Couple at a Slot Machine in a Casino

For novice gamblers and non-gamblers with the occasional urge to enter a casino, slot machines seem like an easy and harmless way to play. Compared to card games like poker and blackjack, you don’t need to understand any rules. Moreover, since slots are based entirely on chance, there are no specific game strategies to master.

However, most new and inexperienced slots players don’t know that a machine can do more damage to their bankroll than any other casino game. There’s no denying the fun that you can have while playing at a slot machine, but you must be careful before putting your hard-earned money on the line.

This article includes some important pieces of advice for new slot machine players. If you’re one of them, read on to improve your understanding of the game.

Slots Club: The Grass Isn’t Always Greener On the Other Side!

Seasoned gamblers and ardent casino-goers know the importance of joining the players’ club at any facility. As a member, you can insert a card into the slot machine while playing. With this card, the amount of money that you spend at a machine can be easily tracked.

However, a casino isn’t interested in knowing how much you’ve spent or what you’ve won. They’ll make more money when you spend more at the machines, and that’s the only “metric” they’re concerned about. Their main goal is to entice you into spending as much money as possible.

Players usually get 0.2% to 0.3% in freebies and rebates for playing. Of course, it’s better to get these rewards than not at all. But, in exchange, the casinos are expecting you to spend more at the machines.

The Payback Percentages Don’t Just Reflect the Slot Machines

Look through any casino guide or a reputed publication from the industry and you’ll be able to find the average payback percentage for well-known gambling facilities in and around your area. These averages don’t really tell you much about a particular slot machine at that casino.

In general, the payback percentage is the opposite of a house edge. It is calculated by subtracting the house edge from 100%. Simply put, the payback percentage depicts how much money you can expect to win back on every bet.

However, this average can be misleading. For instance, let’s say a particular casino has an average payback percentage of 92% for its dollar slots and there are 1,000 machines in total. Some of these slot units might have a payback percentage of 98%. This will be offset by other machines with a payback percentage of around 75%.

How can you find a machine with a 97% payback likelihood? There’s absolutely no way to distinguish them. Even with careful tracking of results, you’ll require a huge amount of data to make any inferences.

Casino Slots Have the Biggest House Edge

Real money slot machines tend to have the biggest house edge in a casino. “House edge” refers to how much of each bet a player is likely to lose during a game. It’s basically a long-term average expressed as a percentage.

Suppose that the house edge in crap for the pass line bet is 1.41%. If you repeatedly bet $100 on the pass line, you would ultimately average a loss of $1.41 a bet. The house edge for most casino games tends to be in the region of 1% to 5%. However, slot machines normally have their house edge in the 7% to 8% range.

This is for the really good machines. The percentage can go up to a whopping 25% on other units. It’s certainly true of some not so generous machines that you’re likely to find in a gas station or airport.

A House Edge of 8% vs. 25% – What’s the Difference?

Theoretical understanding of a percentage is hard for the average person. So, it’s better to look at them in practical terms.

Let’s say you have 2 slot machines. One of them has a house edge of 8% while the other has a house edge of 25%. How much will it cost to play on both of them? The calculation is quite simple. You just have to multiply the house edge by the total amount of money you put in.

Now, suppose you’re a casual gambler making $3 bets on a dollar slot machine. You do this for 2 hours straight before getting bored. The average player makes about 500 spins in an hour. By that count, you made 1,000 spins in your 2 hours of playing time. So, at $3 a bet, that’s a total of $3,000, which you’ve gambled.

When the house edge is 8%, your average loss is $240 ($120 per hour). On the other hand, when the house edge is 25%, the average loss will be in the region of $750 ($375 an hour).

Therefore, if you’re looking for half-decent entertainment and gambling isn’t a serious pursuit, renting an entire movie theater for an evening is probably a better idea!

The House Edge Conundrum

House edge represents the difference between how much you’re likely to win on the percentage of bets that you do win and how much you’re likely to lose on the percentage of bets that you actually lose.

The thing with slot machines is that, unlike other casino games, you don’t know how likely you are to get a winning result. Even though you’re aware of the payouts for different outcomes, you can’t accurately calculate the house edge without knowing the odds of getting those results.

Even 2 machines placed side by side in a casino can have contrasting house edge values!


Close-Up Image of a Slot Machine
Close-up image of a slot machine in operation in a casino.

If you’re into slot machines as a newbie, that’s great. However, keep in mind that they’re among the most expensive games in any casino. We would recommend that you play for lower stakes, particularly when you’re just starting out. This will help you get the hang of it and understand the nuances of the game.

That’s all for this post. Hope you liked what you read and learned a thing or two in the process. For more useful stuff about slot machines, keep following EnjoySlots. Cheers!

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