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How to Pick the Right Slot Machine to Improve Your Winning Chances

Table Of Contents

  • The Best Online Slots Games to Play
  • Slots with the Best Odds of Winning
  • How to Find the RTP of a Slot Machine
  • Progressive Slots
  • How to Find ‘Loose’ Slots
  • Himalayas: Roof of the World
  • Determine the Volatility of Slots
  • How to Find the Volatility of a Slot Machine Game
  • A Popular High Volatility Slot to Play: King of Atlantis
  • A Popular Low Volatility Slot to Play: Hotline
  • Don’t Go with the Obvious Option
  • Make Higher Bets
  • One Expensive Slot to Play with Maximum Bets: Space Wars
  • Trust Other Players
  • A Classic Slot People Play and Love: Gonzo’s Quest
  • Should You Play Branded Slots?
  • Take Advantage of Free Spins
  • Don’t Forget the Wagering Requirements!
  • Slot to Play with Free Spins: Pyramid Quest For Immortality
  • Is It Better to Stop a Slot Machine?
  • How to Improve Your Chance to Win at Slot Machines
  • FAQ

Trying to figure out how to get better chances to win at slots but you still don’t know what are the best slots to play to improve your odds? You are not alone.

This article does not list all the slots tips under the sun.

Instead of focusing on the generic tips and tricks you find on all casino guides on the internet, it focuses on proven ways to improve your odds when you select the games to play.

Here you’ll learn:

I will also give you some precious slots tips about the best progressive slots to play and how choosing a jackpot game can affect your chances of winning.

In other words, if you are trying to discover how to choose a slot machine and how to find the best slot machines to play online, you’ll love this guide.

Register a free account and spin the reels to win!

Get a new no deposit bonus and play slots online.

This casino slot guide is going to change the way you play slots. And chances are that is what you need — because winning at slots requires time, dedication, and the right mindset. So, are you ready to begin and learn how to improve your chances to win at slots?

The Best Online Slots Games to Play

Knowing how to pick a slot machine needs more than you guessing when a slot machine will hit. The best slot machine to play is the one that comes with the right combination of volatility, return to player, limits, and casino bonus.

Each time you play real money slots, you need to look at the payback percentage (or pay table) and at the stakes. The only way to improve your slot machine odds in the long term is to pick a good slot machine and play only money you can afford to lose.

Based on their RTP alone, the 12 best slot machines to win are:

Of all the trick to winning on slot machines, finding the best slot machine to play is the one secret all the most experienced players swear by.

That’s because although you can’t win at slot machines every time, picking a good slot machine is the best way to improve your odds and let the RTP of the casino slot do the ‘hard work’ for you.

Many casino strategies tell you to stay away from every popular slot game. Those, they say, are the games with the worse payout percentage among all those on the casino floor.

This is not true.

We look at over 25 types if slot machines across the best PA online casino and NJ online casino sites and we found out that the payout percentage has very little to do with the games’ popularity.

In fact, we noticed that some of the best slots games to play are popular amongst real money players precisely because they are machine games that have been featured multiple times on gambling news websites.

Slots with the Best Odds of Winning

Finding what are the best type of slot machines to play and how to improve your chances to win at slots is the dream of everyone into online gambling.

The slots with the best odds are the games with the highest Return to Player (RTP). While you can’t be sure to win at these slots every time you play and you can’t tell when these slot machines are ready to hit, these are the ones with the best slot machine odds.

When you go online to play slots for real money or for free, you need to know how to pick good slot machine games.

A lot of beginners play casino games thinking that all slots are similar and they only differ in graphics, features, and bonus rounds.

Obviously, that’s a mistake.

If you want to know how to get better chances to win at slots, you need a machine that pays out more than the other ones. And to know which one is an excellent slot to play, you need to care about the Return to Player percentage.

What is the Return to Player (RTP)?
The Return to Player (or RTP) is a percentage of all the wagered money that a slot pays back to its players.

The RTP is not the amount of money you’ll get back when you wager on real money slots and it doesn’t indicate whether you have fewer chances to hit a bonus round or not.

How to Find the RTP of a Slot Machine

The quickest option is to search for it online. If you use Google, you can type the following command to see all the online gambling pages that mention the RTP of the type of slot machine you are about to play:

“[SLOT GAME]+RTP”

Many casino news websites that publish content around casino games have entire sections dedicated to the RTP percentage of the casino slot games they review, so it’s always easy to find the payout percentage of the games.

You find them on PokerNews, as well. Every slot machine review we publish includes a section dedicated to the payout percentage with easy-to-understand info about the games with frequent payouts and whether one is a loose slot or not.

If this is your first time on our site, these related articles will help you playing slots online. Picking a good slot machine to play, you’ll improve your chances.

Also, when you play real money slots online, you can check the games themselves. The RTP number is always mentioned somewhere. Usually, you find it in the settings of the slot game or in the ‘help‘ section.

