It can be a steep and dispiriting learning curve when you first play on the slots – frequent mistakes, lots of losses, and a pretty negative experience. The good news is, we’ve made a special step-by-step plan – consisting of only 10 steps – to help you lose less and win more often. Follow the instructions below, and soon you’ll be able to choose slots with confidence and play like a pro. Better gaming sessions, more choice, a better chance of winning – and a lot more fun!
The story of slots for money goes back to the beginning of the 19th Century and the invention of the first “one-armed bandit,” which had a bell to notify the user of winnings. Despite being heavy and cumbersome, these machines were still hugely popular, and it wasn’t until the 1930s that the design was much modified to offer poker and the possibility of winning a jackpot.
The game-changer came in the 1960s when Bally introduced the “Money Honey” to the casinos of Las Vegas – an electromechanical machine that is the predecessor of today’s sophisticated games. A lot of water has passed under the bridge since those heady days, and times have changed, too, for the humble slot machine.
Right from the birth of the internet, many enterprising organizations began to develop web-based versions of slot machines, with a payout of winnings to electronic wallets – pretty sophisticated for the time. The slots have always been popular in land-based casinos, especially in Vegas:
Wheel of Fortune
Triple Red Hot 7s
Double Jackpot and Megabucks.
These slot machines migrated smoothly to online establishments.
Fast-forward to today, where you can find the most popular slot machines to play for money in pretty much all gaming clubs. However, there are still pitfalls out there to catch the unwary and the naïve: unscrupulous owners of online casinos that don’t pay winnings, unlicensed copies of slot machines, among others. But don’t worry: your goal is to learn how to choose slots, how to bet on slots, and we are here to help.
STEP 2: Learn How to Understand the Slot Controls
Online casinos are not intended to confuse the user when placing a bet. On the contrary, most developers publish sufficiently detailed annotations for their games so that all users can understand them, regardless of their experience of the game in question. The answer to the question “How do you learn to understand slots?” is simple: learn the rules of each game you plan to launch.
However, all slots have features in common, mainly betting with the signs ``+`` and ``-``.
This indicator regulates the value of the coin, and the second regulator is responsible for the number of coins you put on one spin. Simple! It’s also easy to find the payout table, usually hidden behind the “i” sign on the slot screen. By clicking on it, you will see the value of each combination and the slot prize options.
Double or Nothing: A Bonus Round in the Slots
As for this bonus round, almost every slot machine in online casinos has this feature – but there’s no obligation to play it. After a winning spin (when spinning the reels means the player has won a certain amount of coins) you can double your resulting winnings. Typically, this involves playing double or nothing. If you choose to play this bonus round, one card will be face-up before you, and you need to choose a random card from four that are face-down.
The aim is to choose a card with a higher value than the one face-up.
In theory, this round can go on infinitely – but generally, it just lasts until the player takes the doubled sum or loses all their winnings.
STEP 3: Choose Slots Like a Pro
Learning how to choose a slot game that’ll bring in winnings is as straightforward as just playing the demo game and seeing how it performs. Take the famous NetEnt developer, for example. Once we know that all the slots for this company are on the same server (and online casinos only serve as an intermediary between the money made and its withdrawal), then we understand that all demo games will be the same for each operator. Let’s see what this means.
Slots have three simple states:
The device is “in the plus” based on how many bets were made in it with real money and how many payments were made for the selected period of time. This behavior can be called “constantly winning.”
When a slot has a negative balance, based on all bets and winnings, this slot mode can be called “constantly losing.” Unsurprisingly, we recommend that you abandon the game in this slot.
And the third state of the slot, “neutral,” is a result of no significant deviation in any of the parties, neither “constantly winning” nor “constantly losing.” In this mode, the balance of a gambler will be almost immovable, but it may gradually decrease.
