Most slot players long to chalk up some winnings whether they’re heading to a casino, playing online for real money, or simply having some fun on free-play platforms like Jackpot Party and QuickHitSlots.com.

Picking the right slot may be important when it comes to winning as well as for the entertainment value. Slot developers offer players numerous options to choose from and have ramped up the technology, bonus features, and themes in recent years.

There is seemingly something for everyone and choosing just the right games can be important. Keep reading to learn more about choosing the right slot when it comes to winning, fitting your own personality, and matching your bankroll.

Understanding Slot Machine Basics

For the uninitiated, slot machines offer a complete all-in-one gaming experience. When the original machines were invented in the late 1800s, these games became the first gaming device that could accept a wager, run a gambling session, and accept and pay out winning wagers without needing a human dealer.

Players inserted a coin in a slot (giving the devices the name “slot machine”) and pulled a lever to spin the reels. Three reels featured several symbols such as bells, fruit, and more. Slowly the reels would come to a stop. If these symbols lined up in a certain combination across a line on the front of the machine (known as a “payline”) then the machine would pay out a certain amount of coins.

Today’s machines now feature mostly video “reels” with many more paylines, stakes, themes, brilliant graphics and sounds, and so much more as part of the fun. Slots are generally now the biggest revenue generator for casinos around the world because they are so simple to play and offer numerous features for players to enjoy. Here’s a look at some of the types of slots a player can experience.

  • Classic slots – These are older games that feature internal mechanical workings that determine the result of a spin. These feature a lever to get the reels spinning and aren’t found too often in modern casinos. Players use coins in these games and many early versions of these slots have become collector’s items.

  • Video slots – These are modern slot games that feature video screens and high-tech computer technology. Video slots offer numerous paylines, various stake levels, fun bonus features, excellent graphics and sound, and a wide range of gaming themes and narratives. Unlike classic slots, these games make use of a random number generator (RNG) to determine the result of each slot spin.

  • Progressive slots – When players read headlines of slot jackpots that reach into the millions of dollars, that massive total comes on progressive slots. These games take a small amount from each spin and funnel that into the progressive prize pool. This pool usually pays out at several jackpot levels but occasionally award those massive seven- and eight-figure payouts that make news. However, it’s important to note that these games often feature higher stakes and players meet certain wagering levels to qualify for these mega jackpots.

  • Mobile slots –  In recent years, slots have become more available to play on mobile phones and tablet devices – either for real money or for free. These are often the same games one might find at a casino, but some slot developers specialize in designing games solely for mobile and online platforms.

  • Free-to-play slots – These are popular mobile and online gaming platforms, often referred to as social casinos, that allow players to enjoy the fun of slot play without having to wager any real money. These platforms, such as Jackpot Party and QuickHitSlots.com, offer players some of their favorite games while utilizing virtual currency and coins. Social casinos often feature entertaining challenges and numerous options to keep players interested.

Factors to Consider When Choosing a Slot Machine

Beyond the types of slots listed above, there are also some other considerations when choosing a game that has a chance to win as well as other aspects that might make a session more rewarding. Slots come with a house edge, meaning players shouldn’t expect to tip the odds in their favor or find a win every session at the casino or online.

However, there are a few things to keep in mind to give yourself a better chance at securing a winning session. Here are a few concepts to remember when heading to the casino or grabbing that mobile phone for some slot fun.

Payback percentage

Also known as Return to Player – RTP. Everyone likes to win, but securing a slot machine winning session isn’t always possible. RTP represents the amount of money wagered into a casino’s slot that is returned to players. This can vary by machine or level of stakes, but offers some insight into the chances a player has to win during a slot session. For example, a casino r slot that has an RTP of 89% is paying out 89 cents of every dollar wagered in the machine.

Many manufacturers offer RTP percentages for individual games right on their company websites and other websites also feature RTPs from various casinos and regions. A little planning can help players find some of the best-paying slots and casinos – those “loose slots” are worth checking out. These are also available for online slots as well. Online slots may feature much higher RTPs than those found in a live casino. Nice RTP percentages for live casinos may be in the high 80s or low 90s. Online slots may offer RTP rates into the high 90s.

Volatility/variance

These terms are interchangeable and a critical concept related to slots that players can find for various slots online. Volatility refers to how often a slot pays out and has players considering the risk versus reward on a slot. Highly volatile slots pay out less often but may register higher prizes when they do bring a payout. Lower volatility slots offer more frequent payouts, but usually pay out less when they do register a win. Players must weigh these considerations when choosing a slot.

Most progressive games feature higher volatility and players must be more patient when expecting wins. Those who have less patience may like seeing more fireworks with less volatile games. It’s important to match a slot with your own risk tolerance and level of patience when it comes to finding the right bang for the buck.

