Understanding the House Edge
You will often hear people talking about the house edge in regards to games such as Blackjack and Roulette. Unfortunately, when it comes to slot machines, it is impossible to know what the house edge is. Slot machines make use of Random Number Generators (RNGs), which ensure that each spin of the reels is truly random. Modern slot machines have a potentially infinite number of virtual real positions, so you can never know how likely it is that a certain combination of symbols will land on the reels.
You can contrast this to games such as video poker. When playing video poker you can easily calculate the house edge, as you know the chance of different hands appearing. This means that you can look at the paytable and use the information together with the odds of drawing different hands to calculate the house edge. Similarly, with Roulette, you know the odds of any single number coming up and the payouts.
Unfortunately, with slots, this is simply not the case, which makes planning strategies and bankroll management much harder. Nonetheless, it is not a hopeless situation and there is still plenty that you can do.
Understanding Slot Bankroll Management
The key to successful long-term slots play is properly managing your money. You don’t want to run out of funds while still wanting to play more, and you certainly don’t want to be betting money that you can’t afford to lose. As such, here are some tips to put you on the path to success.
Establish Win and Loss Limits
This is the most basic thing that you can do and is far simpler than calculating how much you should or shouldn’t be betting per spin. You should simply establish a limit on losses and a limit on winnings, neither of which should be exceeded in a single session. As soon as you hit either of the limits, then you stop playing.
At most casinos, it is very easy to track your wins and losses. Online you can see it in your account history and at land casinos, you can do it through your slot club card and through how much money you have in the machine.
When you start playing, you should know exactly how much money you can afford to lose and then divide that number by how many hours you wish to play for. For example, if you plan to spend a weekend at a land casino, you hope to spend ten hours gambling and you know that you can afford to lose €1000, then you know that you can afford to lose up €100 per hour. This means that if you lose €100 before the hour is over, then you should take a break until the start of the next hour.
Win limits are slightly more complicated. If you head to the casino with €1000, then most players would start to feel very excited and perhaps a bit nervous if they have managed to double it. If you do so, and you have set that as your win limit, then you should stop playing. The idea is to prevent yourself from turning a big win into a loss. It can be very hard to make yourself stop, especially if you are on a winning streak; however, it is an excellent habit to get into and one that will prevent you gambling away all of your money.
If you stick to these two basic limits, then your gambling should remain entertaining and you should not get into any financial difficulties.
Play Lower Denomination Machines
The idea of this is to help you stretch out your bankroll and keep playing for longer. It is mainly applicable to land casinos, but is also worth bearing in mind when playing online. Many newcomers to land casinos have no idea how to pick a machine and will tend to go towards the €/$/£1 slot machines as it is a number that is easy to understand.
However, not many players will have the budget to sustain playing at that cost for a long time and each spin takes a sizeable chunk from your bankroll. Therefore, it is worth looking at all of the denominations available and then choosing the cheapest one that still looks interesting to play. The extreme of this is playing penny slots, as they are the cheapest, but for many players the games will not be interesting enough.
It is true that the more you bet the more you have the chance of winning, and that more expensive games tend to offer more features. However, you should always remember that you will likely lose more money on them in a short period.
Try to choose a denomination that offers a balance of features and value for money. If you want to play for a long time and you don’t mind what game then perhaps penny slots are the answer, alternatively, you may find a more advanced game that costs a little more, but will still provide you with the entertainment that you are looking for.
Join the Loyalty Club or Slot Club
Whether you are playing online or at a land casino, you should always join the slot club or loyalty club, or whatever other form of reward scheme the casino is offering. The clubs cost nothing to join and they are very easy to take advantage of.
In a land casino, you will be required to swipe your slot club card before you start playing while online, the casino will automatically track your play. The casino will then be able to reward you based upon how often and how much you are playing.
At land casinos, loyal players will often be offered free food and drink, and they may even receive free accommodation at the casino hotel. Online you may be offered rewards such as cashback, free spins, or enhanced bonuses. In both cases, you can normally exchange your reward points for cash as well.