A really neat conclusion can be drawn from this: we should try to choose those machines that are “constantly winning.” And, the good news is, there’s an easy way to do this. Run the slot and make 100 spins. If your balance has increased, then it’s worth switching to the game, playing for real money. If the amount has decreased or remained static, abandon this game and find another slot to try out.
STEP 4: Understanding Volatility
To develop a strategy for playing slots in the online casino – to enjoy not just the process of the game but also to get to some winnings – it’s important to understand the terminology of slots. Here, we’ll look at volatility.
The concept of volatility – in slots as in other areas of life and finance – is, basically, the inherent risk involved in playing. So, when you hear or see that one slot or other is volatile, it means this slot can generate huge amounts of winnings. But, as volatility implies, it can also immediately empty your balance.
Slots have three basic volatility states:
Slots with HIGH VOLATILITY
A high volatility slot can be a rewarding but dangerous beast. Be warned: it will, inexorably, spend money from your balance for several hundred spins. That said, if you catch the bonus round in a high volatility slot machine, it’ll reward you big-time – covering all your previous bets, with hefty winnings on top. But, you should play such slots only if:
You have an impressive bankroll of several hundred bets, and for some slots, you’ll need a few thousand. These slots will spend your money until the bonus game starts.
You have an iron shutter speed. Unfortunately, most players who generally consider themselves lucky will still lose when choosing slots with high volatility. Here, you should bide your time, waiting for the bonus round and dividing your bets up to several hundred. Ideally, if you’re playing to win and sticking to our advice, then after a long minus or after a big win, you’ll leave the casino and close the window. Either way, take a couple of days off and have a break from the game.
You are an experienced gambler. For highly volatile slots, we don’t recommend beginners to play. There’s a level of tension during the game that it takes real experience to withstand. If you’re a beginner, better to work your way up to this level so that you can play with confidence and then enjoy the adrenaline.
Slots with AVERAGE VOLATILITY
The average volatility balances out the vast majority of slots. The good news is, this still allows you to win large amounts in these slots. As a rule, most often, in these slots, players can win 15-20 times the original bet on the line. But there are also times when average volatility slots can give a huge benefit. In slots of this type, winnings may not appear for 20-30 spins in a row, but they require a smaller bankroll – ideal when you’re just starting with learning slot strategy and play.
Slots with LOW VOLATILITY
Slots with low volatility – as you can guess – carry low risk. You’re looking at small winnings. Sometimes, there can be a big payout, but you’ll likely be waiting for a very long time. These are, perhaps, the best slots for players who want the relaxation and fun of playing without the motivation of aiming to gamble on a big win.
STEP 5: Introduction to the Concept of RTP
Found on almost every developer’s site, RTP has become commonplace for gambling users, and these are numbers that can help establish a degree of trust. While it’s not always quite so straightforward as the average gambler would wish, there’s a degree of sense in using RTP for guidance when considering playing a fresh game or entering a new online casino.
So…. What is RTP? Simple answer: a theoretical return.
“Return to Player” is a parameter that indicates the percentage of refunds spent in a particular slot machine to the player. The higher the rate of return, the more likely it is that the player will be lucky enough to win. That said, the value can be hard to fathom – for example, the percentage of return shown can be over a long arc, maybe several tens of thousands of spins. Be warned: reckless or naïve players might believe they can make just a few single bets, assuming they understand the percentage – an erroneous opinion, a priori, as we’ve just demonstrated.
As a rule, the percentage of return can be calculated by a certain formula:
To comply with the rules of gambling regulators, software developers are obliged to specify on their websites the percentage of return for each new game. In fact, most developers have this figure set before they start with licensing. The developer will then go through the process of matching the RTP value with the one that was declared. This percentage cannot be changed, not by the online casinos where the particular operator’s slot machines are installed.
Settings are established on the developer side, and it is impossible to influence them from the outside. This means that many developers have concluded that working honestly and transparently is much the more profitable route – and better for their reputation – than running a double game. This emphasis on trust in the licensing process is shored up by the operators’ reliance on and investment in laboratories to test all software for compliance. And these results can be trusted and are proven through players’ experience in the game.
