How To Pick Slot Machines

A guide on how to choose the right slot machine for you. From RTP rate to volatility and themes, understand what really matters to pick a winning slot game.

how to pick slot machines
How To Pick Slot Machines

With thousands of slot machines within online gambling sites and brick-and-mortar casinos, it can be hard for casual players to know how to choose winning slot machines. New patrons often leave the establishment with regret, thinking they should have spent more time considering their slot choices.

To help you decide on which title to spend your money on, this article will be your guide in choosing a slot machine.

Slot Variance and RTP

One of the first factors to consider is the variance rate of the slot, which is the risk-vs-reward ratio present in each game. There are low variance slot games that usually reward a majority of your spins with significantly low payouts. On the flip side, high variance slots only reward a small number of your spins with large cash rewards.

Think of variance as a way to help you find slots with risks that you are willing to take. There are high-risk players who want to achieve a massive payout by risking a substantial amount of cash. Low-risk players are more comfortable with the "slow and easy wins the race" mentality.

If you do not see yourself as a high-risk or low-risk taker, you can find a good number of medium variance slots. These titles offer a fair risk-vs-reward ratio where you can expect a decent payout for each wins.

Another data to consider among slots is the return-to-player (RTP) rate. As the name indicates, this data shows how much you can expect to profit from a slot. If you are wagering $100 on a slot with 97% RTP, you are likely to get $97 back after playing this game for a certain period. The RTP of a slot can be found on the cabinet or within the game itself. Slots are generally referred to as:

Take note that these returns tend to materialize through long play sessions of one specific slot. You could be spending one hour or the whole afternoon spinning the reels before you can reach the $97 return.

When you take into account both the variance and RTP rate of a slot, you get a clear picture of the payout rate and your win/lose ratio of a title. If time is short and you want a shot at a massive cash prize in just a few spins, high-variance slots with a mid-RTP rate are for you. When you want to take your time to have a steady gain while avoiding a massive loss, low-variance slots with high-RTP rates are your best bet.

how to calculate RTP in slots
Wondering how to calculate RTP in slots? Just subtract the house edge!

Wagering Requirement

If you are a regular online casino patron, you likely have heard about deposit bonuses and free spins promotions. These are offered as part of a welcome bonus for new players or as a regular promotion. One of the common misunderstandings with bonuses is the wagering requirement. Players need to wager any bonus money they receive several times before they can withdraw it.

Online casinos tend to require you to bet around 20 to 40 times the amount of your deposit bonus. Let us say you took the offer of a 300% deposit bonus by sending $20 to your account, giving you $60 of casino credit.  If the wagering requirement is set to 35 times, you need to wager $2,100.

Take note that games within online casinos have different contribution rates. Games such as slots that contribute 100% to the wagering requirement only require you to bet $2,100 on it. For others that contribute 50%, which are often table games or high-RTP slots, you need to wager $4,200 on those games to complete the requirement.

It pays to check on the terms and policy of an online casino's deposit bonus before considering taking their offer. This lets you know which slots or games have a 100% contribution rate to the wagering requirement. Should none of the games seem interesting, you can always choose to wait for a better promotion or look for another casino.

If you already have made the deposit and are looking to complete the wagering requirement, you will want to look for qualified slots with low-medium variance and an RTP of 96% or higher. With the low-risk aspect of these kinds of slots, you can safely wager your bonus and minimize your losses. One of the low variance slots with an RTP of 97.16% to look for is Gold Train, a 3x3 slot with straightforward gameplay.

Legitimate Slots

One major factor that most new players overlook is the legitimacy of a slot. These are the most obvious ones that will offer a convincing "demo" of slot gameplay. However, the dangerous slots tend to function like their real counterpart that uses a faux PRNG system. This system manipulates the players' spending habits where they think they are winning, but are only giving away their money to the scammers.

