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10 Signs You’d Make a Good Slot Machine Player

| September 9, 2017 12:00 am PDT
Slot Machines Good and Bad|Math Problems|Low Income|Working the System

Within the world of casino gambling, every game has a certain level of expertise that separates successful players from everyone else.

Blackjack sharps can assess multiple cards on the fly to determine their best play, and poker pros pride themselves on reading opponents.

But for those of us that prefer the slot machines, the idea of becoming a good player doesn’t generate the same discussions.

Obviously, the slots are a game of chance, which means traditional applications of skill don’t really apply. You can’t spin the reels with any special technique, or make educated predictions on what might happen next.

Slots are all about luck, so can you really be better at them than the next player?

I believe you can, based on certain personality traits and behaviors that allow certain slot players to be more successful than most.

Below you’ll find my list of 10 signs that you’d make a good slot machine player, based both on my personal experience grinding the machines for three decades running, and some good old-fashioned science.

1 – You Already Play Other Casino Games

This one’s simple enough, as I hold firm to the idea that the best gamblers have an all-around approach to their craft.

You may specialize in one game over another, and it’s only natural to have a favorite spot on the casino floor. But in my view, slot players are best served when they have additional choices, if only to spread their action out over time.

Let’s say you hit the local casino for a Saturday session, intending to play with $500 over five hours. If you stick solely to the slots, which are admittedly a negative expectation game played with high volume, that $500 bankroll may be whittled down in short order when a bad streak shows up.

But if you drop the first $100 in a few minutes with a bad run at the reels, taking a breather to play some blackjack or video poker offers several clear benefits.

  • These are skill based games in which a player can help themselves, so to speak. A little know how combined with good luck will easily turn that earlier $100 loss into a breakeven day, or even produce a profit.
  • Most importantly, these games tens to play out much more slowly than the slots, which gives you a chance to stretch the day’s session out just a bit.
  • Lastly, when you’ve cleared your mind on the tables, heading back to the machines with a renewed sense of focus will help you avoid the scourge of “chasing” losses.

On another note, learning how to play the other offerings in a casino can be a great way to gain perspective on slot machine game play. Once you understand the relationship between skill games and games of chance, you’ll be better prepared to dispel the myths and misconceptions that can plague slot exclusive gamblers.

2 – You Have the Patience to Grind

If you only knew about slot machines from the movies, you’d be forgiven for thinking they offer a nonstop blitz of entertainment and enjoyment.

The reels spin slowly to add suspense, finally clicking into place to reveal a winner while lights and sirens announce a major jackpot payout. What more could a gambler want?

Of course, the reality of a slot session is quite different. The majority of spins will produce nothing but small winners at best, and losers at worst. The medium sized and larger wins will come eventually, but you’ll usually have to slog through a few dozen, or hundred, spins to find them.

And despite the seemingly endless selection of themed games out there today – boasting video clips, sound effects, and bonus games – slot game play tends to take on the same feel after a certain point.

Click the “SPIN” button, watch the reels, see what you get.
Wash, rinse, and repeat.

And for most slot fans, that’s perfectly acceptable. I play the game as a stress reliever, so settling into the type of grind described above is my idea of a good time.

In fact, according to researchers from the University of British Columbia’s Centre for Gambling Research, slot players typically enter something known as the “machine zone” during extended sessions.

Described as a trance like state, the machine zone for me feels like meditation, where my mind can operate at two levels at once.

There’s the motions I’m going through to play the game, and then there’s all of the things I’m thinking about in the back of my mind – sorting through stress, planning the next day’s job, and whatever else pops into my head at the time.

The machine zone is why slots are my favorite game, but it’s surely not for everybody. If you’re the type of blackjack player who gets antsy waiting for your neighbor to hit or stand, the slots might not be your cup of tea.

Another reason to pride patience as a slot player is simple enough:

Negative Expectation

The average slot offers a payback rate of 95.00 percent, which is right on par with some of the house friendly games like American style double zero roulette (94.74 percent). This means you’ll be losing a fiver for every $100 wagered over the long run.

For players who lack patience, the best way to get out of that negative expectation hole seems to be playing faster!!!

You’ll see these folks frantically mashing the “SPIN” button over and over again, torching their bankroll in a series of frenzied spins before reaching into their wallet for more.

If you’re a naturally patient person who doesn’t mind waiting around for the big score to arrive, you’ll be able to overcome that natural temptation.

