How To Pick The Best Slot Machine To Play

Posted : admin On 10.03.2021

Have you found yourself struggling to understand the different mechanisms of gaming machines in an attempt to figure out how to beat slot machine technology? We get it! There are so many bits of advice and opinions out there contradicting each other, and it can get confusing – who to trust, what to believe? Which tips and tricks will work?

The best you can do is just pick a slot that’s fun to play. Even though all slots work in the same basic manner, they come in all different types and styles. You have traditional reel slots, video slots complete with storylines and even 3D slots like those found at Bovada. It’s best to forget about getting an advantage when playing slots. Choosing Slot Machines: Finding the best candidate slots to play. Summary for Choosing Slot Machines After a casino has been chosen, it’s time to select candidate slot machines most likely to result in a. When looking for casino slots machines, you need to look at the following aspects of the games to choose the best slots title: Return to Player (RTP) percentage – the return to play percentage.

You might hear people say that slots are the easiest out of all the game options available at casinos today, but we would argue that that’s not entirely true. Sure – they are without a doubt among the most straightforward games to pick up – a few clicks of a button, followed by several more, and you’ve got it down, more or less. Simple. However, that’s pretty much where the simple part ends because when it comes to easy games, understanding and working with the odds become much more complicated.

We hate to say it, but slot machine odds are no exception: unfortunately, the house edge is higher than it is for most other games. Plus, slots players are gambling solo. When there are no opponents making decisions or other factors that force players to wait for their turn or take their time making decisions, it means that they can set their own pace and that usually translates into a steady blur that would make even Speedy Gonzales proud. If we’re talking strategies here, rushing through might not be the best way to start.

Figure out how to play

Here’s the first step. Learn how to play slot machine games with the basics. It takes virtually no time to figure out the controls of the game – bet amount adjustment arrows, number of lines, spin, autoplay; they’re all overwhelmingly effortless to master. But what about game features? There are a lot of different types of games with varying winning paylines, prizes, and bonus features, so you should get familiar with how the rules affect your chances of winning.

One way to do this is to test out many games in the Free Play mode. Refrain from betting immediately because it’s a good idea to get a feel for a particular game before you do. You’ll have fun while also seeing how that individual game works. There are differences like graphics that don’t play a role in your winnings, but then there are more significant details like how frequently bonuses occur or how much your winnings are multiplied when certain features are triggered. These differences can significantly impact the outcome of your playing session.

Understand payouts

If you care about winning money, you will also need to study how slot machine payouts are determined. This is one of the key elements that will determine your success. Each slot machine has a specific payback percentage – that’s an important thing to take note of because it means there is a predetermined percentage of the total amount wagered by players that get paid back to them.

The minimum percentage is usually 82%, but a solid payback percentage is somewhere between 92% and 98%. Keep in mind that slot machines with higher bet denominations typically also come with higher percentages for payouts.

Choose the right machine for you

If you’re asking yourself how to win at a slot machine repeatedly and without success, it’s time to rethink the games you’re choosing. Slots may be a random game with less than ideal odds, but that means that your choice of which game to play is key.

There are different kinds of gamblers – there are so many games and even variations of the same games out there, and the ones that people find themselves drawn to are reflective of their personalities, habits, and preferences. While we would love to give you a straightforward explanation of how to pick a winning slot machine, it just doesn’t exist. You need to know what you want out of the experience and what, practically speaking, is feasible for you.

Here are some guidelines. You have to take into account how much you can afford, how high your tolerance for risk is, and your general playing history. Ask yourself – when have you gotten the most enjoyment out of the game? Do you find satisfaction when you play conservatively to maximize play time? Or do you prefer to play in short, quick bursts with just a little recklessness thrown in there?

Here’s another example – as a general rule, the simpler the slot machine, the higher the payback percentage. That also means that more appealing games with flashier graphics will have worse odds. Games with progressive jackpots have impressive top prizes but lower odds of winning. So, which types interest you more? Also, keep in mind that if you want to have a shot at winning big, you have to be okay with the possibility of losing. The highest paying slot machines are going to be risky. Which brings us to our next point about momentum.

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Know yourself

You’re not playing to find the quickest way to lose all of your money at a casino… Unless, for some reason you are – in which case, you probably don’t need any of these tips or tricks for improvement. If you have a substantial bankroll and prefer to play mindlessly to unwind, then, by all means, do so.

However, if you’re not a player with an unlimited bankroll, it’s all the more important that you have a solid understanding of yourself as a gambler. How do you handle risk? Each individual has his or her unique tendencies, and you need to develop and utilize strategies to keep you in control and having as much fun as possible – whether that means a session that’s as long as possible or as exciting as possible. Don’t let nerves or frustration lead to stupid, impulsive decisions. If you realize that certain situations lead to a decrease in sound judgment, learn to avoid them, just as people learn to do in any activity.