Looking into the online casino you plan on visiting is one of the methods to avoid fake slots. This involves looking for the site's license, which is often below the home page or within their 'about us' section. You will likely see either an MGA, Curacao, or Kahnawake symbol. Take note of who the licensors are and visit their website to look up the casino in question. If the operator's site appears on their database, they are least likely to offer fake slots.

Take note that not all licensed casinos follow the regulator's rules and standards. It pays to double-check a casino after verifying its license by going through review sites. These sites likely have patrons of an online casino you are planning on visiting. Feedback from these patrons lets you know what to expect when you play a gambling site's slots as well as how they treat their customers' bankroll.

On the topic of slots, see who the game's software provider is. Should these providers be the likes of NetEnt, Microgaming, Play'N Go, and IGT, you are in safe hands since they are licensed game makers. If the slot's maker is someone you are not familiar with, look up their home page or any relevant directory for any information on the software provider. When you cannot find any data about the slot's software provider, it makes sense to avoid the game and look for another one.

how to pick online slots
Our top tips on how to pick the best online slot game!

Gameplay Features

More than thousands of slots have different gameplay mechanics and bonus games. On the base game alone, you have the classic 3-reel slots and 5-reel slots that simulate vintage gambling machines. For a modern take on gambling games, there are cluster reels and i-slots that turn the traditional mechanical reel system of a slot into a dynamic gameplay experience.

Much of a slots feature is within its bonus modes. A good chunk of slots in any online casino usually features a free-spins mode where you receive a set number of free games upon matching scatter symbols. Certain iterations of these modes include additional features such as bet multipliers and random cash prizes.

There are also slots with unique bonus modes that are skill-based instead of luck-based. These modes act like video games where you have more control over the mode. You have games such as Space Invaders slot where the bonus mode has you playing a level from the iconic video game. Accumulating the highest possible points in a skill-based game can entitle you to a large cash reward.

Whether you want straightforward gameplay where the best possible payout is through the base game or are interested in bonus modes with large rewards, always consider the features first. Knowing what to expect from a game by playing a free online slot demo lets you know which titles are worth your money.

Jackpot Payouts

If your goal is a major payout that surpasses more than what most people make in a year, progressive jackpot slots are the way to go. Progressive slots have a jackpot prize that grows as people play the game. These prices tend to reach enormous amounts where one slot reached more than $10 million.

Winning these jackpots often requires luck by your side since they are triggered by random during the base game or entering a bonus mode. If you manage to be lucky in getting a shot at the jackpot, you still need to win the major jackpot instead of the minor jackpot rates or a random cash prize.

There is an incredible number of progressive jackpot slots in online and physical casinos. One example is the Megabucks Slots in Bally's Casino, which rewarded $22.6 million to a California woman. Check out the biggest slot wins! This does not mean most of the high-paying progressives are in casinos. You can even find a section dedicated to this type of slot within online casinos that also offer a substantial jackpot payout.

different types jackpots in slots
The Different Types Of Jackpots In Online & Land-based Slot Machines

Slot Theme

Gone are the days when slots come with generic fruit symbols, flashing lights, and digital celebratory sound effects that were taken from an 80s midi sound file. Modern slots have an extensive range of themes that includes Irish lore, Vikings, luxurious lifestyle, and Las Vegas.

Apart from the common themes, you have licensed slot games that take video clips, art, sound, and music from popular franchises. One example of this is Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure from IGT that features high-valued symbols that depict the characters. For every massive win, you are treated to a clip of the movie that shares the same energy and excitement as getting that large payout.

Although a minor factor to consider, your enjoyment of the game can come from the visual and audio aspects of the slot. There are players who want to keep the celebratory aspect simple by choosing slots with the usual sound effects. On the flip side, other patrons want to see their favorite band or movie characters each time they get a big win.

By considering the factors mentioned in this article, you can easily pick a slot machine that you will enjoy. You can also avoid any rogue casinos and fake slots by checking on the gambling site's license as well as the software providers' information.

This article was published on September 7, 2021, and last updated on October 24, 2022.