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Casino floors used to be filled with nickel and quarter slot machines. And casinos made healthy slots profits with these coin denominations for decades.
But nowadays, penny slot machines are the dominant game. These slot machines are enticing because they only require players to bet one cent on each payline.
Some might think of these games as mindless entertainment due to how you’re merely spinning the reels over and over. But I’ve actually learned some important lessons from playing penny slots.
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Here are the 5 biggest lessons I learned from penny slot machines, including things I’ve applied to both gambling and real-life situations.
1. Always Understand What You’re Getting Into – Especially With Penny Slots
The name alone is what draws many players to penny slot machines. The term penny slots creates the idea that you can play for as little as one cent per spin.
But this isn’t the case at all, because most penny slots force you to play a fixed number of paylines. If you’re on a 50-line penny slot machine, then you’ll need to wager a minimum of $0.50 per turn.
This isn’t exactly what beginning gamblers have in mind when they sit down to a penny slots game. The same players are often shocked when their money quickly vanishes.
I myself fell for this the first time I played a penny slot machine. I automatically assumed that the game was going to be really cheap, but it drained my funds faster than a nickel or quarter machine.
I’m not saying that casinos are evil for putting these games on their floors. But you need to be aware of what you’re getting into with these games, just like anything else in life.
Here’s a dramatic comparison. You should always read through a contract before signing it, because failing to read a contract before signing could loop you into a bad deal. Likewise, you shouldn’t play a penny slot machine without first reading the help screen.
I realize that there’s more at stake when you sign a bad contract without reading through. But I want to stress that some penny slot machines are like bad contracts of the gambling world.
This explains how many lines you need to play along with minimum bets for specific bonus features and the jackpot.
For example, Aristocrat’s Game of Thrones slot machine requires that you make a 100-credit wager to active the Fire & Blood Bonus.
You can risk less than this on Game of Thrones. But most slots players don’t want to play a game where they don’t qualify for the best bonus features.
Some slot machines require that you play up to 300 credits, or $3 per spin for certain bonuses and/or the progressive jackpot, and $3 is hardly what players expect to wager on a penny slot machine.
Again, read the help screen to find out how much you need to bet to be eligible for every feature. This prevents you from being shocked when having to risk $1-$3 per spin to play.
The good news is that you can find cheaper penny slot machines in land-based casinos. Some of these games only require that you play 20 lines or less to qualify for everything.
2. Prepare Your Bankroll for the Worst
Continuing off the last point, many penny slots can be expensive. And this taught me both a life and gambling lesson in that you should always prepare for the worst.
Sometimes unexpected things happen that can rock you financially.
Nobody expects their heater to go out. But when it does, and the heater needs replaced, you’re staring at a $1,200 bill.
Hopefully no slot machine ever becomes this expensive for you. But on a smaller scale, you should always plan for the worst with slots.
This is especially the case with penny games that require playing 100-300 credits to unlock every feature. You’re risking between $1 and $3 per spin in this case.
Slot machines are already volatile, meaning they produce very unpredictable short-term results. Adding expensive bets on top of this volatility can create a bankroll nightmare.
How do you avoid this nightmare and plan for the worst? The best way is to do some simple bankroll calculations.
Here’s an example for a land-based penny slot machine.
- The average land-based penny slots player loses 350 bets (units) per hour
- You have a $500 bankroll
- You choose a penny slot with 50 lines ($0.50 minimum bet)
- 500 / 0.5 = 1,000 units
- 1,000 / 350 = 2.86
- You can expect your bankroll to last for 2.86 hours on this 50-line game
Keep in mind that this is only an average estimate, and you should have enough money to cover an even-worse scenario. As long as you only bring money to the casino that you’re fine with losing, then this won’t bother you.
3. Don’t Let Colorful Themes and Small Payouts Trick You
We all know that companies use clever marketing campaigns to get us to buy the products.
I accept this fact because businesses are out to increase their profit margins. And marketing is one of the best tools to make this happen.
But on the same note, I don’t want to be a slave to clever marketing and buy a bunch of things I don’t need.
Slot machines are similar in that gaming companies use colorful themes, 3D graphics, music, bonuses, and more to attract your attention. Slots makers know that their products will be placed in more casinos if they draw a large share of players.
I have no problem with people choosing slot machines based on the themes and surrounding entertainment. After all, the point of playing slots is to have fun.
But don’t get so sucked into the theme, graphics, and alluring music that you lose all sense of time and money. Instead, realize that these elements are designed to keep you playing longer than you initially planned for.