Stay relatively sober, literally, and figuratively. Of course – you need to let loose and have fun, but never to the degree that you can’t recover from. Be cool and clear-headed, and you’ll get the most out of your slots-playing experience – we guarantee it.

Set strict spending limits

This is a continuation of our previous point – what exactly do we mean when we say avoid stupid decisions? Many tips and tricks vary from source to source. This one definitely does not. No matter where you go or who you ask, the advice when it comes to spending will ALWAYS be the same: plan your bankroll carefully and stick to the plan.

Don’t even think about starting your session without having a set of guidelines for how much you are comfortable spending. Never go beyond what you can afford to lose – in fact, you should think of the specific amount for your budget and keep it in the back of your mind at all times.

While it often makes sense to play with the highest denominations, you can only do this safely if it’s within your bankroll. Don’t allow it to get in the way of your enjoyment, of course, but do train yourself to be mindful.

Think about it in the same way as normal, regularly occurring expenses that require budgeting. If you’re playing at a land-based casino, leave your debit card in your hotel room. Withdraw the specific amount that you’ve decided on, and exchange that amount of cash for chips. When you’re done, you’re done.

Or, make a rule for yourself about how much you want to win or lose before you stop playing for the night. If you’re playing online, ask a trusted friend to check in about how much you plan to spend and whether you stick to the plan or not. Gambling addiction is a very real, very serious problem. It’s an enjoyable and rewarding hobby, so you shouldn’t let the game take control of you.

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Sign up for bonuses

Don’t underestimate the importance of bonuses. Look out for promotions and perks at your favorite real money online casinos. Casinos know that they need to keep things fresh and dynamic for their customers. They want to keep their players engaged in their experience so that they come back for more. Your loyalty means a lot to them, and they’re always looking for new rewards and bonuses to make it worth your while.

You can also find the holy grail of slot game bonuses if you dig deep enough. Sometimes an online casino offers free spins with no deposit. This is the ultimate bonus, one where you don’t have to risk any money to play. Also, check out the online casino VIP membership programs available to you. These programs offer some substantial benefits that dramatically enhance your enjoyment and potential winnings, so take advantage of the options available to you!

Accept the game for what it is

There are multiple sources out there saying that slots are often thought of as simply a way to lose money. And yet, it’s still one of the most popular games out there. Why? Because it’s just fun – it’s visually appealing, and the outcome of each spin is a mystery you’re waiting to uncover. Slots have been around for a long time, and if you love to play, then you need to be able to accept the game for what it is. The house advantage is something you just need to recognize as the price for playing something that brings you happiness and excitement.

How do you improve at playing slots?

Practice often, develop an understanding of the game, decide what you want out of it, play the game responsibly, and accept it for what it is. The odds can be difficult to beat, so look out for ideal payouts and bonuses to enhance your play.

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I went to a party Saturday night, and whenever I go to parties, someone inevitably learns what I do for a living. (I write about gambling.)

This always leads to one of two or three outcomes: Vegas money percentages.

  • I hear a gambling anecdote about my new friend or one of their friends
  • My new friend asks me how to win money gambling. Sometimes they specifically ask how to choose the winning slot machine
  • Both #1 and #2 (this is actually the most common outcome)

I enjoy all these outcomes, by the way, but here’s what happened at this specific party.

A friend of mine started telling me the story of his friend who got fired from Walmart. Later the same day, his newly unemployed friend went to the Choctaw Casino in Durant and won $40,000 playing a slot machine.

My friend’s question to me was, “How do I do that?”

How can *I* choose the winning slot machine?

This post has the answer, but it’s almost certainly not what you’d think.

You Can’t Win by Choosing the Slot Machine With the Highest Payback Percentage.

When I search for this phrase in the most popular search engines, I see pages touting this advice repeatedly:

You have to play the slot machines with the highest payback percentage.

What’s a payback percentage?

It’s also called “return to player” or “RTP.”

A slot machine’s return is the amount of money paid out to a slot machine player compared to the amount of money the player wagered. The RTP gets expressed as a percentage.

If you made $100 in wagers on a slot machine and won $125, you’d have a return of 125%. If you won $90, you’d have a return of 90%.

The difference between the return and the amount you wagered, obviously, is the casino’s profit.

The payback percentage, or return to player (RTP), is a statistical prediction of a slot machine’s return over a massive number of spins. The closer you get to infinity, the closer the game’s results should get to the payback percentage that the game is programmed to have.

Players who win at slot machines win in the short run.

In the long run, all slot machines have a payback percentage of less than 100%. This means that, in the long run, you’ll always lose at slot machines.

