How to win at slots: 5 top tips

It’s high noon, time for that showdown between you and your nemesis, the slot game that beats you every time… Today, that sucker is going down! It’s had one too many chances, and each time it’s left you in the dust. But not today! No, today you’re gonna outdraw that sucker, and take it down, because we have the ultimate tips to help you be a slots champion!

Tip 1: Choose your game wisely

With the proliferation of online casinos available to players today, slot games have exploded in popularity, and there are literally thousands of games to choose from. So, how do you find a game that’s both enjoyable and a winner? Here’s a quick breakdown of the three top factors that influence game play: RTP, variance, and volatility – they impact how much and how frequently the game pays out.

RTP – return to player

Return to player, better known as RTP, is the percentage of all bets that are paid back out to players. In other words, if a slot game has an RTP of 96%, this means that for every R100 played by you and other players, the game will pay out R96 over time.

That does not mean that you will win back 96% of your money; it means that, on average, across all players using that game, 96% is the aggregated winning percentage. Most online games fall between 90% and 98% RTP, although it pays to focus on those with 95% or more to boost your odds of a win.

How to Find the RTP of a slot

Depending on which online casinos you frequent, you may be able to easily find the RTP and other game info by selecting the right option from the menu (eg, ‘More info’, ‘Game stats’, ‘Help’, ‘Settings, etc). Many designers include a button you can select in-game to look up RTP and so on.

If this information isn’t easily available at your favourite online casino, then you should be able to find the information online: Google the game’s name and ‘RTP’ to see reviews, game guides and other places that mention the RTP.

Variance

(For our full guide to Variance, click here)

A game’s variance indicates just how likely you are to win while playing, and whether those wins are likely to be small and consistent, big and infrequent or somewhere in between. Often confused with volatility, variance is quite simply the risk vs reward ratio of the game. Variance will show you how big or small you can expect to win, if you do win, but not how often.

A low variance game, for example, won’t be as high risk; in other words, you may see more regular wins and fewer losses. However, the wins will tend to be smaller, but consistent. A high variance game may have much less frequent wins, but when they do happen, they will range from small to big, and there are better chances of really big wins with these.

Variance is one thing that is rarely published on game designers’ websites or in-game. It is much easier to estimate a game’s variance by looking at the game’s pay tables, particularly the maximum payout:

  • Low variance = max payout of 10-20x
  • Medium variance = max payout of 30-40x
  • High variance = max payout of 50x or more

Volatility

(For our full guide to Volatility, click here)

Volatility is all about the highs and lows, ups and downs, the roller coaster ride you’ll experience while playing. Related to variance, volatility shows you how frequently you can expect to win or lose in a game.

All slot games are run by a random number generator (RNG), which randomly assigns a series of numbers to each play you make. Those numbers match up with relevant symbols and combinations in-game, thereby assigning either a win or a loss to each round. Game designers can vary the game’s volatility by getting creative with symbols, design, combinations and more.

Games can range from high to low volatility, including every point in between. Usually (although not always) volatility and variance follow a similar trend: high-variance games tend to also be high-volatility games; low variance are usually low volatility, and so on.

Classic slots

Tip 2: Practice with free games

Whether you are a total newcomer to slots or an old hand who wants to improve your game, practising with free games can help you understand both the game and your technique better.

Many online casinos allow users to ‘try’ their slot games free – to take them for a spin, so to speak. This gaming costs you nothing, but you can’t win real money. The upside is that you get a good sense of the gameplay and can develop your betting strategy.

Not all casinos allow for trying games. Sometimes, they offer information on game specs instead, or allow you to play with a limited number of free spins. Other online casinos don’t offer free play at all, but these tend to be in the minority. If your favourite online casino doesn’t cater for trying out the game, look around to see who does by visiting our casino reviews, or find out more about the game itself in our slot game reviews. We are constantly updating these, so if a new game isn’t there yet, check back again soon, because we’re working on it!

Tip 3: Study the pay table

Slots come in a massive variety of styles, designs and themes. They also vary widely in their symbols, combinations, bonuses, special offers and more. That’s why online slot games also include a pay table. This shows you, in detail, exactly how every winning symbol and combination pays out.

At a glance, you should be able to see all the pay combinations available through the game. This includes regular symbols, wilds, scatters, multipliers, and combinations. It’s important to note that the pay table will usually show the value of the symbol or combination in multipliers, rather than fixed amounts. This is because slots allow you to choose how much you will bet each spin, and winnings are calculated on multiples of the bet.

Tip 4: Stick to your budget

This is at once the easiest and the most difficult strategy. It’s as simple as setting a time or money limit on play, and sticking to it… which is easier said than done. Fortunately, many online casinos today offer players the chance to set a play limit, so that when you have spent a fixed amount you can no longer play. This all falls under casinos’ commitment to responsible gambling.

It is just as important to limit gaming time as it is to set a spending limit. It’s so easy to spend hours in front of your laptop or on your cell, especially considering the incredible array of fun, exciting games available. Just remember that your mind and body need regular breaks – we recommend setting a timer per play session, and setting a maximum number of play sessions per day.

Another aspect of budgeting is winning. What happens if you hit a nice big prize or even a jackpot? Do you cycle that money back into play, or are you going to restrain yourself and cash out those winnings? It’s about balancing your play time and spend.

Tip 5: Plan your strategy

(for our full guide to slot strategies, click here)

A good slot game strategy should take all of the above points into consideration, as well as taking into account your personality and gaming style. What do you want to get out of your game play session? Are you chasing the big win, or looking for a way to spend a couple of hours? Are you trying to make up your wagering requirements so you can cash in your bonus? All of this will influence which game you choose and how you play it.

For a winning strategy that works for you, you need to:

  • Know what you want from your session of game play
  • Understand how each game’s specs influence your chances of winning
  • Consider your preferred playing styles, whether aggressive, moderate or relaxed

Conclusion

Slots are a hugely fun and exciting way to spend some time and money, especially if you have a little spare cash to burn. However, they can also quickly become quite consuming, and you could inadvertently spend too much time or money on the game. When planning any slot strategies, or even just regular gaming time, always remember to gamble responsibly.