Another trick to avoid involves the numerous small payouts that modern slot machines offer.
Multiple studies have shown that a psychological effect kicks in when players receive small rewards after each spin. These frequent payouts convince players that they’re winning, even when they’re losing money overall.
Here’s an example to illustrate this phenomenon.
- You’re playing 100 lines on a penny slot ($1 bet)
- You win a $0.20 payout on one line
- While the win is nice, you’ve technically lost $0.80 overall
Stepping back, anybody can logically see that this is a losing long-term proposition. And $0.20 payouts don’t make up for the loss of $0.80.
But it’s tougher to think in these terms when you’re engrossed in a game while making span after spin. This is another area where you need to be consciously aware of what game manufacturers are doing.
While it’s great to net lots of wins in each session, you also need to keep your overall winnings and bankroll in mind.
4. Playing Lots of Lines Is Entertaining
I’ve already discussed how expensive penny slot machines can be. But one of the greatest benefits is that you can also win lots of payouts thanks to the numerous lines.
Every payline that’s in play gives you a chance to win. And while the odds of winning with each line aren’t great, it’s still fun knowing that you have 50 or more chances to win on each turn.
The same lesson can be applied to life in that people are sometimes willing to pay more for certain forms of entertainment.
One example is how you can race Ferraris and Lamborghinis around the SPEEDVEGAS track for anywhere between $50 and $80 per lap.
Driving go-karts is cheaper and also entertaining. But go-karts don’t give adults the same thrills as driving a Ferrari around a race track.
Playing penny slot machines with lots of lines doesn’t have to comparatively be so expensive either.
Instead, you can choose games with lower volatility that increase your hit frequency, or the odds of winning with each individual payline. Doing so boosts the chances that you’ll net frequent wins and better sustain your bankroll.
A small number of slot machines actually offer a volatility rating in the help screen. For example, you might see between 1 and 5 lightning bolts to indicate how much variance is involved.
Unfortunately, most penny slots don’t have volatility ratings. You have to look for specific factors in this case to determine the game’s volatility.
Here are 3 factors that can help you out.
- Jackpot size
- Number of large payouts
- Number of small payouts
Low-volatility penny slots feature a smaller jackpot, fewer large payouts, and more small prizes than the average game.
A smaller jackpot combined with fewer large prizes means that a slot machine doesn’t need to make up for the top-heavy payout structure. In turn, the game can offer more small payouts on a frequent basis.
Of course, some players are only interested in playing for big jackpots and other prizes. This is perfectly fine if you don’t mind dealing with the chance that your bankroll will quickly disappear.
But if you want to extend your entertainment on a penny slot with 100 or more lines, then look for signs of low volatility.
5. Cheaper Penny Slots Alternatives Exist
Many of the lessons that I’ve learned regarding penny slots came in land-based casinos. But one more lesson I learned comes from the world of online penny slots.
When people can’t afford a specific item or form of entertainment, they seek out companies that can provide them for a cheaper rate.
Not everybody can purchase expensive Gucci or Chanel clothing. But almost everybody can afford clothes at Walmart or on Amazon.com.
And you can look at online penny slots as the Amazon or Walmart of the gambling world.
I’m not saying that the value from online penny slot machines comes entirely from how cheap they are. In fact, a great deal of people play these games just because they’re more convenient than going to the casino.
But it should also be noted that internet penny slots are perfect for anybody who finds land-based slot machines to be too expensive.
Some online penny slots truly embody the name, because the minimum bet is $0.01 (one cent on a single line). This is what many gamblers have in mind when they first hear the words penny slots.
Other games require you to play between 20-50 fixed paylines. While this is expensive for some players, it’s still cheaper than what’s seen in land-based casinos.
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On these games, I usually play anywhere from 20-30 lines at a penny apiece.
Also note that many online penny slot machines see you qualify for bonuses and the jackpot no matter how much you wager. This is good for anybody who cringes at being forced to play 100-300 lines for the features.
That said, check out online casinos if you don’t like the prospect of spending $0.50 or more on the average penny slot machine.
The main lesson worth noting about penny slot machines is that they’re not what the name implies. As long as you understand this fact going in, you’ll be perfectly fine with these games.
You should note that penny slots in land-based casinos have fixed payline amounts.
Brick-and-mortar casinos have more expenses to pay than online casinos. Therefore, they need to win back a greater rate from slot machine players.
