Preamble: Charles August Fey, a Bavarian-born American inventor, is credited with building the world's first coin-operated slot machine game back in 1894, in San Francisco, California. The Liberty Bellwas a remarkable feat of mechanical engineering; a watershed moment for the casino industry. This rudimentary gaming device featured 3 spinning reels, with heart, diamond, and spade symbols neatly painted onto each reel. Of course, the eponymous Liberty Bell featured prominently, with a generous payout going to players landing 3 Liberty Bells on a row – a $0.50 payday. Demand for these slot machine games was unprecedented, and within no time at all, massive manufacturing companies like Herbert Mills from Chicago began rolling out similar slot machine games en masse. 

The Ultimate Guide to Winning on Slot Machines 

Now let’s go behind-the-scenes to reveal the secrets to winning on slot machines

How Do Slot Machine Games Really Work?

Slot machine games remain one of the great mysteries of the casino world. These engaging attractions deliver spin after spin of fascinating gameplay, with the potential for super-sized winnings. From a player's perspective, the mechanics of slot machine games are simple. You place a bet, click the spin button, cross your fingers, and hope for a win. Behind-the-scenes, slots are arguably the most complex gaming machines at the casino. Before we delve into the inner-mechanics of slot machine games, it's worth highlighting some of the different types of slot machine games [Source: Nevada Gaming Control Board: Gaming Revenue Reports] that are available to players.

  • $0.01 slot machines
  • $0.05 slot machines
  • $0.25 slot machines
  • $1 slot machines
  • Megabucks slot machines
  • $5 slot machines
  • $100 slot machines
  • Multi Denomination slot machines
  • Other slot machines

Tip #1 – Secrets to Winning on Slot Machine Games

One of the least understood concepts among casual players is that of an RTP. The return to player percentage is a theoretical number which is calculated over millions of spins [over the long-term]. This number is programmed into every single slot machine game by the manufacturer, by way of complex algorithms. The RTP is always less than 100%. In theoretical terms, the higher the RTP the better the payouts for players.

Let's take 3 examples to illustrate how RTPs are designed to work:

Slot Machine Game A ⇨ RTP 90%

A player who bets $1,000 on Slot Machine Game A can expect to win back $900 over the long-term [90% of $1000]. A 90% RTP is the equivalent of a 10% House Edge.

Slot Machine Game B ⇨ RTP 93%

A player who bets $1,000 on Slot Machine Game B can expect to win back $930 over the long- term [93% of $1000]. A 93% RTP is the equivalent of a 7% House Edge.

Slot Machine Game C ⇨ RTP 95%

A player who bets $1,000 on Slot Machine Game C can expect to win back $950 over the long-term [95% of $1,000]. A 95% RTP is the equivalent of a 5% House Edge.

It's worth pointing out that you will always be best served playing a slot machine game with a High RTP and a low corresponding house edge. The flipside of the coin is that you will have to select slot machine games with much higher betting denominations in order to qualify for the higher RTP.

Slot Machine Game Bet Sizes & Attendant RTPs 

Las Vegas and Atlantic City are the gambling meccas of the United States. While specific RTP numbers will vary from one region to the next, the following rules hold true across the board for different denomination slot machine games:

The betting minimum of a slot machine game plays an important part in the RTP (Return to Player) of each game. In Las Vegas, Nevada, the lowest-paying slot machine games are the Penny Slots, with an 88.33% RTP on The Strip, 88.96% RTP in DowntownLas Vegas, 90.53% RTP on the Boulder Strip, and 90.79% RTP in North Las Vegas.

$0.05 slot machine games have an improved RTP. Continuing with Las Vegas as an example, these Nickel Slots have a 91.96% RTP on The Strip, 93.32% RTP in DowntownVegas, 96.30% RTP in Boulder Strip, and 95.24% RTP in North Las Vegas. The $0.25 slot machine games generally offer better RTPs than lower-denomination slot machine games. For example, $0.25 slot machines have an 89.34% RTP on The Strip, 93.91% RTP Downtown, 95.77% RTP in Boulder Strip, and 96.27% RTP in North Las Vegas.

$1 slot machine games tend to offer value-for-money to players. Because these games cost more to play, players are generally rewarded for their patronage with higher RTPs. The RTP on The Strip is 92.34%, and the RTP Downtown is 94.12%. $1 slot machines in Boulder Strip have an RTP of 95.49%, while the RTP of $1 slots in North Las Vegas is 95.62%. 

The $1 Megabucks slot machines are progressive jackpot games. While they are expensive to play, progressive jackpots are notoriously bad payers. On The Strip, the RTP is 87.31%, in DowntownLas Vegas the RTP is 86.40%, and on Boulder Strip it is 87.61%. In North Las Vegas, $1 Megabucks machines have an RTP of 86.98%.

Viewed in perspective, all slot machines in Las Vegas, Nevada offer the highest payout at the Boulder Strip with an overall RTP of 94.26%. In North Las Vegas the RTP is 93.34%. In DowntownLas Vegas, the RTP is 92.22%, and on the Vegas Strip, the RTP is 91.84%.

