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Casinos Slots Machines General Tips

First, a word about books on slot machines. We've heard all kinds of claims about systems to play slot machines. Be very wary of any such claims.

Many of such systems are based on how slot machines used to work and the casinos would probably have considered them cheating anyway.

The best strategies for playing slots today center around money management, as boring as that may sound. Since today's slots are all actually computers at heart, money management techniques are the best way to keep playing long enough to find the best machines.

We suggest you don't buy books that haven't been revised in 7 or 8 years. We also suggest that you get recommendations from other players.

It's interesting to watch casino's slot players.

1. We all have our little idiosyncrasies. Some of us carry good luck charms, some pull the arms, some prefer to press the Bet 1 button for the maximum credits and then spin, some use the Bet Max button, some pull the arm hard, some pull it ever so softly.

Does any of this make any difference to how the machine plays? Probably not, but if it makes you feel better, have more fun, or feel more lucky, we say go for it.

2. Go to casinos that cater to slot players. This is getting easier to do since many casinos, even some of the big hotel casinos on the Vegas strip are finding that significant portions of their revenue and profits come from slots. However there are still a number of things you can look for:

- Casinos with posted payout percentages on slots of 95% or higher should be preferred. A payout percentage of 95% means that the casino has an edge of 5%.

That's less than they have on American roulette (about 5.25%). If there isn't a casino in your area that has a payout percentage that high, prefer the casino that has the highest.

If you can't find the percentage posted, ask a casino employee what it is;
- Check out the slot clubs at each casino. Find out how points are tallied and what you get for those points. Also, various promotions are sometimes in affect for slot club members.

Find out what, if any, the current promotions are. Prefer the casinos with the best deals for slot club players.

- Ask about slot tournaments. Casinos who appreciate slot players use these tournaments to get them in, and hopefully keep them coming back.

- Ask the local players. If you have two or more casinos close to you, you should understand this. The locals, through experience, get a fairly good sense for the casinos with the loosest slots.

- Don't assume that just because a casino is strictly a slot house that it's the best place to play. It very well may be but you still want to check out the other points above.

3. Don't play slots in public areas or in businesses where gambling is just a side game, such as airports.

The first time we went to Vegas we probably spent $50 before we even got out of the terminal. We hit, nada, nothing, zip.

Of course it makes sense now. The airport isn't in the casino business. They're not interested in getting you to come back and play. They are only interested in getting as much of your bankroll as possible before you lose it somewhere else.

Stick with the casinos where they have a vested interest in getting you to come in, stay, and return.

4. If you're with someone else, don't play next to each for a long period of time. As we mentioned in our discussion about Money Management, the casinos spread the better paying machines around strategically.

It is doubtful that you'll find two next to each other that are both hot. If you do start out playing next to each other and you find one machine is hitting and the other is not, move from the cold machine.

You should also limit how much you play two machines yourself. The casinos love to see this. In fact most casinos will even give you two or more slot club cards so you can play two or more machines at once.

Well, if you insist on playing two at a time definitely get a second club card. But you're better off in the long run testing one at a time and playing only hot machines.

Slot machine
5. Sometimes you'll find other machines or banks

of machines that are near impossible to get on. The regulars know something. Take advantage of it.

Hold onto your money and wait.

6. Don't look back.

It's happened to all of us. We walk away from a machine and someone comes in behind us and after only a spin or two they hit something really big. Don't worry about it. The next time it might be you coming in from behind for that big win. You can't be afraid to walk away from a cold machine for this reason.

More times than not, if it isn't hitting for you, it won't hit for whoever comes in behind you. Keep in mind too that the random number generator in today's slots is cranking out spins whether you're playing it or not, in fact hundreds of spins per second.

What spin you get when you drop your coins in or hit the button depends on whatever spin happened to be selected in that particular millisecond. If you dropped the coins a millisecond faster or slower, you would have gotten a different spin.

So even if you had stayed at the machine, the odds that you would have spun the reel at the same millisecond as the player that came in behind you are pretty small.

