Much like keno or roulette, slots are straightforward and easy to play. Unlike most other casino games, they are not burdened by long lists of rules. Playing is simply a matter of inserting some coins or paper currency into the machine and spinning the reels. That said, certain procedures should be followed to get the most out of play. Most of them relate to how the machines are configured; others are simply common sense. There are few very real rules, too, which must be observed to avoid an unpleasant confrontation with casino security. Here are some the key ones.
Most slot machines are set up to accept either coins or paper currency. Some will accept both. It is the player’s responsibility to confirm that amount of credits displayed on the machine actually matches the amount inserted. If there seems to be a discrepancy, a slot attendant should be notified immediately before play commences.
Penny machines use one cent as the basic unit, nickel slots use five cents as a single credit, and so on. However, confusion can easily occur when playing “multi-denomination” slots, which give the option of choosing from a variety of basic units. Quite often, the machine’s default denomination may be set higher than the player expects—for example two cents instead of a penny or a quarter rather than a nickel. The player must confirm the credit value before initiating play.
Classic slots have a single horizontal line running across the window of the machine. If a certain combination of symbols falls on the line when the reels stop, winnings are paid out. On the other hand, most modern slots offer multiple paylines and it up to the player how many to choose. Also, at least one unit must be played per payline, so if 25 paylines are chosen, the minimum bet will be 25 units, so a “penny” game becomes a “quarter” machine. Players need to be careful when pressing buttons to select only as many lines as they truly wish to play.
Almost all slots have a button for placing the maximum bet possible. Once it is pressed, there is no changing the wager (the maximum) or number of paylines played (also the maximum). One a “penny” machine, the “max bet” can be as high as three dollars. Mistakenly pushing this button ends up in disappointment more often than a pleasant surprise. Slots with “touch screens” must be used with special care for this reason.
Although some slots pay all winners when multiple paylines are selected, other machines pay out only the highest winning combination. The player needs to clarify this prior to the first spin, and the rules should be easily accessible through the machine’s help menu or printed on its face. Payouts vary greatly from game to game, too, so it is a good practice to always check the pay table before playing. If there no pay table can be found, do not play the machine.
Because slots are machines, they require periodic maintenance. Buttons get stuck, lights burn out, and touch screens “lose their touch.” It is best to avoid machines with mechanical or electronic problems, including unclear video displays, lack of audio, or sticky buttons. Should a problem arise, an attendant should be notified immediately. This is especially true when bills jam or credit tickets fail to print out. A red “call” button can be used to get attention from the staff.
Today’s slots have highly sophisticated security enhancement, and they are monitored by video surveillance. Anyone caught trying to tilt or jam a machine to influence a result may be ejected from the slot area. Use of slugs, foreign coins, or devices to trick the machine’s cash mechanisms may result in criminal prosecution. Casinos usually give players the benefit of the doubt, but they handle cheaters without sympathy. For those interested, a more complete discussion of this topic appears elsewhere on this web site.