How to Win at Slots: A Comprehensive Guide

Slot machines are the most popular casino games in the world. Millions upon millions of people play them each and every day online and at land-based casinos. Everyone wants to know how to win at slots. This guide is designed to explain how slots work, the types of machines that you'll find online and at land-based casinos, and what it takes to win when you roll the reels on these entertaining gaming machines. We'll also talk about slot machine secrets and how understanding these secrets can make you a better player.

Slots are exceptionally popular for many different reasons. These include:

  • Overall, slots are simple to understand and play
  • They offer high rate of return to players
  • Wide range of slot themes and features is attractive
  • Big payouts can happen at anytime
  • There's a game for every size bankroll

Online Slots vs. Land-Based Slots

The major difference between land-based and online slots is the return to player percentage. Online slots come in upwards of 94% RTP!

One of the major differences between land-based and online slots is an obvious one. Slot machines at brick and mortar casinos are three-dimensional objects that you can touch. Online slots are graphically projected; they are virtual gaming instruments. Yet, both types of machines are driven by software and both have random number generators that determine the outcome of each spin.

A major difference between land-based and online slots is the return to player percentage, which is usually called the return to player and abbreviated as RTP. Knowing about this percentage is an important factor in determining how to win at slots.

At brick and mortar casinos, you'll be hard-pressed to find a slot machine with a return to player rate that is over 90%, while just about every online casino slot offers a return to player of 92% or better. In fact, most slots that you play online come with anywhere from a 94% to 99% RTP.

That means if a machine has a RTP of 99% of every dollar that's bet $0.99 is eventually returned to the player. That makes online slots a much better wagering proposition than land-based machines, which usually has RTP percentages ranging from 76% to 88%. Thus, online slots are a much better bet.

Another major difference between these two types of machines is how many more progressive jackpots are available online and how much larger such jackpots are. Land-based casinos do often feature a progressive jackpot that's tied to a specific series of machines, but even though these machines accumulate large jackpots, they cannot rival the huge payouts you'll find online.

Online jackpot slots often pay off in the multi-millions. Also, at many online casinos you'll find 10 or more different progressive slot titles. People who play these machines want to win at slots in a major manner, and online jackpot slots allow them to do so. If you're wondering how can I win at slots and win big, the answer is by playing progressive machines.

Types of Slots

If you want to know how to win at slots, you'll need to understand how they work. The first part of that is learning how they are classified. Slots are classified in various ways. One common method is by the number of reels. There are three-reel, five-reel, and seven reel slots. Seven-reel slot machines are relatively rare, while five-reel are the most common.

Number of Paylines

Slot machines are also categorized by the number of paylines they offer. There are single payline and multiple payline slots. Three-reel slots most commonly offer one payline. These are often called classic slots because they emulate the earliest and oldest slots. Some classic machines do offer three paylines.

Classic Slots

Classic slots, which may also be called basic slots, usually use symbols commonly associated with the earliest machines, such as bars, numbers, and various types of fruits, such as lemons and cherries. They may include a bonus symbol, which often multiplies winnings when hit. These types of machines usually offer smaller prizes than five and seven reel slots and provide players with fewer chances to win.

More than Three Reels

Five- and seven-reel machines may be referred to simply by the number of reels that they use, but when describing these machines there are often a few other identifiers that are added. The first is the number of paylines. Most of these machines have a minimum of five paylines and many have 50 or more.

As an example of how slots with more than three reels might be identified, one may be a five-reel, 25-payline machine and another a seven-reel 50-payline machine.

Other Categories

Finally, there are other terms used to describe these types of machines, including video slots, which refers to the use of video technology in reel movement, icon manipulation, and sound enhancement; bonus slots, which means the slot machine offers a bonus round; and progressive or jackpot slots, which describes machines that pool a percentage of each bet made, placing that cash into one big jackpot that is often worth millions.

A quick note, all slots that are played online and most land-based machines are video slots, which means they use video technology for their displays rather than actual mechanical spinning reels. However simple, three-reel slots without a lot of bells and whistles are still referred to as classic machines. That's despite the fact that these classics use video technology.

Themed Slots

Slots are often categorized by theme, and while such classification does not necessarily influence a player's winning at slots, it can certainly help to determine for progressives how large of a jackpot might be available. That's because popular themed progressives tend to be played more than those with less popular themes, and thus their jackpots build up faster.

Themes are various and include movie, holiday, sports, historical, mythological, celebrity, and TV slots. There are very specific branded slots, such as the Marvel slots, which are based on Marvel comic book heroes such as the Hulk, Wolverine, and the Avengers. Many of these are progressives, and due to their popularity, their jackpots can be huge.

Understanding how these three types of symbols work is key to your knowing how to win at slots. That's because scatter, wild and multiplier icons often hold secrets for winning at slots as they influence when a slot machine rewards you with a payout or even a jackpot.

Scatter symbols will payout no matter what other symbols appear on the reels. Many times the amount a slot pays out for scatters will be in relationship to how many of these symbols are displayed, as the more scatters there are once the reels come to a stop the higher the payout. These symbols can help to increase your chances of winning.

Wild symbols can serve two purposes. The primary one is to complete paylines, as the wild can become any other symbol found on the reels of a specific machine. Because of this, wilds can enhance the number of times a machine pays out. Also, many five-reel progressive machines payout their massive jackpot when a player hits five wilds across one payline.

If a machine's multiplier symbol (a.k.a. bonus multiplier) appears when you hit a winning combination, it will multiply that award by a predetermined amount. That means if you hit a payout that would normally reward you with 1,000 coins and a multiplier worth three times the amount appears, you'll win 3,000 coins.