7. Playing progressives. A progressive machine has a jackpot that grows over time and play. It starts out at the minimum jackpot that you would normally get for whatever type of machine it is.

But the jackpot steadily grows until it's won, at which time it's reset to the minimum again.

Progressive machines are usually linked to other machines in a group or bank. Play on any of the machines in the bank affects the progressive, and all machines in the bank are playing for that one jackpot.

There are two types of progressive banks, local and statewide (or even national). We prefer the local progressives. Local progressive jackpots are usually smaller than the statewide because they are based only on play on the machines in that one bank in that casino.

However, if a particular local progressive is popular those machines may play looser than many others in the casino.

Look for local progressives that you can't get on. If they are always busy, there's a reason. Take a look at what the others players have for credits, or what they have in buckets. If there are two or three players with several hundred credits keep watch and take a seat as soon as it opens.

Get to know how big the progressive typically gets before it is hit (ask casino employees or other players). If it's getting close to this amount play for it.

We stay away from statewide and national progressives. These machines are also in banks but they are linked with other banks in other casinos in other areas of the state or several states.

The jackpots on these big progressives can be impressive, usually from tens of thousands up to millions of dollars.

However, to get the jackpots that big they need to take in a lot of money.
Our experience is that statewide and national progressive machines play fairly tight and your odds of hitting the jackpot is smaller than on the local progressives.

8. Play tournaments.
Most casinos that appreciate slot players have tournaments of some kind. There is a small fee up front to get in, $20 is typical.

But besides being a lot of fun the winner may get $300, $500, or more depending on the tournament. That's an excellent return for $20 of play. The tournaments differ somewhat from casino to casino but here is an example of a typical tournament in a local casino.

You pay a $20 entry fee and select a machine.
The machines used for the tournament have their payout percentage cranked up so you get to hit a lot of stuff, even jackpots. You sit down and the machine is set for ten minutes of play. The time starts the first time you hit the Bet Max button.

You keep hitting the button and keep the machine spinning as much as possible for the ten minutes. Whatever credits you rack up during that time are your points for that round (sorry, you don't get to cash out).
The eight highest scorers go on for round two.

You play again for 10 minutes and then the tournament money is paid out something like this: $25 to 6th, 7th, and 8th places, $50 to 5th place, $75 to 4th place, $100 to 3rd place, $200 to second place, and $300 or more to 1st place.

The first place prize usually depends on how many people played the first round.
The casino is looking to only break even at best so since the prize money is a total of $800 they need 40 players to break even.

If there are less than that the prize money stays the same. For every player over 40, the 1st place prize goes up $20! Sometimes we go just for the tournament and maybe play a little between rounds. Some of the larger casinos, in Vegas for example, will have higher stake tournaments where the entry fee may be $200 and up, but the prizes are usually in the tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Slot machine

9. Try to always play the maximum coins accepted. We're not going to tell you that you should never play less than the maximum coins accepted. This is really a personal choice as long as you understand the payout schedule on the machine you're playing. However, there are machines that you should always play with max coins.

These are progressives, multi-paylines, side game machines like Spin 'til You Wins, or machines where you buy your payout.

Sizzling Sevens is an example of a machine where you buy your payout. If you play one coin you're buying payouts for anything up to triple bars.

But you have to play a second coin to buy the payouts for mixed sevens, red sevens, or Sizzling Sevens. A multi-payline machine has more than one payline.
It may have three or even five paylines. For each additional coin you play up to the max, another one of the paylines becomes active. Any winning combination on any of the active paylines pays out.

Spin 'til You Wins have a bonus or side game. If you get a special symbol on the payline, a wheel at the top of the machine becomes active and you press a button to spin it.

The wheel has several different credit amounts on it and whatever it lands on you win. However, you have to have played the maximum coins for the bonus wheel to be activated.
We explain progressives elsewhere on this page. The bottom line is always play the max coins on these types of machines. Check the payout schedule carefully on all other machines.

