Is there any gambling game more entrenched in our collective consciousness as the symbol of games of chance than slots?
There are thousands of different types and styles and themes of slot machines across the world, and hundreds of thousands if you look at what’s on offer from the online casinos. They are, by far, the most popular form of entertainment in both land-based and online casinos.
For some, especially those new to the casino world, they are attractive because they are seemingly easy. You put it in your money, hit the button and wait to see if you win. For the more serious player there are all sorts of strategies and tips from online websites on how to beat the slot machine. Unfortunately, the attitude of the novice player may be closer to the right one than the planned strategies of the pro.
Because slot machines and online slots games are truly random games of chance. There is no way to affect the outcome of a slots game. There is no pattern to how the reels operate or special trick to get them to stop where you want them to.
Thankfully this does not mean that you can’t tilt the odds a little more in your favour than going in blind.
The CasinoPlay.com crew have compiled a little guide on the what’s and the how’s of slots to help you get the most out of your money and, hopefully, have a more enjoyable time while spinning the reels.
To start, we need to understand how slot machines and online slots games work. In the olden days slot machines were operated by mechanical workings that spun the reels when a lever was pulled. These mechanical workings were like a big spring that set the reels in motion and stopped them ‘randomly’. As with anything mechanical, the slot machine could be tampered with or the workings could wear and give the player a bit of an advantage.
Modern slot machines, and online slots in particular, are all electronic and run by software. This has taken away the wear and tear advantage and also cancelled out any form of tampering (particularly when playing at a legitimate and licensed land-based or online casino). The most important software you need to know about is the Random Number Generator or RNG.
Rather than physical reels, players now watch animated reels spin and the software controls where the reels stop.
A Random Number Generator is a specialised software program that controls the slot machine or online slots game.
Every time you hit the spin button, the RNG creates a random sequence of numbers – millions of them every second. The software will then stop at a random point and that number will tell the machine or game where and when to stop and what symbols will be displayed. This happens every single time you hit the spin button to create a truly random and independent sequence for every single game.
Licensed casinos have their RNG audited on a regular basis to ensure they are giving players a fair chance at winning (this is also part of a casinos ‘fair play’ policy). The RNG on a slots game or machine allows the developer, the casino, and the player to work out the RTP or Return To Player.
RTP or Return To Player is the statistical breakdown of how much a player can expect to win back on a particular slots game or machine over the long run. It’s usually represented as a percentage, for example, an RTP of 97%.
For an RTP of 97% a player can expect to win back (the money returned to the player) R97 for every R100 they put into the game. Most online slots have an RTP between 93% (very low) to 99% (very high).
It’s also useful to know that the higher your bet, the better your returns.
Take note though, the RTP is a statistical model that is worked out over a long period of time. It does not mean that every time you sit down to play you will get that percentage back guaranteed.
RTP does not indicate how much you will win either. That is down to variance.
Variance refers to how much and how often you could win on an online slots game or slot machine.
Have you ever noticed that on some slots games you win very often but only small amounts while, on others, you hardly ever win but you do get pretty sizeable payouts when you do?
This is the variance or volatility.
Low variance means lots of little payouts. High variance means fewer but richer payouts. Progressive jackpot slots are a perfect example of high variance slots games – you don’t see people winning the jackpot often but when they do it is for an insane amount of money.
This is the perfect example of high risk, high reward. The chances of you winning are small but the prize if you do is huge.
For many passionate slots players, the point is to have fun not necessarily win big and they opt for low variance games where their budget can go further and last for longer. It’s a great strategy for feature-rich slots games where you can keep your bankroll ticking over with lots of small wins and wait to trigger the amazing bonus games and features.
Now that we have the basics of how slots work out of the way, CasinoPlay.com invites you to take a little trip into the best ways to maximise your slots play and, hopefully, not lose too much money. Remember, as with all gambling, the point of slots is to take some time out of your day to have some fun. And maybe win a little bit of money.
Lady Luck is still the queen of what happens on the slots games so make sure you budget properly and step away if you’re having a bad day.
The easiest way to make sure you get the longest playing time and the most bonus cash is to check out all the bonuses and promotions on offer from an online casino. Land-based casinos do also offer bonuses and promos but these are normally only for players who have signed up to a loyalty programme or are VIPs.
This is where online casinos really shine. Welcome bonuses, deposit bonuses, no-deposit bonuses and regular daily/weekly/monthly bonuses. The majority of these bonuses cater for slots players and can also include free spins which give you the chance to really get those reels spinning.
Before you jump in and start entering those bonus codes, always make sure you understand the terms and conditions and, most importantly, the wagering requirements so you don’t get disappointed later.
Another great way to maximise your slots play is to get involved in the regular slots tournaments that online casinos offer. It’s a fun and exciting way of earning extra cash and prizes while you play.
One of the biggest bonuses of having electronic slots is the amount of extra functionality that can be included in your slots game. Look out for online slots games that offer bonus features like free spins, mini-games and bonus rounds. Some of the extras can end up earning you a fair whack of winnings on top of any wins from the base game.
These bonus games can be as simple as a ‘bet’ feature that lets you bet your winnings on the flip of a card to earn a much bigger pot or more complex games that unlock spin n’ wins or extra levels.
The really fancy modern slots games even include mini-games and games of skill that take you out of the usual reels and into a whole new and exciting game.
Decide before you start what you are looking for in a slots game. Do you want a big win? Do you want to spend as much time as possible playing a game?
For true slots fans it’s all about the thrills and excitement of waiting to see where that reel stops. As such, mid to high volatility games with a high RTP are what they seek out. This allows them to play their game for as long as possible while winning small amounts consistently.
For players looking for a big win, a high volatility game will be better. But this means that they will burn through their bankroll with absolutely no guarantee that they will win even a small amount. Progressive Jackpot slots are the big winner drawcards at casinos. Their high rolling jackpots that often tick over into the millions ensure that there are always players ready to risk everything for that big win.
Which does not happen every often or for very many people.
Related to the time versus win subject is the subject of best slots payouts or the machines or games that have the highest payout percentages. These are those high RTP (98% and above), mid volatility games that reward often but pay smaller amounts.
Apart from giving you the chance to have fun for longer, these games also feature some of the best graphics and play styles around because the developers know that the players will be spending more time on them.
The most popular slots games currently are the 5-reel, feature-rich games. Classic 3-reel slots are making a comeback as developers start to add extra features to the old fruit machines but the more modern and fancier 5-reelers are still rulers of the roost.
Progressive slots are always massively popular but this is purely down to the extraordinary amounts of money that can be won. You will find most slots fans will take a spin or two on the Progressives just in case Lady Luck is smiling but spend more of their time on the games that they actually really love.
Themes are huge in this scenario. Everything from ancient history to mythology to sports to popular music and movies to classic fruit symbols can be found in the modern online casino, and the graphics and sound effects are top shelf.
Modern games developers are continually looking for new ways to bring even more excitement slots. Megaways™ is a great example of a great innovation that has fundamentally changed just what can be done with an online slots game.
The CasinoPlay.com crew spend much of our time visiting different online casinos (and irl casinos too) to check out what’s new and what’s worth your time and money.
There are a lot of online casinos out there with varying degrees of legitimacy and professionalism. The online casino market is exploding so we are constantly being inundated with offers to join on a daily basis. While we haven’t managed to visit every single one (yet), our pick of online casinos for international gamblers is a list of some of the best known and most trusted out there. Take some time to go through our online casino reviews to see exactly how we rate these online palaces of the game of chance, and why we put these particular online casinos so high on our list: