Analyzing 4 Different Slots Advantage Play Methods

| May 11, 2019 12:00 am PDT

Slots are one of the most random games in the casino. You select your bet size, spin the reels, and hope that luck is on your side.

Slot machines are great for trying to win huge payouts in an instant. But they’re not viewed as good ways to earn guarantee profits.

Instead, table games, where you can use advantage play techniques like card counting, hole carding, and shuffle tracking, are considered better routes for earning profits.

But this isn’t to say that you can’t also gain an advantage through slots. In fact, there are four ways to win long-term slots profits.

Keep reading as I discuss each of these methods along with their pros and cons.

1 – Mystery Progressive Slot Machines

Almost all slot games randomly determine when a jackpot is paid. Mystery progressive slot machines, on the other hand, differ because they pay jackpots at a specific amount.

For instance, a game might be programmed to pay its jackpot at exactly $250. This means that you can predict exactly when the payouts will be delivered.

One defining characteristic of mystery progressive slots is that they have small jackpots. Their top payouts usually range between $50 and $500.

This isn’t very exciting if you like chasing huge jackpots, but the benefit is that you can use these guaranteed amounts to gain an advantage.

You need to calculate the target point when you should start playing in order to gain this edge. Here’s a formula that’ll help you do so.

  • Formula: t = m × (h + r) / (h + 2r)
  • t = Target point
  • m = Max jackpot
  • r = Rise of meter (how much of each bet goes into the jackpot; i.e., 2%)
  • h = House advantage

The toughest part about this formula is that you’ll be dealing with one or more unknown variables. You won’t know the rise of meter, but you can reasonably assume that it will be around 2%.

Return to player (RTP) for most online slots is easy to find. But land-based slot machines’ payback is rarely public information.

You’ll have to estimate the latter by looking at state gaming reports to see how much each coin denomination pays. For example, a Nevada report might show that dollar slots offer 95% RTP on average.

Here’s an example on using the formula to figure out a target point.

  • You’re playing a slot with 96% payback (4% house edge)
  • Rise of meter is 2%
  • Jackpot hits at $400
  • Formula is: $400 jackpot x (0.04 + 0.02 rise in meter) / (0.04 + 0.02×2) = $300 target
  • You should play this game when the mystery jackpot is at $300 to gain an edge

Once you know the target point, you can either start playing right away or wait for the jackpot to increase further. Waiting is risky, though, because somebody can step in and play for the jackpot before you.

Therefore, the best strategy is to jump in as soon as possible, rather than leaving things up to chance.

Pros of Playing for Mystery Progressive Jackpots

Mystery progressive machines are one of the rare guarantees in slots. You know exactly when the payouts will be delivered, and you can use a formula to calculate when to start playing.

This makes mystery progressive games the best in terms of earning guaranteed slots profits. And you can look forward to some nice payouts if you consistently visit casinos and look for favorable opportunities.

Another benefit to these games is that they offer low variance. The jackpots are small and come at guaranteed amounts.

Contrast this to a standard progressive slot, which delivers the top payout completely randomly. You can never guess when you’ll win the prize in this scenario.

All of these features combine to make mystery progressive slots the best with regard to preserving your bankroll.

You still need to worry about the randomness of small payouts. But you can at least look forward to positive expected value (+EV) overall with proper calculations.

Cons of Playing for Mystery Progressive Jackpots

The bad thing about playing for mystery progressive prizes is that the top payouts are small. I mentioned earlier how you can normally only expect to win jackpots worth between $20 and $500.

Some mystery progressive jackpots are worth $10,000 or more. But this leaves you waiting longer for the payoff and takes away some of these games’ benefits.

Another downside to mystery progressive machines is that you need to go through a long grind to make significant profits. Contrast this to bigger progressive games, which offer the chance to make serious money in a short amount of time.

One more drawback is how you must do calculations to determine your advantage. If you’re not adept at math, then you may hate using the previously discussed formula to figure out the target point.

2 – Play for Big Progressive Slots Jackpots

Chances are that you think of normal progressive slot machines when you envision winning big. Some progressive slots offer jackpots worth millions of dollars.

This is obviously exciting from the perspective that you can earn a life-changing amount of money. These games become even better when considering that they can also offer +EV.

You find these situations by waiting until a progressive jackpot grows far bigger than its original value. Here’s an example.

  • You’re playing a slot that has a starting jackpot of $10,000
  • Its base RTP is 95%
  • The top prize grows to $150,000
  • 150,000 – 10,000 = $140,000 contributed by players
  • You now believe that the game offers a long-term advantage

You can see that players are contributing the money to create this +EV situation. Therefore, casinos willingly tolerate advantage slots players since they don’t hurt the house’s bottom line.

The catch to playing for big progressive slots is that your odds of winning a jackpot are terribly low. You might need hundreds of millions of spins before you’re able to win the top prize.

Here’s a calculation to show what you’ll be dealing with when trying to hit a giant jackpot.

  • Mega Moolah’s “Mega” jackpot pays out at $5.5 million on average
  • 5,500,000 / 0.02 (contribution) = $275,000,000 in bets are required to trigger the jackpot
  • Your minimum wager is $0.25
  • 275,000,000 x 0.25 = 1,100,000,000
  • You theoretically need to place 1.1 billion wagers to win this prize

You can see that your odds of winning a big jackpot on a single spin aren’t great. But your chances improve as you continue spinning the reels.

The following shows what your odds of winning would be in a typical slot session.

  • Your odds of winning the Mega jackpot are 1 in 1.1 billion
  • You make 600 spins per hour
  • You play for 4 hours
  • 600 x 4 = 2,400 spins
  • 1,100,000,000 / 2,400 = 458,333
  • Your odds of winning the jackpot in this session are 1 in 458,333

Keep in mind that everything I’ve discussed in this section can be applied to smaller progressive slots, too. For example, you can also gain a theoretical edge by playing a game with a $5,000 or $10,000 starting jackpot.

Pros of Going for Big Progressive Jackpots

One great thing about playing for large jackpots in +EV situations is that you can win big and have a theoretical advantage.

Just imagine playing for a multimillion-dollar jackpot while holding a long-term edge. You get the best of both worlds in that you’re playing in a profitable scenario and still have an opportunity to get rich.

Another benefit to advantage play with big progressive slots is that you’ll get far more thrills compared to playing a mystery progressive machine.

The latter offers small payouts that increase your bankroll at a snail’s pace. Large jackpots, meanwhile, give you a chance to win a fortune on each spin.

One more perk is that you don’t have to use complicated strategy. Instead, you merely estimate when machines are offering +EV based on their jackpot size.

Check out our list of casinos with big jackpots for some recommendations of where to play online if you want to utilize this strategy.

Cons of Going for Big Progressive Jackpots

The last benefit mentioned above can also be considered a drawback. Hunting for +EV progressive jackpots isn’t an exact science.

You won’t have all the information that’s required to determine a profitable target point. Standard progressive games pay jackpots randomly, which negates the formula that can be used with mystery slots.

Your odds of winning a jackpot are slim, especially when dealing with larger prizes. If you don’t eventually win a jackpot, then the theoretical value means nothing.

Many progressive slots are also expensive to play. Minimum bets often range from $0.25 to $3 per spin.

These prices wouldn’t be so bad for a single spin. But progressive slots become really pricey after you’ve played for several hours or more.

3 – Seek out Bonus Accumulator Slot Machines

Accumulator slots feature meters that you can fill by earning special symbols in the game. When the meter fills, you trigger a bonus payout.

Accumulator slot machines can give you an edge in the long run. You simply need to wait for a bonus meter to be nearly full before you start playing.

There are no guarantees with accumulator slots, even when the meter is almost filled. But you’re almost guaranteed long-term profits if you continue taking advantage of these situations.

One example of a bonus accumulator machine is Plants vs. Zombies 3D: Ancient Egypt. This Vegas-based slot, which comes via International Game Technology (IGT), sees you fill the bonus meter by collecting brain icons.

You won’t find many accumulator slots in Vegas and other casino destinations. But it’s definitely worth taking advantage when you do spot them.

Pros of Playing Accumulator Slot Machines

The best thing about playing accumulator machines is that you can get consistent wins. You’re going to rack up solid payouts if you continually find bonus meters that are nearly full.

Compare this to a normal slot machine that delivers bonuses randomly. You can’t gain +EV in this scenario because there’s no way of knowing when to expect the bonus.

Accumulator slots share a benefit with mystery progressive games in that they have low variance. You’re guaranteed wins if you spend a reasonable amount of time with these slots.

Accumulator slot machines are nice if you have a small bankroll yet still want to be an advantage player. The consistent bonus payouts help preserve your funds until you can build a larger bankroll.

Cons of Playing Accumulator Slot Machines

It would be great if bonus accumulators were easily found throughout casinos. Unfortunately, this is far from the case.

Most casinos got rid of their accumulator games over a decade ago because they caused too many problems.

The biggest dilemma involves “vultures” harassing other players on machines with near-full bonus meters. Vultures hang around machines and try coaxing players off of them.

Casinos originally allowed vultures to roam their establishments. But the aggressive nature of vultures eventually caused arguments and even fights.

In the end, gambling establishments decided that they’d be better off without these machines. Therefore, it’s rare to find a game like Plants vs. Zombies 3D: Ancient Egypt.

You also can’t expect to win much in these games in the short run. The bonus payouts you receive may only be worth between $50 and $100.

While these are certainly nice wins, they aren’t going to make you rich like a huge progressive jackpot.

Worst of all is that you’ll be competing with the aforementioned vultures if you do enter the accumulator arena. A small percentage of vultures still exist, and they hover around what few bonus accumulators there are left.

4 – Gaining +EV From Bonuses and High RTP

Both land-based and online casinos offer comps to entice players and retain their business. These comps vary based on the casino and if you’re playing live or online.

Brick-and-mortar casinos offer free drinks, hotel stays, meals, limousine transportation, and bottle service. Gaming sites feature cashback, free spins, merchandise, and deposit bonuses.

Casinos calculate rewards to ensure that they still earn a theoretical profit from comped players when gambling and entertainment are included. But there are rare situations where one can get +EV when combining a bonus with a high-paying slot.

I find this scenario to be most common with online casinos offering a deposit bonus.

Here’s an example of how you can combine a deposit bonus with high RTP to make a profit.

  • A casino is offering a 100% match bonus up to $100
  • You deposit $100
  • Playthrough is 30x the bonus
  • 100 x 30 = $3,000 must be wagered
  • Slots with 98% RTP or lower contribute 100% towards meeting playthrough
  • You play a game with 98% RTP (2% house edge)
  • 3,000 x 0.02 = $60 in theoretical losses
  • 100 – 60 = $40 theoretical profit

Keep in mind that you don’t have to play at regulated gaming sites in New Jersey. You can find deals throughout other online gaming jurisdictions too.

Just note that you’ll have to spend a lot of time looking through offers and rewards programs to find favorable deals.

Pros of Using Bonuses and High RTP Together

Comps are fun to receive at casinos regardless of whether you win or lose. But it’s even more exciting when you’re earning rewards with a theoretical edge.

You can combine a high-paying slot machine along with great rewards or bonuses to make guaranteed profits.

An added benefit is that you’ll enjoy some of your favorite slots while collecting winnings. Plenty of online slots offer high payback, which gives you a nice selection to choose from.

Cons of Using Bonuses and High RTP Together

The problem with trying to use comps and high payout percentages is that it’s a bad time investment. The payouts you receive are rarely worth the time you spend looking for great deals and rewards.

Here’s an example.

  • You find a deposit bonus deal that gives you the chance to earn a $40 profit
  • You spend five hours combing different online casinos to find this offer
  • 40 / 5 = $8 an hour
  • This is a one-off deal, meaning you’ll have to spend more time looking for other profitable opportunities

Another problem is that you must get lucky to win anything significant. The theoretical payoff you get for high RTP and rewards will be extremely small.

Casinos aren’t stupid, and they don’t just willingly give you an excellent shot to win profits. They run the math countless times to ensure that they beat the average player, even when comps are included.

Also note that there’s absolutely no guarantee you’ll end up winning profits. Slots are volatile games that could easily see you lose money when trying to capitalize on these situations.

What’s the Best Way to Win Money With Slot Machines?

Slots are one of the toughest games in terms of advantage play. You’re dealing with a lot of variance with some methods, while other strategies require you to compete with other advantage gamblers.

It’s not easy to choose one method that reigns supreme above the others. But if I had to pick one technique to use, it would be playing mystery progressive slots.

Here’s what I like best about mystery games.

  • You know exactly when the jackpot is coming
  • You can calculate your exact advantage
  • You’ll pick up lots of wins
  • These games are still found all over Vegas and in some other casino destinations

The combination of guaranteed payouts, accuracy, and low variance makes mystery slots the best in my book.

These games aren’t entirely perfect because they don’t offer huge payouts, and you’ll have to perform calculations in order to find a good target point. But I believe that the good outweighs the bad in this instance.

I can’t choose a clear runner-up for the next-best route for winning long-term slots profits. However, playing for larger progressive jackpots is a fun way to go.

You can estimate when a big progressive slot is offering +EV by judging the distance between its starting and current jackpot.

These games are exciting to play because you can win a life-changing amount of money. Even if you don’t win, you’re at least taking advantage of a good situation.

The downside, though, is that it’s highly unlikely you’ll win a giant prize anytime soon. The odds are astronomical on hitting a big slots jackpot.

Bonus accumulator slots would be a good way to earn slots profits. Like mystery progressives, these games allow you to accurately assess when you have an advantage.

Another benefit is that mystery progressive slots have low variance, which allows you to confidently play with a smaller bankroll.

The massive drawback is that few casinos still offer these games due to the headaches they cause. Furthermore, you’ll be dealing with unsavory slots vultures when you do find a good accumulator game.

The concept of combining rewards with high slots RTP really isn’t worth the effort.

You can find a few opportunities where deposit bonuses and high-paying slots offer +EV, but the amount of time that you’ll put into looking for these deals just isn’t worth it.


Slot machines aren’t the completely random games that they’re made out to be. You can use four different techniques to win guaranteed profits over time.

These methods include playing mystery progressive slots, hunting for big jackpots, playing bonus accumulator machines, and trying to combine rewards with good payback.

I personally believe that mystery progressives offer the only reliable way to win slots profits. The availability of these games combined with a solid formula can help you win quite often.

Hunting for large progressive jackpots is already entertaining. But it becomes even more exciting when you have an edge with big progressive slots.

Playing accumulator machines and using rewards along with high RTP just aren’t worth it in my opinion. But by all means, test these methods out if you’re still interested.

Whichever strategies you choose to try, if you try them online then make sure you stick to the best online casinos.