Choose your stake, crank the arm and hope for the best: a lot has changed since the good old days of mechanical slot gaming of the 1990s and before!
The shift to online slots has coincided with an explosion in popularity of the games, and that has led to software developers being more creative in the features they incorporate into their new releases.
This has led to a change in dynamic away from games of just pure luck, with new and exciting ‘skill’ elements introduced.
The beautiful thing about that is that players can actually improve their game simply by following some handy tips and pointers:
In this guide, we’ll reveal how you can tick off each of these cornerstones of slot gaming success, and we'll also break down why there has never been a better time to be playing online slots – whether you are a newcomer to the genre or a more experienced hand.
Without further ado, let’s get started.
How to win at slots
If you typed ‘how to win at slots’ into Google and found us as a result, we’ve got good news and bad news for you.
We’ll start with the bad: there is no ‘guaranteed’ way to win at slots.
These are games that are designed to be completely random and unpredictable, with a piece of software called a ‘random number generator’ implemented to ensure that every spin has the same chance of being a winner or a loser as the last.
All titles released into the world wide web are tested for their fairness by an independent auditor, so here’s the first bit of good news: you can have complete peace of mind that every spin of the reels has a chance of landing a payout or even qualifying for the jackpot should your chosen game feature one.
Here’s another dose of good news to warm the cockles: you can actually choose slot games that have more chance of paying out than others!
We’ll let you know exactly how later in this guide, but the key takeaway point here is that your game choice will determine how profitable you can expect to be in the long term.
You also want to ensure that you are making the most of bonuses and promotions too, such as free spins offers and cashback. Don’t feel bad about this or like an opportunist; ultimately, sites like us here at Bitcasino offer these promos for a reason – because we want to give a little something back to our loyal players.
There are other skills you can arm yourself with to maximise your potential when playing online slots. You can learn basic theory and strategy (we’ll teach you some of that in this guide), you can learn how to manage your bankroll appropriately (and ever underestimate how important this is) and you can learn the right mindset to take into your gaming.
Your mindset is so important to being successful – it doesn’t matter whether you’re playing slots, poker, blackjack, roulette or any other casino game for that matter. Even slot gamers can tilt, or be affected by negativity or even over-confidence when on a losing or winning streak.
By clearing your mind and playing to a plan, you can enhance your chances of long-term profitability on the slots.
Learning the ropes
It’s a slightly boring piece of advice but one that hopefully you heed nonetheless: try to play as many recommended slot games as you can in demo mode or with free ‘play’ money.
There are no rules when you are playing for fun, and this way, you can test out different theories and staking plans without the pressure of eating into your bankroll.
Play, play and play some more: that’s the beauty of demo slots, and it's an opportunity you should take advantage of if you want to then subsequently go on to become a master of real money slots.
It’s a fantastic way to find the one or two slot games that you want to focus on in the short term. You can get to grips with the controls and the different rules as well as beginning to memorise the paytable and recognise the different symbols such as any multipliers or wilds that might appear on your reels.
You might even work out a winning strategy or two to use with any free spins that you win, or in triggering the bonus round or special features that the title has to offer.
Want to know the best way to master slot games and find your next favourite game? That’s easy: free play mode is the only way to go.
Playing the percentages
When we talk about maximising your chances of being profitable in the long term while playing online slots, there are two ‘mathematical’ factors to consider: the return to player rate, known as the RTP, and variance.
When newcomers and even experienced slot gamers come to select the next title that they want to profit from, they often don’t know what they are looking for.
Some will be seduced by a ‘recognisable’ theme, such as the Marvel series or maybe slots featuring Batman, Spiderman and co, some will play slots from a reputable provider like Booming Games, while others will just pick their next game completely at random.
This is the first step towards maximising your profitability: all slot games offer different chances of winning.
Which brings us nicely onto one of the points we raised in the opening paragraph….
All slot games are given a different return to player (RTP) rate by their developer. This basically dictates how much of a payout you would expect when playing the game for an infinite amount of time.
So, if a slot has an RTP of 95%, if you spun the reels an infinite number of times you could expect to win back 95% of your stake.
