Slot machine betting systems might all be equally worthless from the perspective of increasing your probability of winning.
But that doesn’t mean that some systems aren’t an entertaining way to play.
I’m not generally impressed with graphics or sound effects, so I have to find a way to make playing the slots interesting – if I’m going to play at all.
So, I use slots systems all the time.
Here are some of my favorites and how they work:
1- Win Goals, Stop Loss Limits, and Naked Pull Limits
I read a great book about slots systems called John Patrick’s Slots many years ago. Most of his systems involve deciding when to play and when to quit playing.
The first thing he suggests is having a “naked pull limit.”
A naked pull is a spin of the reels that results in no winnings at all.
I think his suggestion was to switch machines or end your playing session if you get 7 naked pulls in a row. The idea is that such a slot machine is “cold,” and you’re limiting your losses by quitting that machine once you’ve proven how cold it is.
The next thing is to have a stop loss limit. This is an amount of your session bankroll that, when lost, signals you to quit playing. Often this is a percentage of your bankroll.
For example, if you have a 20% stop loss limit and a $200 bankroll, you might quit when you’ve lost $40.
Finally, you have a win goal, which is like a stop loss limit, but in the other direction. The idea is that once you’ve won $40, you quit. (The amounts vary.)
None of these concepts actually improve your probability of winning, but they can make you more mindful of the amount of money you’re winning or losing.
One of the problems with slot machines is that they’re a form of hypnosis, and you can forget all about the value of the money you’re winning or losing.
2- The Straight 60 Slots System
This is the most basic of the systems described in John Patrick’s book. It’s just a system where you have a 60% stop loss limit and a 60% win goal.
If you have a session bankroll of $100, you’ll quit when you’ve won $60 or lose $60, whichever comes first.
And your naked pull limit is still in effect, too.
Does this system work?
No, not in the long run, but sometimes it will, because sometimes you will have a session where you win up with wins in excess of 60% of your starting amount.
Chuck Flick tested this system and several others on his blog years ago. He used the system in 4 different sessions on 4 different online slot machines and saw 4 losing sessions.
I think he could have almost seen 4 winning sessions, because in the short run, anything really can happen.
3- The Zig Zag System
This is one of my favorite systems, more because of how ludicrous it is than anything else. The premise behind this system is simple enough – if a slot machine has some winning symbols showing, it’s getting close to paying out.
In fact, if the symbols are on the face of the slot machine in a zig zag pattern, it’s definitely time to start playing that machine.
This might not be intuitively easy to understand, but think about what the face of a slot machine looks like.
On a traditional 3-reel slot machine game, you have 3 symbols along the horizontal line right in the center of the game. You usually can see the 3 symbols above and the 3 symbols below.
You only win if the 3 symbols line up, but they could be visible above or below the payline. In fact, they might even appear on these lines when you have multiple paylines, but they won’t necessarily line up.
That’s a zig zag pattern.
There’s no validity to this system at all, by the way.
Modern slot machines use a computer program called a random number generator to produce results. The symbols are just for show.
4- The Martingale System for Slots
I used to work with a writer who was new to the gambling world, and he wrote an article one time about slot machines where he suggested the Martingale System as a method to try with slots. He clearly didn’t understand the Martingale System well, because it involves doubling the size of your bets after each loss. It also focuses on bets where you have a reasonably good probability of winning even money.
But if you’re just looking for a way to play slot machines and be more entertained, this is one way to go about it.
Here’s what you do – start by finding the lowest bet you possibly can on a slot machine in the casino. You probably can’t find a slot machine which only allows a single bet of one penny, but you can probably find a game where you can bet a quarter.
That game will probably let you bet more than one coin, too.
And you might even be able to toggle the denomination upward.
If those all apply, you would just bet 50 cents after a loss.
Then a dollar.
And once you’ve booked a win, you’d go back to the 25 cent betting level.
Even if you can’t play out the full progression on the same machine, you could eventually wind up taking a single spin on a slot machine that costs $5, $25, or even $100 on a spin.
And you’ll get there faster than you think because of the power of doubling:
You only have to lose 9 times in a row before you need to place a bet of $100 or more.
That means moving into the high roller room.
‘You just need to make sure you have the bankroll for this and the discipline to quit before losing too much money.
5- The Track Everything You Do System
This isn’t really a system designed to help you win. It’s just a system to help you track how much you’re gambling and give you an idea of how the short run can vary so dramatically from your long-term results.
The first thing you have to do is pay attention to how many credits you have in the machine. For the purpose of this example, I’ll assume you’ve put $100 into a $1 machine, which means you have 100 credits.
Then you must track your start time on the machine. You’ll also want to know your end time. I use a stopwatch for this to track how many minutes I’ve been playing. (You have one on your cell phone.)
Finally, I track how many spins I make. I just count them in my head, 1, 2, 3, 4…
When you stop, you know how much you’ve wagered – you just multiply the amount per bet times the number of spins you’ve made.
In this example, if I’ve made 300 spins, I know I’ve wagered $300.
You then take how many credits you have on the machine and subtract what you have now. You’ll either show a win or a loss probably.
You can divide that amount that you’ve lost by the $300 you wagered to get the percentage win for the casino. It’s an estimate of the house edge, but it’s a bad estimate, because you probably haven’t made enough spins to get into the long run.
Let’s say you started with $300 and finished with $270. You lost $30, or 10% of your money.
You can extrapolate from this that the payback percentage for the game is 90%.
I like to also divide the number of spins by the number of minutes I’ve been playing so that I know how many spins per hour I’m making, too.
6- Play as Many Games as Possible
One of my favorite strategies for playing real money slots was to see how many different machines you could play in a single gambling session. Basically, you make a single spin on as many slot machine games as you can during a given time-period.
You can even turn this into a contest with one of your gambling friends. You’d probably have to do it on the honor system, but the idea would be to track how many different games you each played during a one-hour or two-hour session.
The gambler who plays the most machines gets a free lunch or dinner from the gambler who plays the fewest.
This kind of gamification can take your slot machine play up a notch, but it does something else that’s important:
It slows your rate of play.
Chances are, you’ll make half as many spins per hour if you’re moving from machine to machine. Maybe even less than that.
This will result in a lower loss per hour rate in the long run.
7- Play the Same Game Until You Hit the Jackpot
I have a friend who visits the Winstar Casino regularly, and she plays the exact same slot machine every time she’s there. I asked her why she does this, and she explained to me that if she stuck with the same game, she’ll be more likely to eventually hit the jackpot on the machine.
I tried explaining to her that this strategy wasn’t going to work, but she remains unconvinced.
But here’s the thing:
As long as she’s having fun, why not let her use her strategy?
She’s not going to lose MORE money with this strategy than she would playing without a slots strategy, so there’s no real harm in it.
At the end of the day, almost every slot machine you ever play will have a negative expectation. On the rare occasions when you play a slots game with a positive expectation, it’s going to be a progressive slot machine. And since the odds of winning the jackpot are worse than the odds of being struck by lightning, you can’t realistically count that money toward the payback percentage for the game.
Use any slot machine system that sounds fun to you.
Just understand that the longer you play the slots, the more you’ll lose.
Michael Stevens has been researching and writing topics involving the gambling industry for well over a decade now and is considered an expert on all things casino and sports betting. Michael has been writing for GamblingSites.org since early 2016. ...
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