5 Important Tips from a Beginner Slots Player
Slots are some of the most popular casino games because they are easy to play. They also incorporate all sorts of fun lights, sounds, and images that take me back to the summers that I spent playing games in the arcade as a child.
To put it simply, slots are undeniably fun.
I grew up just a few hours away from Las Vegas, so I have been staying in casino hotels and touring the Strip since I was a child. There is a ton to see in Vegas, but as a child, there is so much that looks fun and exciting, but you can’t go near it.
I remember walking past the slot machines and thinking that those people were living the dream.
So, when I was finally of legal gambling age, the first thing that I wanted to do was play slots. I packed my bags, grabbed some friends, and headed to Vegas.
Fortunately for me, one of my friends that joined us on the trip, Kendall, was a bit older and a more experienced gambler. She was able to help me avoid some pretty terrible mistakes, but there were also some things that I just had to learn along the way.
I have turned the lessons I learned into five tips from one beginner to another. My experiences were with slot machines in a live casino, so most of this article will focus on brick-and-mortar playing, but all of the tips and recommendations are just as valid when you play online slot games as well.
Some Key Points to Remember
Before I jump into the tips that I have, there are a few things that you must understand about slots in general. It is important to remember that they are just for fun. Yes, you could win a giant jackpot and go home with a lot of money, but there is a far higher chance that you will go home having lost all of your money.
Another thing that you have to understand about slots is that they are entirely random, every time. There is no way to beat the system, strategize, or guarantee a win without breaking the law. Any system that claims to help you win is a scam that is taking your money.
The following tips are not about how to win; they are focused on how to manage your losses and how to increase your payout if you happen to win.
As long as you are willing to accept these facts, they can also help you to have a little bit more fun while you are playing.
So, without further ado, here are five tips for beginning slots players.
Tip #1: Manage Your Money
This first suggestion applies to all types of gambling, but in some ways, it is even more important when you are playing slots.
Every bet you make is a risk that you are taking, and casinos wouldn’t be profitable if the majority of people were winning. However, with other games, you can usually use strategy to increase your advantage.
Another reason that bankroll management is even more critical with slots is that the nature of the game makes it way too easy to lose your money way too quickly. The fact that you are playing by yourself, need no strategy, and literally just push a button makes this the fastest way to gamble.
The small denominations that you are spending are also deceptive. It’s easy to trick yourself into thinking that it isn’t a big deal because you are only betting a nickel or a dollar for each turn.
However, you are usually playing multiple lines, so that nickel slot is really a dollar each turn. With the speed of the game and the deceptively small stakes, it is common to spend $250 to over $1000 playing slots for just a few hours.
You need to be sure that you are prepared to handle any losses. You should have a specific bankroll that you are willing to spend, you should refuse to spend any more than that, and you should have a plan for when you need to stop or change direction.
There’s a useful post on our blog that explains more about planning and managing your bankroll.
When I first started planning my trip to Vegas, my dad offered to give me some gambling money as my birthday present. He gave me $300, my boss chipped in an extra $100 as long as I promised not to quit if I won the jackpot, and I added in another $200 of my own, so my bankroll started at $600.
I got $1000 from the ATM before the trip because I had budgeted $400 for food, gas, and my share of the hotel.
When I got to Vegas, I knew how much I could risk, but I didn’t want to lose it all in one day, so I split it into $200 for each day of the trip. While we were driving, Kendall helped me make a plan for how I would use my daily bankroll.
We decided that I would add any minor winnings to the next day’s budget, but if I won big, I would cash most of it out. We also decided that if my bankroll got below $75, I would switch to a penny slot machine.
My money management plan might sound pretty restrictive at first, but in the end, it allowed me to play without a ton of stress. I was glad that I had planned specific amounts for each day, and I didn’t have to worry about any losses because I knew that this was money I had planned on spending.
Tip #2: Understand the Differences Between Machines
As soon as we got to Vegas, we checked into the hotel, dropped off our bags, and went to the casino. I walked straight up to the first slot machine that I saw and decided that it looked good enough for me. That’s when Kendall stepped in to save the day.
She told me that I couldn’t just pick and play; I had to learn some things about the machine first. And here I will share with you what she taught me to look for when choosing a slot machine.
Choosing the right slot machine isn’t an exact science, and much of it will depend on your personal preferences (see Tip #5), but you can start making the right choice by finding out as much as you can about the machines that you are looking at.
The payout percentage, which is usually displayed on the machine, is how much of your winnings you get to keep after the casino takes their cut. The higher the rate, the more money you will get if you win, but you usually have to pay more per line for the games. Choose a game that is within your comfort zone but also offers a higher payout percentage.
The number of reels and lines you can play will be another factor to consider. Usually, slots come in three- and five-reel options. Three-reel machines tend to have higher jackpots compared to five-reel slots, but you are less likely to win small payouts in between jackpots.