How To Win At Slot Machines

How to Calculate the Payback Percentage of a Slot Machine

This theoretical payback percentage can get easily calculated if you have the probabilities behind the machine. It’s just the probability of each win multiplied by the amount of that win, divided by the amount you’d have to play every probability.

If, for example, a slot machine game had 10,000 possible combinations, and if you hit every combination, you’d win 9,000 coins, and the payback percentage would be 90%.

A slot machine doesn’t have to pay out less after a win to “catch up” to its payback percentage. Every spin of the reels on a slot machine is 100% random. The casino makes its profit because of the discrepancy between the odds of winning and the odds that each payout offers.

The payback percentage is not available to the consumer at most casinos. You have no way of calculating it because you have no way of knowing what the probability of getting a specific symbol on a stop is. You can’t calculate the probability of a combination of symbols without that information.

You have the payouts for the prizes, but you don’t know what your probability of winning those prizes is.

Where Does the Casino Put the Slot Machines With the Highest Payback Percentages?

You could play two identical slot machine games sitting right next to each other. One of them might have a payback percentage of 91%, while the other might have a payback percentage of 96%.

You have NO way of telling which machine is better than the other, even if one of those games is paying out more than the other. After all, the payback percentage is a long-term phenomenon.

In the short run, anything can happen.

But even if you DID know the payback percentage for the game, you couldn’t choose the winning slot machine just by choosing the one with the higher payback percentage.

The probability of winning the big jackpot on most machines is at least 1000 to 1.

If you play for two hours, you might make 1,200 spins. You might even win the big jackpot.

But you’ll (usually) have wagered more money on the machine than you won.

You’ll find advice about how to find the slot machines with the highest payback percentages, but most of it is useless. At one time, sure, the slot machines closest to the aisles might have had higher payback percentages.

However, I’ve seen multiple interviews with multiple casino managers who insist that isn’t true.

What About Playing Higher-Denomination Slot Machine Games?

You’ll also see people explain that the payback percentage on the higher-denomination machines is better. This is true as a general rule, but it might or might not be true at the casino where you’re playing. The penny and nickel machines might average 91% at your casino, while the dollar machines might average 95%, but that’s an AVERAGE.

This doesn’t mean that you’ll automatically have a higher payback percentage just because you played a higher-denomination machine.

Even if you did, you’re still fighting a negative expectation game.

Should I Play Slot Machine Games With Higher Volatility?

  • What about volatility?
  • Is a slot machine with a higher volatility more likely to be a winner?
  • Or should I look for the games with lower volatility?

A slot machine’s volatility is its variance from the predicted results. The higher the volatility is on a game, the wider the swings between the wins and losses tend to be.

A game with high volatility pays out less often but can sometimes offer bigger payouts to compensate.

A game with low volatility pays out more often, but those payouts are still low enough to guarantee the casino a profit.

The slot machines at your local casino aren’t labeled according to their volatility, by the way. There’s not a special section for low volatility slots.

You can, though, get an idea for the volatility of a slot machine game via your observations of how often they pay out.

To make your own estimate, you need to count how many spins you make. You also need to count how many of those spins are winners (as opposed to losers).

Divide the number of winning spins by the number of spins you’ve made, and you’ll have the hit ratio for that sample set.


The more spins you’ve made, the more likely the hit ratio you’re seeing is close to the expected ratio.

If you make 500 spins on a game in an hour, and 150 of those spins are winners, the hit ratio for that game is 30%.

If 200 of them were winners, the hit ratio would be 40%.

The game with the 40% hit ratio is the less volatile game.

But keep in mind that an hour’s worth of spins is not representative of the long run. Those are still short-term results. The longer you play, the more accurate your results will get.

You COULD also estimate the slot machine’s actual return over those 500 spins.

Multiply the amount you wagered per spin by the number of spins you made. Then divide how much the game paid out by that amount to get a percentage.

If you put $500 into a $1/spin game, and then you make 500 spins, you’ve wagered $500.

Let’s say you have $400 left after all that wagering. This accounts for all your wins and losses, so the payback percentage — the observed return — is 80%.

That doesn’t mean that this is the theoretical return, but it might be close — especially if it’s a low volatility machine.

Does any of this information help you choose the winning slot machine, though?

Nah. It’s still just dumb luck.

You Can’t Use the Zig-Zag System to Pick a Winning Slot Machine

You might have already heard of this system, but if not, here’s how it’s supposed to work.

The zig-zag system tries to identify slot machines that are about to pay out by looking at the pattern of the symbols on an inactive machine. You’re supposed to look through the slot machines on the casino floor and find one where the winning symbols are in a zig-zag pattern on the front of the machine.

