Tricks to Playing Slot Machines

By Johnny Kampis
Most slots accept coins or dollar bills.

Walk into just about any casino and you will hear the ringing of slot machines. Gambling halls feature slots in a variety of denominations and game types, with jackpots ranging from a few hundred dollars to millions of dollars. There is no way to "beat" the slots, but you can use some strategies to reduce the house edge against you.

Play Max Coins

You should note the pay table when playing a slot machine to see whether you are eligible to win the largest prize if you are not playing the maximum number of coins. If you must play max coins to have a chance at a jackpot, find a machine that fits your bankroll. Some penny slots can be deceptive, for example, because you play multiple lines and wagers to win a jackpot, which can cost you several dollars per spin. Many of the mechanical reel quarter denomination slot machines only require you to bet three credits, or 75 cents, to be jackpot eligible.

Use Your Slot Card

If you are playing a slot machine in a casino without a slot card you are truly throwing money away. Slot cards, or players club cards, are free to obtain. You get them from a sign-up desk in the casino and insert them into a slot machine before you play. Your wagers are tracked and you can redeem points you earn for free gifts or comps such as meals and hotel rooms. You will often receive offers in the mail back home for use on a return trip to the casino.

Find the Best Paying Machines

You can't tell what percentage a slot machine is set to pay back just by looking at it, but with a little research you can pick locations with lower edges. For example, American Casino Guide reports that in 2009, slot paybacks were higher in Downtown Las Vegas than they were on the Strip. So if you want a better chance to win in Sin City head to Fremont Street to play the slots. The progressive Megabucks machines found in Nevada casinos offer jackpots in the millions of dollars, but the overall payback on these machines is only about 88 percent so winning on these is unlikely.

About the Author

A veteran of the newspaper industry, Johnny Kampis has worked as a freelance writer since 2005. His articles have appeared in various publications including "The New York Times," "Atlanta-Journal Constitution" and the "San Francisco Chronicle." He currently serves as an editor of poker-based "Rounder" magazine and writer for the Alabama football publication "Crimson" magazine.