Slots are, without question, the most popular game that you’ll find in any casino. It doesn’t matter if it’s an online casino site that you’re playing at, or if you’re playing in a land-based casino, because either way, you’ll see more slots than all other games combined. They are extremely easy to learn to play, and the play sessions can take as little as a couple of moments, so they’re particularly accessible for all players, especially since the stakes can be as low or high as you want.
While they are almost exclusively chance-based games, there’s a misconception that many players have that there is nothing you can do to improve your overall payout rate and odds of coming out on top when all is said and done. What we want to do here is show you all of the different ways that you can boost your chances of winning when playing slots so that you can maximize the value that you get from playing the most popular casino game out there today.
Game Selection – Non-Progressive Slots
If you’re playing games that do not have progressive jackpots, then your game selection is pretty simple. You want to play games that have RTP percentages that are on the higher end of the scale. The RTP percentage means the “return to player” percentage, and the higher that is, the more money is paid out to players, on average. If you have a game with an RTP of 95 percent and a slot game with an RTP of 99 percent, the latter will give you better chances of winning in the long run.
You can check the RTP of different slots by checking out a database that lists this information. You can check out games by software and other stats, and we suggest that you make a list of your favorite slots to start with and check the RTP of each one. Keep a list like this for reference, and try to stick to the games that have the highest RTP of the group. While you can narrow down your game selection options substantially by doing this, it’s one of the most important things you can do to maximize your chances of winning.
Game Selection – Progressive Slots
For progressive slots, the game selection process is a bit more complicated. Because the size of the progressive at any given time changes the RTP for playing that particular game at that particular moment, you have to be a little more strategic about game selection if you want to get an edge.
We suggest that you make a list of the progressive jackpot slots that you’d want to play at some point and take down what the seed value is for the top jackpot for each game. This is the starting value of the jackpot that is the level the progressive is reset to after someone wins. Whenever you start your session, you can take a quick look at the current jackpot values for each game and compare those to the seed values to pick out which games are most likely to be the best value.
The reason this process is necessary is because just looking at the total amount of the jackpot isn’t enough. Suppose you have Game A with a progressive jackpot that’s up to $1.1 million and Game B with a progressive jackpot at $250,000. It would seem like the first is the better value, but that’s misleading. If Game A has a starting seed value of $1 million and Game B has a starting seed value of $100,000, then it’s easier to see that Game B is the better option.
Promotions – Bonuses
Bonuses for slots are the most common type of promotion that you’ll find anywhere in the online casino industry, and because of this, they’ll give you more opportunities for picking up good deals that will add to your bankroll. If you handle them properly, they can give you extra value that you wouldn’t have gotten otherwise, and this is essentially the same as getting paid to play games that you wouldn’t have otherwise received. Free money is always a good thing, but you have to be careful because the terms and conditions for some bonuses can trick you.
The key thing you want to look for is how much actual money you’ll be able to add to your real money bankroll without restriction by clearing wagering requirements for a slots bonus. If a bonus does not allow you to cash it out after you clear the wagering requirements, then that’s a major red flag that you shouldn’t continue.
However, if you can cash out the bonus once the requirements are cleared, all you have to do is figure up if the bonus itself is a good value or not. You can do this by figuring out how much you’ll lose, on average, by completing the play-through. If you know the RTP of the games you’ll play to clear the bonus and what the wagering requirements are, then it’s a pretty straightforward calculation.
Suppose that we’re getting a 100 percent match bonus on a deposit of $200 with a 20x play-through requirement on the bonus and the deposit, and the game we’re playing has an RTP of 98 percent. We start by figuring up how much we’ll have to wager total. In this case, it’s $8,000. Next, we find the house advantage, which is 100 percent minus the RTP percent of 98 percent, so the house edge is 2 percent.
Now we take 2 percent of the total wager amount $8,000, which comes to $160. That’s the amount we’ll expect to lose, on average, by clearing the wagering requirements. Since we are earning a $200 bonus at the same time, we’ll profit $40 during this time. That’s $40 that we wouldn’t have received otherwise, so it’s essentially free money.
Doing this calculation can let you know if you’ll actually make money, on average, with a cashable bonus by the time you clear the wagering requirements.
Promotions – Rewards Programs
A type of promotion that a lot of players overlook is the rewards program. They overlook it because they don’t really take into consideration how getting a very small source of value can really add to your bottom line over time. We’re here to tell you that the right rewards program can be a significant part of a slot player’s chances to come out on top in their sessions over time.
The way a rewards program usually works is that you’ll earn points for your real money play at some rate, and then you can trade those points in for cash. The longer you stay in a program and the more you play, the better the earning rate will be for your points, so you actually get a financial incentive to stick to a single casino in this way.
You can break down the points that you earn and figure out what percentage effective cashback that you’re getting on your play. This will seem very small, but you have to remember that it’s a very relative number. If you’re getting 0.2 percent cashback through these points, but the house advantage is only 2 percent total, then you’re actually eliminating one-tenth of the existing house advantage with that program. That’s a pretty substantial gain, and it’s the type of seemingly small edge that you can get that actually makes a big difference.