Random Number Generators and Winning

All slot machine outcomes are controlled by a RNG that is preset at the factory where the machine is made. RNGs are constantly running even when a slot machine is at rest; they don't just spring into action when you spin the reels.

A major slot machine element that influences how you win at slots is the random number generator or RNG. For many players the RNG is a slot machine secret they simply do not understand. Some basic knowledge about how RNGs work will certainly help you become a better player.

All slot machine outcomes are controlled by a RNG that is preset at the factory where the machine is made. RNGs are constantly running even when a slot machine is at rest; they don't just spring into action when you spin the reels.

This is important to understand because it takes away a common misconception that many slots players have. That's if they had played a slot for one more turn rather than leaving it, they would have won the jackpot instead of the player who replaced them at the machine.

Because the RNG is constantly running, that's not true, as taking the next turn at the slot didn't result in the win. It was, rather, taking that turn in relationship to the ongoing sequencing of the RNG that created the result. Winning at slots is not as simple as saying that the next spin of the reels would have resulted in your winning the jackpot. The constantly working RNG guarantees that.

Slot Machine Secrets: Playing and Winning Tips

How can you win at slots? One way is to utilize the information below whenever you play a slot. Knowing how each of the following elements works in connection with a machine is essential to you making smart gaming decisions.

All of the information below about a specific slot machine can be found at either your online casino or at the slot machine gaming company's website.

Pay attention to the pay table on the slot you are playing. It's easier to understand how you can win, and easier for you to pick the more lucrative slot.

Pay Table

Every slot machine has a pay table that explains winning combinations, how multipliers and bonus symbols work, and how to qualify for the big jackpot. Read a machine's pay table prior to playing it for real money and when you hit a winning combination refer to the table again so you understand how you won and how much you won.

Coins In/Coins Out

Coins in versus coins out refers to a very important and often misunderstood fact about slot machine payout numbers. Payout tables list the number of units you may put into a machine, the coins in, and the number of units or coins you'll receive if you hit a winning combination, the coins out.

As an example, if a certain winning combination for slot machine pays offers 400 coins out for one coin in, 800 coins out for two coins in and 1200 coins out for three coins in, how much cash you make depends on the size of coin you're using.

If you use a penny when you play and you bet the maximum of three coins and win, you'll get 1200 pennies or $12, but if you play the same number of coins but instead of pennies use dollars, you'd win $1200. The size if the unit used increases your risk, but it also increases your potential payout.

Return to Player Percentage

The RTP percentage, which was referred to earlier, is an important factor when it comes to choosing which slots you play. Would you rather play a machine with a RTP of 92% or 99%? The answer is 99% because that machine is offering back to players $0.99 of every $1.00 bet.

Payout Rate (Variance)

Knowing the payout rate is also important, as this will help you know what to expect from a certain machine. A slot machine that pays out often, that has a low variance, will usually offer players many small prizes.

On the other hand, a slot machine that is stingier with the number of times it pays out, which is said to have a high variance, will often offer up bigger prizes.

As far as winning at slots is concerned and extended playing time, low variance slows, those that offer more but smaller payouts, will usually extend your playing time. Playing high variance machines, because they payout less often, may reduce the amount of time you spend at a machine, but they offer more potential for a big payday.

Bonus Round

Not all slot machines have bonus rounds, although these rounds are quite common with newer machines. A bonus round is triggered by a specific combination of symbols, often when three or more bonus symbols appear on the reels.

When this occurs, you'll be awarded with free spins and taken to a new screen where you'll use these spins. The number of spins you're rewarded with is determined by how many bonus symbols come up.

The more bonus icons you hit the more free spins you'll receive. When you're in the bonus round prizes are usually multiplied by two or three times the normal amount. In some bonus rounds you can earn even more free spins! To win at slots, play machines that offer bonus rounds as these can pay off in a major way.

Qualifying for Progressive Payouts

If you are going to play a progressive online slot machine, you'll want to know that the secret to winning the jackpot is to bet the maximum amount. Most progressive machines will not pay the full jackpot amount unless the player has wagered the max. If you cannot make the big bet, then you're probably better off playing a slot with lower stakes and a lower variance.

Money Management

The best way to win is to extend the amount of time you spend at the slot. Practice sound money management whenever you play.

The best way to increase our chances of winning is to extend the amount of time you spend at a slot machine. To increase your playing time practice sound bankroll management. First, choose a machine where you can play a minimum of 100 spins per session.

Also, it's best if you can play each spin at the maximum rate as this guarantees you a maximum payout if you do win. Finally, only play machines you can afford.

When it comes to winning at slots you're better off playing a low variance machine that accepts a maximum of three coins and that offers you a large number of spins than a high variance slot that takes up to 50 coins and provides you with just a few spins. The longer you play, the better your chance are of winning.

Winning Slot Machine Strategy?

Here's a very important slot machine secret, there is no true slot machine winning strategy that any player can employ. That's because for a player to be able to use strategy in playing any game their decisions must be able to influence the outcome.

There's no way for a player to influence the outcome of their next spin of the reels of their favorite online slot.

That's because the RNG guarantees that each spin is independent of all others and what happened with a prior spin in no way influences the outcome of the next or any other spin.

Playing at Great Online Slots Casinos

Knowing slot machine secrets and understanding the basics can certainly help you become a smarter player and can give you the knowledge that you need to know how you can win at slots.

To locate a great online slots casino that includes big bonuses, popular machines with high return to player percentages, and major progressives, please see our shortlist of the very best slots casinos.