Much has been written regarding “How to Win at Slots.” Experienced players offer all kinds of different advice, and sometimes it is difficult to tell what is true strategy and what is pure bunk. A good place to begin is by recognizing that there are some aspects of slot play that can be managed by the player, and others which are totally out of human control. The only successful approach is to concentrate one’s attention and efforts on the former, and let everything else take care of itself.
Managing Time & Money
Before sitting down at a slot machine, every player must make some decisions. These include choosing where to play, when to play, and how much to budget for betting. Since the object of slot play is usually to win money, the critical first step is to establish a “bankroll,” which is not as grand as the term makes it sound. A bankroll is simply whatever amount a player can afford to lose in a given session.
The amount of money brought to the slot floor can help a player determine which casino to play at, what machine he/she can afford to play, how much will be bet on each spin, and how long a session will last. A player with a bankroll of $20 will develop a slot strategy quite different from one with $1,000 to play.
No matter how big or small the bankroll might be, the strategic slot player must commit to making it an absolute limit, bringing only that amount to the casino and no more. Bank cards, credit cards, and check books should be left at home. Going off to the ATM for more funds must never be an option. Having a limit and sticking to it is often the difference between coming away from a session a winner or a loser.
Many players also like to set a time limit on their play in addition to a financial limit. If it is not possible to win in an hour or two, perhaps it is just not their day. It helps to think of each period of play as a “session,” an independent event, instead of being part of a single continuous playing experience. Some sessions are won, some are lost. Having this mindset allows a player to limit losses and quit while ahead.
More Choices to Make
Another decision a player should make before sitting down is whether to drink alcohol or not. Some players are less affected by alcohol than others, but many find it impairs their concentration and decision-making abilities. It may be hard to turn down the servers who come around offering free drinks, but the casino would not provide them of it were not to their advantage. Even those who ask for soft drinks may feel compelled to keep playing beyond limits while waiting for the server to return. And casinos know that the longer players stay, the more likely they are to lose. A good strategy is to have a drink after playing to celebrate, rather than during the course of play.
Players have control over what machines they sit down at and how much money they load into it initially. Obviously, choosing a “loose” machine that pays out frequently is preferable to selecting a “tight” one that is stingy with payouts. There is an art and science to slot machine selection that every strategic player needs to master.
On the other hand, deciding how much to play is determined strictly by the size of the bankroll and amount of time available. In the minutes before a flight leaves, a player with $20 can risk $3 a spin on a million-dollar progressive in an airport waiting lounge, but with an hour to play, the same $20 would be better used at a nickel slot playing no more than three credits per spin.
Once play begins, it is up to the players how many lines they play on multiline slots, how many credits they bet on each spin, how many spins they play per minute or hour, when they take breaks, whether they put more money into a losing machine, and when they cash out. A good slot strategy should take all of these factors into account.