Promotions – Cashback Rewards
Aside from rewards programs, there are a few other types of cashback rewards types of promotions that you can run into. Each one requires a different type of strategy to maximize the value from it, and you have to really know what you’re dealing with and pay attention to the terms and conditions and how you get paid to make it work out for you the best it can.
One type of cashback reward gives you a percentage of your deposit back if you go bust within a certain amount of time. To get the most value from this as you can, you should be a bit more aggressive with your bet sizing relative to the amount you have deposited. If you normally deposit $200 at a time with bet sizes of $2-3 per spin, for example, you might increase your bet size or decrease your deposit size.
The basic idea is that, if you’re going to go bust on that deposit, you want to do it quickly enough that it falls within the terms and conditions of the deal. This makes sure you play more or less within the bounds that you normally do, but you make slight adjustments to account for the value you’ll get from the promotion itself.
Another type of cashback reward is based on simply giving you a percentage of your losses back on a given day, provided that you have net losses. You don’t actually have to do anything special to get value from this type of cashback promotion, which is nice, and you can just play normally without even really worrying about it.
Bankroll Management Strategies
You can’t win at slots if you don’t have any money to actually be in the game, so some sort of proper bankroll management is obviously a key part of any strategy for online slots. How you go about that strategy will depend entirely on how much you’re willing to spend on slots over a period of time and what level of risk you’re willing to take with respect to the volatility of the slots you’re playing.
The basic outline of a good bankroll management strategy for slots starts with an item in your overall budget for how much you want to put towards your slots play each week or each month. From there, you decide how you want to allocate that money plus whatever you have left over in your bankroll to cash in on bonuses and other promotions with deposits to maximize your value.
With that amount that you’re ready to spend in mind, you need to figure out a range of acceptable bet sizes for you for games that have different levels of volatility. As a general rule, your bet size
for high-volatility games should be about half of your general bet size for low-volatility games, and medium-volatility titles can have bet sizes somewhere in the middle. The level of volatility affects your bet size in this way because the higher the volatility, the larger the swings that you’ll encounter, and the more of a cushion you’ll need to absorb those swings so that you don’t go bust prematurely.
For example, you might decide that you’re willing to put in $200 a month into online slots, and you play a few times each week for an hour or so. You might decide that you want to be fairly conservative with your bankroll and keep bet sizes of around $0.20-0.25 per spin with high-volatility games and around $0.50 per spin with low-volatility games. You can adjust up or down as you go if you want, and there’s a lot of flexibility there, but having some pre-set ideas about what you want ahead of time can make it easier to have discipline about your bet sizes.
Stop-Wins and Stop-Losses
Somewhat tied into bankroll management issues are the issues of stop-wins and stop-losses. Stop-wins are points that you create for yourself ahead of time where you’ll be winning enough that you need to stop your play and re-evaluate what you’re doing. Stop-losses are the same thing, but they’re for losing, and typically, they will be incorporated into your regular bankroll management if you do it in the way we described above by limiting how much you’re willing to spend on the games each week or month.
In this way, stop-wins are really the only part of the situation that you’ll need to add to your overall strategy if you follow the bankroll management approach we described above.
The basic idea of a stop-win is that you decide ahead of time how you will handle a big win so that if it happens, you won’t be overwhelmed with emotion and have to figure out what to do on the fly when you aren’t in your optimal mind state. A part of this is deciding for yourself what constitutes a big win, and you might actually have multiple stop-wins for different sizes of jackpots or winning streaks.
Let’s take a simple example of someone who plays between $0.25 and $0.50 per spin. They may decide on a stop-win at $1,000 where they decide to cash out $600 and use the rest to chase bonuses and bad their bankroll. They may also have a stop-win at $5,000 where they cash out $4,000 and use the other $1,000 to play with at higher stakes to see if they can turn it into an even larger win. With a plan like this in place ahead of time, it makes it easier to know exactly what you’re going to do with your money.
As far as what your stop-win should consist of, it should always include cashing out the majority of your win and not playing with it. The reason is that if you keep playing with your win at higher and higher stakes, then you will inevitably go broke because that’s just the nature of how these games work.
Putting All of the Pieces to Work
The key thing you need to realize is that putting all of these pieces together to make it work will allow you to maximize your earnings and minimize your losses when you play slots, but it also puts you in a position where a lot of planning is involved. You have to decide where to play, which games to play and what stakes to play at.
You also have to collect information about the slots you’re interested in and pay close attention to the promotions and bonuses available. Then you have to piece together a bankroll management and stop-win strategy that works for what you’re trying to achieve.
In short, it’s a lot to keep up with, and it requires a fair amount of work if you really want to squeeze out every bit of value that you can from your sessions. With that having been said, if you just want to get the “low-hanging fruit” that gives you the biggest reward for the smallest effort, then stick with picking high-RTP percentage games that you can use solid deposit bonuses for. That will give you the largest effect for the smallest amount of work.
However, if you really want to be serious about your play, and if you really want the best chances to come out on top, then you’ll need to get organized and put all of these individual pieces to work for you to maximize your promotional value and your RTP while putting a solid bankroll management strategy into action.