Slot Machines Tips

The RTP is calculated on a scale from 1 to 100. Most slots have an RTP between 92-97%.

Always choose an online slot machine game with an RTP of 96% or above. This is the best slots strategy to follow every time you play — since a high payback percentage indicates that you have a better chance to win a spin.

Progressive Slots

When you start playing slot online it might be difficult to resist the temptation to play progressive slots.

The big real money prizes on tap make jackpot slots almost appealing…at least on the surface. But if you care about your chances of winning and you have a limited budget – picking a progressive slot machine might not be the right choice for you.

On average, progressive slots feature the lowest RTPs in gambling so you don’t have great winning odds. On top of that, you always need to bet the maximum to access the top jackpot prizes – meaning you might end up spending more money than you can afford to lose before you get even close to a win.

The list below shows you eight of the most popular slot machine games with a progressive jackpot. Compare their RTPs with those of the non-progressive games above and you will see why playing for a jackpot is not always the best choice.

How to Find ‘Loose’ Slots

Everyone would like to play loose slots with the perspective to win every time the reels spins. While this might not be always possible, all the games listed below have an above-average RTP that translates in higher than usual chances to win.

What’s a ‘loose’ slot?

When we talk about loose slots we don’t imply that these are games where you get better chances to win money. Simply put, these are games with an RTP that is above 96%.

Need help in finding a good slot machine to play? Have a look at Himalayas: Roof of the World. This fun-to-play game by Barcrest is the perfect example of a great combination of sofisticated gameplay and good RTP.

Himalayas: Roof of the World

How did I find this slot? I scrolled down to the bottom of the slots page at one of my favourite online casinos. Once there, I decided to pick a slot machine I had never seen before.

Not all games make it to online casinos’ front pages — especially those that have a combination of volatility and RTP that plays in favor of the players and that come from underdog developers. And Himalayas: Roof of the World comes from Barcrest, a provider that isn’t often in the spotlight.

Also, Himalayas: Roof of the World offers good odds of winning on slots!. The game features an RTP of 97.75%, which is above average.

Determine the Volatility of Slots

Another critical factor to consider when you want to pick a slot machine with better winning odds is the game’s volatility.

Many games and gambling news sites refer to the games’ volatility as their ‘variance.’ Here on PokerNews, we like to call it the ‘risk level‘.

The volatility of a slot machine game measures the risk involved in playing a particular slot for real money. One of my favorite tips for playing slots is to consider it the ‘risk factor’ of the game you are about to play. That’s because volatility determines how you win at slots.

  • Low Volatility Slots: Your odds of winning at these slots are high, and it’s easier to strike winning combinations when you spin the reels. However, you should know that low volatility Slots offer smaller wins — so your winning combinations might not be worth as much as you would like them to.
  • High Volatility Slots: The odds of winning at these games are smaller, but the wins pay more. With the right bankroll, tips for playing Slots, and strategy, these games can be a lot more rewarding.

Both options are quite popular online since people play both types. Every useful casino guide gives you plenty of choices to find the right online slots game for you — with welcome bonus codes to try them for free before you invest your money in them.

Pick the Slot machine time that feels right for you. But keep this in mind:

To play high volatility slots, you need to be patient, have enough money to invest in a long online gaming session, and have read enough casino blog posts to know all the secrets of slots optimal play.

If you don’t tick all boxes, low volatility slots may be a better option for you.

High volatility slots are a bit riskier, too. You never know how much time and money you need to invest to hit a lucky spin and celebrate yet another day of winning money on slots.

How to Find the Volatility of a Slot Machine Game

Casino sites don’t make the variance of the games as accessible as the RTP numbers — and that’s partly because they don’t want to help you improve your odds.

An easy way to choose games with the right variance is to use Google operators and let the world’s largest search engine do the work for you.

Here’s an example:

You have seen some progressive slots with big jackpots, and the Mega Moolah game caught your eye. You are intrigued by the seven-figure big win, but you know nothing about the game’s variance.

The most effective way to find the information you need is to:

  1. Open google.com
  2. Type “Mega Moolah variance” in the search bar
  3. Analyse the search results

Alternatively, you can explore the games and try to figure out their variance yourself. If you play the same slot for long enough, you should be able to see how often the game pays out and what kind of winnings you get.

If successes are rare but significant, you are onto a high volatility game. If you win often, but the wins are nerve-wracking and small, you just found a low-volatility game.

A casino bonus such as a match deposit bonus or free spins is an excellent way to discover a game’s volatility while playing. These options help you learn more about the games and give you useful info that might help you understand how to win at slots in the long run.

A Popular High Volatility Slot to Play: King of Atlantis

King of Atlantis is a high volatility slot by IGT. The game plays on five reels and 40 paylines.

The symbols featured in this game include seashells, gold rings, gem-encrusted crowns, mermaids, dolphins, and the almighty god of the sea – Poseidon.

