Of all casino games, Slots is the easiest to learn and play. It is based on the operation of a simple mechanical device that pays off almost entirely on the basis of chance.
Playing the Slots, whether in a casino or online, is an experience that requires no experience. The player needs no special skills. He doesn’t have to memorize any numbers or steps, or remember what occurred on the last spin, or be concerned with the play of anyone else. And he is in complete control. He decides where he will sit, when the game will start, the denomination of the coins to be used, the amount of each bet, the pace of the play itself, and how long he will stay in the game.
Having made all of those crucial decisions, the player will insert one or more coins into his machine and spin the reels. The spin begins electronically. He will then wait with excited anticipation for a winning combination to come up. Within five to six seconds the reels will come to a clattering, shivering halt, and on a good spin, will deposit a welcome and noisy cascade of coins into the machine’s stainless steel coin trough. All this against a background of flashing colored lights, noise and music. Where Poker is unquestionably the serious, brooding drama of casino games, it might be said that the game of Slots is truly the “lights, camera, action.”
The player’s objective in the game of Slots is to win one or more of the cash jackpots listed on the payout table, located on the front of the slot machine.
The player has a chance to win every time simply by placing a coin, or number of coins, into the slot machine, pressing a button, or pulling a handle, and waiting for the spinning reels to come to rest. Whenever the symbols on the reels line up, or match in a particular way, the player wins. Each time he wins, the slot machine will automatically pay him the exact number of coins indicated on his machine’s payout table.
The payout tables may differ from machine to machine, but will clearly show players the winning combinations of symbols for their selected machine, and what each combination will pay, based on the number of coins played each spin. A winning spin can result in the return of a single coin, or a jackpot of hundreds of coins. As a matter of interest, late into the 1990’s a jackpot of $1000,000.00 was won by a player on a five reel, one dollar machine in the US. (See the latest issue of Encyclopaedia Britannica).
Winning a jackpot on the Slots is almost wholly a matter of chance. There are simply no sure-fire tactics, systems or strategies that will enable a player to improve his odds of winning. The only edge a player might anticipate will depend on the type of slot machine he selects to play. The point to remember here is that, although most slot machines look alike, no two machines function in exactly the same way. It is important, therefore, for the player to be aware of the significant differences between one type of slot machine and the next.
Fortunately, the casinos themselves offer the player the best clues on how to improve his odds. For example, he should note how and where the operators place their Slots throughout the casino. Location matters. Also, he should confirm the type of machine, the number of reels, the number of symbols per reel, the maximum number of coins or denominations that may be played, and all of the possible winning combinations, that are displayed on the machine’s payout table. Slot machines are not simply pretty, colored, illuminated boxes with funny handles. They can be gold mines of valuable information.
There are basically two types of slot machines, straight Slots and progressive Slots.
Straight Slots, are sometimes called flat-rate or flat tops. This type of slot machine pays off winning combinations according to its payout table clearly posted on the upper front section of the machine. For example, it may show the following schedule: when one cherry comes up, it will return two coins for each one bet, two cherries will pay five coins, and three cherries, ten coins. All for a bet of one coin.
Again, the player should remember that not all straight slot machines are the same. The best way to distinguish one machine from another is to carefully study the payout tables on the front of each one. The player should note whether he is playing a straight multiplier, bonus multiplier, multiple payline, or pay-for-play slot machine. To see the differences, let’s look at each type in turn.
The straight multiplier slot machine will payout for a specific combination of payoff symbols, and the number of coins the player bets will multiply that payout. For example, if the machine’s payout table says it will pay ten coins for three bars, when a player bets one coin, it will also pay twenty for two coins, and thirty for three coins. This type of machine does not penalize the player for playing only one coin at a time. If the player prefers to play only one coin at a time, this is the type of machine he should select.
The bonus multiplier slot machine operates exactly like a straight multiplier, except that it offers a special bonus when the player hits the jackpot, while betting the maximum number of coins. For example, for a maximum bet of three coins, three sevens may pay 500 for one coin, 1,000 for two coins and 2,500, instead of the straight multiplier 1,500, for the third coin. The player has to decide if the bonus is worth playing the extra coin. The majority of straight slot machines are of this configuration.