It doesn’t really matter much what the pattern looks like. As long as three winning symbols are present somewhere on the front of the machine, that machine is supposedly “ready” to pay off.

Proponents of the system even suggest that games with two winning symbols showing are getting close to paying off, too.

The idea is that the symbols are coming up more often because the game is getting ready to pay off. Therefore, you’re supposed to sit down and play until those symbols actually do line up on one of the pay lines, and you win.

You can picture these zig-zag symbols in your mind as diagonal lines connecting the symbols on the front of the machine. They might make a V or upside-down V, for example. This is also called a diamond, and it’s supposed to be the best pattern you could ask for.

I can only think of one problem with the zig-zag system.

It doesn’t work.

Understanding why involves understanding something about how a slot machine works. Those spinning reels on the inside of the machine aren’t actually physical reels. They’re controlled by a random number generator. This is especially obvious with video slots, where all the action is entirely animated.

The random number generator (RNG) is a computer program that cycles through thousands of numbers per second. When you click the “spin” button or pull the lever, the computer program stops on a number. That number corresponds to a combination of reel symbols.

Before the reels stop spinning, the RNG has determined the outcome, win or lose.

Every spin of the reels is an independent trial. What’s happened on the previous spin has no effect on your subsequent spins.

What About John Patrick’s Slots Strategies?

My favorite strategies for playing slots come from a book by John Patrick. In it, he outlines several money management techniques which are supposed to help you win at slot machines. All of his strategies are more or less worthless.

Below are some of the concepts he suggests.

The first is the concept of a “naked pull.”

  • A naked pull is a spin of the slot machine reels that results in no winnings at all.
  • He suggests choosing an arbitrary number between 7 and 14 as your “naked pull limit.”

For example, you might choose 7 as your naked pull limit. If you play a slot machine game and get 7 losing spins in a row, you would quit playing that machine and move on to another machine.

This MIGHT help you avoid a low volatility slot machine game, but it doesn’t do much for your probability of winning in the long run. In fact, it does nothing in aid of that.

Having a naked pull limit, though, can be an interesting way to get in some action at multiple slot machines. In that case, you might have a more interesting and fun time playing, which is a type of winning in itself.

Another concept that he suggests is having a session bankroll.

  • In other words, you have a bankroll of how much money you’re willing to gamble with.
  • Let’s say you’re going to Las Vegas for three days and two nights, and you have $600 to gamble with.
  • You might decide to have two slot machine sessions per day — one in the morning and another in the evening.
  • You would then have six sessions planned, and you would divide your bankroll into six-session bankrolls of $100 each.

He combines the idea of a session bankroll with the idea of a loss limit and a win goal. These are just percentages of your bankroll that are going to serve as the end of your session.

For example, you might set a win goal of $50 and a loss limit of $20. If your bankroll slips to $80, you quit for the session. If your bankroll grows to $150, you quit for the session.

This, by the way, does nothing to increase your probability of finding a winning machine. It just means you won’t gamble an entire session bankroll.

It also means that sometimes you’ll grind out a winning session.

In the long run, though, you’ll wind up with a loss similar to what you’d expected based on the theoretical payback percentage of the machine. The longer you play, the more likely you are to wind up with those kinds of results.

All his systems combine these concepts to create cleverly named systems, but none of them do anything to get you an advantage at slot machines.

In Fact, No One Can Tell You How to Choose the Winning Slot Machine

You can’t choose a winning slot machine because you can’t predict the future. Slot machines are random. They’re also an example of negative expectation games.

If you play slot machines long enough, you’ll surely lose.

But Here’s the Good News

The expected return on these games is a long-term expectation. This means that not only CAN you win in the short run, but you’re almost guaranteed to have an occasional win in the short run.

In fact, the casino is counting on it.

If you never won, you’d never play.

The trick is to have some idea of what kind of win will satisfy you. When you know what that is, you can play until you hit it and call it a day.

As long as you understand that if you keep playing negative expectation games, you’ll eventually lose all your money, you’ll be okay.

  • Treat slot machine gambling as entertainment.
  • Quit if you get ahead by a significant amount.

And NEVER spend money on any kind of lame slot machine system that guarantees you the secret to choosing a slot machine that’s ready to pay out.


Slot machines are fun, and choosing a winning slot machine seems like a worthy goal.

Luckily for us, it’s a skill that everyone has in equal amounts. Everyone has a 0% probability of accurately predicting which slot machine is going to be the winning machine.

It’s not like the World Series of Poker, where the players’ skill levels have a huge effect on the outcome.

Sure, you can win at slots.

People do it every day.

It just takes luck and a willingness to lose some money trying to win.

Best Slot Machines To Play

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