This high volatility slot machine doesn’t have many bonus games or features (even if you bet the maximum). The only ‘special feature’ you get, is a round of eight free spins that activates when a trident symbol lands next to Poseidon.

A Popular Low Volatility Slot to Play: Hotline

Beating the slot requires you to travel back in time to the ’80s, wear some clothes you’d not be proud of today, and use your ability to solve a police case. This hame is based on the cult TV series Miami Vice and beating the slot means you’ll have to help the two detectives to catch a jewelry thief.

As the paytable of this slot suggests, Hotline is a low volatility game where wins are frequent but small in size. If this is what you are looking for, pick this slot machine and enjoy the adventure!

Don’t Go with the Obvious Option

No matter how impressive an online casino is, you need to do some research before you start to spin reels if you want to get any chance to win at slots.

All casino sites (like all poker sites, let’s face it) want your credit card and your money. They offer free spins or deposit bonus codes to get you on their platform and then have you play as much as possible. In other words, they want your money.

If you can afford to play real money on slots, that’s great. As long as the site you choose to play on is a legitimate and regulated online casino.

Regulators like the United Kingdom Gambling Commission (UKGC) and the Malta Gaming Authority (MGA) work hard to eliminate rogue operators from the online gambling industry.

Their licensing systems are your best allies. All the measures in place are there to help you play slot machine games on sites that use audited random number generators and pay out winnings to their players.

An important factor to consider when you want to know how to pick a slot machine is to check if an online casino holds a license by the UKGC and/or the MGA. Regardless of the casino bonus they offer you or the insane fixed maximum amount of free spins they promise.

You should never play online poker or pick slot machines on unlicensed casino sites.

The list of legal casinos varies from one country to another or to one state to another, as it’s the case in the United States. What is available in Michigan online might not be available to play from California online – and the legal NJ casino sites are all different from the ones in Pennsylvania.

You find a full list of all the online casinos allowed in your country on this page.

Make Higher Bets

Many players try to land their wins on penny slots, the most inexpensive slot machine games in online gambling. If you are one of them, pay attention to the next slot tips – especially if you think you have found gold the moment you discovered a penny slot machine with a progressive jackpot.

The strategy for how to improve your chances to win a spin on penny slots lies behind making bets that are larger than $0.01 because these bets usually do not unlock bonus rounds. And if you want to qualify for that jackpot you are so attracted to, you’ll probably need to have bets on every payline, bringing the total amount of your bet to substantially more than one penny.

Bottom line: every collection of slot machines tips or casino strategies tells you that you can’t win a progressive jackpot with a minimum bet. And that’s correct.

Top wins are always connected to the maximum bets. When you play slots, you can’t become a multi-millionaire with just 0.01. In slots, like in video poker, the higher the bet — the more you can win. And, at the same time, the smaller the bet. the smaller the wins.

So, yes: your bet determines how much you win on slots.

Slot machine payouts are proportional to what you wager in the game. If your slot machine strategy is to play small bets, don’t change it. Just don’t expect to score unreasonably huge wins.

As you understand now, betting more money helps to win more on online slots. but it also put your slot machine strategy in danger and makes you risk to lose all your bankroll a lot faster.

That’s why higher denomination slots are also riskier than lower denomination slots. People play them in the same way and following the same slot tips. but the big wins happen only on the high denomination slots, which are also the game where you can risk losing a lot of money.

Always keep this in mind, especially if you love playing slots with progressive jackpots. Jackpot slots can be expensive. Many games give you access to the top wins only when you bet the maximum — and that is why a correct slot strategy and bankroll strategy are essential to have a chance to winning at slots.

Risk is always an essential factor in gambling. And it’s always up to you to decide how much you want to risk when you play.

Never play more money than you can afford to lose and never underestimate the risks of gambling addiction — even when you play fun slot machine games for free. And if you feel things might be getting out of hands, seek professional help.

One Expensive Slot to Play with Maximum Bets: Space Wars

Space Wars is an online slot by NetEnt. This online game is the web version of a classic popular slot you’ll find at nearly all the live casinos in Las Vegas and Atlantic City.

When you play Space Wars for real money, you can choose to bet anywhere from 0.4 (minimum bet) to 20 (maximum bet) per spin. The currency depends on your location.

This game does not feature a progressive jackpot, so you don’t really need to bet the max every time you spin. Start with smaller bets and go up. You’ll see the difference in payouts.

Space Wars is a fast-paced video slot with five reels, four rows, and 40 paylines. The RTP is 96.8%.

Trust Other Players

This is one of those slot tips that you should not apply to many other casino games. While it may be valid for video poker, it’s one you should not follow if you play online poker, online blackjack, or live dealer games in general

When it comes to playing slots at a live casino, you can trust your fellow slot players and look at how people play.

Use the information available on casino blogs and casino sites to your advantage. Browse through forums, spend some time on Reddit, and read what Las Vegas and Atlantic City players say about each game.

You can also join Facebook groups and ask for help there. In other words, take advantage of your internet connection before the casino takes advantage of you.

