Best Strategies for Playing Slot Games Online and in the Casino

Three-Reel Slot FaceSlot machines have always been some of the most alluring aspects of casinos. With their flashy lights, dynamic sounds, and exciting feel, what’s not to love?

And as gambling technology becomes more advanced, slot machine manufacturers are taking their designs to the next level.

Modern slots are played online just as much as they’re played in brick and mortar casinos. So, some of the conventions of traditional slot machines might not apply to online slots.

This handy guide not only shows you the best slots strategy, it also does the following:

  • Explains how slot machines work (both online and in person)
  • Provides a glossary of relevant slots terminology
  • Debunks some slot strategy misconceptions
  • And gives our recommendations for the best online casinos for slots!

How Do Slot Machines Work?

The first step to digging deep into slot strategy is to understand how slot machines work, specifically online slot machines.

All slot machines use random number generators—RNGs—to determine a sequence of numbers, symbols, or letters. Sometimes, these numbers align, and you win!

The slot machine is always generating numbers, even when it’s not in use. So, by pressing the “SPIN” button or pulling the lever, you select the most recent numbers from the RNG.

Random number generators are highly popular with slot machines because they’re almost impossible to predict accurately. You might be able to get close by watching for patterns. But unlike other games of chance (like roulette), you’ll never be able to beat the computer 100% of the time.

However, that doesn’t mean there isn’t a strategy for playing slots.

Important Slot Machine Terms

Term Definition
Reel  The reel refers to the actual wheel on old slot machines, the part that spins when you pull the lever. Newer slot machines are all digital, and reels are becoming a thing of the past.
Payline  This is the specific line on the slot machine where you’ll be rewarded for matching number or symbols.
Stops  In its simplest form, a stop is just a stopping point for the reel. Old slot machines had around 10 stops per reel, but newer slot machines have a greater variety of symbols, so they have between 25 and 50 stops.
Weighing  The virtual reel mapping software in each slot machine weighs which symbols are the most valuable to land on, and reduces the number of times that symbol will show up. If a fiery 7 offers more rewards than a simple 7, the simple 7 will show up more often.
Return to Player (RTP)  RTP is the percentage of money returned to players from a slot machine. For example, a slot machine with 98% RTP, for every $1 put in, the machine will payout 98 cents. Every slot machine game has a different RTP.
Progressive Jackpot  The slot machine’s prize pool actively increases until someone wins.
Taste  This is when the slot machine pays out small amounts to encourage players to keep spinning.
Variance  Variance is all about risk. Low variance slot machines has smaller wins that occur more frequently, whereas a high variance slot machine has larger wins but they happen less frequently.
Virtual Reels  These reels are what the computer uses to control the actual display on the slot machine. The virtual reel is where certain symbols are weighted.
Penny Slots  Low bet slot machines that invite players to play for a long period of time because of the small betting investment.
Bet Max and Bet Min  For each slot machine there is a different minimum and maximum bet. For example, on penny slots, the minimum bet might be 15 cents, whereas on a higher-stakes slot, the minimum bet might be $5.
Slot Machine Tournaments  A slot machine tournament is an event where teams of players take turns seeing how many credits they can win out of a machine. Tournaments often award prizes to players who won the most out of the slot machine.

There are many more slot machine terms out there, but this list represents the most commonly used phrases and terms.

Land-Based Casinos vs Online Virtual Slots

There are a couple of differences between the traditional land-based casino slots and the slots that can be found online.

For Example:

Online casinos can offer higher payout percentages on each slot machine because they don’t have as much overhead cost. A brick and mortar casino has to pay for their building, staff, all the free drinks they give out to customers, etc. Hence, lower payouts on slot machines.

Plus, online casinos can offer much more variety when it comes to the kinds of slots. Land-based casinos have a finite amount of space, and tend to populate it with popular slot machines that will increase their revenue.

The one thing that land-based casinos have going for them is the instantaneous payouts. Just walk up to the cashier and check out. But certain online casinos offer fast payout, so you can get your winnings faster.

Is There Really Strategy to Playing Real Money Slots?

iPhone Slots 3 ReelBy this point, you’ve probably gathered that slot machines, whether you’re playing online or at a real money casino, are completely random. But if that’s the case, is there a strategy on how to win online slots?

Like with any game of chance, there’s no surefire way of winning; otherwise, everyone would be doing it. The best strategy for slots comes down to implementing the best practices and sheer luck.

Best Strategy for Slots

When playing slots, there’s no way to stay ahead of the game. Unlike blackjack or poker, there isn’t a defined table of how to play for the best outcomes.

But as long as you stay observant and follow these rules, you can increase your chances of winning at online and real-life slots alike.