Remember that casinos are businesses like anything else. And their goal is to earn enough money to make profits. That said, requiring 50+ pay lines and using entertaining themes to keep people playing doesn’t make them corrupt.
How to win at penny slots, it’s the simple question with no easy answer. After all, if it was easy, the casino’s wouldn’t be able to stay in business. Before we continue, we have to stress that despite all of the strategy, experiments, and tips and tricks that we and others will provide, the games are very much random. You should only ever gamble with what you can afford, and your primary goal should be to have fun, not earn next months rent.
That being said, it’s always more fun when you’re winning right?! So here are our tips on how to win at penny slots. This post will continue to be updated, so feel free to check back every once and a while for any new tips that have been posted.
Best Sites To Win Penny Slots
Steps To Winning At Penny Slots
1. Learn The Rules Of The Game
Growing up playing video games, there were two types of players. The player who would turn on a new game, and immediately start playing, and the type that would turn on a game, and immediately go into the settings menu to see what was possible. You need to be like the second player, resist the urge to sit down and start spinning. Find the ‘More Information’ button on the screen, and press it to actually see what you are playing, and what the pay table looks like. Lets look at the paytable for a popular slot machine game, Wolf Run.
Paytable For Wolf Run Slots Game
Here we can get an idea for all of the payouts, as well as what symbols are wild, or may trigger free spins or other bonuses. The next screen will show you all of the different paylines available. These can look somewhat confusing on the screen, but you will get familiar with them as you play.
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While it makes no difference to the machine or your odds whether you know the payouts / lines or not, if you do you should be able to more quickly recognize wins, and if a machine is paying out or not. Get familiar with popular slot machine games by playing online in a stress free environment.
2. Betting Strategy & Budget
As we said before, gambling should always be fun, and you should never spend more than you can afford to lose. Your betting strategy will be heavily dependent on your overall budget for the day. If you have a huge budget, than it’s hard to argue against making the maximum bet on every spin. But here we want to focus on what to do if you don’t have a huge budget. Personally I only tend to play with $20 or $40 tops, so that’s how we will focus this strategy.
First, always bid on every line available. While we recently had some fun with playing only 1 line at a time, it’s not a good strategy for winning jackpots. Think of how bad you would feel if you only bet on a few lines and you see the Max Jackpot staring you back in the face from an unplayed line. That’s the stuff nightmares are made of.
Second, start by playing the lowest bid possible per line, usually between 20-40 credits per spin. This will give you the most spins for your budget. If you’ve found a machine that is somewhat consistently paying out, then try bedding the next few expensive bids. If you’re lucky, you’ll get some free games at your higher bid. The goal here is not to go for the max jackpot, but to build up some winnings so you can afford to start playing the max bid regularly.
3. Do You Trust The Machine?
I would wager that most people let the reels stop on their own as opposed to trying to stop them early. While often you can get a winning machine that’s stopping its reels in a nice place, I just have to wonder if the programmers would make it so their reels would stop in a jackpot position. Every so often, we recommend stopping the reels early, starting and stopping them as quick as you can, and also touching your hand to the screen to stop the reels. The most I’ve ever won has come from using my hand to stop the reels and getting 8 Quick Hit’s to freeze in their tracks. In the future we will investigate if certain machines have faster and slower reels, and if it’s possible to see the symbol you want and react fast enough to stop it.
4. The Street Fighter Technique
There are two types of people who play Street Fighter, those who know the controls, and those who simply mash the buttons on their nintendo controller until something good happens. Our next tip is based off of the second group. While playing slots, start messing with the other buttons other than ‘respin’ before you start your spin. Switch the number of lines and adjust your bet. Mash them all down at once like your playing Street Fighter before starting your spin. The goal is to keep the slot machine guessing and switch up what it’s giving you. Be careful though, even when you are mashing the buttons down, be sure to put your bet back to where you want it so you don’t accidentally bet more than you want!
5. When Betting The Minimum, Play Stacked Wilds Games
What are stacked wild games? These are games where ‘wild’ symbols literally can stack on top of eachother and take up an entire reel. When this happens it can lead to big wins, especially if multiple reels hit the wilds at the same time. A great example of this type of game is Wolf Run Slots.
Hitting a screen like the one pictured here can lead to a huge payout even if you are only betting the minimum amount per line. Other slot games like progressives where there are huge jackpots can look very appealing, but usually you have to bet the maximum to have a shot at those jackpots. If you have a huge budget, then go for it! But if you are sticking to smaller bets stacked wild games are a great option!
I hope you’re ready to play free penny slots!