A Classic Slot People Play and Love: Gonzo’s Quest

Released in 2010, Gonzo’s Quest still didn’t let go of its place as one of the top slot machines online. That’s quite an achievement, I’d say.

This popular slot game features five reels, 20 paylines, and an adventurer (Gonzalo ‘Gonzo’ Pizzarro) looking for the lost city of gold.

Players love this little guy and follow his adventures. Gonzo’s Quest is one of the top-rated slot machines of all time by players, casinos, and casino critics alike.

Should You Play Branded Slots?

Branded slots are a lot of fun. When you pick a branded slot machine, you play you’re your favorite heroes and spin the reels feeling part of the movies, TV series, and shows you love.

While these games are great to play, branded slots are also the ‘bait’ a lot of online casinos use to attract beginners who don’t know how to pick a good slot machine.

Remember the point about ‘not going for the obvious choice‘? If you are a huge Game of Thrones fan, how likely is it that you would go straight for the Game of Thrones slot games when you see them on the list?

Very likely.

You don’t need to be a psychologist, a consumed marketer, or a casino operator to realize that. Fortunately, you don’t need to be a hardcore gambler to know how to pick a winning slot machine either.

Developers paid a pretty penny to lock in the rights to bring to the market slots that feature popular brands and franchises. So, they won’t let you go low with the bets. And those games will not be the easiest ones to win either.

While the casino and the developer have invested a lot in the names you see on the screen, you are the one who can make it worth the investment. Or not.

Take Advantage of Free Spins

Finding a good casino bonus is essential to play slots online – especially if you want to get a small advantage. The most common bonus types include free spins, extra money that matches your deposit, and special offers for recurring players.

Most slot bonuses let you play for free only a specific selection of slot machines. All info about what games are part of each offer are included in the terms and conditions.

The following five sites are the ones offering the best free bonuses to play online slots this month:

Don’t Forget the Wagering Requirements!

How to win at slots with free spins when there are hundreds of hidden terms and conditions to meet before you can withdraw your winnings?

The wagering requirements can take the fun out of playing slots with free spins. No arguing there. But there are still free spins bonuses that can be worth your while.

These are the wager-free bonus offers.

On a limited number of online casinos you get wager free spins with no deposit on registration (yes, no deposit is required to play). And with no strings attached to them.

There is no cap on winnings, you can cash out anything you want, anytime you want, and there are no wagering requirements. How good is that?

Slot to Play with Free Spins: Pyramid Quest For Immortality

Travel the world with slots. and use your free spins welcome bonus as your ticket!

The Pyramid: Quest for Immortality slot features five reels, 720 paylines, and an RTP of 96.4%. This game takes you to ancient Egypt and brings you to explore the hidden and mystical world of Pharaohs, Gods. and pyramids, of course.

Is It Better to Stop a Slot Machine?

A lot could be said about people by the way they play slot machines.

While the lazy type will let their bankroll go by as the ‘Auto Play‘ feature does the hard work for them, the most superstitious ones will be all about feather-light touches or heavy-weight punched on the spin button.

And — how about the ‘clever’ ones? Those who swear that winning at slots is all about stopping the reels at the right time with the second hit on the spin button?

Those are the easiest ones to recognize.

They are laser-focused on their game and their rapid-fire of button hits is one of the most repetitive and well-timed movements in the entire casino.

That doesn’t change on online slots, either. Although these players tend to consume the space bar of their keyboard and the left button of their mouse much faster than any other player on earth.

Why do they do that?

These players believe that if you can stop the reels quick enough, you can control the outcome of your spin and decide what combination will be displayed on the screen.

In theory, it makes sense.

You push the spin button, see the reels move on the screen, quickly hit the spin button again to stop the reel-dance as soon as you see a winning combination about to come up.

So, is it better to stop a slot machine with a second push on the spin button?

You shouldn’t stop a slot machine. While this might have been a difficult-yet-profitable trick to win on very old fruit machines, let me make this clear:

stopping the reels will not help you take home any more cash.

In fact, it might have the opposite effect and lead to bigger losses. When you stop a slot machine by yourself, you reduce the ‘time of spin’ (TOS), making the game go faster.

  • A slot machine takes about 10 seconds (on average) to complete a spin from start to finish. This is the ‘TOS’.
  • If you stop the slot machine, you can reduce the TOS to three seconds.
  • Depending on the TOS, a 30-minute session can range from a minimum of 180 spins to a maximum of 600 spins.

How to Improve Your Chance to Win at Slot Machines

The best way to improve your chances to win at slots is to ask the right questions and look for the right numbers. There are no simple hacks, slots tips or tricks to winning on slot machines.