  • Research the Best Slot Machines: Not all slot machines have the same RTP. Some can be as low as 75% and as high as 99%. The game you’re playing might be really fun. But if it has a low RTP, your chances of hitting big are fairly slim.
  • Research the State/Casino You’re In: This doesn’t apply so much to online slots as it does for brick and mortar casinos. Each state and reservation has their own baseline for RTP minimums. You can do some research on which states have the best RTPs and which casinos offer the best payouts.
  • Simple Games Have Better Odds: As we mentioned before, some slot machine games are very complex and offer multiple ways to win. And while these games might be intriguing, simpler games with less variables usually have better odds. What they lack in flashy presentation, they make up for with higher payouts.
  • Choose How You Play: There are many ways for gambling enthusiasts to play slots. Are you a low variance player who likes to play small-bet slot machines for long times? Or are you a high variance player who likes high bets, high risks, and high reward? Plus, there are plenty of free slots out there as well, for someone who likes no-risk entertainment.
  • Progressive or Non-Progressive Slots?: State-wide progressive slot machines have far lower chances of winning because of the sheer volume of participants. Plus, progressive slot machines take 21 cents of every dollar to go toward jackpots or casino profits, which mean less, small money payouts.
  • Manage Your Bankroll: It’s very easy to get sucked down a wormhole and spend your bankroll within the first few minutes of playing the slots. Take it slow and keep track of your funds so you can play more strategically.
  • Know the Rules: Most slot machines in brick and mortar casinos have recommendations for success or rules posted on the machine. For online casinos, the rules should be on the same page, or you can always look them up online. Some games have spin-based rules, meaning you need to reach a certain number of spins to initiate a reaction. Manage your cash, and manage your spins to get the most out of the game.
  • Play Other Games: If you’re a dedicated gambler looking to win consistently, slot machines aren’t the way to go. They are fun but rely too much on chance to be profitable long-term. Playing table games like blackjack, poker, or roulette can increase your chances of winning.

Fact or Fiction: Slot Machine Myths

Green Question MarkAs the popularity and complexity of slot machines increases, some of the old sayings or strategies become less relevant. Here are some common misconceptions about slot machines and slot machine strategy that you should know.

Myth #1: Betting in Small Amounts at First Increases Your Chances at Winning Big Later

This myth might have applied way back in the day when three-reel mechanical slot machines ruled casino floors. But in the world of RNGs and virtual reels, you’re just as likely to win on the first time you spin as the 50th time you spin. Because the RNG is always generating numbers, you might win big on your first spin!

Myth #2: You Can Predict the Winning Cycle of Online Slots

Again, when three-reel slot machines were all the rage, predicting their outcomes might have been possible. But modern slot machines have so many moving components, often operating with more than five reels, multiple winning combinations, and a complex algorithm.

Predicting a winning cycle of an online slot machine is impossible, because there isn’t a pattern. But, looking for certain signs and knowing the right slot machine strategies can increase your chances of success.

Myth #3: Casinos Can Alter the Payout Percentage of Their Slots

While this myth is 99% false, there is some truth to it. In Las Vegas, some casinos are testing slot machines with adjustable payouts. But there is still a state minimum payout percentage that applies, and the vast majority of slot machines, online and in-person, have a set RTP.

Myth #4: A Slot Machine That Just Hit the Jackpot Won’t Win Again for a Long Time

This myth goes back to the first myth. All slot machines are randomized. So, at any point, they might produce a jackpot-winning combination. Is it likely that this combination will happen twice in a row? No, it’s highly unlikely but not impossible. Don’t give up on a game just because it just paid out!

Myth #5: Using the Auto-Spin Feature for Online Slots Decreases Your Chances

Nope, online slot machines don’t care if you’re auto-spinning or clicking the button by hand every time. The online slot machine also can’t tell if you’re using bonus money or free spins gifted to you by the casino.

Our Top Picks for Online Casinos for Slots

When you’re looking for an online casino for real money slots, you have to consider a lot of factors. New player bonuses, free spins, game variety, RTP for their games, etc.

If you want to get playing online slots sooner rather than later, check out our recommendations for best online slots casinos:

Las Atlantis

Las Atlantis Logo

Las Atlantis is a very new online casino, but it’s by far one of the best. It’s home to many high-quality slot machines with reliable payouts. Their website is clean and easy to use, plus they offer massive deposit bonuses!

Super Slots

Super Slots

If you’re looking for the best selection of new and old slot machines alike, Super Slots is your one-stop shop. They have classic slot machines and movie slots, like Jurassic Park. Plus, Super Slots regularly has slot tournaments and boasts a high payout rate.

Wild Casino

Wild Casino Logo

This online casino has been since 1991 and is a big name amongst seasoned gamblers. They offer 100% deposit bonuses up to $5K and accept many kinds of payment methods, like Visa, Bitcoin, bank wire, and e-wallets.

Red Dog Casino

Red Dog Logo

This casino has the highest RTP slots across the Internet, including favorites like Spirit of the Inca (97.1%) and Sevens Wild (96.65%). Plus, Red Dog offers fast payout options like Bitcoin.

Slot Machine Strategies FAQ

Can I Win Real Money Playing Online Slots?

When you play with a licensed online casino, you can cash out just like you would at a traditional casino. Your payment method determines how fast you’ll see your winnings in your wallet.

Are Land-Based Slots Safer Than Online Slots?

No; slot machines, whether online or in a casino, must be secure, licensed, and tested for fairness. That being said, picking the right online casino can improve the security of your online gambling.

How Can I Find an Online Slot Machine’s Payout Percentage?

Most times, it’s as simple as Googling the name of the slot followed by RTP. For example, if you search for “Orbs of Atlantis slot RTP,” you’ll find that particular slot machine has a return percentage of 96.6% and is considered to be a high variance game.

Physical slot machines often have the RTP information in the menu of the game or on a placard on the machine. If not, asking an employee or doing a quick Web search should yield results.

How Do I Know If a Slot Machine Is Really Random?

If you’re playing at a reputable online casino, all the slot machines should have been tested to ensure randomness. Non-random slot machines are illegal, and any reputable establishment—online or in person—has to undergo frequent checks to test slot machines.

Are Free Slots Actually Free?

“Free” is one of those words everyone likes to throw around, so you have to double-check that a slot machine is actually free before committing to playing. Some online casinos offer no-risk free slots for pure amusement, no money involved. Other site offer “free” spins on real money slots, so steer clear from those if you’re not willing to spend your cash.