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Online slots are hands down some of the most popular casino games, which is why they have traction across the entire internet gambling world. There is a certain beauty to watching those reels and wheels spin, but ultimately nothing beats the feeling of winning real money at an online slot.
By design, however, every online slot is a game of chance, which means luck plays a big role in whether you’ll walk away with your pockets full of money or run quickly through your bankroll. There is no single most effective strategy when it comes to winning money at the slots.
Even worse, there is much noise and many so-called “best winning strategies” that are touted by ill-reputed sites. Online slot machines are meant to be random, and your chances of winning often boil down to your game plan, bankroll management and individual strategy.
That’s not to say online slot players are doomed from the start. In fact, there are several tips that can help you rake in decent wins if you’re willing to be a disciplined player. That's why we put together this guide to help you learn how to play slots online for money. We’ll cover strategies and tips on how to win frequently and have more fun while playing online slots.
Is There Any Strategy to Slots?
There’s a ton to love about slots. A well-designed slot machine from a reputable provider like NetEnt, Microgaming, IGT or Yggdrasil Gaming usually has wonderful graphics, rich gameplay, and lots of bonuses. But, the truth of the matter is that the odds of online slots are set in a way that the house has an edge -- hence the popular phrase house edge.
The house edge varies depending on the slot, the casino where you play, and the provider. Add that to the fact that slots are random, and you get a casino game that’s very complex and for which it is hard to develop a playing strategy.
As a result, there is rarely any strategy to slots. They are not games of strategy by nature. Ideally, your chances of winning at an online slot are determined by its Return To Player (RTP). This is often expressed as a percentage.
For example, a popular slot like Wheel Of Fortune by IGT has an RTP of 96.6%. That means that the house edge is around 3.4%, so you should ideally win 96.6 times out of 100 tries. In reality, this is not always true.
That being said, calculating the true house edge of an online slot is very difficult, which makes it even harder to create a strategy for it. This is what makes slots different from other casino games of strategy like Roulette, Baccarat or video poker.
Can You Win Money on Online Slots?
The answer to that is a resounding yes.
As we’ve mentioned earlier, online slots are games of chance. Every player has the same probability of winning. So if Lady Luck is on your side, you can definitely walk away with money.
The trick is to know when to quit, how to manage your bankroll (the amount you set aside and are willing to lose), and how to choose the right online slot.
Are Online Slots Rigged?
You have probably read or heard many stories that claim that online slots are rigged, and that slot gamblers are doomed from the word “go.” That’s not exactly true.
The thing you need to know right off the bat about online slots is how winners are determined. As a game of chance, slots use an RNG (Random Number Generator) system, which is a computer program that continuously generates random numbers.
Slots call to the RNG for a random number to determine when each spin will stop. Don’t forget that the whole process is 100% random, leaving the likelihood of winning truly down to chance. Each spin of a slot is also independent, which is to say that the outcome of the next spin will not be influenced results from the previous spins.
There’s one unfortunate truth, though. In many cases, the RNG system is programmed to give the casino (the house) some mathematical advantage. That’s why we often talk about the house edge in the gambling universe. Nonetheless, that technically doesn’t mean that these online slots are rigged.
If you spin an online slot long enough, however, the house will definitely win at last. That’s how slot machines are legally designed. Don’t get me wrong; you can actually win but you need to know when to stop and walk away with whatever wins you have made.
How to Play Online Slots
Online slots are fun, exciting and easy to play, which is why they are ideal for internet gambling. Whether you’re a newbie or a veteran, here’s a quick step-by-step guide to play slots online the right way:
Step 1. Pick your Slot of Choice
The first step is to select the right online slot, and the best casino to play it. There are cases where the (Return to Player) RTP for the same slot is different from one casino to another. Here are some tips to keep in mind when choosing your preferred slot to play on:
You want a slot machine that delivers the highest possible payouts. That's where checking the RTP comes in handy. The closer the RTP to 100%, the higher the likelihood that you will win. The best way to find an RTP for a slot in question is to check online reviews, or just carry out a search via leading search engines like Google, Bing, etc.
Think twice about obvious slots. If you visit an online casino, and one particular slot is being pushed down your throat, that’s a telltale sign of something fishy. Stay away from obvious or highly advertised online slots because the chances are fairly good that their edges are not set in your favor.
Check the volatility of the slot. Also called variance, volatility refers to how frequently a particular slot delivers wins. When you play a low variance or low volatility slot, you will likely make more frequent wins, but they are usually smaller in size. The opposite is also true - high volatility slots deliver big wins, but less frequently. Your choice depends on the size of your bankroll, your patience, and your preference. If you’re playing for fun, low volatility might be your best bet.
