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To those who aren't regular players, the idea of adopting a strategy for playing online slots may seem rather far-fetched. But planning an approach and picking through the vast array of gameplay styles and payouts is crucial to any player's chances of making a profit. It's also one of the most exciting elements of playing slots online.
The first step in devising a strategy is to dispose of unhelpful gamblers' fallacies and debunk out-of-date myths. After disposing of these old adages, it's time to get rational and understand the system most suited for your playing style. The last steps include selecting a machine and managing your money.
There are countless fallacies floating around online slot play deterring players from maximising their winnings. Here are a few common fallacies to avoid:
'I'm due a win' | Online slots, and most live slots, are based on number generators with set probabilities. Each spin exists independently of the previous one so, whether a player is at the tail end of a losing streak or riding high on a string of wins, the chances of a win line are the same every spin.
'It's ready to pay' | Watching progressive jackpots get higher, or looking for popular games, won't make a difference to the chances of a payout (unless an online casino runs a special offer). Gone are the days of lurking around a corner while an unwitting punter fills a machine. A built-in house edge determines the odds, not the weight of the money in a machine.
'I know a cheat' | Casinos used to hum with rumours of cheeky cheats. Hitting spin when you have three nudges, never holding two Sevens, and dozens more. Nowadays, teams of testers prevent these flaws from getting through: so be very dubious of any such tips.
Old slot strategies may have worked once, but the vast majority have now been consigned to the annals of casino history by technological advances. Strategies that should now be avoided include:
Lurking | Watching a player on a machine, and jumping in if they leave empty handed. This may have worked when slots paid out when they were full, but now they're just random number generators (RNGs), and this strategy is redundant.
Cheats | In the arcades of the '80s and '90s, there were always rumours of predictable patterns and cheats. Today's slots are big business and those bugs have been squashed.
Hot/Cold Machines | The RNGs that power live slots are designed, as you'd expect, to be random. You might have a lucky streak, or an unlucky streak, but it really is just luck.
Asking these questions will help players decide the playing style they most prefer:
Are you patient?
Do you want to spend big?
How long do you want each gaming session to last?
Patient players with a large pot and no particular desire to play for long stints may find themselves better suited to big jackpot games. Look for franchise slots like Marvel, which generally offer progressive jackpots. Alternatively, consider seeking games that have more generous but less frequent payout lines. Players who can survive long droughts without panicking are usually in line for the biggest wins.
Impatient players are better suited to slots with regular, though normally less generous, wins. These types of game tend to offer numerous low-to-medium priced win lines that crop up often, and throw in lots of extras: Wilds and random awards, for example. A good sign of such games is that they have many lines or 'ways to win'. Those craving a big win from this style should seek games that offer better win multiples when the stakes are raised.
Low pot players with time to enjoy their game sessions are advised to look for generous bonus features and regular (albeit low) payouts from their slots. The big money tends to come from the bonuses more than huge jackpots, but players won't earn this in every bonus game run. That means earnings are built over a slightly longer period of time, but money can easily be chipped away while you wait.
Because machines are pre-programmed with a hold percentage (like a house edge), they are guaranteed to take a certain percentage of total stakes in the long run. There's no way to change that, but there are strategies to make the most of your winnings in the short term. The first step is choosing the right machine.
Video Slots | like online slots, these boast video versions of the old slot machine reels and often have bonus games and special features in addition to win lines. These add an element of fun and complexity, and they often have regular payouts.
Jackpot Slots | like a video slot, but with fewer fancy games and clearer win lines. Though perhaps less 'fun' than more complicated slots, they're great for those who are trying to play the numbers or experiment with money management strategies. They usually have higher and less frequent payouts than video slots.
Progressive Slots | these cream off a percentage of each wager to add to a cumulative jackpot, taken from several linked machines. That means payouts are even less regular, but there's always the chance of one massive win. Some machines allow players to wager one, two or three coins, and only offer the jackpot to those putting in top stakes, so make sure you're in with a chance of winning the jackpot before playing these.
Tournaments | In big casinos, machines can be connected to run a tournament in which a group of players must play through a fixed amount of credits within a set time limit. Winnings are set aside into a pot, and the biggest pot wins. Speed and focus are crucial, as many people fail to make the most of all their credits.
If you do decide to go it alone, it's easy to get drawn into the fallacies of gambling. The best way to maximise your money and leave with some winnings is to set yourself a system of cash limits that dictate your play.
For example, setting aside £25 for 100 spins on a 25p/spin slot. The more spins you allow for, the greater the chance of hitting a big jackpot. However, switching machines when you're up, or putting aside all winnings, is a good way to hang on to profits and potentially end the day with money in your pocket.
Of course, these are just general approaches. The key to any system is knowing how the slots work, deciding how much to stake and sticking to it. There's no quicker way to empty a pot than panicking and falling back into the gamblers' fallacies. If you think you are ready to hone your new found skills and try some of the best slots on the market then we have what you need on our Free Slots page that allows you to play for free and find the slots that suit you best.