Insider’s Guide to Playing Slot Machines

Playing slot machines requires little or no skill.  You can play at your own pace and that is little or as much as he walked.


Casinos try to take your mind off the odds.  They introduce a constant stream of new slot games and offer eye catching jackpots, such as new cars displayed on turntables in full view of the machines.

Regardless of the enticements, the majority of slot machines given a check of 1% to 10% to the house, a term used for the owner of the machine, whether it’s a casino or a convenience store in Nevada.  This means that most slot players win back only in $.90 to  $.99 of every dollar they play.

These payback rates are calculated over the long run, which can be many thousands of games.  So don’t be misled when you see a player when several times during an hour’s play at a particular machine.  There he eventually will be on-off losses to bring the odds back in the house’s favor.  And you never know when those losses will occur.

The more it costs to play a slot, the higher the payback rate usually is. Games that cost five dollars or $10, for example, might payback 99%, while a nickel game often returns no more than 90% in penny games pay even less.

Caution — slot games on the Internet are becoming popular.  Stay away from all Internet slots.  They’re illegal to play in the US, and there is no way of knowing what the payback rate is.

Also keep in mind that even the best odds at slots aren’t as good as the odds with other games, such as blackjack, that require skill, concentration in a good memory.


The best slot machine odds are in Las Vegas – but not on the city’s famous strip.  Casinos on the strip – including the Bally’s, the Mirage, the Stardust and the Tropicana – don’t need player friendly slots because they enjoy a steady stream of tourists.  The payback on $.25 machines at strip casinos is in 93% or 94%, and on dollar games it’s 95% or 96%.

Casinos off the strip rely more on local residents who demand the incentive of better odds to play the slots.  That’s particularly true in the suburbs of Henderson and in North Lawson Vegas, where the payback at such casinos as Sunset Station, Fiesta Station and Green Valley Ranch is one or two percentage points higher than it is on the strip.

In Atlanta City, the nickel slots usually have a payback rate of only 90%, while 91% or 92% is typical for quarter games and 94% for dollar slots.  Casinos elsewhere in the country have similar payback rates.

Slots at most casinos payout bonuses to players who bet two or three coins anytime.  For example, if you put in one quarter in a classic double Diamond slot and three wild symbols come up, you’ll win 1000 quarters.  But if you bet three quarters, and the same symbols lineup, you will win 15,000 quarters — 15 times the payback for three times the bet.  Each slot machine has a written explanation of its winning combinations and prize amounts for various sizes of bets.

Today, video slots are popular, and they have the same payback rate is as traditional mechanical machines, known as reel slots.

Some of the worst paybacks are at Nevada’s airports and convenience stores, where the payback rate can be as low as 75%.

To find slots with the best payback rates, look at one of the gaming publications that regularly reports on them.  Two magazines with monthly payback reports are Casino Player and Strictly Slots.

In any one casino, all slots that cost the same usually have the same payback rate, regardless of the particular slot game that is featured on the machine.  For example, if you put one dollar in a Blazing 7s slot machine, you’ll get the same payback rate as you would like putting the one dollar in a machine that features Tabasco, another popular game.

Nevertheless, many players believe that some games are luckier than others, and Strictly Slots regularly polls players to find out which games have that reputation.  Be aware, however, that these polls are based on anecdotal evidence, and there is no statistical data to back them up.


Progressive slots, eight games where machines are connected to one another and the jackpot rises as more people play.  Eight huge overhead meteor lets players keep track of the jackpot, which has reached more than $20 million in some cases.  Two of the most popular wide area Progressive slots are Quarter Mania and Megabucks.

While prices continue to rise, the odds of winning them remain long – very long.  Sometimes, the odds of winning the jackpot are about one in 40 million.

Important – to win the top prize, you must put the maximum number of coins into slot, usually three.


Set a limit on how much to wager during any one session at the machines.  Then cease playing when you’ve reached your limit or — if luck is with you — when you’ve won more than the amount you started with.

This exercise in self discipline makes sense because no matter how long you play the slots, you are likely to lose many more games than you win.  By quitting when you’re ahead, you’ll avoid the risk of a losing streak that takes away your winnings.  Remember that the odds always favor the house.  If you play long enough, you are certain to lose more money than you win.


At 10 spins a minute, it costs about nine dollars an hour to play a nickel machine with a three coin maximum.  Get more helpful gambling tips at A quarter machine would cost about $45 an hour in a dollar machine $180 an hour.

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