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Slot Machine Strategy

Let's be clear on one thing - slot machines are games of chance, so no matter what strategy you employ, the results are down to luck. That said, online slot machines are designed very much based around the concept of slot variance (risk/streakyness) which means you require a cunning plan in order to make the most of the experience. I'll take you through my own slot machine strategy below, but before you start playing, there is one thing you need to set firmly in your mind: know when to cashout! That's the biggest downfall of the slot player. It also helps to be familiar with your chosen slot machines first!

Knowing when to walk away

This can be tough. Luck and variance play the lead roles, so understand the type of slot you are playing first and understand how to manage your bankroll. If you are playing a high variance slot you can set your target higher, but be prepared to get through some cash to get there. You might decide that when you triple your investment you'll get out. Stick to that plan but bear in mind that you make need several sessions and deposits to achieve that. If you are playing low variance slots, set your target lower, perhaps 35% - 50% and cashout when you hit it. You'll get more playtime for your money although being based on chance, there are never any guarantees.

My Strategy & Playing Style

My philosphy when I am playing slots online is that I want to be entertained first and foremost and winning is secondary. I'm a casino owner's dream! That said I don't want to just throw my money away so cashing out on a regular basis is still something I do. As long as I get a good session, don't blow my entire bankroll and come away feeling like I had value for money, I'm a happy chappie. That's why it's important to identify the best online casinos for your style of play - you need to be sure you have a casino that suits your strategy, particularly when it comes to cashing out as some take longer than others.

This is how I play. I used to prefer medium/high variance slot machines (see the images below for some of my favourite slot games) but these days I play as many low/medium variance games because I simply like the graphics/sounds and game play. A good example of this is the Caesar's Empire slot (I play at iNetBet) which is low/medium variance and quite easy to hit the free spins on. When playing higher variance slots, I look for a minumum 3x my deposit before I consider hitting the cashout button and I lose far more than I win, but every 15-20 sessions or so I get a big old hit that gets the adrenaline pumping and goes some way to recouping my losses, or even exceeding them.

Like most online slot machine players, my biggest problem is knowing when to stop and more often than not, I will play some back and end up around even. You need resolve! Every spin is random so just because you got lucky once doesn't mean the slot is on a winning streak.

A more sensible slots player, playing more for profit than entertainment, will have set a maximum budget and a cashout target before they start playing. When they get to that target they will cash out and walk away. Easier said than done, but it's the right way to do it.

The "50 Spin" Slot Strategy

Pretty much all the slots I play are "free spins" slots, meaning that when the feature is triggered, you get fre spins awarded, usually with a multiplier on each win. I prefer these because the amount you can win is seemingly unlimited, although we know that there is an element of fantasy about that! I generally start by depositing around 1/3rd of my budget as an initial deposit.

I rarely take a bonus as all casinos, without exception, apply wagering restrictions to bonuses which means, if I win early, I can't cash out until I have wagered a certain amount. I will start with a relatively modest bet depending on the variance of the slot machine I am on, perhaps $2.50 a spin. I play 50 spins and if I haven't hit the feature round, I increase the bet, perhaps to $3.50 (substitute in an amount you are comfortable with). I keep playing like this until I hit the free spins.

I find most slots in the medium/high variance category will give you free spins on average around every 150-200 spins, although I developed this strategy on the excellent Thunderstruck slot which averages a free spins round every 125 spins. Clearly the bonus could hit any time - it may take 500 spins, it may take 10, you just don't know. I allow for 200 spins in my calculation and more often than not I'll hit it on my first deposit. Again this does depend on the slot you are playing and it helps to play your chosen slot to get a feel for it on small bets first.

When I hit the feature, if it pays out more than 100x, I tend to up my bet for a while in the hope of a big early bank balance and an early cashout. I try to keep an eye on my target cashout amount and cashout when I get there, but sometimes you just get carried away. Take care! It's like a Martingale strategy adapted for slots in a way, and relying on chance as all slot machine players do, this strategy is far from a guarantee. But I often get a decent session out of it and every now and again i walk away with a profit. I'm down over the years, but hopefully not far off the house edge that you'd expect from slots. Maybe that's optimistic, who knows!

Here are some of my favourite slot machines I apply this strategy to:

Adapting The Strategy

You might decide that the "50 spin strategy" (above) doesn't suit the slots you play, in which case alter the number of spins you wait before changing the bet. Some players like to reduce the bet after a big win - the opposite of what I do - and this can be effective in keeping a healthy bankroll, giving you some more playing time and maintaining a decent balance to meet your cashout target. In fact, on occasions I do this myself. Are you playing for entertainment or to win? That's a key decision.

Not every slot machine strategy will suit every player. You need to decide which your favourite online slots are because above all, you want to enjoy playing. If it gets to the point where you are not enjoying it and simply chasing cash, you shouldn't be playing slot machines. Switch to video poker or better still, a card game with a better house edge. There are some further tips in my casino slots article. I hope you get some luck.