How to Use Probability to Win at Slots

We’ve all heard of the various strategy books for gamers that detail the ins and outs of hacking the house odds of classic casino table games like blackjack or poker, but what can be said about one of the most seductive draws to casinos? We, of course, are referring to the glitz and glamour of slot machines. Seductive especially to the most novice of players simply due to the possibility of a hefty payout, these machines are also known to be some of the most difficult to figure out how to crack.

The myth goes that slot machines are casino games with no real ‘winning strategy’. They are referred to as ‘negative equity’ games. Simply put, the more money you pump in over-time the less you are actually getting in return. This of course is more of a rule of thumb than a certainty, slot machine probability is no mystery and over the long term slot machine odds for winning aren’t great because the advantage always goes to the house.

This shouldn’t dissuade interest however, because although there is no sure-fire way to guarantee a win on a slot machine, there are things you can do as a player to push the slot machine odds to your favor. In other words, there are things that any player can learn and utilize in order to improve their chances of winning and potentially hitting a coveted jackpot.

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Achieving Consistent Returns with Slots

To understand that a winning night on slots surely isn’t out of reach, we should start by going over the simple mechanics of slot machines. Slot machines are controlled by random number generators or RNGs for short. This means that each machine is equipped with a computer that will deliver random results for each and every spin.

In other words, on any given day you may be able to rake in some serious cash if you find favor with a machine’s RNG. However, the odds of striking a mega-jackpot isn’t statistically in a player’s favor. Instead, what a player should do is focus on short-term anomalies. These are the key to keeping a bankroll in the positive and allow for the best slot machine odds that will favor the player.

Research the slots payouts

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It’s often impossible to determine the exact house advantage on any given machine. There are however many publicly viewable sites that release payout percentages for particular slot machines for different casinos. Unfortunately, this information is not always readily available for probability slot games as casinos are pretty hesitant to reveal it to your casual gamer. Some players or insiders, however, are in the know and can acquire these percentages and release them online, or through certain newsletters or specialty magazines.

Generally speaking, the average percentage of return for every dollar spent on a machine can range anywhere from 80%-95%. Therefore, you always want to go for the higher figure in order to ensure a greater return on each spin. Small denomination machines are much closer to the lower yield thresholds than the larger denomination machines. So as a rule it’s best to skip the penny and nickel slots if your bankroll allows.

Playing Against the Edge

Now that we’ve established the presence of a house edge, the issue of why people play may spring to mind. The simple answer is that the thrill of the gamble is worth it to most people, even if they know or suspect that it’s a negative equity game. With a large sample size, players lose money. However, among that group, there are a collection of players who walked away with more money than they started with. Trying to join that group of players is what slot machines are all about.

Determining the House Edge

Now that we’ve established the presence of a house edge, the issue of why people play may spring to mind. The simple answer is that the thrill of the gamble is worth it to most people, even if they know or suspect that it’s a negative equity game. With a large sample size, players lose money. However, among that group, there are a collection of players who have walked away with more money than they started with. So in general you want to set a strategy that defines the amount with which you are willing play and for how long.

Knowing your limit

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Set a “lose limit” and a “double my money” amount before you enter a casino. With this mentality, you will ensure that you don’t go home with your pockets and bank account empty. It’s easy to understand the thrill of slot machines, especially when the only real skill involved is the spin of the wheel or the turn of a metal arm. But as a general rule, you need to be your own enforcer, and if you do end up winning, stop when you have doubled your initial amount. If you’re losing, stop when you reach the lose limit you have mentally set in advance. There’s nothing wrong with playing responsibly and enjoying the many potential rewards that slot machines have in store. Many people win, daily, and your odds of getting a payout is just as good as theirs.

Join the club

If you’re an online player you might want to look into the various benefits that each casino has to offer. For instance, first time players usually get very good start up packages and bonuses simply for signing up. And these benefits become even greater if you take advantage of a casino’s loyalty programs or exclusive VIP offers. The offers vary, of course, so be sure to find the one that is best suited to your style of play.