The most consistent slot players out there know how to settle in and enjoy the ride – no matter how long it might take to get there.

3 – You Have a Mind for Math

I just threw some percentages at you to describe the average payback rate for slots, and if those threw you for a loop, the slots might not be your game.

Math Problems

You can always improve your math knowledge, so don’t get me wrong there.

If you have a desire to learn about probabilities and payback percentages, by all means brush up on your numbers.

But I find that many slot enthusiasts who take a liking to the game are mathematically oriented by nature. They have a firm understanding on the relationship between probability and payout, which helps them to separate the “sucker” slots from the player friendly alternatives.

When you play slots seriously, you’ll be surrounded by numbers. The pay table amounts, pay lines, coin denominations, payback percentages, and hit rates all combine to define how a slot machine really works.

And while anybody can sit down and plunk in a few coins, the ones who wind up winning most often know their way around these numbers.

4 – You Prefer Solitaire over Poker

For many players, a slot machine can become a cocoon, a place where the entire casino fades away and nobody else matters.

I mentioned the machine zone earlier, where players enter a meditative state while spinning the reels. This occurs largely because the slots are played as a solitary experience. It’s just you and the machine, and while there may be other players manning the machines nearby, your session is typically played in silence.

Now, many slot players do bring their spouse or a buddy along, turning the game into a more talkative experience. But that’s an exception to the rule in my experience.

If you’re a social person by nature, sitting by your lonesome and spinning in silence won’t be much fun.

Conversely, people who don’t mind being alone with their thoughts are perfect candidates to become slot aficionados. Even better, those who enjoy nothing more than a little peace and quiet – aside from the usual din of the casino – will find a personal paradise at the machines.

5 –  You Know When to Quit

Going back to that machine zone phenomenon again, what I find to be a blissful state of detachment from life’s daily chaos may not be as useful for other players.

Personally speaking, I’ve been lucky to avoid the addictive tendencies that can plague many gamblers. Hopefully, that’s the case for you too – otherwise slot machines aren’t your best play.

Simply put, if you’re prone to problem gambling, fast paced machine games like the slots and video poker can prove to be disastrous. Many of the appealing points of a slot machine – speed, solitude, and sensory delights – work against gamblers who have addictive personalities.

Knowing this, I recommend slots only to readers who have self-control and discipline while visiting the casino. If you’re perfectly comfortable setting, and enforcing, limits on your play, you’re more than likely to be just fine playing the slots.

On the other hand, if you usually dip back into your bank account to chase losses, finding a slower paced, breakeven game like craps is your best bet.

Like I said already, most slot sessions intersperse small winners and losers with the occasional moment of excitement.

And as a negative expectation game based on chance alone, the reality is you’ll wind up at “0” on the credit counter more often than not.

That’s just the nature of the beast, and unless you’re prepared to accept that without resorting to addictive behavior, playing slots seriously probably isn’t the best play.

6 – You Gamble for Fun Above All Else

This sign piggybacks off of the previous entry, but I can’t stress this point enough:

The slots should be for fun only.

You can’t realistically expect to walk away a winner when you play slots. That 95.00 percent average payback rate ensures that the casino holds a healthy edge over players, and nothing you do on the machines can change that.

Sure, you can always use the slots club, player’s card points, and other promotions to earn a rebate on your losses – and I highly recommend that every slot player does so. But in terms of actual return on investment from your slot play alone, this isn’t a game where everybody’s getting rich.

Now, with that said, hope does spring eternal. When I play the big progressive slots – which I only do here and there, as sticking to non-progressives is a better bet – I humor fantasies of taking down the massive multimillion dollar jackpot and changing my life forever.

But I also recognize that those are just fantasies, as the odds of winning Megabucks are more than 1 in 40 million against.

For me, slots are like a lottery in that way. Part of the fun is simply participating in a longshot chance at something special.

You know deep down that it probably won’t happen, but just taking your shot is entertainment enough.

This can be difficult for many gamblers to wrap their minds around, because all of us want to win when we play.

Walking out of the casino with less money than you came with is never fun, but if you’re playing slots exclusively, that’s the reality of the situation.

Once you’ve accepted that fact, enjoying the slots for what they are – a diversion, entertainment, and a long shot lottery wrapped into one – will become immensely easier.

7- You Have Disposable Income

On the same note, playing slots consistently is only a good idea when you can afford to lose.

I’m not interested in budgetary shaming mind you, and I believe people across the economic spectrum have a right to enjoy gambling as entertainment.