If there is any type of side game or bonus that requires maximum coins, play the max. If the jackpot for max coin play is better than for fewer coins, play the max. For example, if the jackpot for 1 coin is 800, for 2 coins is 1600, and for the maximum of 3 coins is 2400, then all three payouts are 800 for 1.

You could play less than max on this machine if the other payouts all work similarly (these type of machines are sometimes refered to as multipliers. However, if the 3 coin payout is significantly larger, we suggest you play max coins.

Another example is a 3 coin Sizzling Seven. This is a buy your payout machine so you know you need to play at least 2 coins to be eligible for any sevens. But at first glance it might seem OK to play just two coins not three.

But a 500 coin jackpot for 2 coins is a 250 for 1 payout where as a 1000 coin jackpot for 3 coins is a 333 for 1 payout. A 150 coin payout for 2 coin red sevens is a 75 for 1 payout whereas a 300 coin payout for 3 coin red sevens is 100 for 1.

Always play max coins on 2 and 3 coin Sizzling Sevens or any other buy your payout type machines.

10. Join the slot club!
Slot clubs are a great way to improve the return on your play. Most casinos that appreciate slot players have a club of some sort. It costs nothing to join and you're issued a card that looks something like a credit card.

You inset the card in a special slot on or near the machine you're going to play. The card identifies you to the casino's network computer. While you play the computer is awarding points based on how much coin you play.
There are usually LCD readouts on or near the card slots that show what you're earning and how many points you currently have.

Sounds OK, but what do the points gain you? That depends on the casino. The benefits could include cash back based on total points, free meals, free merchandise such as hats and t-shirts, tickets to shows, etc.

There are also promotions from time to time that may only be offered to club members, such as buy $20 in coin and get $5 free, a free nights stay in the casino hotel, and special slot tournaments just for club members.

Since the club costs nothing to join it is well worth the minimal effort to remember to put the card in the machine. And if you lose your card you don't lose the points you've accumulated.
The card is used just to identify you to the computer. Your points are stored on the casino network computer.

If you lose your card just go to the slot club booth and get it replaced, points intact.

11. Some Common Myths.
Myth? The slot club card and slot machine microprocessors communicate. Complete myth! Using the casino slot club card has zero impact on the way the machine plays. The machine does not know if you're using it or not, and it doesn't care. In fact, it would be illegal for the casino to even attempt this.

Myth? A machine that's just hit big or hit a jackpot isn't going to hit again for sometime. Well, it is mostly myth. Just because it hits something big doesn't mean it will immediately cool off.

You should stick with it for at least awhile, using techniques in the Money Management section. Here are a couple of examples.

We were doing 'research' at the Sac and Fox casino north of Topeka in the summer. I was playing a bank of dollar Sizzling Sevens (not progressives) and a lady a few machines down hit the Sizzling Sevens.

I thought, "cool, I'd love to do that!" She had to wait a while for the casino management to come pay her the $1000. After they paid her they asked her to spin it one more time to get the jackpot off the reel (this is pretty standard).

On that spin she hit Sizzling Sevens again! I couldn't believe it. I think the casino management had a hard time believing it as well. But they paid her off again and she was a pretty happy camper.

We were at the President Riverboat Casino in Davenport, Iowa last January. We were playing a bank of quarter progressive Double Cherry Bars. I wasn't doing too well until I hit Double Cherry Bar, Double Cherry Bar, green seven for 800 credits. I waited for the credits to rack up and decided to keep playing. Three spins later I was peeking through the space between the machines and talking to my partner when I heard coins start to spit out into the coin tray. I looked and I had hit double, double, green sevens again!

Myth? A machine that hasn't hit for sometime is 'due.' Again, mostly myth. If a machine is cold, it's cold. Sure, it's going to hit something big eventually.

The problem is that by the time it does you'll be lucky to break even. While even a cold machine will hit winning streaks at times it isn't worth what it may cost to wait it out. Stick to techniques like those mentioned in the Money Management section and you'll do better.

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Disclaimer: All the Systems, Strategies, tips and information included in this site were received "as is" and we do not assume or share any responsibility for the results the person(s) might obtain when applying or playing using them.

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