Themes and game features

Players may also want to consider the bang for the buck when it comes to the entertainment aspects related to a slot as well. Today’s games feature themes and narratives of every variety – from pop culture to mythology to animals and so much more. There is seemingly something for every personality. Stroll through a casino or scan through a platform like Jackpot Party and you’ll find numerous options to choose from and chances are you’ll find a theme that interests you. This is a stark difference from slot games’ early years, when players would find limited symbols and options.

Today’s games also feature numerous special features not found in early games, such as bonus rounds, wild symbols, and more. Here’s a quick look at a few of those:

  • Bonus rounds – These are extra opportunities to win that aren’t part of the base game. Bonus games often even take players to a separate screen to spin a bonus wheel, pick a card, or some other fun extra that can even give players a chance to win a jackpot.

  • Free spins – These can be triggered in various games and have become extremely popular. As the name implies, these allow players to keep spinning the reels a certain number of times without wagering any more money. Many free spin rounds also see the game’s winning symbols and combinations show up more during this time. Some games even allow players to retrigger the free spins as well.

  • Wild symbols Like a wild card in a poker game, wild symbols can act as other symbols on the reels. This allows players to collect more winning combinations in the process. Some wilds can also trigger other winning payouts or bonus games as well.

Step-by-Step Handy Guide: How to Pick a Winning Slot Machine

Ready to hit the casino or to play online? Here are a few aspects of slots that players may also want to consider when dropping a few bucks in a slot.

  • Understand your goals – Are you looking at just a few hours of fun or for some serious progressive slot play? Know your goals for play and plan accordingly. Stick to those goals to make for a more pleasant experience.

  • Learn slot machine basics – Having a general idea of how to play slots can make the experience better. Knowing the key symbols and payout opportunities on a slot is also a nice idea. Consult the pay table to learn more about these features. For a complete beginner’s guide to playing slots, click here.

  • Explore themes and features – Today’s games offer numerous themes and features – from the luck of the Irish, fantasy, and mythology to Asian, animals, and adventure. There is something for every taste. Some games also include more bonus features than others. If you like plenty of “bells and whistles,” take that into account when selecting a slot. Those who want a more laid-back session will gravitate to games with fewer bonus features.

  • Research online and at the casino – Many slot developers offer the RTP for various slots right on their own websites. These can often be found on the games themselves as well by looking at the information page on the slot itself as well. Many online sources also allow players to find out the RTP of an individual casino. Players may want to stroll the casino floor to find the best slots that fit their own interests and personalities as well. Making note of differing areas with various stakes is also a good idea. This can give you an idea of which limits are available and what levels best fit your bankroll.

  • Timing Matters – While the time of day or day of the week are irrelevant when it comes to actually winning on a slot (more on that below), there may be more ideal times for a player’s own personality. Casinos are generally more crowded at night and on the weekend, so those who like a less-crowded gaming venue may want to choose other times when there are more times for players to hit the machines. Other players who enjoy a more festive and party-like atmosphere may want to gamble on the weekends.

  • Look for “Loose” Slots – While the idea of “hot” and “cold” slots are a misnomer (more on that below), the idea that some games and casinos are more “loose” than others is not. This term has to do with a property’s RTP, the amount paid back to players from each dollar that’s put into a machine or casino. A slot returning 92 cents out of every dollar wagered back to players has an RTP of 92%. This would be a nice RTP for a live casino, while some online slots can even be higher and get to above 95%. The higher the RTP, the better chance a player has to win. For more on this topic, keep reading.

  • Play Responsibly – As with all gaming, only be willing to wager money that’s budgeted for entertainment and that isn’t needed for other bills or household expenses. Set a certain bankroll just for slot play and don’t go over that.

As the National Council on Responsible Gambling notes: “Problem gambling is an emotional problem that has financial consequences. If you pay all the debts of a person affected by problem gambling, the person still has a gambling problem or gambling disorder. The real issue is that they have an uncontrollable obsession with gambling.”

Bankroll Management

  • Setting a budget for slot machine play is critical to an enjoyable time out that won’t leave you going broke. Here are a few ideas to remember:

  • Only budget what you can afford to lose. Slot machine play is about entertainment, so don’t wager money that should go toward critical needs.

  • Avoid the ATM machine. Going over your bankroll budget can lead to additional losses and isn’t a good idea.

  • Take breaks, especially when suffering some losing sessions. Those machines aren’t going anywhere, so feel free to take a walk, grab some dinner, visit other tourist sites, or hang out with friends.

  • Play slowly to make that bankroll last longer. Auto-spin or simply getting in a hurry can siphon away your bankroll and end that casino trip more quickly than you might have planned.

  • At home and want to play slots without risking a dime? Consider free-to-play options like Jackpot Party or QuickHitSlots.com, which can be played either on a mobile device or online without a download required. Players will find some of their favorite games and can get in the action anywhere anytime.