Low Income

But if you’re playing with money that is needed for essentials, you should surely reconsider that course of action.

Consider downgrading to the penny slot stakes if money is tight, or skipping some sessions here and there to stretch your bankroll.

Whatever it takes to avoid playing with money you need for more important things.

Slot players should always consider the money they bring to the casino as a sunk cost.

In other words, assume that those funds will wind up in the casino’s coffers, because as we’ve made clear, slots are a negative expectation game where skill can’t save you.

This is why you see so many retirees spinning away in the slot parlors. These players have worked hard, saved up, and are now spending their disposable income as they see fit.

Wins are nice, and jackpots are always the goal, but these players don’t need to generate a profit by playing slots.

And you shouldn’t either.

8 – You Don’t Believe in Superstition

Slot enthusiasts are some of the most superstitious people on the planet.

Lucky trinkets, “hot” and “cold” machines, certain days of the week – slot superstitions run the gamut.

And that makes sense too, as players lack any ability to influence the action. Once the reels are sent spinning, random chance takes over – and the human mind often struggles to reconcile the role of randomization.

Everybody wants to believe that they know something others don’t, and that inclination is laid bare in the casino setting. For this reason, slot players often subscribe to truly outlandish theories about how to succeed at the game they love.

You’ll run into folks who claim they can spot an imminent jackpot based on patterns in the previous spins. And others who believe that they’ve identified certain times or days of the week when machines are prone to big pay outs.

Many slot fans think they can wait and watch somebody else fill a machine with coins and walk away, before swopping in like vultures to claim the jackpot that has nearly been triggered.

All of these superstitions are nonsense.

But that doesn’t stop the believers from spreading their gospel. Self-proclaimed slot experts peddle their wares online, hawking “foolproof” methods for cracking the slot machine code.

These so-called systems and strategies do nothing but take advantage of gullible players who hold firm to their superstitions – and the only one who makes money on the deal is the snake oil salesman.

Superstitious slot play can be extremely dangerous, because rather than applying logic and common sense, players delude themselves into thinking their jackpot is within reach. If only they can find the right pattern, or spot the perfectly fed machine, the win is practically guaranteed… but that’s just not how it works.

Just like the most successful slot players know when to walk away, they also know why:

Nothing they do can control the action.

If your mind leans towards the logical, you’ll be better served in handling the swings of variance associated with the slots.

9 – You Know How to Work the System

One of the secrets of the gambling world is just how generous casinos can be to their loyal slot players.

Through the ubiquitous slot clubs, which use player’s cards to track your play and award points, you can begin earning immediate rebates throughout the session.

Working the System

Most slot clubs award player points that can be redeemed at the casino’s stores, restaurants, and entertainment outlets.

This allows a savvy slot player to save significant sums on other expenses, all based on their volume of play.

Even better, casinos want you coming back for more, so if they tag you as a serious slot fan, you’re likely to receive complimentary rooms and other enticements. Nothing beats hitting Sin City on the casino’s dime, and for most slot players who have experience under their belts, paying for a room is unthinkable.

Slot clubs usually attach “free play” vouchers to their comped room offers too. Using these vouchers, you can run through $50 or $100 in spins on your favorite machines, all without spending a cent.

You’ll find plenty of resources online about how to take full advantage of the industry’s major slot club promotions. With a little planning and patience, you can easily turn your slot machine sessions into a source of supplementary income.

And by doing so, you’ll have more money to work with while actually on the machines. This cycle is extremely beneficial to regular players, because every dollar you save through comps and freebies becomes one more dollar in your bankroll. And every dollar added to your bankroll offers an additional chance to win the big one.

10 – You Enjoy the Escape

One last return to the machine zone, simply because I find the notion of a trance like state so fascinating.

If you’re the type of person who enjoys leaving the world behind – if only for a brief while – by reading books or taking a walk, a long slot session is probably your cup of tea.

When I play, I find myself sorting through life’s issues on an almost subconscious level. Sure, I’m scanning the screen and experiencing the ups and downs associated with my results.

But as I do so, the machine zone phenomenon takes over, allowing me to process ideas and emotions in a way that I find difficult in “real life.”

If you’re on the same wavelength in that regard, playing slots may just become the perfect pastime.


Use these 10 signs you’d make a good slot machine player to find out if you should try your hand at the slots.

But at the end of the day you need to have fun and play what you enjoy.

Only you can make the decision about the best games to play.



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