Some casinos even give points back as cash, or extend certain bonuses based on birthdays or special holiday offers, ensuring that you can stretch your gambling buck even further. Be sure to be registered or type in your club or card number as a valued player before you take a spin at the slot machine. Even if you don’t win immediately, you can still get credit for every time you play.

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    Play slots with Higher Numbers

    Having a particular strategy in mind can be difficult for a player of any skill when it comes to slots. Statistics have shown however that players willing to bet higher denominations on slot games (to the extent that they can afford) earn at a higher percentage.

    It’s simple math. Whole dollars count for more than fractions of dollars when multiplied. As an example, let’s say that you’re willing to bet 20 dollars per line on a slot machine, and you win on 5 lines on a given spin. That’s 100 dollars in your pocket, a five-fold return on your investment. However, if you increased your initial bet to 100 dollars your final return percentage would be far greater at 500 dollars! Cha-ching!

    Choose a smaller jackpot

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    Although this might seem a little counterintuitive at first, if you really think in terms of the bigger picture, the more you frequent different machines with smaller jackpots instead of one machine with that has one huge jackpot, the better your odds are of making money.

    Think of it in terms of fishing. If you heard of a lake that had one giant elusive fish that was next to a lake that had dozens and dozens of easy to catch smaller fish, which one would you choose? Your chances of catching a fish would be greater if you went to the lake with the smaller fish. Right? Weird analogy, sure, but you can’t deny the mathematics of probability when you multiply the amount you diversify your play.

    Be sure to double check each machine’s maximum jackpot. Two slots might look the same, but each varies as one may pay out 3,000 credits and the other 8,000 credits. Just keep in mind the maximum you can win on any particular machine.

    Choose Fixed or Progressive

    Every type of slot machine falls into two major categories: “top payout” (also known as fixed) or “progressive”. Slot machines known as “flat-top” machines have a fixed maximum payout. It doesn’t change. Progressive machines, however, come with an indicator that shows the player that the maximum payout can change based on how many people play that particular machine, thus making jackpot progressively higher. Therefore, it’s good to know that if you’re looking at a progressive machine, you want to play the one that encounters the most play traffic.

    The Myth of Slot Machine Jackpots

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    As people we are designed to look for patterns. More often than not, when a player “senses” that a machine is running hot or cold in terms of payout they will adapt/revolve their style of play based on this so-called intuition. For example decreasing bets when a machine is not paying out, or increasing them when they feel that they are lucky. Unfortunately, this is not how slots are designed. Since slot machines run based on totally random mathematics, this means that no player can influence a given machine’s outcome.

    Sorry to say. A machine is never “due” to hit. Plain and simple. Every spin is random. All it means is that it is impossible to predict when a payout on a machine will be good or bad, and any streaks a player may perceive is still a matter of pure chance.

    However, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing because it ensures that the odds are the same for any player for any machine on every single spin. In other words, you’ve got the same probability of scoring a jackpot on a machine that just hit one, as a machine that last hit a jackpot over six months ago.

    While you can definitely win at slots, probability isn’t in your favor. Instead, play for fun, and hope for good results. With nice, slow and deliberate spins, you can usually save some money.

    Crack the code

    Let’s revise:

    1. Research the various slot payouts and be sure to set a play limit (at least for beginners).
    2. Join the club to take advantage of rewards, benefits and sign up or VIP packages
    3. Choose machines with the smallest jackpots versus the monster payouts to even your odds.
    4. Bet higher instead of smaller to maximize your overall payouts.
    5. Be responsible and have fun!

    It doesn’t take a genius to follow these simple guidelines. In fact, over time you’ll come to see that the more you play, the sooner you’ll find which games suits you best. Gaming is about having fun, and anyone can enjoy the many benefits that casino and online gaming has to offer. The thrill of the spin and the chance of reward. After all, you may just get a visit from lady luck and become the next big winner!

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    Susan Sedlak

    Susan Sedlak is a writer based on San Diego, California. Being an avid player, and most importantly, an avid blog reader, Susan knows how to deliver interesting, highly entertaining articles.

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