If you want better odds to win on slots, you need to:

  1. Choose the slots that have high payouts
  2. Choose the slots with the correct volatility level
  3. Choose the slot with the highest Return to Player
  4. Read reviews of the Slots on casino sites, forum, and Reddit
  5. Sign up to get a bonus with low wagering requirements
  6. Play on a licensed online casino site

While this might not be enough for you to beat slot machines and pick the winning slot machine every time you play, it will help you win more often and – more importantly – enjoy playing slots a lot more!

The best trick to get better odds to beat slots is to pick games with a theoretical Return to Player above 96%. You find a list of the 12 best slot machines to play right on this table.

Which slot machines pay the best?

With most slots featuring a Return to Player of 92-96%, any games with a Return to Player above 96% (like these ones) is a good choice. In terms of win-size, progressive slots are the slot machines that pay the best – but they are also the ones with the lowest winning odds.

How can I increase my chances of winning on slot machines

Pick high volatility slot machines with a Return to Player of 96% or more that allow bets of 0.20 or less. This way you will get more spins for the same amount of money and you will have greater chances to use the combination of volatility and RTP to win more.

Are slot machines rigged?

All the slot machines on this list are hosted on licensed platforms and are certified by third-party independent authorities. The games are not rigged.

A: To pick a winning slot machine and get better odds to win when you spin the reels, you need to choose games that offer the right combination of betting limits, volatility, Return-to-Player, and wagering requirements (in case you play with a bonus).

What casino game has the best chance of winning?

In general, Blackjack is the casino game with the best odds. In terms of slots, the best choice is to pick a game that offers a return-to-player over 97% like the Slot Devil’s Delight (RTP: 97.7%).

Can you win real money on slot machines?

Of course. Just like any other casino game, slots offer a possibility to win real money. No one can guarantee you wins because slots are a game of chance, but you can certainly get an upper hand if you use the winning slot tips from this article.

How do you win the jackpot on a slot machine?

When you’re picking your winning slot machine, keep in mind that those with smaller jackpots usually pay out more frequently, so there is a slightly larger chance of landing that big win. Other than that, manage your bets well, understand the payable and hope that today is your lucky lay – after all, slots are completely random. Also, you want to make sure you play at a casino that has a huge selection of jackpot slots.

Which online slots machines have the best odds?

What you want to look at is RTP (Return to Player). That’s basically the way in which the house edge gets displayed for slots. No matter how you look at it, in the long run, the casino will always come out on top. However, the short-term outcome of slots is random, so you have the best slot machine odds if you play a slot that has an RTP of 97% or higher.

How can you tell when a slot machine is ready to hit?

There is no sure way of telling when a slot machine is about to hit. Slot machines are governed by Random Number Generators, which ensure a completely unpredictable outcome each time you spin the reels.

This article was first published on July 14, 2018. Last update: September 18, 2020

The promotion presented on this page was available at the time of writing. With some Casino promotions changing on daily basis, we suggest you to check on the site if it still available. Also, please do not forget to read the terms and conditions in full before you accept a bonus.

Knowing how to pick a winning slot machine is not easy. Use these Slots tips to find the top slots and get better chances to win REAL MONEY when you play.

Slots Winning Strategy 2: Progressive Slot Machines

Introduction to Progressive Slot Machines

This article, Winning Strategy 2: Progressive Slot Machines, is next in a series about realistic winning strategies for slot machine casino gambling. This strategy is simple but perhaps not entirely easy, mostly due to the difficulties inherent to changing one’s own playing perspective. So, keep an open mind, be patient, and learn to win.

Lately, progressive slot machines have become quite popular, with their being up to 30% of the slot machines within a casino. Have you seen those new slot machines with Major and Minor jackpots that constantly grow? Even though they are not obviously labeled as such, those are progressive slot machines.

This relatively high level of popularity drives a real and urgent need to discuss ways to play and win at progressive slots.

So, I am meeting this real need of slots enthusiasts by explaining what is currently happening in the world of progressive slots. Here’s how.

This article has the following sections:

  • Introduction
  • What are Progressive Slot Machines?
  • How Many Progressive Slot Machines Make a Progressive Jackpot?
  • The Casino’s Business Case for Progressive Slot Machines
  • Should You Play Progressive Slot Machines?
  • Strategies for Winning on Progressive Slot Machines
  • Long-Term Playing: A Cautionary Tale
  • Summary

Keep Reading … or Watch Instead!

Or … Listen Instead!

Subscribe to my Professor Slots podcast at Apple Podcasts | Google Podcasts | Spotify | Amazon Music | Amazon Audible | Gaana | Stitcher | Pandora | iHeart Radio | Tune-In | SoundCloud | RadioPublic | Deezer | RSS and everywhere else you find your podcasts!

What are Progressive Slot Machines?

A slot machine is considered progressive when a portion of the bets placed on it go towards increasing its maximum jackpot. When initialized, such as when first started or after the progressive jackpot has been won, a progressive slot machine is given an initial jackpot. This initial jackpot is not zero.

Starting with this initial jackpot, it “progressively” grows as the slot machine is played. The progressive jackpot increases by a percentage of whatever is bet. For example, a $1 may increase the progressive jackpot by $0.25.

