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Keeping It Simple – Slots

My no-brainer strategies for staying safe at the slots—and enjoying the ride

By Frank Scoblete


It’s true that I prefer more conservative methods of play, as opposed to aggressive tactics in pursuit of the mega-jackpots. I consider the “pie in the sky…I’m gonna hit the BIG one!” mentality to be the type of thinking that can destroy a slot player’s bankroll.

There are three major categories when it comes to slot articles written for slot players. The first involves discussing the features of the machines: how they are designed, their cool bonus features, and where they can be found.

The second category of slot articles focuses on the various intricacies of these machines that apply to your gambling experience—such as understanding what the RNG (random number generator) is, and how it works; how machines arrive at their payback percentages; and comparing hit frequencies with winning hits.

The first two categories are certainly interesting and important for slot players to understand. Personally, I like to dwell more in the third category—which I call “money management.” Once you know about the various machines and grasp all of the technical jargon, the question becomes: which of these machines should you play for the best return on your bankroll, and how should you play them to generate the most fun, with the least financial risk?


Many slot writers tend to think of me as a “fuddy duddy”—a conservative in terms of how I spend my money on these infernal machines. It’s true that I prefer more conservative methods of play, as opposed to aggressive tactics in pursuit of the mega-jackpots. I consider the “pie in the sky…I’m gonna hit the BIG one!” mentality to be the type of thinking that can destroy a slot player’s bankroll.

My slot strategies are based upon the following foundations:

  • Machine selection
  • Number of credits played
  • Money management of overall bankroll
  • Speed of play

These four categories obviously dovetail, but each can be taken separately to get a good grasp on the handle of my ideas.

Machine Selection: Which machines should players avoid? My advice is to avoid all the interlinked progressive slot machines that require full coin to achieve the huge jackpot win. Many of these machines have about a 50 million to one chance of hitting that mega-jackpot, and the return percentage for these machines is usually a dismal 85 to 88 percent (or lower!). That means your expectation is to lose around $15 per $100 wagered. Yeow!

I would also caution you against playing penny and nickel machines that allow you to play dozens of lines depending on how much money you want to put in. These machines do not return high percentages—they hover around 88 percent or less—but they can gobble up your money if you bet so many multiple lines that you are averaging 25 cents to a dollar per spin.

If you play these mega-multi-line monsters for big bucks, you are no longer a penny or nickel player (even if you think you are); you are, in fact, a quarter, 50 cents, or dollar player.

I’d suggest jumping up to those higher denomination machines instead, where you’ll get a far better payback—somewhere in the 90 to 94 percent range.

Number of Credits Played: I’m going to go against the trend that says, “Always play full coin in all the machines.” I think just the opposite, and I base this not on the infinitesimal difference in house edge between playing full coin or one coin, but on the concept of loss per hour. If the machine returns 90.5 percent of all money played when going full coin (let’s make it three coins), and pays only 90 percent when one coin is played, there is a staggering difference in loss per hour between the two.

If we figure a player will do 360 spins per hour (a very conservative six spins per minute), the expected loss on a dollar machine for the player betting three dollars per spin is $102.60. If the player merely plays one coin per spin, his loss is $36 per hour. That is a gigantic difference.

Money Management Of Overall Bankroll: I’m a firm believer in having a gambling stake that is separate and apart from your normal, everyday money. Set up a 401G (the “G” stands for gambling), and on a regular basis, put some money in it. As the account grows, you now have playing money that will not make you say, “Oh, my lord, I lost how much?” Take a small percentage of this money with you to the casino and divide it up into session stakes. You can think to yourself, “I will play this amount of money through the machine once (or twice or three times), and wherever I am when it all goes through, whether I’m winning or losing, I’m going to quit until my next session and not feel depressed about it.”

Speed of Play: By way of analogy: the college freshman, attending a frat party, has never had a drink before. He takes slow sips from his first beer. The next one, he drinks a little faster. By his fourth beer, he’s chugging ‘em down and loses count—and it results in a whopper of a hangover the next day.

This holds true for slot players, too. You start off your session spinning the wheels in a leisurely fashion—but as time passes, you find yourself spinning ‘em faster and faster. Instead of four decisions per minute, you’re making six, then eight, then 12. Your credits are flying through the machine.

You’ve heard of the “runners’ high?” Well, there is a slot players’ high as well. The thought process slows down while the total number of spins speeds up.

In a random game, the math of the machine will inevitably defeat the player. The longer the player plays, the better the chance he or she will wind up in the hole, financially speaking. A leisurely pace should be maintained—from the first spin to the last. Keep your wits about you, and you will have a losing expectation that is substantially lower than that of the player next to you, who is lost in the “slot player’s high.”

Follow my advice, and I predict you’ll be a lot safer when you’re up against the machines—and you’ll enjoy a better experience.

Frank Scoblete’s newest book is Casino Craps: Shoot To Win!, which can take you from novice to dice controller. It comes with a DVD showing unedited controlled throws. Meanwhile, Scoblete’s Beat Blackjack Now! takes you from novice to advantage player with the easiest advantage-play method ever created.  They’re available at; your favorite bookstore; or by mail-order by calling 1-800-944-0406. Want a free brochure, too? Just call the above number.

Keeping It Simple – Slots.

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