Of course, all gaming sessions yield different results. So, sometimes you will play and win more than the designated RTP, and other times you will end up on the losing end of the equation. That’s just the nature of the beast.
In theory, it’s just a question of luck on the day – you might have no joy at all, or you might end up winning the jackpot. It’s a handy metaphor for life too!
The RTP of slot games typically falls between the 90-98% bracket, and so the maths is clear: in theory, the higher the RTP of the game, the less your bankroll will be hit.
You can generally find the RTP of an online slot by looking in its settings or the information provided, although of course good old Google is also your friend in such situations as well.
Not necessarily, and the reason for that is something called variance.
Also known as volatility, this essentially refers to the risk level of each slot game. The higher the variance, the greater the risk to your bankroll. Conversely, low volatility games tend to serve up more frequent wins.
But here’s another important distinction:
High volatility slots = fewer wins, but these are of a greater size
Low volatility slots = more wins, but these are of a smaller size
This is only a general rule of thumb, but it stands up to scrutiny for the vast majority of titles.
In general, it's your personality type that will determine which slot games are right for you: if you are a patient type willing to spin the reels for a longer period of time before a win is triggered, then you might just enjoy high variance slots.
Alternatively, if you need to be winning on a regular basis to prevent yourself from ‘tilting’, perhaps low volatility slots are better suited to your personality type.
Generally, there is a wealth of information about slot games that have been released for a while, and we always recommend reading the reviews of others when deciding which games to play.
In doing so, you will probably discover the volatility rate, and you can try your luck in Google too.
But another great option is to just play each game – ideally in free play mode. You will get an excellent sense of how the game plays as well as its variance, all without the risk factor.
So there you have it. These two handy tips will immediately help you to become a more profitable slot gamer without even hitting the spin button:
If you can unearth a high RTP, medium variance title, you are in a fantastic position!
The best slot bonuses and features
There are a number of different bonuses, special features and unique rounds in slot gaming, and an understanding of these – before you are greeted by them in live play – will improve your game.
Here’s a quick guide to the best slot bonuses and features, how to utilise them and other things you need to consider.
· Wilds, scatters & bonus symbols
Generally speaking, there are three main game symbols to look out for which can trigger the special features and bonuses.
Scatter symbols generally tend to link to a special feature when three or more are spun on your reels, and these often don’t have to be adjacent on a payline either.
Wild symbols have a different effect in that they can substitute for other symbols on your reels (apart from the scatter and bonus). In doing so, they can help to create winning combinations that otherwise wouldn’t be there.
Bonus symbols are exactly what they say on the tin: triggering the game’s bonus feature when the required number appear on screen.
· Free spins
One of the most common form of slot game features, free spins are the holy grail of ‘something for nothing’ gaming.
Quite simply, you will be awarded a batch of freebies for getting a certain number (usually three) of ‘scatter’ symbols on your reels. These are, as the name suggests, free spins with which you can accumulate a sizable payout without any risk to your own hard-earned bankroll.
Occasionally, you can re-trigger the free spins round too, which truly is a wonderful moment!
· Expanding, sticky and stacked wilds
Some of the wild symbols have unique characteristics as well. The expanding wild, as the name suggests, will expand to take over other symbols or even whole reels. Clearly, this will greatly improve your chances of landing a handsome winning spin.
A sticky wild will hold its position on your reels for one or more spins, so that great substituting quality the wild has will be available to you for a sequence of spins.
A stacked wild will appear in a multiple on your reels. The stack is usually two or more in size, and again, the outcome can be greater payouts where other symbols on a payline add up to a winning combo.
These enhance your payout by the number indicated, i.e. a 2x multiplier will double your winnings. Multipliers can range from 2x up to 10x in extraordinary circumstances.
Some slot games feature a multiplier bar, and every time you win, an extra 1x is added to your prize.
· Pick ‘em games
One of the most popular bonus rounds in slots, a pick ‘em game basically requires you to select one or more object from the on-screen selection.
Think of the classic TV show Deal or No Deal, where you pick the boxes to reveal the amount inside. A pick ‘em game is similar, in that you might win the amount shown. Sometimes, you have to reveal two or more of the same icon from your selections.
