The Complete Guide to Winning at Slot Machine Tournaments

by Jeff Harris
on November 18, 2017

A slot machine is generally seen as a solo affair where you compete against the house. But many people also enjoy playing slot machine tournaments, which see you challenge fellow players for prize money.

Slots tourneys offer a nice break from the typical drill of playing against casinos. And what’s fun is that you can win big prizes in these events.

If you’re looking to learn more about slot machine tournaments, keep reading as I discuss how they work, the different types of slots tournaments, where you can find these events and some strategy tips.

Slot Machine Tournament Basics: Buy-ins & Prize Pools

Slot Machine Tournament Buy-ins

Many slot machine tournaments require a buy-in.

Most of the buy-in goes towards funding the prize pool. The remaining amount is a fee that goes to the house for running the tourney.

Here’s an example of a slot machine tournament buy-in:

  • The entry fee is $10 + $1.
  • The $10 portion goes into the prize pool.
  • The casino keeps the remaining $1 as a fee.

You get a set number of credits for your buy-in. The credits are a score used to determine paying positions and don’t represent how much money you’ve won in the tournament.

Prize Pool

A prize pool is the amount of money that players are competing for.  The prizes are usually weighted towards the top, with the highest finishers taking the largest portion of the prize pool.

Let’s look at a sample prize pool involving a $5,000 tournament:

  • 1st –$2,000
  • 2nd –$1,000
  • 3rd – $750
  • 4th – $250
  • 5th 14th – $100

Prize pools can either be guaranteed or variable.

A guaranteed prize pool means that the casino must make sure the tournament meets the stated amount, no matter how many players enter. For example, if they guarantee $1,000 and there’s only $800 in prize money, then the casino must cover the remaining $200.

A variable prize pool doesn’t guarantee how much money players can expect to win. Instead, this is entirely up to how many people enter the event.

If 90 people to pay a $10 + $1 buy in, then the tournament prize pool will be worth $900.

What Prizes are Available?

The most common prize in slot machine tournaments is cash. This is especially the case in any tourney where you need to pay a buy in before entering.

Land based casinos can also give out alternative prizes, including free hotel stays, free meals or slots vouchers.

How Do Slot Machine Tournaments Work?

Formats

The rules of a slot machine tournament differ based on the format. One standard format is a timed tournament, where players spin the reels until they reach the time limit.

The winners are determined by who has the most chips when the time is up. Here’s an example of a timed slots tournament:

  • Each player receives 1,000 credits to start.
  • The tournament lasts for 20 minutes.
  • Credits are deducted from your bankroll whenever you spin the reels.
  • Credits you win are shown in a separate display.
  • Credits aren’t replenished.
  • Any credits that you don’t spend are nullified.

Another tournament format is one where you play until your credits run out. The number of credits you have when your chip stack runs out determines your score.

Let’s look at an example of this:

  • Each player receives 500 credits to start.
  • You spin until your 500 credits are exhausted.
  • Credits are deducted every time you spin the reels.
  • Credits you win are shown in a separate meter
  • You play until all credits are gone.

One more tournament style is a multi-day event that lasts until a predetermined date. An example would be a slots tournament that begins on the first of the month and ends on the last of the month.

These tournaments can be based on either of the two examples above, where you either spin for a certain time limit or until your credits run out.

Multi day slot machine tournaments let you enter multiple times (a.k.a. rebuys) over the course of the event so that you can improve your score. This brings another element of strategy into play, where you have to decide how many rebuys it’s worth spending based on the prize pool.

Start & End Times

The starting time for a slots tourney can vary based on the format. Single day events begin as soon as there are enough people who’ve bought in.

Other tournaments begin regardless of how many entries there are. This is especially the case with multi day tournaments, where people can buy in at any time to try and get the highest score.

The end time also varies based on the format.

A timed tournament begins as soon as the time limit is reached. Tournament officials will then determine the results and who wins prizes.

Credit based tourneys start and end at specific times of the day. Players can enter these events at any time of the day to play for the highest score.

Multi day slot tournaments end at a certain time and date. For example, a tourney could end when the clock strikes midnight at the end of the week or month.

How to Find Rules for Slot Machine Tournaments

Knowing different tournament formats is a good way to start with slots tourneys. I urge you to check out the rules for the specific event that you’re playing.

A land based casino may post the rules and prize pool structure in their establishment and/or on their website. Online casinos post the rules in the section where you sign up for the event.

Again, look up rules before entering and playing in any slot machine tournament. This helps you figure out exactly how you can win a share of the prize money.

Types of Slot Machine Tournaments

Buy-in

We discussed buy-in slot machine tournaments earlier. These events require you to pay a buy-in, with portions of the entry fee going to both the prize pool and casino.

What’s fun about buy-in slots tourneys is that the prize pools are usually larger than other types of events. I’ve seen some online slots tournaments with prize pools worth six figures.

Freerolls

A slot machine freeroll is a tournament that doesn’t require a cash entry fee. Freerolls break down into one of two types:

  1. No entry fee at all.
  2. Buy in with loyalty points.

The good thing about the first style is that anybody can play without any type of entry. This is great for players who are trying to build a bankroll, yet don’t have cash or points.

