How to win at slots

At we love playing online slots. If there is one game that reflects the vast reach of the online gambling and casino world, it’s these simple, crazy, colourful, complicated, easy, rewarding, frustrating, thrilling, spinning reels.

There are literally thousands of online slots games available, and the choices can be quite overwhelming: 3-reel, 5-reel, progressive jackpot, 3D, Megaways™. And this doesn’t even begin to touch on the crazy variety and sheer choice when it comes to themes from Ancient Egypt to space exploration to classic fruits to blockbuster movies and so much more.

Game developers add new online slots games and titles on a weekly basis and technology is allowing ever more creative ways of pulling in the players and giving them a great time on this classic game format.

What a lot of online casino players don’t talk about is the risk on a slot game. Online slots games, and slot machines in land-based casinos, have the lowest odds of winning in any casino game apart from Keno. When you see a posted RTP (more on RTP below) of 98.5%, you may think that means it gives you a great 98.5% chance of winning – but you’d be mistaken. It means you have a chance of winning back 98.5% of your bet over the long run (so, for every $100 you bet, you could expect to get $98,50 back). Games like blackjack have a much better return with a house edge sitting at 51% which gives you almost even odds to win.

With this in mind, how do you win on a slot?

How to win at online slots did a little digging to find out exactly how you can tilt the odds in your favour and our findings were interesting to say the least.

The main outcome of our search is that slots – whether you’re playing online slots, mobile slots, or slots at a land-based casino – are truly random. There is no strategy that can guarantee a win. The use of software-controlled Random Number Generators mean that every single spin is a unique one with the odds of predicting how the reels will stop so astronomical that it is impossible.

However, by understanding how slots games work, you can give yourself better odds and a more pleasurable gaming experience overall.

Highest payout percentage

The first thing to understand is payout percentages or Return To Player (RTP).

An RTP or payout percentage is the theoretical amount a slot game will pay out over the long term. An example would be an RTP of 98.5%. This means that, theoretically, the slots game will pay out $98,50 for every %100 bet on that game.

This does not mean that you are guaranteed to win 98.5% of the time! It’s how much a certain slots game pays out on average.

How does knowing the RTP help? If you’re a passionate slots player then knowing that your chances of hitting a win are higher makes the game more fun and exciting and, possibly, more profitable – or less expensive anyway – than playing on a low RTP slots game. The higher the RTP the more likely you are to get winning spins.

You can find the RTP of an online slots by Googling the name of the game and RTP. Some online casinos publish the RTP of their games on their pages or on the slots game page itself. Land-based casinos often print the RTP on the slots machine near the pay table.

Slot machine pay table

Always check the pay table before you start playing your chosen slots game. This will help you keep all the possible winning combinations in mind as you play and keep track of when free spins and bonus games could be activated.

Knowing the pay table also helps you enjoy the slots game. When you know what combos are going to be winners, and when the wilds and free spins and bonuses are triggered, your sense of anticipation is amped up and your experience of the game is heightened.

Slot machine pay lines

Like pay tables, knowing your pay lines helps you keep track of your game and makes playing online slots or land-based slots that much more exciting.

The earliest 3-reel slot machines had one pay line across the middle of the screen. Modern slots games, especially online slots games, can have over 1,000 pay lines. But don’t panic, the slots software will automatically work out your combinations and display your results.

The important thing to remember when it comes to pay lines is that the more you bet, the more pay lines are activated, and the more chances you have of winning. Max bet activates all pay lines but obviously will cost you more for each spin.

Most jackpots are only activated if you are playing max bet.

Pay lines don’t have to be a single line. They can be hundreds of geometric shapes, can run from left to right or from right to left, can be clustered or spaced apart. The pay table will show you exactly how the pay lines work.

Slot variance

Variance, also known as volatility, is one of the technical sides of gambling that is important to understand. Like RTP, variance is a mathematical calculation that will help you figure out how often a slots game (or any gambling game) will pay out – and how big that pay out may be.

Gambling games with high variance are games that will pay out bigger amounts but less often.

Low variance games pay out more often but with smaller amounts. Roulette is a great example of variance.

A low variance roulette bet would be betting on red or black. The chances of landing on either red or black are high but the payout will be low. A high variance bet would be betting on 17. The chances of landing on 17 are low, but if you do the payout is huge.

Slots are inherently highly volatile games which means they have a high variance.

Put simply: the bigger the risk, the greater the reward.

Working out the variance on a slots game is possible but highly technical and requires a massive data set. An easier way of checking out variance is to look at the pay table. The higher the smallest reward, the higher the variance on the game.

Slots games are usually described as high variance, medium variance or low variance. Slots games such as progressive jackpots are high variance – the chances of hitting the jackpot are low but the pay out is massive.

A good slots strategy is to play different variances to make your experience as rewarding and fun as possible. A high variance game will burn through your bankroll faster, but with much higher potential winnings. A lower variance game will allow you to play for longer on your bankroll but won’t give you any really big wins.

Slots bonuses

The bonuses offered by online casinos are a very good way of getting to know different games and extending your bankroll.


You must always check the conditions and rules if you don’t want to be disappointed later. Some bonuses come with very strict wagering requirements that can really affect how you win and how you are able to withdraw those winnings.

This includes promos like free spins.

A great method of play is to use bonuses to explore the online casino. Get a feel for the site, for the games, and for the processes. DO NOT expect to use ‘free’ money to make a fortune. Nobody, especially casinos, gives away cash for no reason, so be careful.

Most trusted and reputable international online casinos will give you the chance to play games (not Live Casino unfortunately) in demo mode. This means you don’t need to redeem bonuses to try out games – which is awesome. Bonuses can be tricky, and the vast majority of complaints levelled against online casino comes from players not understanding the wagering requirement and conditions set out by the casino.

Max bet rule

One thing to keep an eye on when playing online slots is the max bet rule.

Max bet can mean two different things:

  1. When playing your slots game, max bet means that you are betting the maximum amount on each spin.

2, Max bet rule can also be a condition set by the online casino while you are playing that means you are not allowed to bet over a certain amount in a single spin or bet when you have an active bonus in your account.

This is usually linked to wagering requirements for things like welcome bonuses and deposit bonuses but it is extremely important that you check these rules before hitting those reels.

Slots tournaments

Slots tournaments are an amazing way of having fun, competing against other slots fans, making some money, and earning great rewards from online casinos and land-based casinos.

While the slots games chosen for tournaments are usually not the biggest jackpot spinners, they do give you a great way of playing slots in a competitive and fun environment. And you can earn some really valuable points and prizes that you can you put towards playing for that progressive jackpot win.

Slots tournaments usually work on a leaderboard with the players who have earned the most money, or picked up the most bonuses, or whatever the conditions of the tournament are, being posted on the leaderboard so other players can see who is doing what and adjust their game accordingly. Tournaments can be one-off, one day events or can last for weeks.

The opinion

There are no strategies that will ensure you win at slots games, whether in a land-based casino or playing at an online casino. But, if you follow our tips, you will have a really fun time while playing and hopefully get to win more often than not as well. And that is the biggest win in our book,

  • Find the RTP or payout percentage. 97% and higher is what you are looking for.
  • Check the pay table.
  • Keep an eye on pay lines.
  • High variance = less wins but bigger pay outs. Low variance = more wins but smaller pay outs.
  • Check the rules and conditions of the games and casino before you play.
  • Watch your bankroll.
  • It’s all about luck and having fun.
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