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What’s the `reel` deal with slots strategies?


How can there possibly be any strategy in spinning the reels of a slot machine? You just hit the button and take your chances, don’t you?

That’s the most common appraisal you’ll hear whenever a possible strategy relating to a slot machine is mentioned, and to be fair, they’re not far wrong. It’s true that the vast majority of strategies related to gambling are probably far fetched and are more likely related to superstition and the part of the brain that remembers the good times very clearly, but quickly forgets the bad.

So what’s the deal with the so-called slots strategies that we hear about from time to time and why are they any different?

Well, first let’s clear the most obvious thing up. These strategies will not magically enable you to influence the result of the next spin and they most certainly will not guarantee that you win money, either short-term or long term.

At a basic level there are various rules that should always be taken into consideration before starting to play a slot. It may sound obvious, but one of the key rules advised by many experts in the online slots industry is to make sure you know the slot you are playing well and have taken a good look at the paytable. It’s not much help if you don’t know the symbols you’re looking out for or what the bonus game consists of, should you trigger it. Bankroll management is just as important. Getting a slot machine to start playing ball can take time. If you only have £10 to spend and you go in at £1 a spin then you’re going to be quite quickly disappointed in all probability. Each slot machine will have a Return To Player percentage (RTP) and the more times you spin the closer you will get to achieving or exceeding the advertised RTP number. For instance, you can’t rely on a 95% RTP ringing true over just 10 spins, or even 1000 spins, but ensuring your unit stake is set at a sensible level against your bankroll will give you the best chance of success.

Structured staking is what most people are referring to when they talk about a slot strategy. These are designed to hopefully maximise any winning runs you have and, just as importantly, minimise any losing runs that occur. This is done by adjusting the unit stake that you have set on each spin quite frequently, and therefore isn’t much use for the traditional pub fruit machine where the stake per spin is set for you. On a five reel slot, however, where you can usually set your unit stake yourself anywhere between 1p and £2 per line, it makes sense that if you are somehow able to ensure the winning runs are at a time when your stakes are higher and you can coincide the losing runs with smaller stakes being on the line, a potential slot strategy is well worth considering.

It sounds simple enough but what about knowing when to chop and change your stake?

Some choose to always raise stakes by one or two levels immediately after a big win, working on the premise that often when a slot decides to be nice it can continue to be so for a while after the initial big win. Some choose to do completely the opposite and try to protect what’s just been won by moving down a notch or two, thinking that lightning probably won’t strike twice but it’s worth hanging around to find out at smaller stakes. Conversely, some strategies will recommend raising stakes after a barren run. This can make sense too. That feeling that it’s all about to change and the machine is going to pay out soon is very familiar to players but is clearly based on a gut feeling rather than anything else of substance. After all, slot machines don’t have memories and every spin is completely randomly generated. Other strategies will advise setting a limit as to when to leave a machine. Maybe after losing a certain amount the right move is to try a different slot and see how that one is playing instead.

For those looking for something more scientific, well, unfortunately you’re going to be disappointed. None of these ideas or strategies are right or wrong. They are all about finding something that works for you as an individual to control your play and ensure that you stay within certain parameters that could edge things more in your favour. You’ll still need to get lucky with your predictions and gut feelings to win big, but having some kind of staking structure in place will make it much less likely that you’ll do anything silly. After all, the knowledge that you are 100% in control of your bankroll can only be a good thing.


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