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Avoid these five pitfalls when playing slots

Avoid these five pitfalls when playing slots


Although slot machines might seem like one of the simplest casino games out there, there is a surprising amount of detail that you need to know about how they work if you want to have any chance of success in the long run. Slots are often dismissed as a simple game that doesn’t really suit any high-level strategizing. However, this is simply not the case. The reality is that slot machines take a lot of know-how to consistently make winnings on. In this article, you will get a quick overview of some of the most frequently made mistakes by players in a game of slots. If you want to make consistent winnings on the slots, then you would be well advised to continue reading!

Not knowing the RTP

In the world of casino gaming, return to player, or RTP, is one of the most commonly talked about – and most commonly misunderstood – concepts out there. This need not be the case, however, as RTP is a relatively simple concept and has applicability across all casino games.

All casino games have a theoretical RTP, which essentially means the percentage of each wager placed by a player that they can expect back in the long run. Games are designed with this built in, and it is in many respects similar to the “house edge” frequently referred to by seasoned casino-goers. The RTP and house edge are interlinked insofar as they should add up to 100% if you add them together. Typically, slots will have an RTP of between 92% and 98% in online versions of the game, though this might be lower with land-based versions.

When it comes to actually implementing this concept, however, most players fall short. You can have a surprisingly positive impact on your chances of winning – again, over the long run – by choosing slot machines with a higher RTP percentage. Ideally, this would be around the 95% mark. It should be remembered, however, that the RTP isn’t a guarantee of winnings, and will only show itself over a massive number of individual games – potentially thousands. As such, you should only use a given game’s RTP rate as a general indicator, among others, in helping you to choose a game.

Most websites are fairly forthcoming about RTP information, and you should be able to access it through your chosen website for each specific game.

Ignoring slot machine volatility

When it comes to slot machines, volatility is a frequently misunderstood, if not often ignored, aspect of the game. Volatility can essentially be thought of as the machine’s risk level, and when players refer to a slot machine with a high level of volatility, it is a reference to how risky it is considered. When playing a long session of online slots, you might have noticed that while some games seem to pay out wins on a regular and consistent basis, others are a lot more sporadic. This isn’t Lady Luck having her way with the software running the game – it is because of the volatility programmed into it.

Slots that have a high level of volatility will tend to have fewer pay-outs, but conversely may pay out big when they do win. Others, in contrast, might pay out smaller wins on a more consistent basis. Your preference of volatility might, in this regard, depend on your risk tolerance, with some players preferring the higher risk, higher pay-out option. This will typically depend on your risk tolerance and how much of a bankroll you have behind you. High-volatility slots also require a lot more time and patience given how long it takes for them to give pay-outs. If you want to take your slot machine strategy to the next level, always consider volatility and work it into your overall strategy. This way, you can avoid making the same pitfalls that all novice players get sucked into making!

Misunderstanding the hit rate of your chosen game

One of the most important variables when it comes to choosing a slot machine game to sink your time and money into is the “hit rate”. Along with RTP and the house edge, a game’s hit rate will have a massive impact on your overall winnings over a given period.

The “hit rate” of a game refers to how often a player is expected to stop on a winning combination in that game. As an example, if a slot machine has a hit rate of 50%, then this means that it will pay out 50% of the time. Games with a low hit rate – meaning those not paying out often – are referred to as “tight”. A game’s hit rate does not indicate how big your wins will be, but simply how often you will hit a winning combination. As such, you should consider the hit rate in combination with a number of other variables. In fact, one of the biggest strategy mistakes that novice slot machine players make is thinking that a high hit rate will be a measure of success. This is not the case, and unless the pay-outs are lucrative, a high hit rate will not significantly increase your earnings. When you are formulating a slot machine strategy, consider its hit rate along with other factors such as volatility, bonus frequency and RTP.

It is important to remember to not get led astray by statistics such as hit rate and to remember that in all games of chance – of which slot machines are one – these figures are only an indicator of potential successes and not a guarantee of it.

Not watching your bankroll

One of the most common pitfalls in how successful players are in a game of slots over the long run is simply down to poor bankroll management. Although most players might be more familiar with this turn of phrase in the context of poker or blackjack, your bankroll is every bit as important when it comes to a game of slots.

In the specific context of slot machines, the most important thing is to remember that slot machines are a negative expectation game. This essentially means that no matter how well you manage your money, or how shrewd you are with your strategy, if you play that machine long enough, you will eventually deplete your bankroll. Having realised this, your strategy in a given game of slots should revolve around managing your bankroll to slow down the inevitable. You can do this by implementing a few simple tips to ensure that your bankroll keeps healthy while you are still in the game.

Only play slots with money you can afford to lose: although it might sound obvious, this simple advice is a philosophy that you can apply to any game you play! It is only ever advisable to play with what you can afford to lose. This will ensure that you avoid getting too emotionally attached to winning, which could lead you to making bad betting decisions.

Base your bankroll on the denomination you are playing: this is a particularly important piece of advice for slot machines, and it need not be stated that you simply don’t need as much money to play the penny slots as you do the dollar slots. Always think of the size of your bankroll in terms of the denomination you will be playing in. This prevents the risk of miscalculation when you are trying to figure out how long you can afford to keep playing.

Set aside your winnings as you go along: although it might seem like a chore, it is good practice to take a portion of your winnings and set them aside as you go along. This means that you won’t get an inflated sense of your bankroll and how long you can afford to keep playing.

Control your pace of play: in a fast-paced game such as slots, where the time between rounds can be minimal, it is very easy to lose all sense of time. When it comes to prolonging your bankroll, this is not a good thing. Keeping track of the time you’ve spent playing and not rushing from one round to the next will go some way to working against this and prolonging your bankroll.

Thinking you’re due a pay-out

Although a lot of emphasis has been put in the above article on the mechanics and statistics that will dictate your success in a slot machine session, you shouldn’t take these as strict rules or laws. You need to remember that numbers such as RTP, hit rate, and volatility are just statistical averages and are in no way statistical guarantees. One mistake that newer players frequently make is to rely on these figures and let them lure you into thinking they entitle you to winnings. This is not the case at all, and underneath it all, slot machines are ultimately dictated by pure chance.


If you have made it through the above article and are keen to implement some of the wisdom put forth here into a slot machine strategy, then do not hesitate to get playing one of the many high-quality slot machine games at Bitcasino. As Bitcasino, we have one of the largest selections of online slot machine games anywhere online, which provides players with an unmatched level of choice. If you fancy trying before you buy, why not sign up for a free-to-play account today and find the perfect slot machine for your playing style!

Words: Sean McNulty
Images: Shutterstock


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