STEP 6: Familiarize Yourself with the Slots of all Developers
This step may take you a lot of time, but it is worth it. First, you can select a specific developer and try out all their slots. Make sure to find indicators of volatility, RTP, minimum and maximum bet information, etc. This will help you select the most entertaining machine for you and give you the best opportunity to win.
STEP 7: Master the Basics of Slot Features
The number of prize options and special symbols is vast – too large to describe and review in one article, or even in one week. However, there are some functions often found in online casino slot machines. So, let’s take a look at some – starting with variants of wild symbols, which replace the classical pictures (as a rule, the denominations of playing cards from nine to ace – but also caste images):
Stacked Wild. This type of wild fills out all the vertical stripe on the drum – all cells at once. The stacked wild can work both during free spins and in normal game mode. Stacked wilds can be quite volatile – so giving the chance of a bigger payout if you are lucky! Sticky Wild. This is commonly used in free spins, a feature of bonus games. When it appears, it occupies one cell and remains there until the end of spins – it’s “sticky.”
Sticky Wild. This is commonly used in free spins, a feature of bonus games. When it appears, it occupies one cell and remains there until the end of spins – it’s “sticky.” And maybe even another “sticky wild” – when this kind of wild picture falls in subsequent spins, too. These can result in some big winnings, especially compared to spins that don’t contain anything sticky.
Expanding Wild. Similar to a stacked wild, except that it expands from one vertical cell to three, the drums have stopped after the rotation has ended. There is both a vertical version (in most cases) and a horizontal version (when this symbol occupies two or three vertical columns at once).
Moving Wild. This wandering wild appears both during the bonus game and in simple spins. As it falls into any of the drums’ cells, it begins to move with each new back shifting one vertical column to the left. The process continues until the symbol completely disappears from the game. There can be several such symbols on the main screen of the slot machine, and all of them work in the same way.
Mystery Wild. Usually, this is a “Question” symbol, which turns into one of the above-described wilds on a fallout.
Infectious Wild. A symbol which, on falling out, can turn another picture into a wild, too.
Colossal Wild. When several wild symbols appear, they form one big wild, which occupies four cells. That is, all four images become a large square.
As you can see, there’s a whole world of wilds and symbols to explore! Just from those we’ve listed, there’s another dimension to gameplay in slots beyond a simple spin. And getting to understand and learn these symbols’ special features can be both interesting and rewarding.
STEP 8: Use the Bonus Advantage
A short but very effective step is to use the bonuses offered by online casinos. On slots, they are wagering fast enough. However, we recommend that this step be used only by professionals, those who have a good understanding of the previous steps and can play it to their advantage.
STEP 9: Decide For Yourself Which Casino You Want to Play in
The key to any online slots gaming is to follow one simple rule, above all others: only play in licensed online casinos. All jurisdictions have essentially the same requirements for licensing, and you’re sure to find an online casino with games to suit you. Never listen to the advice of someone you know, if they think there’s a better place to play that isn’t licensed. Read reviews by professional gamblers about different games and different casinos – do your research and enjoy it. Maybe mix things up with some variety in trying new games. But do take our advice and ensure that you’re playing at a licensed online casino if you’re going to play for real money.
STEP 10: Apply a Simple Doubling Betting System
We’ve tried this system for slots many times already, ourselves. If you apply it, together with all our other recommendations, then you’ll win.
So, what is it? In essence – you must choose the minimum bet in the slot. Then act strictly on these steps:
Make 25 spins on this bet.
If your balance is negative, then double the initial bet and make another 25 spins.
When these spins have finished, take a look at your balance. If it is back to being plus, reset the value, and play again at the minimum bet on spins within 25 spins.
It’s that simple. This strategy allows you not to spray the balance and to win much more.