If you do a search on your favourite search engine for ‘slots strategy,’ hundreds of results will come up, most professing to hold the secrets of how to use a variety of strategies to win while playing classic, video, bonus or progressive jackpot slots.
The reality, however, is that slots are almost purely luck based. Once you insert / play a coin / card or credit in any slot machine at a land casino or a virtual slot game at any UK online or mobile casino and click Spin, the outcome is 100% random.
Just where the symbols on the spinning reels (or equivalent) will stop is anyone’s guess, which is exactly why slots are so much fun – every next spin could yield you a huge payout or even a life-changing fortune if you choose to play jackpot slots.
That said, there are a few things you can do to slightly improve your slots winning potential and lessen the house edge. While most of them could be described as common sense, by following them you’d be employing a kind of slots strategy.
Before we reveal this ‘slots strategy,’ the most important thing to remember when playing slot games is to always keep things fun and exciting, especially when playing for real money. That and stop immediately if you find yourself on a losing streak.
Set a Per Session or Daily Slots Limit
Because slot are so quick and easy to play, there is always the risk that you get carried away by falling into the routine of continually hitting the Spin button, and before you know, it all of your funds are gone or much lower than you expected.
This is a particularly common problem with the new generation of land and online casino slots, where no longer do you have to physically ‘feed the machine’ ahead of each spin. Now, with your credits pre-loaded, you just have to hit Spin repeatedly.
The solution is a simple and responsible one – set yourself a per session or daily slots limit and stick to it come rain or shine. By only playing with what you’ve budgeted for, you’ll never walk away from a slot machine or log out angry with yourself.
Once you’ve reached your limit, stop immediately and start looking forward to your next session where you’ll have the chance to make up for your last session. Don’t fall into the ‘just one more spin’ trap as that’s a sure fire way to lose even more.
Choose a Bet Size You’re Comfortable With
In land casinos you’ll often find slot machines grouped together by the coin size they accept, whereas in online casinos most slot games allow you to choose a coin size. This is great since it means you can play most games regardless of your budget.
The aim of any slots fan is to win a fortune, but rarely does this happen in the first spin. Most seasoned slot fans are prepared to spend some time on a game before declaring it ‘cold’ (not paying out) or ‘too tight’ (paying out, but not often enough).
The trick to giving a slot game its due and not eroding your playing funds in the process, is to select a bet size you’re comfortable with (i.e. can easily afford) and sticking to it. That way you can give every slot you decided to play a fair shake.
For example, spinning the reels once every 10 seconds on 3-coin maximum bet, a 10p bet (30p per spin) will cost you £108 per hour. However, playing the same slot on a £1 bet (£3 per spin) will cost you £1080 per hour, which is a big difference.
Play Slots with the Highest Payout Percentages
Every slot has a payout percentage or return to player (RTP). This is essentially the overall average written as a percent of how much of each Pound, Dollar, Euro, Rand, Krone etc. played in a particular slot game is paid out or returned as winnings.
For instance, a slot game with a 96% RTP or payout percentage means that over time at least 96p of every Pound fed to it is paid out as winnings, while the remaining 4p is retained by the casino. It’s important to understand that this is just an average.
An RTP of 96% doesn’t mean you’ll necessarily see a return of 96p for every Pound you personally play, regardless of how much you spend on the respective slot. That said, you should only ever play slots advertising the highest payout percentages.
The higher the payout percentage, the higher the return and even though it’s just an average, you’ll ultimately benefit because you’ve chosen a game that pays out more than a similar slot with a lower payout percentage. The bigger the RTP, the better.
For convenience, we list the slots with the best RTP in our Slots Rules article.
Read Slot Payout Tables Before You Play
All land and online slot games come with payout tables, which serves two purposes. One, they list each of the game’s winnings combinations, and two, they list the value of each of its symbols and special features (Wilds, Scatters, Free Spins, Bonus etc.). You should always read slot payout tables before you play so you can find out if the maximum payouts are worthwhile, especially in relation to the game’s maximum bet. In other words, if the investment (your bet) is worth the return (the payout). The fact is some slots pay out more than others. That’s not to say you’ve got more chance of being paid by a higher paying slot than a lesser paying slot, just that in the event the game does pay, you’ll win more, which is the entire point of gambling. It makes no sense to play slots that don’t pay ‘top dollar,’ but unless you seek out those slots, you could end up playing attractive slots with very mediocre payouts. Always take a minute to read payout tables before you play - you won’t regret it.
Avoid The Slots Gamble Feature
Some slot games have a gamble feature which you should stay clear of at all costs. The way this feature works is whenever you make a winning combination, instead of just banking your winnings the game gives you the option to gamble said winnings.
The gamble feature usually entails an even-money (50/50) challenge. For example, Microgaming online slots have a gamble feature where you must pick red or black. Win, you double your money. Lose, you kiss your newly won winnings goodbye.
Some slots go even further by also offering you a 4-way gamble feature. In other words, they give you the chance to win 4x your most recent winnings if you pick the right card suit out of 4. This means you only have a 25% chance of guessing right.
So, unless you own a crystal ball, avoid the slots gamble feature and rather bank all your winnings. Although most prudent land and online slot fans ignore this feature, there are many brazen players who take the gamble and end up paying the price.
Play Progressive Slots on a Maximum Bet
If you’re looking to win an instant life-changing amount of money at casinos, slots with progressive jackpots are your best option. They’re connected to a network of similar slots at other casinos, with a single collective and constantly growing jackpot.
Due to the high amount of players that play progressive slots at any given time, their jackpots tend to grow very quickly until one lucky player wins the lot. It’s the hope of winning such vast payouts that has made progressive jackpot slots a firm favourite.
However, unlike regular slots where you can pick and choose your coin and bet size to suit your budget, it's always advisable to play progressive slots on a maximum bet.
While this won’t improve your chances of winning, it will ensure that you receive the biggest possible payout if you do, and not a percentage thereof. Note, however, that some online casinos pay jackpots out in instalments so always read their T&Cs first.
Log Off With Your Winnings Intact
If you have a successful slots session with a nice pile of winnings in your account, you may be tempted to keep on playing or even change to a higher denomination game. Try to avoid this temptation and log off from your casino with your winnings intact.
As easy as it is to revel in the knowledge that you’ve ‘beaten the house,’ it’s much harder to walk away from a successful session or a winning streak, but walk away you should. It can take just a few spins or a few minutes to eat away your winnings.
In fact, casinos bank on you ‘coming back.’ This is why most land casinos ‘comp’ big winners with free accommodation, food or show vouchers. This is to keep them on the premises so they’ll be tempted to play it all back, and even lose some more.
As hard as it is to walk away with your winnings burning a hole in your pocket, with a little discipline you’ll live to spin the reels another day using your profits as funds. The trick to a successful slots strategy is to protect your winnings and minimise your losses.