what symbols land on the payline.

It can be hard to find a table game that has a minimum wager of less than $5, making games like baccarat and roulette unappealing to lowballers. Slot machines; however, give gamblers a chance to play for a lot less money. Slot machines can be played for as little as a penny per spin. At this price, you can play for an entire hour and not spend more than a few bucks.

However, know that the less you bet, the less you are likely to win. The top jackpot found on most of these machines is about 1,000 times the amount that you bet. This means that if you only bet one penny on a spin, the jackpot would only payout $10. If you increase your bet to $1 and hit the jackpot, your payout will be bumped to $1,000.

Types of Slot Machines

If you’re new to slots, you may not be able to differentiate one slot machine from another. While most of these machines follow the same basic rules, they can differ significantly in terms of minimum wagers and payouts. Modern slots range from classic single-coin three-reel machines to more complex multi-coin touch-screen video machines.

The three main types of slots include:

1. Progressive Slots

Progressive slot machines work similarly to most other slots. However, these slots offer players the chance to win a jackpot. While the jackpot is usually a fixed amount for most slots, progressives are different as the jackpot continues to rise each time the reels are spun. In addition, progressive slots are often linked to one another, meaning the more people that play, the bigger the jackpot.

2. Multiplier Slots

With multiplier slot machines, players have the ability to win big by multiplying their wins to double, triple, or even 100 times or more. There are different ways that multipliers can be triggered. In some cases, wins are multiplied during normal gameplay. Other times, they are triggered during bonus rounds or free spins.

3. Video Slots

Today’s video slot machines generally have five reels which allow for more symbols and paylines. With more paylines, players can increase their bets and raise their odds of a better payout. These machines are also digitalized, meaning the reels are seen on a video screen, and you push a button on the touch-screen rather than pull a lever.

Gameplay and Bonuses

Like most casino games, slots begin by making bets. If you’re playing in a live casino, you will need to deposit cash or a card. For online slots, you will need to deposit money into your account. While each establishment ranges in terms of deposit methods, most online casinos accept credit cards, debit cards, e-wallets, and bank transfers.

Once your bet has been made, it’s time to spin. Pressing the button to spin the reels signals the machine’s random number generator. This results in a random combination of numbers being sent to the reels. The reels stop on their own after a few seconds. Some slot machines have a “skill stop” button that allows players to manually stop the spinning reel.

With slots, there are a number of ways to win. Getting the same symbols across the payline results in a win. Some games will also enable wins for particular symbol combinations. These combinations can be found on the game’s paytable, which should be available in chart form on the front of the machine.

Bonuses and free spins are common among casino slots. These rewards act as incentives to get people to play. While the bonus rounds and free spins work in the same way as the regular gameplay, they can lead to bigger payouts and the chance to hit the jackpot. Some slot machines also have “mini-games”, which are fast, simple slot games that give players an additional chance to win.

Slot Machine Betting

It’s widely known that gamblers who place larger bets get bigger returns. This is because casinos typically put higher payback percentages on slots that require higher coin denominations.

Sometimes slots have disproportional higher payoffs when you bet more. For example, if you look at the paytable of a three-reel slot, you may notice that the top jackpot pays 500 coins when one coin is wagered, 1,000 coins if two coins are wagered, but then jumps to 2,000 coins if three coins are wagered. This shows that, in general, making bigger bets can lead to better payback percentages. However, they also come with higher risks.

If you’re new to slots, there are a few basic terms to know in terms of betting. These include:

  • Hit – A term used to describe a winning spin.
  • Jackpot – This is the highest amount a player can win.
  • Max bet – Maximum bet refers to the most coins a player can bet on a single spin.
  • Multi-line – When a player bets on multiple paylines to increase their odds of winning.
  • Wild symbol – These symbols can stand in for other symbols to create winning combinations.
  • Zig-zag – A zig-zag describes paylines that are created on multi-line slot machines.

Payout Percentages

The average slot machine is programmed to pay out between 82 and 98 percent in winnings. This is known as the return to player (RTP) or “theoretical payout percentage.” This means that if a slot costs $1 per spin and has an RTP of 97%, it will return an average of $970,000 back to its players who have inserted a total of $1,000,000 during that period of time.

Oftentimes, online casinos offer players a better payout percentage than brick-and-mortar casinos. This is often due to lower overhead costs and the fact that an unlimited number of players are able to play the same game at the same time. Casinos are legally required to meet a minimum payout percentage. It can vary by state in the U.S., but most states have a payout percentage on slots that is 80% or higher.

When comparing payout percentages, you may come across the terms “loose” and “tight.” A loose slot machine will pay out more often and at a higher payout percentage. A tight machine will pay out less frequently and have a lower RTP. Whether online or in the casino, you want to play the looser machines.

Slot Machine Strategies

There are countless slot machine strategies on the web, but many of them don’t actually work. What makes most of these strategies baseless is the house edge. Slots are specifically designed to return less money than they take in. That means no matter what you do to gain an advantage, you cannot beat the system.

However, that doesn’t mean slot machine strategies do not exist. There are certain strategies that can help increase your chances of winning and help you save money over time.

Some of the most betting system strategies used in slots include:


Also referred to as the “reverse martingale,” this betting system involves the player reducing their wagers following a loss and increasing their wagers after a win. This helps minimize the presence of cold streaks and takes advantage of hot streaks. Unfortunately, this strategy is not exactly based on logic, as each spin is independent and has no effect on previous or future spins.

The Ladder System

The ladder system is a simple strategy in which the player increases their bets when winning and lowers them when losing. This betting system is designed to take advantage of streaks. Of course, there are no “real” streaks in the game of slots, so your streak can end as fast as it started.

Zig-Zag Method

The zig-zag method requires players to be highly observant of the players around them. By looking at other players’ machines, you can get an idea of what reel patterns are most common and which have not seen any big wins recently. The alignment that looks like a diamond is the most sought-after alignment in this method. Looking for patterns is not always feasible, especially with online slots, but some players find success with this method nonetheless.

The Play and Run

This next slot strategy does not allow you to play a single slot machine game for longer than five minutes before moving on to the next. For example, if you have $100 to spend on slots, you would make a $20 wager on each machine. While there is no real strategy behind this method, it does allow you to get to know different machines.

Managing Your Bankroll

Learning the best ways to manage your money is important when playing fast-paced casino games like slots. Managing your bankroll does not require any complex math. Instead, slot players should focus on keeping track of their wins and losses. This can be easily achieved with a slot club card. If you are playing online or do not want a club card, you can also keep track by simply looking at the amount of money in the machine.

Before you even deposit money into your account, consider how much money you are willing to lose. Next, divide that number by how many hours you would like to spend gambling. For example, if you are going to the slots with $500 and do not want to lose more than $50 an hour, you’ll want to take a break once you hit $50 in losses in any given hour. Once the next hour starts, you can begin playing again.

Also, know when to walk away. While this is a personal choice, it can be wise to set a win limit at the very start. Of course, this will be dependent on how much you start with. For example, if you start with $500 and double your money, you may want to stop playing at that point and enjoy your winnings. It can be tough to stick with limits while gambling, but having limits can prevent significant losses in the long run.

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