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Slots Strategy Guide

The Player's Objective
The player's objective in the Slots game is to win one or more of the cash jackpots listed on the payout table, located on the front surface of the slot machine.

The player has a chance to win every time simply by placing a coin, or number of coins, into the slot machine, pressing a button, or pulling a handle, and waiting for the spinning reels to stop moving. Whenever the symbols on the reels line up or match in a particular way, the player wins. Each time s/he wins, the slot machine will automatically pay him/er the exact number of coins indicated on his/er machine's payout table.

The Payout Tables
The payout tables may differ from machine to machine, but will clearly show players the winning combinations of symbols for their selected machine, and what each combination will pay, based on the number of coins played in each spin. A winning spin can result in the return of a single coin, or a jackpot of hundreds of coins. As a matter of interest, late into the 1990's, a jackpot of $100,000.00 was won by a player on a five reel, one dollar machine in the US. (See the latest issue of Encyclopaedia Britannica).

Types of Slot Machines
Winning a jackpot on the Slots is almost totally a matter of chance. There are simply no sure-fire tactics, systems or strategies that will enable a player to improve his/er odds of winning. The only edge a player might anticipate depends on the type of slot machine s/he selects to play. The point to remember here is that, although most slot machines look alike, no two machines function in exactly the same way. It is important, therefore, for the player to be aware of the significant differences between one type of slot machine and the next.
Fortunately, the casinos themselves offer the player the best clues on how to improve his/er odds. For example, s/he should note how and where the operators place their Slots throughout the casino. Location matters. Also, s/he should confirm the type of machine, the number of reels, the number of symbols per reel, the maximum number of coins or denominations that may be played, and all of the possible winning combinations that are displayed on the machine's payout table. Slot machines are not only pretty, colored, luminous boxes with funny handles. They can be gold mines of valuable information.

There are basically two types of slot machines, straight Slots and progressive Slots.

Straight Slots

Straight Slots are sometimes called flat-rate or flat tops. This type of slot machine pays off winning combinations according to its payout table clearly posted on the upper front section of the machine. For example, it may show the following sequence: when one cherry comes up, it will return two coins for each bet; two cherries pay five coins, and three cherries ten coins. All these payouts are given by betting only one coin.

Again, the player should remember that not all straight slot machines are the same. The best way to distinguish one machine from another is to carefully study their payout tables. The player should note whether s/he is playing at a straight multiplier, bonus multiplier, multiple pay-line, or pay-for-play slot machine. To see the differences, let's look at each type separately.

The Straight Multiplier Machine
The straight multiplier slot machine will payout for a specific combination of payoff symbols, and the number of coins the player bets will multiply that payout. For example, let’s say a payout table pays ten coins for three bars; it will pay ten coins if a player bets one coin; twenty if the player bets two coins and thirty for three coins. This type of machine does not penalize the player for playing only one coin at a time. If you are a one coin player, this is the right machine for you.

The Bonus-Multiplier Machine
The bonus-multiplier slot machine operates exactly like a straight multiplier, except that it offers a special bonus when hitting a jackpot, when the player has betted the maximum number of coins. For example, for a maximum bet of three coins, three sevens may pay 500 for one coin, 1,000 for two coins and 2,500 for the third coin, unlike the straight multiplier, which pays 1,500 for three coins. It is the player’s decision to bet the extra coin. Most straight slot machines include the bonus option.

The Multiple Payline Machine
The multiple payline slot machine has more than one payline available. Older slot machines may have only three paylines. The newer video slot machines, however, may have up to nine lines. Each coin the player bets will activate a particular line. For multiple paylines, the player has to bet a coin on each one in order to get paid for a win. That is, if the player hits the winning symbols on a line that is not activated, s/he will receive nothing.

The Pay-for-Play Machine
The pay-for-play slot machine is usually the least understood straight slot machine in casinos. Each coin the player bets in them it activates a different payout. To activate the largest jackpot, s/he must insert the maximum number of coins. For example, the Sizzlin' 7's machine usually pays on cherries, bars and sevens. Hitting all sevens will pay 1,000 coins.

