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Slot Machine Strategy

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Add up all the variables about slot machine and you get one of those jokes that the universe likes to play. The Games that seem complicated, like craps and roulette, have odds that are absurdly easy to calculate. Games like slots that are easy to play but determining true odds and the house edge (which in this case are the same) seem impossible. That is why the casinos love slot machines. Most people just give up, plunk their money into almost any machine, and hope for the best.

There is a strategy that accounts for the house edge. This strategy is broken down into decisions and options to correspond to different bankrolls.


  • Progressive or non-progressive machines.

Do you like many small jackpots or do you want to give up some small jackpots wins to shoot for the Big Prize? Thee is no wrong answer, either one is fine. Just be sure that you understand the implications. The one thing that is guaranteed is that you will lose more in the long run playing a progressive machine.

  • Do you play maximum coins or maximum edge?

If you are playing a progressive machine pick a lower denomination and play the maximum coins. If you are playing a non-progressive machine that doesn’t pay a bonus for maximum coins than you do not want to play maximum coins.

  • Do you play a crowded or at an empty casino?

This depends on how desperate you are to play. Are you willing to play a tight machine? A crowded casino will likely mean that you will have to wait to play a hot machine. Are you willing to wait or are you willing to play the machine in the corner that is probably tighter than tight. Again the decision is yours.


  • Money Management 1 – Short Session

If you are playing a very short session of up to forty coins (a full roll of quarters), the machine just might gobble all the coins, give a few back or even deliver a jackpot. Unfortunately there just is no real way to tell. The most practical strategy for a short session is to play through your bankroll and expect no return. You price for the fun of each pull of the arm is one coin. The chances of winning something and paying less than the full price is extremely high when you use this strategy. If this strategy sounds too conservative consider the alternative. You could put 40 coins into a machine and only get twelve coins back. This is a huge let down unless you were prepared to spend the money.

  • 2. Money Management 2 – Medium Session

Players that play longer sessions with bigger bankrolls are more likely to experience payouts closer to the average, so they can reasonably include some of the value of those expected payouts in the price-for-fun calculation. Let’s say the session bankroll is $100. You are playing single coins on a quarter machine. This $100 will buy you 400 spins on the machine. How much should you expect to win back? Anything can happen, but remember that you are setting a maximum price for fun. My recommendation is an ultra-conservative and easy-to-figure 50 percent. That means when the original $100 is gone and the 400 spins are over you intend to have at least $50 in winnings. You are willing to pay up to $50 for the pleasure of 400 spins. For the most part you should expect not to have a run as bad as 50%, but there are people that have. The key to avoiding such an event is monitoring your winnings. One quarter of the way through your bankroll (100 spins) you should be down a maximum of $12.50. Anything more and you are paying more than 50%, way too much money for fun and you need to find a looser machine.

  • 3. Money Management 3 – Long Haul

You are in for the game for the long haul and will be playing for multiple hours. It is possible to see returns very close to the actual house edge at this level of play, but do not count on it. Set your overall price for fun at 25 percent of your bankroll and play the money through once. Periodically monitor your winnings at 50 or 100 spin intervals. If you hit a cold streak or a tight machine your price for fun will shoot through the roof. When that happens, you should take a break or play another machine.

Playing your winnings?

Let us assume you have not exceeded your win-limit by winning a big jackpot. The once-through money management strategies are designed to leave you with some winnings. Even the first strategy will very likely produce a few coins. The original bankroll is gone and all that is left is the winnings. Should you put these winnings at risk? Remember, it is your money. Do you want to continue to pay for fun? Some slot fanatics will play it all in pursuit of one big jackpot. This is OK if you are prepared to end your gaming with no money. Another approach is to walk away with your winnings. That makes cashing out a pleasure, but it stops the fun cold. A middle approach is to set aside half of your winnings and use the other half to replenish your session bankroll. Repeat the process until the new bankroll produces no winnings or you hit a big jackpot and exceed your win-limit. Either way, you will go home with money in your pocket.