Anyone who plays slot machines, whether online or at land-based locations, is taking a risk. It is no secret that these games are designed to give the operators a way to make a profit, so while they may pay out large jackpots, this is outweighed by the number of people who actually lose money on them.
But while the odds may be against you whenever you spin the reels, there are still some mistakes that beginners often make which put them at even more of a disadvantage.
To help you avoid common pitfalls, here is a look at these unforced errors so that you can better understand how to harness slots.
There is no doubt that how to win on slot machines is the ultimate question, but you should really reframe it as a journey towards losing less often.
The first way to do this is to look into the volatility of the games you play, usually expressed as low, medium or high. If you do not, you might end up pumping money into a slot that will very rarely pay out.
The volatility basically determines the likelihood of a payout occurring, with low volatility games having a greater chance of offering up jackpots than high volatility games. It all comes down to the odds of a winning combination of symbols occurring; if this is more likely, then the payouts will happen more frequently, but crucially the machine will have been designed with far smaller jackpots in mind.
Conversely if you play high volatility machines, the lower chance of a winning combo occurring goes hand in hand with a heftier jackpot. Knowing which to play is all about appreciating these differences and choosing according to your budget.
The second potential problem which players can encounter when interacting with slot machines is that of the confusion caused by paylines.
While the simplest slots can have just one payline, meaning that symbols are matched directly across the middle row of the reels, the more complex iterations might have 10, 20, 50 or even more paylines available.
This creates a conundrum, because you can only win if you place a bet on a payline, and the more that are present, the trickier it will be to choose. Likewise some slots even have minimum wagering requirements for jackpot eligibility; if you have not bet on all paylines, you might not be entitled to claim the top prize.
Newbies often get daunted by slot machine paylines, so it is best to do your research, play demo versions first and get to grips with this concept before you start putting real money on the line.
Neglecting to check RTP
The RTP (return to player) percentage of a slot machine is the indicator which tells you exactly how much money the operator is making, and how much it is giving back to the players in the form of jackpots.
This matters because obviously the machines with the lowest RTP will be more unfairly skewed towards operators in terms of how winnings are handled, although it is important to note that RTP has nothing to do with the likelihood of winning at a given machine; it is more an indicator of just how greedy an operator has decided to be.
The higher the RTP, the more the payout ratio is pushed in favour of players, although crucially this will never be higher than 100%, for the obvious reason that no slot machine is made to cost the company running it cash.
Overstretching your finances
Most importantly of all, when playing slots you need to be strict in the limits you set yourself for spending, because if you do not keep track of your budget then you could easily find that you have eaten into the cash that you had earmarked for other aspects of your life.
All gamblers need to appreciate that they have no guarantee of winning, and indeed they should only gamble what they can afford to lose. So rather than expecting to win on the slots, you need to treat the experience like any other pastime, acknowledging that it comes with a cost, and never relying on a win to rebalance your bank account back into the black.
If you feel that you are unable to play slot machines responsibly, then it is best to step away altogether. For those that are able to budget, it can of course be a fun hobby.