Progressive slot machines also have a maximum progressive jackpot, which they cannot exceed. That is to say, the progressive jackpot must be won before or when it equals this maximum amount.

Once reset after the progressive jackpot has been won, or when initially switched on, the amount of the next winning progressive jackpot is randomly chosen. This new winning progressive jackpot is randomly chosen to be between the initial and maximum amounts mentioned.

As bets are placed on the machine and the progressive jackpot increases, it approaches the amount of this new winning progressive jackpot. When a player’s bet increases the progressive jackpot to that randomly chosen amount, that player wins the progressive slot machine jackpot. Afterwards, the process begins anew.

How Many Progressive Slot Machines Make a Progressive Jackpot?

A common misconception is that progressive slot machines always include a group of slot machines with a shared jackpot. This is simply not the case. It is not uncommon for a progressive jackpot to be available only on a single slot machine.

It is also entirely possible for a group of progressive slot machines to be grouped, linked, or networked together. However, the physical extent of a network of machines included in a progressive jackpot can vary widely, including:

  1. Stand-Alone: A single slot machine which grows its own progressive jackpot only, is not networked to any other slot machines, and likely has the lowest maximum jackpot amount relative to networked progressive slot machines;
  2. In-House: Slot machines having the same slot machine game theme within the casino and more substantial, if not life-changing, maximum jackpots;
  3. In-Chain: Slot machines usually with the same slot machine game theme within all of the gaming venues owned by the same casino operator within states having gaming regulations that allow this;
  4. Wide-Area: Slot machines owned independently from the casinos they are located within, and:
    • A maximum jackpot which is massively large, life-changing jackpot;
    • Each casino gets a percentage of slot machines revenue;
    • Having a payout return which is lowest of all other progressive slot machines due to the relatively high setup and administrative costs.

The Casino’s Business Case for Progressive Slot Machines

Casinos are always trying new ways to both make money as well as providing new ideas to their patrons. This includes the whole business idea of progressive slot machines.

Some aspects of progressive slots are great for the casino business, such as being alluring to many casino patrons. Other aspects are driving changes at casinos, such as the legal difficulties with paying multi-property and multi-state progressive jackpots.

Stand-alone progressive slot machines are currently on the rise at casino properties. It can sometime be difficult to know if players will like new styles of slot machine play, such as skill-based slots (which are not doing well). But, progressive slot machines are definitely very popular. So, casinos have these.

Casinos also have in-house progressive slot machines, within certain limitations. It turns out that casinos only have in-house progressive slot machines in groups or carousels of slot machines. They simply are not spread all across the casino. Instead, I have observed that they are grouped together in a row or circle.

It’s interesting that in-house, networked, progressive slot machines have this limitation. It doesn’t take much inductive reasoning to figure out why. It’s due to ease of installation and building infrastructure.

Yes, newer casinos physically connect all their slot machines to a central computer with its casino operating system. Older casinos physically connect the players interface to a computer database, and also maintain a limited connection to notify the slot attendant dispatcher of any slot machines showing wins.

So, the central computer operating systems used in newer casinos are apparently not yet sufficient to handle networked progressive slot machines, where I went to research this post on progressive slot machines.

Just like older casinos, newer casinos have to physically connect in-house progressive slot machines. And, running the necessary cables under floors, over ceilings, and behind walls makes life difficult for casinos. Simply put, it is more efficient and easier to place networked slot machines together.

In part, this increased efficiency is due to how often slot machines are replaced to keep up with appealing game themes. Slot machines get moved in and out of casinos a lot, and making it difficult to do so is not of interest to casinos. Difficult, and costly. For example, pulling up flooring would disrupt, well, making money on slots in the affected areas.

In-chain and wide-area networked progressive slot machines have their own issues for casinos, so these types are being seen less and less often. While life-changing progressive jackpots have traditionally been of interest to slots enthusiasts, this is somewhat a thing of the past. Nobody expects to win on them. It’s, well, too much of a long shot.

Also, actually being awarded a large progressive jackpot is a lengthy, nightmarish process. So, you just won a huge, multi-casino progressive jackpot. Now you have to wait for 6 hours to get it. Stand-alone progressive slot machines are owned by the casino, and payouts are just like any other slot machine.

But, there are also progressive slot machines which are networked together outside of a casino, potentially across state lines and in coordination with other casinos as part owners of the jackpot. From the casino perspective, winners are unhappy with having lengthy waits in a back office while this business is transacted with other casinos.

When I was researching progressive slots machines, I was talking to a slots manager about the difficulties of progressive slot machines networked outside of a single casino property. What he said aligned well with statements within the Scientific Games and IGT annual financial reports. He said there are liability issues.

Basically, who owns the progressive jackpot being paid? Plain and simple, this is so, so difficult from a business perspective. Suffice to say, having liability issues with being able to pay out a progressive jackpot from a networked progressive slot machines is a loss of efficiency, the winner is never happy having to wait so long to be paid, and has become a no-go territory for casinos.