Tip #2 – Progressive Jackpot Slot Machine Games have low RTPs

In poker, the concept of Advantage Play is a real phenomenon. In gambling parlance, Advantage Play is described as, ‘tactics and strategies used by players who seek an advantage in a game… employing gambling systems that work, such as card counting without the use of electronic, digital, or mechanical devices.’ Extrapolating this concept to slot machine games is easily done.

We have already established that Penny Slots, Nickel Slots, and Quarter Slots have relatively low RTPs compared to $1 Slots, $100 Slots, and other high-denomination slot machine games. The rationale behind this is simple: Most people can afford to play affordable slots, and casinos stand to benefit from games that most people play. The RTP on these games is therefore lower. 

An inverse relationship exists between the number of players and the costs associated with playing slot machine games. The higher the price, the fewer the number of players. The only way to balance the proverbial tables is to increase the RTP of high denomination slot machine games. 

Progressive Jackpot Slots present an interesting case. Recall that a progressive jackpot slot is linked to a network of connected slots. A percentage of every bet taken goes towards the progressive jackpot prize pool. It is worth highlighting that a Jackpot Slot is not the same as a Progressive Jackpot Slot. A slot machine game can have a fixed jackpot that is independent of the number of players, or the number of connected slots on a network. The jackpot can either be fixed, or variable, depending on each individual slot machine game.

Progressive jackpot slots rank among the most popular of all the slot machine games – thanks largely to the enticing payouts they promise lucky players. Much of the appeal is smoke and mirrors however. If you are looking for secrets to winning on slot machines, you're probably better served by avoiding progressive slots by dint of their low RTPs. Your chances are significantly higher with Classic Slots [fruit slots with 3 reels], Standard Non-Progressive Video Slots, $1 Slots, $5 Slots, and $25 Slots. 

You may be asking why your chances are so much lower with progressive slots? Remember that every single spin of a slot machine game is 100% random. The specialized programs – Random Number Generators – guarantee that every outcome is independent of all previous outcomes. Knowing that, consider the following:

  • If casinos allowed the RTPs of progressive jackpot slots to be much higher, the jackpots would never grow as large. 
  • Every single player stands an equal chance of winning the progressive jackpot. On a standard slot machine game with a limited number of players, your chances of winning a jackpot may be 1/1,000, but with a progressive jackpot game your chances are significantly lower, possibly 1/100,000.
  • Players can only win the maximum progressive jackpot prize if they wager the maximum bet amount per spin. With low RTPs and high maximum bets, you are much better served playing different types of slot machine games where your advantage for higher bet amounts is greater.

Tip #3 – Never Play Beyond Your Slot Machines Budget

As with all expenses, a budget is sacrosanct. A slot machine budget will serve you well as you chase down mega-money jackpots on these casino games. Players often ponder about the best-kept secrets to winning on slot machines, forgetting that a common sense approach reigns supreme. If your slots budget is $250 per session, that's your cap. 

Assuming a $250 slots budget on a slot machine game with a 95% RTP, you could theoretically win back $237.50 if everything went like clockwork. By the same token, you could win a monster-sized jackpot over the short-term [absolutely anything is possible with slots], you could lose your $250, or a fraction thereof. There are myriad possibilities with every single slot machine spin. Expect the unexpected!

Tip #4 – Responsible Gambling Secrets to Winning on Slot Machines

Experts routinely draw parallels to other areas of life to highlight the obvious. For example, with lotteries you've got to be in it to win it. That doesn't mean you must play recklessly. Experts strongly advise players to set aside a fixed sum of money a.k.a. a budget which they are prepared to lose playing slot machine games. Naturally, there is always the expectation of winning, but that's an added extra. There is absolutely no way to predict when a slot machine will pay out. Every spin generates a truly random outcome – irrespective of the nuanced ways that players attempt to cajole Lady Luck into blessing the reels on the next spin.

Hard & Fast Rules to Stick By:

Never exceed your slots budget, no matter how strong your ‘winning intuition’ appears to be. Gamblers Fallacy is a known phenomenon, leading to extraordinary losses for many players. Stick to a budget, no matter what. If you win, pocket your winnings and walk away a happy camper. If you lose, you can come back to play another day. Never gamble with money that you cannot afford to lose. Never gamble with money that doesn't belong to you. Never gamble to pay for your day-to-day expenses. As a responsible gambler, you must always set a limit and stick to it.

If you find your bankroll being depleted to quickly on $1 slots, drop down a gear and switch to $0.25 slots. If you're experiencing accelerated losses, drop down a gear to $0.05 slots, or even Penny Slots. The dual objectives of enjoying maximum game time and potential slots winnings must always be factored into the equation when you are looking for secrets to winning one slot machines. Nobody wants to blow through a $250 slots bankroll in a couple of minutes – you want to enjoy the games you play, when incremental amounts, or if possible hit a jackpot payday.

Stagger your slot gaming sessions into short-term bursts. Play and walk away. Play and walk away. That way, you get to maximize your time spent playing slots, you avoid the emotional rollercoaster of playing on tilt [euphoric or depressed play], and you get much a better perspective on your gaming sessions. Some people are naturally lucky – you never know what the next slots spin will reveal. In much the same way, you can't win the lottery if you don't have a ticket. With slot machine games, you simply have to spin it to win it!