· Progressive jackpots
Some slots are part of a designated progressive jackpot. This is a network of titles that feed into the same prize fund, and so the jackpot can increase in size exponentially.
Most of the biggest winners in slot history come from jackpot slots, including many overnight millionaires!
Of course, progressive jackpot slots are high in variance, so you have to accept the risk involved in playing such titles.
How to manage your bankroll
When it comes to managing your bankroll, a lot of the advice is common sense and basic principles you apply to your everyday life.
But be under no illusions: managing your bankroll will improve your profitability and ensure you can master the art of slots with less risk to your hard-earned cash.
Here are some dos and don’ts of bankroll management:
Only invest what you can afford
It goes without saying, but you should only ever gamble with money you can afford to lose. What that means to you as an individual is up to you, but consider the worse-case scenario when making a deposit, and never deviate or bet more when ‘tilting’ or chasing losses.
Only bet a small percentage of your bankroll per session
Often, players will designate a portion of their bankroll to each gaming session; something between 1-5% makes sense. That way, even if you go on an almighty losing streak, you won’t be wiped out and will live to play another day.
Take advantage of bonuses and promotions
This one goes without staying, but you can maximise your bankroll by getting your hands on as many bonuses, promotions and free spins as possible. At Bitcasino, we have a wide and varied range of promos, so feel free to take advantage of our generosity!
Don’t play when tired, drunk or emotional
There’s never been a quicker way to an empty bankroll than playing when your decision-making skills are impaired. You are vulnerable to bad choices when tired or inebriated, and that’s the last thing that slot gamers with designs of long-term profit need.
Don’t assume that you’ll ‘win eventually’
This is the classic myth that slot games are on some kind of timer, so that after a certain number of spins, a win is just around the corner. This is just not true, unfortunately, so make sure you cut your losses – traders call it a ‘stop loss’ – when things aren’t going your way.
A quick word about the ‘Bet Max’ theory
If you read forums and gaming websites, they are awash with people arguing over whether ‘betting max’, e.g. staking the maximum number of coins per spin, actually increases your chances of winning or not.
The basic logic is that if you are playing a slot with multiple paylines, you can upscale your winnings quite considerably if you bet the maximum amount allowed.
From a mathematical perspective, this is true, of course. But just think about the dent your bankroll takes when betting the maximum amount per spin….and three, four, five and more spins don’t yield a winner.
Okay, so one winning spin will revitalise your fortunes, but as we’ve discussed in articles about progressive staking plans such as Martingale and Labouchere, the effects of a lengthy losing run can be devastating on your finances.
And a final takeaway point: increasing your stake does not increase your chances of winning.
The correct gambling mindset
When we talk about becoming a master of online slots, of increasing your skill level to help minimise the role of luck in proceedings, everything goes out of the window if you don’t have the right mindset.
In short, you simply cannot maximise your payouts if your mind is scrambled.
A lot of this comes back to many of the sections we have already covered in this guide: bankroll management, for example, and picking the right slots to play in the first place.
When you have done this, the main obstacle remaining is your mental approach to your gaming.
A lot of this is just being sensible and is the same whether you are playing slots or hitting the roulette, blackjack or poker tables.
Think about your slot gaming as if you were running a business: how would you try to achieve long-term profitability?
You would probably be disciplined, take a slow and steady approach, be patient and think about the long game: a losing session is not the end of the world.
Win at slots – or have fun trying
You can never master slot games. You can never beat them. It’s not about luck. Or karma. Or about the world being out to get you.
Slot games have a random number generator built into them as well as a return to player rate. These are algorithms, really clever pieces of software, and you can’t cheat them to guarantee a winning spin.
However, you can make your odds of winning better, and you can guarantee that – in the long term – you have a greater chance of a payout.
How? By implementing many of the theories we have discovered in this guide:
Hopefully you have found this guide interesting and insightful, and there are plenty of tips you can take into your own slot gaming.
Here at Bitcasino, we have an extensive collection of slot games for you to enjoy. You can play for real money or for free – the choice is yours – and each title has plenty of information with it, so you can put into practice some of the ideas outlined in this article.
Otherwise, all that’s left to say is good luck on the reels!
Words: Sean McNulty