There is no wrong choice, so choose the option that best fits with your personal gambling style and your goals.
You should also consider how many lines that you can play. For those of you who don’t know, the lines are the acceptable positions for matching symbols that win. You don’t always have to get three in a row.
You can earn on diagonal lines as well. The lines will be displayed on the machine, and machines with more lines offer you more ways to win. However, multiple lines will cost you more to play, and you may get a smaller payout depending on the line.
Tip #3: Maximum Bets = Maximum Rewards
While Kendall and I were discussing my betting strategy on the drive to Vegas, I suggested that betting only the minimum amount allowed would help my money last longer. Kendall quickly corrected my thinking.
I was right to assume that my money would last slightly longer if I bet the minimum, but my payout would also be the minimum as well. If you want to get the highest payout, then you should play with the maximum bet allowed on that machine.
The amount that you bet and how much it affects your payout will depend on the type of machine you are playing and the jackpots it offers. The jackpots on slot machines are usually only valid if you made the maximum bet.
Nothing is worse than finally hitting that jackpot and realizing that you can’t cash it out because you hadn’t made the full bet.
Progressive jackpots are specific types of jackpots where a portion of each bet is added to the pot, so the potential winnings are ever-increasing until someone gets the jackpot.
Progressive jackpots will add up faster if you are playing the maximum bet, and they can get up to $1,000,000 or more, so if you are looking for a big win, progressive jackpots are the way to go.
Video slot machines usually have a tiered jackpot system where you can earn smaller jackpots in between the huge ones.
Some video machines will let you win the pot no matter how small or large your bet was, but others will have other rules about maximum bets for specific tiers. Use the displayed payout table on the machine to make sure you know when the maximum bet is required.
Tip #4: Bonuses and Rewards
One of the best ways to increase your chances of winning without risking a ton of your money is to earn enough rewards that you can play with the casino’s money instead of your own! Casino loyalty programs and bonus rounds on the machines will sometimes offer you prizes like free play, drinks, or discounted hotel rooms.
They may seem insignificant at first, but those bonuses really add up. If you are playing in a brick-and-mortar casino, you should sign up for their players club before you begin playing, and you should swipe your card for maximum points every time you sit down at a machine.
If you are playing online, most online casinos offer welcome bonuses and other rewards that allow you to play with bonus money on several games, not just slots.
Bonus rounds are another way to win extra play or even small payouts. Most video slots offer “pick ‘em” bonus rounds where you have to choose a particular icon, and you get whichever reward it is hiding.
The prizes for these are usually free spins, but other prizes may also be available. Often, machines that offer pick ‘em bonuses have smaller jackpots, but they typically have more small wins, especially if you include the bonuses as wins.
When I was playing in Vegas, I played a lot of these kinds of machines. I didn’t win a major jackpot, but I had several small wins. Some of my minor victories were won using the free plays that I had won in a previous bonus round.
Tip #5: Know Your Playing Style and Choose a Machine Accordingly
With so many different options and types of slot machines, it can be difficult to know which one to choose. The best way to narrow down your choices is to know your playing style. Are you superstitious, do you prefer frequent wins, or are you only in it for big money?
If you are a superstitious player, you will probably choose a machine based on which machine you think is hot or cold. The theory behind these superstitions is that a machine that has recently won is hot, so it will probably have a winning spin again soon.
The opposite approach is to choose a cold machine, one that hasn’t won in a while, so it is bound to win sometime soon. Almost all slot machines are based on random number generators, so the possibility of winning has nothing to do with when the last win occurred.
If you are a frequent-win player like myself, you will prefer games where you get many wins, and you will get easily discouraged if you don’t win within a certain amount of time. I get so discouraged if I haven’t won anything in a while.
I begin to rethink my strategies, or I start to think about the other things I could spend this money on. Eventually, that kind of thinking just makes me want to change machines or even step away from the game entirely. Even a small win renews my excitement so that I can continue playing.
My friend Kendall is what I would call a big-money player. She doesn’t care if she has to sit and play the same machine all night; she will stick it out until she gets a win or runs out of money.
But she doesn’t get encouraged by the small victories. She gets annoyed that they are so little and says that they don’t even count as a real win. She wants as close to a jackpot as she can get.
Once you have discovered your slots preferences, you can choose a machine that goes along with those. I gravitate towards video slots with multiple bonus rounds.
Kendall selects games that have no bonuses but have the most significant jackpots available. One of the benefits of slots is that there are tons of possibilities, and you can choose the device that aligns with your preferences the best.
There is no wrong way to play slots. You can choose a machine based on whatever factors you like, and there is no real way to increase your odds of winning.
But the tips that I recommended above are a good start for beginner slots players to maximize their potential while they play.
The most important thing is to have fun and enjoy the entertainment. Good luck in your next few games!