Today’s slot machines come in an incredible variety. The one you choose to play can determine not only how much real money you win or lose but also how much fun you have. Some games are much more amusing than others, although they may entertain you at a hefty price. Others may seem boringly repetitive, yet they are capable of delivering real cash jackpots like cash cows. Obviously, your choice of machines (live or online) should take into account a number of important criteria, including a few factors that have nothing to do with the slot game itself. Note that the following discussion is universal in the sense that it applies to both live and online, to USA as well ROTW players.
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Before Sitting Down
Long before taking that first spin, you have a few questions to answer, the first of which is “Why are you playing?” Some players enjoy slots just for the sheer fun of it and to be entertained. If that’s true for you, then your main focus should be on limiting losses and maximizing playing time. You will want to look for low denomination slots to play.
On the other hand, maybe you are looking to strike it rich. If you want to hit a big jackpot as quickly as possible, playing low denomination slots will be a waste of time. The payouts are just too small. Instead, look for select progressive slots and be ready to bet the maximum on each spin. Luck will be a major factor in your success, and if you have it, your bets must be bold and not shy.
Along the same lines, you need to be aware of your own preferences regarding a slot machine’s “volatility.” When a game is “volatile,” that means it pays out big now and then but can also cause lots of losses. High volatility makes a machine less than reliable as a source of steady winnings. Some players prefer low volatility slots that pay out frequently in small amounts. Volatility is not, however, an indicator of overall payback, so it really is up to the player to decide whether low frequency, high pay or high frequency, low pay is a more enjoyable way to play.
Selecting a Slot Format
Classic three-reel slots represent the oldest of slot machines. Their advantages are simplicity and ease of play. For anyone who gets confused by lots of options and prefers straight-forward low-risk play, these are the best choice. Just insert a coin or purchase credits, pull down the handle or push the “spin” button. They tend to have relatively high payout ratios, which can translate into lots of play for a relatively small investment.
Similar in format are the five-reel slots. The two additional reels allow them to offer much higher-paying combinations—five symbols in a row. This is hard to achieve, so the potential winnings are much greater that with classics. Such machines are well suited to players who like some complexity in their games and are not afraid to accept a moderate risk in exchange for the possibility of big payouts.
Most video slots nowadays come with “secondary bonus” features. In addition to jackpots for lining up certain symbols, they have special combinations such as “scatter symbols” or “random wins” to trigger prize opportunities on a non-reel screen. Such games tend to be more volatile than straight-forward reel-only slots. Also, “cascading reels” are a popular new format. Symbols fill the window in rows and columns. When winning combinations occur, the winning symbols disappear and are replaced by new symbols, creating additional opportunities to win without playing more credits. Although they can be quite entertaining, such slots require that bonuses be caught often, otherwise they can deplete credits quite quickly.
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A different criterion that can be used to choose a slot machine is how its payouts are awarded. Most slots nowadays offer multiple pay lines, so that winning patterns can occur above, below or around the traditional horizontal center line. Most multiline slots offer from three to twenty-five paylines to play simultaneously. Some of the newest machines provide 60, 243 and even over 4,000 paylines. Even though it costs more credits to access these, small wins can be expected on just about every spin, which adds to the game’s excitement and extends play for those who are in it mainly for the fun.
Those who are eager for life-changing winnings should seek out the so-called “progressive” slots. Their jackpots grow continuously until they are won, often reaching seven or even eight figures, even online. In terms of format, these machines look and play just like classic slots. The difference is inter-linkage that allows a pool of funds to be created, which grows progressively larger. The current value of a progressive jackpot will appear on a display above the slot machine. This is definitely the game for anyone who is out to win an instant fortune, but certainly not for those who can’t stand losing quickly.