If the player bets only one coin, s/he gets a payout only when getting the cherries. When s/he plays two coins, s/he gets paid when hitting the cherries and bars. S/He must bet three coins to get paid the Sizzlin' 7's. Remember that if s/he hits the Sizzlin’7’s jackpot with one coin, there are no winnings. If the player is the kind of sport who likes to go for the big bet every time, the pay-for-play slot machine is the best choice for them.

Progressive Slots
The second type of slot machine is called progressive Slots. This machine also has detailed payout tables posted on its front display section. The appealing aspect of this type of Slots is that the potential jackpot gets progressively larger with every coin that is betted. A percentage of each dollar betted is added automatically to the jackpot total, which builds and builds until it pays out.

In most cases, a number of progressive slot machines feed into one jackpot, from where any machine in the group can win. The jackpot total is usually posted above the machine(s) and can grow to enormous sums of money. Often other prizes, such as cars, are substituted for the cash jackpot. These cars are usually on display near the area of the progressive slot machines that offer them.

Whether players like progressive or straight slot machines, there are many different types to choose from. Machines have their own coin denominations, number of reels, number of symbols, number of coins to play, and number of paylines. Given all of the available choices, the player can make his/er best pick and enjoy their favorite machine.

Location of Slot Machines in a Casino
There is no doubt that the location of slot machines within the casino does matter in terms of the type of jackpot offered and the average payback percentage. In fact, the distribution of slot machines is taken very seriously in casinos. The best and worst locations are based on whether a slot machine is loose or tight. A loose machine is one that appears to be paying better than similar machines, and a tight machine is, of course the opposite. Let us look at the best and worst locations.

Best Slot Machine Locations

Savvy Slots players should look for higher-paying machines in areas such as elevated carousels, next to change booths, near coffee shops, or anywhere food is being served.

Elevated Carousels
Elevated carousels are a popular location for loose slot machines because they are highly visible from all directions. When a player wins a large jackpot on one of these machines, everyone knows it. The casino loudly advertises the win. The lights flash so you cannot help but notice. The excitement is electric. In its own way, the casino is enticing other players to continue inserting betting on their machines after witnessing a big winner on one of these lofty locations.

Change Booths
Players waiting in line to purchase coins get encouraged to buy more change and play longer after hearing and seeing excited players celebrating a big win nearby. The winner has a captive audience, so to speak.

Coffee Shops and Eating Places
Loose machines are often strategically placed in these locations to encourage players to finish eating quickly and get back to playing on their machines.

Worst Slot Machine Locations
In general, the tighter machines are usually located in areas where the house hopes to catch a few of the player's coins as s/he passes through an area or waits in a line. The slot machines located within easy reach of players waiting in airport terminals, restaurant and show lines, bathrooms and so on, tend to have a lower average payback.

The best places within the casinos to find loose slot machines are no longer the main casino entrance or the back of the aisles. Casinos are now placing mid-paying and tight machines in those areas.

Near the Gaming Tables
The worst place to play slot machines is the area surrounding the gaming tables for Blackjack, Baccarat, Roulette, and Poker. The reason for this is that the players sitting at the gaming tables do not care for the distracting noise and commotion created by the big Slot winners.

Near the Sportsbook
Casinos also place tight machines near the sportsbook. Players betting on sporting events and horse races do not care for the distractions created by the noise, lights and fanfare surrounding the slot machines.

Gaming Areas’ Exits
Game-table players frequently drop loose coins into machines located near the exit of the gaming table areas. Since most of these players are not usually regular slot players, casinos care about losing money when one of them wins. That is because these players are not likely going to put their winnings back into the machines.

Summary of Locations
From the description of the best and worst locations above, the player can readily see that a great deal of thought and planning goes into the placement of slot machines in a casino. To capitalize on the location factor, the player should avoid playing at slot machines in areas near gaming tables or sportsbooks, and take the time to find a good machine location instead, that as described above, can greatly increase his/er chances of hitting a jackpot.