If you are going to be playing a lot, then the rewards can become truly valuable and you may be surprised by just how much cash you can earn. However, in land casinos, you will often get better value by accepting the free food and drink offers rather than exchanging them for cash.
Slot Machine Playing Strategies
Not all slot strategies are about bankroll management, there are also some strategies regarding how you actually play. These are very easy to follow and here we will cover the basics for your.
Always Bet the Max
This is another tip that is mainly applicable when playing at a land casino. When you bet on a machine, you not only choose your denomination, but also how many units of that denomination you bet on each spin of the reels. Even online, you will find many games that allow you to set your coin size and how many coins you wish to bet, which is the same principle.
On some slot machines, by betting larger amounts you will have access to larger prizes and more valuable bonus features. For example, a slot machine that has 25 paylines may only offer its top prizes and jackpots to players who are betting at least one credit on each of the paylines.
This means that it makes sense to bet on all paylines with every spin, even if you have to use a lower denomination or smaller coin size in order to do so. Imagine that you land the right combination of symbols to hit the slot jackpot only to discover that they landed on an inactivate payline. There is nothing more frustrating. Therefore, you should make sure that you are playing with all paylines active on every spin.
Of course, this does relate back to bankroll management. If you are playing a high denomination slot, then playing with the max bet is going to be far more expensive. Therefore, be sure to inspect the machines carefully before you play, make sure that you are aware of the max bet size, and pick a game that you can afford.
Simple Games Offer Better Odds
Many people will say that the simplest games offer the best odds. This is another fact that is arguably true in land casinos but not necessarily online. However, if you are playing at a land casino then very often you need to find a balance between the best possible odds and the most entertainment.
Very often on a casino floor, the games that offer the most entertainment value, i.e. those with immersive graphics and sound effects, exciting bonus games, huge jackpots, and so on, will have the longest odds and the highest cost per spin. Conversely, the games with almost no features and very few paylines have a lower cost per spin and offer better odds.
If you stick to the classic style slots on a casino floor, then while the game may not be as exciting as some of the video slots, you will probably be enjoying better odds.
As mentioned, this is not necessarily the case online. When playing online slots you should be looking at the games’ RTP and the volatility. The RTP (Return to Player) is the percentage of money that a machine pays out to players over time. For example, a game that has an RTP of 95% will payout €95 of every €100 bet. The key here though is to remember that it is over time, which means it is calculated over far more spins than you are ever likely to play so you can never assume that you will win that much. On the other hand, it is always worth looking for games with higher RTPs.
Volatility is a measurement of how a game pays out. A high volatility game will payout large amounts but very infrequently and a low volatility game will payout small amounts very regularly. This means that if you don’t mind burning through your bankroll then a high volatility game may be perfect for you but if you are looking for regular wins to keep your bankroll topped up, then a low volatility slot is the better choice.
Consider Progressive Jackpots Carefully
Progressive jackpots are hugely tempting to play for. Very often, you will see jackpots in the millions that could theoretically be yours with just one spin of the reels. The largest jackpot ever paid in Las Vegas was a whopping $36 million from the slot Megabucks while online players have won as much as €18.9 million from slots such as Mega Moolah.
However, when you look at progressive jackpot slots RTPs you will notice that they are often far lower than other slots and the minimum bets tend to be far higher. This is because a portion of each bet goes to the jackpot pool. Practically speaking, this means that you need to find a balance between the potential rewards and excitement, and bankroll management.
It doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t play progressive slots, it just means that you need to be fully aware of the risks involved when doing so.
Choose Your Games Wisely
Essentially, what a lot of these strategy tips come down to is how you choose which games to play. You need to choose a game that you can afford to play for extended periods of time that offers a theme and features that you will enjoy. It may sound slightly complicated, but it is actually very straightforward.
Once you have understood how betting works on a given game and you have grasped how to manage your bankroll, then you will very quickly be able to start having fun playing slots online and at land casinos. While this may not be a strategy that reduces the house edge, it is a strategy that will ensure you can have a great deal of fun playing, and possibly even hit a few big wins along the way.