The Slots Survival Guide

Slot machines are deemed the most popular casino games. And it’s not difficult to understand the allure — they’re easy, require low minimum bets, are hugely entertaining and, unlike Blackjack or poker, they don’t require complex strategies or mathematical equations. The real question is, is there a way to increase the chance of winning with slots?

Slot machine basics

One of the major reasons people love to play slots in casinos and online is because they’re easy — you don’t need to observe your opponent’s every move, calculate your odds or have an in-depth strategy to succeed. While there are loads of slot games out there, the basic premise is simple – you pick a machine, place your bet and pull a lever (or in some cases, push a button). The reels spin and stop on a combination of symbols on the payline —  and if you’re lucky, it’s a winning one. 

While classic slot machines only had one payline, today, you can often choose the number of paylines you’d like to play (or bet on). Simply put, it’s like playing several slot machines in one and you’ll pay per line played. Playing with multiple paylines may up your odds because not only can your symbols line up across the horizontal lines, but diagonal as well. These types of machines also typically offer scatter pays which might help you to win some money or give you a bonus round, like a free spin.

The next important fact when learning to play slot machines is that they always have minimum and maximum bets. Generally, as with many casino-based games, they function on the premise that the higher you bet the bigger your potential payout will be. But the rules and amounts might differ from one machine to the next, so take a minute and ensure you understand how the betting works. As an example, you might not be eligible for a jackpot if you only play the minimum bet. 

Another reason slots are a firm favourite is that aside from being easy, they’re exciting — there’s nothing like the prospect of winning a big payout at any moment to keep you engaged. This feeling of anticipation triggers the release of dopamine, the feel-good hormone. Additionally, they are also said to have the ability to calm you down — despite the flashing neon lights and the thrilling sound effects and graphics, these games require minimal concentration and the spinning motion of the reels, along with the eye movement it prompts, could even put you in a trance. 

Technology has given new meaning to the game; when you play slots online, there’s an almost endless variety of options when it comes to game formats, paylines, symbols, features, themes and jargon. One of the biggest advantages, however, is that you can play when and where ever you desire.

The question of strategy

Many casino games require some element of strategy or skill to win in the long run. But games like online scratchcards, bingo or slots are the exception because they’re completely random and rely on a fair amount of luck. In fact, the mechanism in place that spits out the combinations is called a Random Number Generator (or RNG), so there’s no calculating the odds of winning.

Having said that, developers who saw a need in the online gaming community have created several slot-based games (often in the form of adventure-themed variations) that require a little strategy, but these are certainly the exception. 

Any slot player worth their salt will know that trying to create a mathematically-sound slot strategy would raise some eyebrows. You can, however, formulate a solid slot-playing action plan to maximise your efforts and up your chances of winning. 

Setting a limit

One of the first steps to a strong plan of action is to set yourself a budget. There’s no doubt that slot machines are enthralling, but it’s important not to let yourself get too carried away. Remember, gambling is meant to be a form of entertainment, and that should be your motivation to play because you’re certainly not guaranteed any wins. That’s why it’s vital to set a reasonable limit for your slot-playing escapades (before you start playing) and stick to it. 

Let’s say you decide on a £30 limit. This means that you’re comfortable with the fact that you could lose all of it, or, of course, possibly double it (or better). The £30 is your loss limit, so you don’t want to lose or spend more than that. Setting yourself this budget plays an essential role because it’ll also inform which games to play.

Determining your playing style

The next step is to determine your particular playing style. How you like to play, based on your personality, budget and preferences, will dictate which games you’re most likely to win. 

Do you consider yourself patient or impatient? What is your budget – is your pot generally fairly big or small? Once you figure these out, you can pick the games best suited to you. Progressive jackpots, or games with larger, more infrequent payouts, for example, are best suited to the patient players with reasonable pots who prefer shorter sessions. These types of players, if they’re lucky, stand a chance to win big. 

Games that offer many rewards and lower win lines could be the best option for impatient players who prefer more regular payouts (although, these payouts are typically small). Games that offer loads of bonus features and small, frequent payouts might be best for patient players with smaller pots — figure out your playing style and pick games that fit with it. If you play the games most suited to you, you’re that much more likely to win. 

The pitfalls of slot fallacies

Seasoned players love to dole out advice or spread rumours that centre on superstition and misinformation. But slot machine fallacies and superstitions can jeopardise your chances of winning enormously. By understanding these beliefs, and how they’re not true, you’re better able to approach your slot games with reason, and in doing so, increase your chances of winning. Here are a couple of things to remember when you play slots online or live:

  • Online games and the land-based variety are random by design, one spin is not linked to the next so the belief that if you play enough you will eventually win is not true. You could play for hours with a few small wins or none at all and the person next to you might sit down and win — each spin has the same chance of winning as the next.
  • With that in mind, there’s no such thing as a “hot” or “cold” slot machine. 
  • Live machines don’t simply pay out because they’re at capacity. The lurking tactic of bygone days is no longer valid thanks to advancements in technology. 
  • Cheats and patterns don’t exist — any flaws that might have once existed in older machines have been eradicated.
  • At the end of the day, wins or losses come down to luck and today’s RNGs have made sure of that. 

Picking the right machine

As mentioned above, it’s important to choose machines that best suit your playing style. 

When you play slots online or live, there are a few types that will come up time and time again. The most popular machines are:

  • The three-reel machine – these are based closely on the classic slot machine with one payline and when the three reels spin and stop on matching symbols, you’ve won.
  • Five- and seven-reel options – similar to the classic version with extra reels for variety which adds to the fun. These are harder to win on, but generally, have bigger jackpots than the classic.
  • Multi-payline machines – as discussed earlier, these have multiple paylines which can be bet on at the same time and allow for greater combinations. The more lines you bet on the higher your chances.
  • Video slot machines  – similar to online games, these machines have visual representations of reels but have the added benefit of rewards, features and bonuses, which make for a slightly more exciting version of the original. 
  • Progressive jackpot slot machines – these work similarly to the lottery in that the jackpot grows until someone wins. The jackpots for these can be massive and this type of game can be linked to only one slot machine or many.
  • 3D slot machines – these were created to enrich the slot playing experience and are often based on popular TV shows and films.  

If you’re still not sure which of these might be the best fit for you, perhaps play a few of them to get the feel and take it from there — you can even play online where you’re afforded a number of free games first. Find out the Return to Player Percentage (or RTP) of a machine as well. This technically means that the machine pays out a particular percentage of what is put into it over time. In theory, the higher the RTP, the greater the chance of winning. Keep in mind that online casinos are known to have higher RTPs than land-based casinos in general.

Make the most of the comps and rewards

Many live and online casinos have special reward programmes and incentives. At land-based casinos, this could mean enjoying anything from free nights of accommodation to complimentary meals and drinks. Online, you might be in for welcome bonuses, free spins or money deposited into your online casino account. Sound tempting? Then make sure you sign up for the loyalty programmes before you play. 

If you’re a beginner, there’s no easier or better way to learn the ropes than when you play slots online. At Mecca Bingo not only do you have a plethora of game options available at the click of a button (many of which you can try for free) you also have easy access to other online casino games. Here, you can enhance your gaming experience, whether you want to play bingo or scratchcards, mega jackpots and more.


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