Slot Machine Strategies, Myths, & Selection Tips

Picking a winning slot machine isn’t easy as the house always has an edge, but making that selection can at least help your bankroll last longer for a better chance at winning. There are also some myths that players should sweep from their minds when hitting the slots.

It seems everyone has an opinion on how and when slots pay out. As Medium.com notes: “There are a lot of myths surrounding these funny little machines and what they can do and what they cannot do.”

Here’s a look at a few strategies to keep in mind as well as a few slot machine myths.

Common slot machine strategies

Common slot machine myths

Pay attention to RTP – As noted earlier, this helps players learn which casinos or slots are more likely to pay out in the long run.

Hot & cold – Some people believe certain slots are either “hot” or cold.” However slot payouts are based solely on the RNG and may appear at any time. The time since a slot paid off is also irrelevant. Some machines may experience longer times between payouts while other games may pay out a couple jackpots quickly between wins. This is all randomness based on the RNG.

Play at the right stakes – Don’t play above your bankroll level. Instead, make that money last longer for a better chance to win.

Time of day or day of the week – There is no best time to play slots. All payouts are based on the RNG, not a certain time of the day or day of the week.

Choose volatility that fits your playing style – Make sure you’ve chosen a slot that best fits your personality. If you like bigger payouts and have a larger bankroll, choose higher volatility. If you enjoy more regular payouts and have a smaller bankroll, look for games with lower volatility.

Lever luck – While modern video slots are based on high-tech inner works and not mechanics, some machines still offer players to pull a lever like classic machines. However, this merely triggers the RNG just as the “spin” button would do. There’s no advantage to giving that lever a pull, but it can make for some old-fashioned fun.

Take it slow – Playing like a racehorse can see your bankroll evaporate more quickly. Taking more of a snail’s pace means your cash will last longer. Slow and steady wins the race.

Player’s card conundrum – Some players mistakenly believe using a player’s card triggers a slot to pay out less often or will reduce a player’s chances of booking a winning session. This is also nonsense and any player hitting the slots should take advantage of a loyalty card. Don’t ever play simply to earn rewards, but if you’re going to play anyway it’s worth grabbing those points and extras.

Much of the above also applies to playing online, which can often feature better chances for players to win as well as the option to play without risking any real money for those who like to play free slots. Keeping these strategies and concepts in mind offers players a better chance at winning as well as offering a more entertaining outing at a casino.

Responsible Gambling

Slot machine play is meant to be fun and players should treat a trip to the casino or playing online as entertainment. Don’t wager money that should be used on other necessary daily expenses. A player’s bankroll should be composed of money that could be lost and that person would still be okay.

The Priory Group, which helps players with problem gambling issues in the United Kingdom, lists the following signs that someone may need to seek help.

  1. Loss of control and being unable to manage impulsive urges to gamble and unconcerned with the odds.

  2. Problems within the workplace, absence from work, or general lack of concentration making it difficult to complete tasks sufficiently.

  3. A preoccupation with gambling and loss of interest in other hobbies and ignoring family responsibilities.

  4. Increasing the quantities gambled to recoup lost bets or to experience the same thrill.

  5. A negative impact on relationships.

  6. Concealing the amount of money and time spent betting from family members.

  7. Stealing money in order to gamble.

  8. Denial that there is a problem.

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“Because a gambling addiction can affect relationships and become a huge cause of concern for immediate family and friends, observing the common signs of gambling addiction as early as possible can be important,” Priory notes.

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Here are a few other safe gaming resources for those who think they may have a problem.

Conclusion

Making use of some of the suggestions on this page can help in finding the right slot and hopefully secure a winning session. It’s important to realize that the house always has an advantage when it comes to playing slots, but players can win and sometimes spinning the reels can make for an entertaining experience. Here are a few key points to remember:

  • Set limits and play responsibly. Wager only money that you can afford to lose as part of an overall entertainment budget.

  • Look for games that best fit your personality. Higher volatility games (including progressive slots) payout larger but less frequently. Lower volatility games pay out more often, but usually at smaller amounts.

  • RTP is a good way to determine which games might offer a chance to pay out some winnings more often. This is the amount paid back to players from each dollar wagered, and the higher the RTP is always better for players.

  • Today’s slots regularly feature numerous bonus games and features, such as free spins and bonus wheels, that offer players even more chances to win beyond the base games. Some games feature several bonus options while others come with few of these types of extras. This is another consideration when choosing a slot that best fits your personality and goals.

  • Free-to-play slot platforms like Jackpot Party and QuickHitSlots.com can be a great way to learn how slots work, practice, and find which types of games best appeal to you without having to worry about losing any money.

Some planning and general knowledge about what types of slots appeal to you can help determine the best options to aim for a winning session at the slots.

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Sean Chaffin
Sean Chaffin

Sean Chaffin is a longtime freelance writer, editor, and former high school journalism teacher. He has covered the poker and gaming industry for many years.

Follow him on Twitter at @PokerTraditions.