One catch, though, is that you normally have to register at the casino before playing.

Online casinos require you to create an account before you’re eligible for these types of freerolls. Land based casinos may ask you to sign up for their mailing list before you’re entered into a free tournament.

The biggest downside to completely free slot machine tournaments is that the prize pool to entries ratio is really bad.

This means that you’ll see hundreds or even thousands of players competing for a prize pool worth a couple hundred dollars or less.

The second type of slot machine freeroll requires you to earn loyalty points and spend them on the buy-in. The good thing about these tourneys is that they’re more exclusive and the prize pools are usually larger.

The catch is that you need to play real money slots and earn loyalty points first before you’re eligible to enter these freerolls.

VIP Tournaments

Players must be invited into a VIP slot machine tournament. This means achieving a certain status in the casino’s loyalty program so that you’re eligible to play.

The good thing about VIP slots tournaments is that the prize pools are usually large compared to the number of entrants. The drawback is that you’ll need to play a lot of real money slots to achieve specific VIP status is for these tournaments.

Where Can You Find Slot Machine Tournaments?

Online Casino Slot Tournaments

Internet casinos offer a good mixture of buy-in, freeroll and VIP slot machine tournaments. Note that you must make a real money deposit before you’re eligible to play in the buy in events.

An online casino lobby will feature all of their different slots tourneys. You then scan through the list and find the tournament you wish to play.

Choosing any tourney will bring up various details such as the buy in amount, prize pool, start time, number of registered participants, leaderboard and where you can sign up.

How to Enter Online Slot Machine Tournaments

You need to create an account before you’re eligible to play in either real money tournaments or freerolls. This involves entering details like your name, home address, email, and mobile phone number.

Many freerolls allow you to play for free as long as you’re a registered member. Others require that you have loyalty points or a specific VIP status.

Again, you must make a deposit before playing in the buy-in tournaments. This entails visiting the casino banking section, choosing an available banking option and then funding your account.

Land Based Casino Slot Tournaments

Brick and mortar casinos hold slot tourneys as ways to draw players back into their venues. This means that you’ll find a lot of casino slot machine tournaments where only frequent players are invited.

Land based casinos don’t hold as many buy-in slot tournaments, but you will find these events available on occasion, too.

How to Enter Slot Machine Tournaments

You can sign up for brick and mortar slot machine tournaments at the venue itself. Some casinos might also let you sign up online, too.

Casino slots tourneys feature a limited number of machines. This means that you’ll receive a machine number and play time in order to stagger the entrants.

You need to show up to your assigned machine on time in order to participate. An official may confirm your score when your tournament session is finished.

Slot Machine Tournament Strategy

Slot machine tournaments are much like regular play where there’s not much strategy involved. Nevertheless, there are a few things you can do to influence the results.

Here are a few basic tips that’ll help you succeed:

Tip #1: Hit the Spin Button as Fast as Possible

Given that many slot machine tournaments are timed, the best thing you can do is use all of your credits within the allotted time frame.

This entails pushing spin as quickly as possible. The goal is to exhaust all of your credits before the buzzer so that you don’t leave anything on the table.

Tip #2: Get Your Rest & Take Care of Everything Beforehand

Pushing spin over and over may sound simple, but this can actually be taxing over the course of 20 minutes.

You should get your sleep and make sure to take care of everything before a tournament like eating and staying hydrated.

Tip #3: Ignore the Scoreboard

It’s tempting to check the scoreboard during a tournament to see where you stand, but this is also a waste of precious time that can cost you.

Don’t even worry about the scoreboard while you’re playing. Checking it won’t improve your chances of winning, and it’ll only slow you down.

Tip #4: Practice Bankroll Management

Bankroll management (BRM) is especially crucial in tourneys that let you rebuy, such as the multi-day events. After all, you need to consider how many buy-in’s it’s worth spending to try and move up the leaderboard.

Here’s an example:

  • Your bankroll is $200.
  • You’re playing in a $5 buy-in tourney with unlimited rebuys.
  • This means you have 40 units (200 / 5).
  • The top payout is $1,000.
  • You decide to cap your number of entries at 5 units.

The amount of units you spend is entirely up to you.

But capping your entries at 5 units ($25) ensures that you don’t blow your entire bankroll on a single event. Meanwhile, it also gives you multiple chances to move up the leaderboard and win money.

Tip #5: Take Advantage of Freerolls

Freerolls are a good way to build your bankroll, especially the ones that you can enter with points or VIP status. You should take advantage of any freeroll with a reasonable ratio of players to prize pool.

Check casino social media pages and watch your mail/email to find freeroll offers. The more you take advantage of, the better chance you have to build your bankroll for cheap.

Conclusion

Slot machines tournaments offer a nice mix of strategy and luck, which is perfect for casual gamblers.

The strategy comes in when considering bankroll management, tournament selection and spinning the reels quick enough. As for luck, slots are better known for this more than any other casino game.

Another good thing about slot machine tournaments is that you can enjoy different formats and styles. Formats include timed and credit based tourneys, while the styles include buy-in, freeroll and invitation events.

If you love playing slot machines in the standard player versus casino format, then I highly recommend trying tournaments, too.
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