The first rule of playing slots is: you can’t influence the outcome of a slot game.
The second rule of slots is: the first rule of slots isn’t necessarily true!
Yes, slot games come with built-in mechanics to make sure they’re fair – or at least, the reputable ones do. And the outcomes are designed to be completely random, so in theory, you could win a jackpot prize, and then win another jackpot on the very next spin, as unlikely as that might sound.
The majority of players won’t ever get to land those life-changing payouts and only a few will manage to beat the house edge. But that doesn’t mean you can’t help to shift things in your favor, as we’re about to see!
Practice first with play money
You didn’t run before you learned to walk, so why rush to spend your bankroll while you’re still learning how a new slot works? Most online casinos these days give you the chance to try games out risk-free in demo mode, so you can get a feel for them. Around 100 – 200 demo spins is usually enough to activate bonus features and let you see how the mechanics pan out over time.
If you like what you see, you can switch to playing with real money. and if the gameplay isn’t to your liking, there’s no financial harm done. You can simply look for an alternative game and try again.
Check the rules and paytable
Another good tip is to scope out a game’s rules and paytable before you start spinning any reels. There’s always a link to them, sometimes hidden in a triple-line hamburger menu, or behind the ‘i’ button. Reading through the information screens tells you a lot about a game and can help you decide whether you think it’s worth playing.
Bonus features can often be pretty complex, so it sometimes takes a few read-throughs to get to grips with them. And studying the game symbols and payouts means you know exactly what to look out for. This is particularly important for interactive features which allow you to influence aspects of the game, such as nudges.
Choose games that you’ll enjoy playing
The thing about slots is they’re hugely entertaining, with the potential to spin up cash rewards. They’re all designed to spin reels of symbols that align in various ways to create winning combinations. But within that framework they come in more options than you can imagine!
Three-reel single-payline classics are always popular, as are five-reel retro-style fruit slots. But these days you can have multiple reels, as well as expanding reels, bonus reels – and even horizontal reels! The same goes for paylines – 10, 20, 100, Cluster Pays, Any Ways Pays – slot mechanics can be far from straightforward, and developers are constantly coming up with new ideas.
And then there are the themes – Ancient Egypt, the Wild West, Mexico, food, animals, travel, action and adventure, horror – the list goes on and on. And most of these games come with bonus features, free spins, bonus games, multipliers and more. Most developers have their own unique style too, and most slots players have their own particular favorites.
The key point is – you’re always a winner if you’re having fun, even if the cash prizes aren’t stacking up for you. Ultimately, playing slot games is all about the entertainment, whether you love the theme, the features or the soundtrack – your perfect game is out there!
Check for bonus promotions and free spins offers
Just about every casino and slot site offers some kind of introductory promotion, usually in the form of a deposit match bonus or free spins. And there are usually plenty of ongoing opportunities to grab extra bonuses once you’re a regular player, which can really extend the reach of your bankroll.
But let’s not forget about wagering requirements – the bane of a slot player’s life! Those seemingly generous bonuses don’t look nearly so good once you find out they need to be played through multiple times before converting into cash. Wagering requirements of 40x and higher aren’t that unusual – and who has time for that?
But there are ways around that too! A well-timed ‘free spins keep what you win’ promotion at a no-wagering casino means you get to keep your winnings – with absolutely no playthrough requirements. You see – there really can be such a thing as a free lunch, for those who take the time to look!
Keep bets low – at least to begin with…
When you’re ready to start spinning the reels using your own money, keep it low-key at first. Small bets are highly unlikely to win you any major prizes – although never say never! But the aim is to try and slowly build up your winnings, allowing you to gradually increase the size of your wager.
…but be prepared to go large!
Here’s the thing about progressive jackpot slots – the games with the massive, life-changing, dance-in-the-streets-naked kind of payouts: wagering low keeps you out of the running, as it’s the bigger bets that fuel those humongous cash prizes. So if you have your eye on the main prize, bigger could be better.
It’s not just the progressive jackpot games where betting higher is sometimes the better option. A bigger wager can often increase your likelihood of unlocking a better bonus, so there are some tough decisions to be made!
Check out the RTP and volatility
The RTP of a slot tells you a number of things about the game – but the amount you’ll walk away with certainly isn’t one of them! Despite what you may hear from other sources, an RTP of 96% doesn’t mean you’ll win back £96 for every £100 spent on a slot. Where would be the sense in that?
What it does tell you is that the game is designed to return back 96% of its lifetime takings to players. It can’t tell you which players – some will experience Big Wins, whilst others will walk away with empty pockets. But the RTP, when deducted from 100, can reliably tell you the house edge. In the case of our 96% RTP example, the house edge comes in at 4%, which is about what we’d expect from an online slot.
Volatility also has an important role to play. Low-volatility slots pay out little and often, so a modest bankroll can stretch to extended reel-spinning sessions. High-volatility games, on the other hand, are wildly unpredictable. Best played for real money by the high rollers and risk-takers, these games can eat through smaller budgets within minutes – although the prizes can be out of this world!
Always play within your budget
It may be the last on the list, but it’s probably the most important takeaway of all. Never bet more than you can afford to lose. And never, ever chase wins and losses. Set limits on how long you play, and on how much you deposit and wager. If it stops being fun, it’s time to stop!