When you first start playing slot machines, it’s easy to make your decisions about which games to play based on one thing and one thing only: the size of the jackpots.
All veteran slots players know that the sight of a Mega Moolah jackpot worth $10 million or more is difficult to resist. It’s also too easy to find yourself clicking the “jackpots” tab of a casino game menu and being lured in by the ever-increasing progressive jackpots on the screen. Why do you think the casinos put those there? They know we can’t resist a shot at millions.
Yet, hard-won experience will also teach you that the slot machines with the biggest jackpots aren’t always the best ones to play. There are many other factors to consider. If you’re a new slots player or are just looking to improve your knowledge base and win slots more often, you’ll find the information here incredibly useful.
When you’re done reading, you may never see slot machines the same way.
Understand Slot Game RTP
RTP stands for Return to Player. Every slot machine is programmed to return a certain percentage of money fed into it to players. This keeps the players happy while also guaranteeing the casino a steady profit over the life-cycle of the machine.
RTPs are usually recorded as percentages. For example, the popular NetEnt slot Gonzo’s Quest has an RTP of 96%. In dollar terms, that means that for every $1,000 bet on Gonzo’s Quest, the game is programmed to return $960 to players.
Don’t get this twisted – it does not mean that you will win back $960 out of every $1,000 you wager. You could lose thousands of dollars to a machine, as could hundreds of other players, before one lucky player takes back most of the money.
However, most of the money paid back comes in the form of smaller wins throughout the game. You’ll notice that as you play slot games, your balance will constantly be depleted, restored, depleted again, and restored. That’s part of the basic ups and downs of playing slot games. How much the game pays back is determined by the RTP which can’t be altered. It’s literally written into the code of the game and is the same at every casino which hosts it.
Understand Slot Game Volatility
We all know people with highly volatile personalities, and we all know people who are as cool as a cucumber. Believe it or not, slot machines also have their own temperment.
The volatility of a video slot tells us something about how it will pay. For example, a low volatility game like Starburst will pay a steady flow of smaller wins. That doesn’t mean that big wins can’t come, but it does mean that you won’t wait dozens of spins before you win something. In a low volatility game, it’s rare to even experience 5-10 spins without a win. However, the wins might not be that impressive.
High volatility slots are the exact opposite. It’s not unusual to experience losing streaks which can quickly chew up your balance if you bet too big. However, payouts tend to be bigger.
RMOC Tip: If you’re using a free spins bonus with only 10 or 20 spins, it’s better to play low volatility games. By doing so, you’ll have a better chance of meeting the wagering requirements. High volatility games can eat 10 or 20 spins without a single win.
You can find out the volatility of a slot machine in our online slot reviews. Be sure to read them before picking a slot machine to play.
Understand Video Slot Features
Before you play any slot for real money, take a minute to open the paytable and study the features. At most slot sites, you can also play the games in demo mode to test them before you commit to making a deposit.
The bonus rounds and features which a video slot offers can make all the difference. A simple thing like a 3x multiplier can boost your wins massively. You won’t know this if you don’t study the features first, though.
Let’s look at an example. Imagine that there are two slot machines. They both have jackpots of 5,000x, they both have a free spins bonus round, and they both cost a minimum of $0.50 per spin. However, one of them has a 5x multiplier in the free spins round, and the other doesn’t.
It’s an easy decision, isn’t it? You should always play the game with the multiplier if all other things are equal. There’s a chance that the other game might have a slightly better RTP, but in the example above, it’s always worth going for that extra chance to win 500% bigger payouts.
We’ve written an entire piece on the different slot machine features. We cover things like sticky and expanding wilds, free spins, bonus wheels, picking games, jackpot rounds, and more. We advise you to learn how these work before selecting a slot machine to play.
Understand Slot Machine Software
The internet has opened up lots of business opportunities, and many savvy investors are jumping on the online slots bandwagon. This has led to an explosion in the number of software companies creating and releasing slot machines. They try to outdo each other in all sorts of ways, and the innovation of the past couple of decades has been impressive.
Unfortunately, there are also rogue operators in the space. It’s relatively easy to program a basic slot machine, and sadly there are lots of unscrupulous casinos which run rigged games which you have no chance of winning.
There are even pirated versions of legit games. To the untrained eye, these will seem like trustworthy slots such as Mega Moolah, but they will actually be counterfeit versions with different code.
You can avoid getting ripped off by playing at legit online casinos which run games from trusted operators like NetEnt, Microgaming, Playtech, IGT, and others. These software companies have won lots of awards and have a long history of running fair slot games.
How can you avoid the pirated versions which so often look and feel just like the originals? The only way to ensure that is to pick the slots site which you play at carefully. Read our casino reviews to find the best, most-trusted casino sites online. Our experts go into detail about them, so you’ll have all of the information you need to make a good decision.
Understand Your Own Goals
Every slots player has slightly different objectives when they log in, make a deposit, and play a video slot. Of course, we all want to win as much money as possible, but we all have slightly different ways of going about it and different ideas about how much we want to win.
For example, some players go in with no strategy and aim for progressive jackpots. That’s fine. You’re throwing yourself at the mercy of lady luck, and as unlikely as you are to win a Mega Fortune jackpot, it does happen, and it could happen to your just as easily as it could to anyone else. If this is your goal, pick a progressive jackpot slot and go for it. Which game you play doesn’t matter that much.
Other players go in with the objective to beat the wagering requirements on a casino bonus and withdraw it. That’s an achievable goal if you know what you’re doing. To pull this off, you should carefully pick a low volatility slot game from the list of permitted games, and you should bet the minimum bet per spin until you have a large win, after which you should increase your bet sizes.
Some other players just want to be entertained. They know a big win is unlikely, but reason that $50 spent for a few hours of thrilling entertainment is worth it. In this case, pick a game with lots of exciting features. There are now slots which seem more like video games than simple slot machines. Go for those if entertainment is your primary objective.
Which Slot Will You Play?
If you’ve made it this far, you now know more about online slots than the vast majority of players. You won’t win every single time, but you will avoid some of the most common mistakes which slot players make, and you’ll be able to hunt and find the best value games.
So, which game will you play? We suggest reading a few of our slot reviews, trying the games for free, and then grabbing a free spins bonus at a trusted slot site.
Will lady luck shower you with a mega jackpot? That remains to be seen. However unlikely it may seem, it’s even more unlikely if you don’t try. Good luck out there!