Branded online slots are never a good idea. You want to play tried and tested online slots that come from well-known casino game software developers. Those slot machines that are branded after TV shows, films, or music bands can be quite attractive, but their payouts and RTPs are usually pathetic.
Due diligence can go a long way. That’s right; you need to trust what genuine online slot players have to say about a particular game. If a given slot has been rated badly, you better trust other players, lest you lose all of your bankroll without a decent win. To that end, check out player ratings, read online slot reviews, and don’t be afraid to ask other gamblers for advice.
Once you have found your favorite slot, it’s time to play. Make sure you can play it on a desktop computer, as well as your mobile devices.
Step 2. Start with Free Play Mode
When you click on the slot, your device’s screen will be filled with beautiful reels, and gameplay features like “min bet”, “max bet”, “coins”, “spin”, and so forth. Your bankroll will also appear in the bottom or top corner of the screen depending on the slot.
Before you play with real money, you might want to take the slot for a test ride using the free play mode. Fiddle with every feature, winning combinations, bet sizes, and whatnot until you get the hang of the slot. This way, you will be more confident when you play for real money.
Step 3. Pay Attention to the Paytable
Each online slot has a unique paytable. This is a table that tells you the worth of each symbol, so you can know which ones to watch out for on the reels.
Step 4. Select your Bet Size
Choose the size of your stake per spin. Some online slots allow you to choose how many paylines you want to play. It’s always a good idea to pick “max bet” so you can use all paylines at the same time.
Step 5. Start Spinning
This is where the fun begins. Click the “spin” button for the wheels to start spinning. You can use the “auto spin” feature to automatically spin the reels for a set number of times. Otherwise, the slot will show you whether you have won after every spin.
Most online slots have bonus rounds and other special features that give you a chance to make even more wins. You can keep on spinning as long as you like, but it’s paramount to stay on top of your bankroll.
Slot Machine Strategy Guide
Despite the fact that online slot machines are games of luck, you need to stay one step ahead if you want to walk away with some money.
Here are some tried-and-true tips you can use to your advantage to win at online slots.
(1) Keep an Eye Out for Bonuses
With every online slot having a house edge, the odds are fairly stacked against you from the beginning. That’s why you need to take advantage of any rewards, rebates, cashback bonuses, and other casino loyalty program goodies.
Casino bonuses come in many forms. You need to be on the lookout for deposit bonuses to make each deposit count. Also, don’t forget free spins, no-deposit bonuses, and weekly bonuses. Every bonus boosts your bankroll and increases your chances of winning.
(2) Bet Higher Stakes
If you seriously want to win big money, you may want to put higher stakes per spin. The last thing you want is to be awarded a jackpot when you have staked only 1 cent. That’s because progressive slots pay x times your stake.
Don’t forget that higher bets can also dwindle your bankroll much faster if you keep losing. If you don’t have a big bankroll, it is a no-brainer to stick to low-amount bets.
(3) Trust What Other Slot Gamblers have to Say
Online slots are not like competitive table games such as poker. You can trust other players because you’re all playing against the house, and not against each other.
If a particular online slot is notorious for not paying out, other players will most likely say something about it. Keep an eye out for complaints, bad reviews, lower ratings, and other telltale signs that a slot is garbage.
(4) Bankroll Management is Important
If you don’t manage your money (bankroll), you will walk away empty-handed. Luckily, there are several tips you can use to do this effectively:
Set a win & loss limit. Every player knows that losing is part of the game. However, it pays to know when to call it quits, which isn’t exactly easy for most casino players. The best way is to set your loss limit and win limit right out of the gate. For example, if your bankroll is $500, you can set a loss limit of $200, and win limit of $400.
Reduce bet amounts when necessary. If things go south, it might be prudent to reduce the size of your stakes.
Avoid desperate moves. If you’re on a losing streak, don’t bet higher in a bid to recover. Instead, stick to your strategy, and make sure that you take breaks to collect yourself before resuming.
Don’t dip past your bankroll limit. When you have run out of your bankroll, it can be tempting to try to tap into your personal finances. That's a recipe for disaster.
(5) Practice, Practice, Practice
Luck or not, practicing can make a huge difference when it comes to playing online slots. So, start by playing a free version of the slot before you use real money. This is not only exciting and fun but also gives you an opportunity to get a feel for the slot. With practice, you will sharpen your skills and know the little quirks, as well as the ins and outs of the game, including bonus rounds and special features.
Like most casino games, playing online slots is a matter of luck, but it is even more a matter of player discipline. If at any instance you feel that the situation is getting out of hand, then it is high time to stop and take a breather. The same goes for when you are no longer having fun. Take a break, relax, and come back to play when you are composed, preferably several days later.