The multiple payline slot machine has more than one payline. Older slot machines may have only three such paylines. The newer video slot machines, however, may have up to nine lines. Each coin the player bets will activate a particular line. For multiple paylines, the player has to bet a coin on each one in order to get paid for a win. That is, if the player hits the winning symbols on a line that is not activated, he will receive nothing.
The pay-for-play slot machine is usually the least understood, straight slot machine in the casino. Each coin the player bets activates a different payout. To activate the largest jackpot, he must insert the maximum number of coins. For example, the Sizzlin’ 7’s machine usually pays on cherries, bars and sevens. Hitting all sevens will pay 1,000 coins.
If the player bets only one coin, he can collect only if he hits the cherries. When he plays two coins, he can collect on the cherries and the bars. He must bet three coins to collect on the Sizzlin’ 7’s. Remember that if he hits the jackpot with one coin, he wins nothing. If the player is the kind of sport who likes to go for the big bet every time, the pay-for-play slot machine is the one to select.
The second type of slot machine is called progressive Slots. This type also has detailed payout tables posted on its upper front display section. The big attraction of this type of Slots is that the potential jackpot gets progressively larger with every coin that is bet. A percentage of each dollar bet is added automatically to the jackpot which builds and builds until it is won.
In most cases, a number of progressive slot machines feed into one jackpot, where any machine in the group can win. The jackpot total is usually posted above the machine(s) and can grow to enormous sums of money. Often other prizes, such as cars, are substituted for the cash jackpot. These cars are usually on display near the area of the progressive slot machines with which they are associated.
Whether playing a progressive or a straight slot machine, there are many different types to choose from, and either way, players will have a considerable number of options. Machines vary in their individual denominations of coins, number of reels, number of symbols, number of coins to play, and number of paylines. Given all of the available choices, the player need not settle for just any machine on the casino floor.
There is no doubt that the location of slot machines within the casino does matter in terms of the type of jackpot offered and the average percentage payback. In fact, the house seriously considers the lplacement of every single one. The best and worst locations are based on whether a slot machine is loose, or tight. A loose machine is one that appears to be paying better than similar machines, and a tight machine is, of course the opposite, i.e., not paying as frequently as others. Let us look at the best and worst locations.
The savvy Slots players should look for those higher paying machines in areas such as, elevated carousels, next to change booths, near coffee shops, or anywhere food is being served.
The elevated carousel is a choice location for loose slot machines because they are highly visible from all directions. When a player wins a large jackpot on one of these machines, everyone knows it. The casino loudly advertises the win. The lights flash so you cannot help but notice. The excitement is electric. In its own way, the casino is betting that other players will insert more money into their own machines after witnessing a big winner on one of these lofty locations.
Players waiting in line to purchase coins are enticed to buy more change and play longer after hearing and seeing excited players celebrating a big win nearby. The winner has a captive audience, so to speak.
Loose machines are often strategically placed in these locations to encourage players to finish eating quickly and get back to playing their own machines.
In general, the tighter machines will be located in areas where the house hopes to catch a few of the player’s coins as he passes through an area or waits in a line. The slot machines located within easy reach of players waiting in airport terminals, restaurant and show lines, bathrooms and so on, tend to have a lower average payback.
The best places within the casinos to find loose slot machines are no longer the front entrance of the casino or the ends of the aisles. Casinos are now placing mid-paying and tight machines in those areas.
The worst place to play slot machines is the area surrounding the gaming tables, i.e., Blackjack, Baccarat, Roulette, and Poker. The rationale for this low rating is that the players sitting at the gaming tables do not care for the distracting noise and commotion created by big winners of Slots.
Casinos also place tight machines near the sportsbook. Players betting on sporting events and horse races do not care for the distractions created by the noise, lights and fanfare surrounding the play of the slot machines.
Gaming table players frequently drop loose coins into machines located near the exit of the gaming table areas. Since most of these players are not usually regular slot players, casinos stand to lose money when one of them wins. That is because these players are not likely to put their winnings back into the machines.
From the description of the best and worst locations above the player can readily see that a great deal of thought and planning goes into the placement of slot machines in a casino. To capitalize on the location factor, the player should keep in mind the following good advice. He should avoid playing slot machines in the area of the gaming tables or sportsbook, and take the time to find a machine location, as described above, that can greatly increase his chances to hit a jackpot.