In other words, for the reasons given, casinos are getting out of the business of progressive slot machines networked across several properties. Casinos are currently making adjustments to increase their stand-alone and in-house progressive slot machines while reducing or entirely eliminating their out-of-house, networked progressive slot machines.

Should You Play Progressive Slot Machines?

There are effectively two strategies for winning at progressive slot machines:

  1. Treat the progressive slot machine like a non-progressive slot machine, and try to win the smaller, non-progressive jackpots; and
  2. Play progressive slot machines where the progressive jackpot is approaching its maximum value.

First, players can attempt to win jackpots of less than the maximum size on progressive slot machines using the winning strategies I have and will be discussing shortly for non-progressive style slot machines.

In the past, I have stated there is usually little to be gained by doing so. However, further research has helped correct this prior point-of-view. My prior reasoning has been that players of progressive slot machines are paying for the experience of playing that type of slot machine. I had assumed there is an associated price, a real monetary cost.

So, I had thought, the odds of winning non-progressive jackpots on a progressive slot machine were reduced to have the player pay some or all of this cost. This turns out to not quite be the actual case.

My prior view was incomplete, and not entirely proven out by real data. In fact, the opposite is clearly true for at least one state, and therefore reasonably true for all states. But, there is also some truth to what I had previously believed.

I had previously believed that all progressive slot machines had low payout returns. This is partially still true, but only for progressive slot machines with a truly massive wide-area network of machines. These are the progressive games having a multi-million dollar progressive jackpot.

This is clearly seen in payout return statistics of Las Vegas’s Strip area. There, according to state gaming commission, the highest payout return is the $1 denomination, non-Megabucks slot machines. The lowest payout returns are the Megabucks progressive slot machines with a $1 denomination.

But, the refinement to my previous understanding relates to the consistently relatively high actual payout returns for progressive slot machines with relatively small networks and therefore non-huge progressive jackpots. These are simply the facts.

These available facts are from, naturally, publicly available payout return statistics from a U.S. state government. Take a look at the actual payout return statistics for Mississippi.

The Mississippi Gaming Commission separates out monthly payout returns by slot machine denominations. Several states do this, as reported in Benefits of Slot Machine Payout Returns.

However, what is special about the Mississippi Gaming Commission monthly Win Percentage Report is, not only do they separate out payout returns by slot machine denomination, they also separate them out by whether or not the slot machine is progressive.

Here’s what’s interesting: The average payout return for progressive slot machines of a particular denomination are significantly better than non-progressive machines of the same denomination.

This is shown in the January 2018 report for all denominations having progressive slot machines, separately shown across all 3 gaming regions of Mississippi.

Let me repeat that. In Mississippi, all actual payout returns within all three regions as well as all denomination for progressive slots are higher than non-progressive slots. That’s pretty convincing data.

Given this single state-wide example, I am now willing to revise my previously low opinion of progressive slot machines. I now say it is reasonable to assume all progressive machines have better payout returns than non-progressive slot machines.

As I have previously discussed, improved payout returns come from several sources, and starting with the highest baseline amount is accomplished by careful selection of both casino and slot machine.

A progressive slot machine should be considered to have a relatively higher payout return relative to slot machines of the same denomination.

Simply put, based on Mississippi stats, and all other considerations and strategies aside, playing a progressive slot machine is likely to add 1% to 2% of payout return percentage to your baseline odds of winning.

Just, remember to avoid progressive slot machines with truly large, even life-changing, progressive jackpots. Those typically have the lowest odds of winning.

Strategies for Winning on Progressive Slot Machines

Now, let us consider a strategy specific for winning on progressive slot machines, rather than just if they should be played at all. In general, winning the maximum jackpot on a slot machine is a truly rare event.

Unless a specific strategy is being employed, a slots player should more-or-less ignore this possibility as nothing other than a once-in-a-lifetime event.

But, the key here is “unless a specific strategy is being employed.” Earlier, I stated:

“As bets are placed on the machine and the progressive jackpot increases, it approaches the amount of this new winning progressive jackpot. When a player’s bet increases the progressive jackpot to that randomly chosen amount, that player wins the progressive slot machine jackpot.”

This is the key to winning the progressive jackpot on a progressive slot machine: Play it when it approaches the maximum progressive jackpot allowed, when it must pay out.

Advantage players makes sure they are playing a progressive slot machine as it approaches the set maximum limit, pushing it towards and over to win.

There’s really only one problem with this strategy. What’s the maximum limit? For stand-alone progressive slot machines, it’s fairly easy to figure out. Simply look at the progressive jackpot amounts on progressive slot machines at your casino.

How much do they never go under? How much do they never go over? Those are the initial and maximum progressive jackpot amounts, respectively. Based on observations at my local casinos, a quarter machine might reset at $1,000 and reach its maximum at $1,200.

You can observe progressive slot machines yourself, and should if you want to make the most of this strategy. What you want to watch for is someone winning a progressive jackpot on what I describe elsewhere as a candidate slot machine.

That’s how you determine the reset or initial progressive jackpot. This initial jackpot provides a useful clue to the maximum progressive jackpot.

Further observations of players winning progressive jackpots on your candidate slot machines will also help you determine how large the maximum progressive jackpot might be. Eventually, you’ll have a reasonable guess for the maximum jackpot.

Once you do have that reasonable guess, only play that progressive slot machine when it is closest to its best-guess maximum jackpot and furthest from the initial jackpot.

Remember, the progressive jackpot can be won anywhere between the initial and maximum jackpots, but it is “due for a win” when it gets closer to the maximum jackpot. That’s your advantage play.

This strategy can also be applied to non-stand-alone progressive slot machines. However, doing so will require a team of 2 or more people. Networked progressive slot machines located within a casino are currently being grouped together by casinos, as discussed, so having someone at each is quite possible.

The strategy here is to have someone sitting at each of these networked slot machines when the maximum progressive jackpot is being approached, then play those machines until the progressive jackpot is driven over the maximum jackpot.

There are a couple of logistics concerns to watch out for, of course. First, these should be people you both trust and have an agreement with to share the jackpot. Who is going to pay the taxes on the jackpot, assuming it is over $1,200?

In other words, whose name will be on the W-2G? Keep in mind, agreement or not, the actual winner doesn’t legally have to share any winnings unless they choose to do so.

Second, you could just have a single person playing one of the networked slot machines, while everyone else at the other machines are not playing.

But, this will look suspicious to the casino, and should be avoided, given the lengthy time it will take for one person to add enough money to sufficiently drive up the progressive jackpot.

Third, the highest value progressive jackpots are on the greatest number of networked progressive slot machines. Winning a $4 million progressive jackpot would mean having a very large team located at several casinos, probably across several states.

Given the inherent difficulties, such as large cash investment and team management as well as travel costs, it is perhaps more reasonable to try this strategy on a smaller bank of networked progressive slot machines.

If you don’t have a team available, or your team is fewer than the progressive machines networked together, try being the only people playing them. You’ll still win if the other machines are sitting idle. However, this may require visiting the casino at odd hours when attendance is at a minimum.

Even then, a stranger could still swoop in at near the last moment to potentially win and take your investment of time and money. On the other hand, maybe you’re the stranger doing the swooping? Either way, it is something to watch for, or plan to implement or avoid, with this strategy.

Long-Term Playing: A Cautionary Tale

I was recently told a story by an entertainment slots gambler about his brother-in-law winning a top progressive jackpot for $375,000 after 15 years of playing that and similar high limit progressive slot machines.

I was initially impressed, perhaps because of the fervor with which he told the story. But then, I got to thinking about the math.

If $375,000 was a total gross salary for 15 years of work for a job, it’d be an annual gross pay of $24,000. That would be a full-time job at a rate of $12.50 per hour, which at this time is more than any U.S. state’s minimum hourly wage.

While I didn’t get a chance to ask this during the conversation itself, later I wondered how much this brother-in-law spent on gambling per year. As a reminder for both of us, an upcoming post will be about how to and the value of keeping good gambling records.

How much did this individual with the $375,000 progressive jackpot spend gambling on the progressive slot machine each year? If he lost $25,000 per year in gambling losses, he only broke even over 15 years. Of course, this does not include any income taxes on his progressive jackpot.

Let’s say his overall tax rate was 25%, and his gambling losses in the year of the progressive jackpot was insignificant compared to $375,000. In this case, his winnings after paying income taxes was just over $280,000. Over 15 years, that is $18,750

Was this “winner” either breaking even over the long run, or losing money? How much profit, annual revenue minus annual gambling losses, had he actually gotten? One hopes that he at least broke even after 15 years of effort.

Summary of Winning Strategy 2: Progressive Slot Machines

In summary, Winning Strategy 2: Progressive Slot Machines provides the necessary background understanding to subsequently apply the provided realistic strategy for winning on progressive slots.

I first identified what a progressive slot machine is, then helped you to identify networked progressive slot machines.

This was followed by the usual question always to be asked about slot machines, which was to identify what is known about actual payout returns for this type of slot machine. Mississippi’s Gaming Commission was very helpful with this.

I next went over the strategy for winning at progressive slot machines, making use of the advantage play available due to progressive slots having a minimum jackpot at reset as well as maximum progressive jackpot which it cannot exceed.

I also talked about how to best go about teaming up to apply this strategy on small networks of progressive slot machines.

I concluded with a cautionary tale about winning a big progressive jackpot after many years of attempting to do so, and how the annual cost may well exceed, in total, what might eventually be won with a single large jackpot.

Realistic winning strategies exist for winning at progressive slot machines, as explained here. These slots can make up to 30% of slot machines in a casino. ]]>