The Biggest Mistakes Slots Players Make

A common complaint on online gambling forums questions the fairness of online slots and more often than not, the poster has just gone through a bad session at an online casino or a land-based one and is just ever so slightly pissed off. The thing is though, if you are playing one of the reputable online casinos, the chances are that the slot is perfectly fair, perfectly random and the you have just become victim to one of the common mistakes that slots players make.

This article deals with the most common mistakes slots players make. One or two might seem obvious, one or two less so, but knowing where you are going wrong is 90% of the battle. Let’s not forget that slots are (mainly) games of chance and online, they will have a house-edge averaging somewhere around 5%. They are not unbeatable, but it’s a combination of luck and understanding how to play them that will prevent you going through your bankroll every time you sit down to play.

Here are the most common mistakes slots players make, and some tips on how to avoid the pitfalls. They won’t guarantee that you will win over the long term, but if borne in mind, they will help you have more winning sessions than you do now!

#1 Variance & Bet Size

Variance has to be the most overlooked “feature” of online slots. Variance = Risk. Some slots are “low variance”, some are “high variance” and some fall inbetween. If you don’t know, or can’t guess, the variance of a slot then you could be in for a rough ride. The most common mistake among slots players is to bet too big on a higher variance slot. If you love Thunderstruck and have a $200 bankroll, you don’t go and play it at $4.50 a spin unless you’re happy to stop playing within 10 minutes. Why? Because at that rate, 7 times out of 10 you will bust out. On the other 3 occasions you might hit something that takes you over your starting bankroll and that maybe the time to quit (see below).

You will find approximations of variance for well over 200 online slots at Slotjunkies. I’d suggest you use this resource to ensure that you balance your bet against the slot variance. Low variance slots carry less risk: you’ll get longer sessions, but a smaller chance of a big profit. High variance slots can eat your money very quickly, but you may get a big win to save the day – if you are lucky. [A full explanation of variance]

#2 Money vs Time

Many slots players don’t set cashout targets before they play, they tend to say “ooh I have $100 to spend” or “ooh I have an hour free time” and off they go, hoping for the big hit. If that hit comes inside 10 minutes, they will feel like they hardly had much fun and play on. I admit…I do it myself! So the thing to do is set regular cash-and-go targets. Example: You’re betting $2.25 on a “free spins” slot. Every time you get a win or a bonus round that makes more than 20x the bet ($45), you cash out $25. Obviously you can ramp those amounts up depending on your budget. If you start with $1,000 and are betting $5 a spin, then everytime you make $100 or more, perhaps cashout $75.

An alternative option is to say “right: 20 minutes exactly on this slot then I cashout”. That works, as long as you are strict about it. If you’re like me, I can’t do that, so the cash-and-go policy works best for me. Trouble is, there is a further trap waiting for you, and that is…

#3 The Dreaded Reverse

Oh boy. Come on, admit it, how many times have you cashed some out then gone back and reversed the cashout to play with it some more? And how many times have you busted out and felt like hitting yourself? The “reverse pending” (or “reverse withdrawal”) time is a trap that some – but not all – casinos have as a “benefit” to the player! 90% of players hate it and it’s possibly your biggest enemy. So you need to lose it, or at least minimise it. How do you do this?

You could play at a Cryptologic or a Wagerworks casino for a start – unless you are American. This software does not have a “reverse” feature which is ideal. You cashout, that’s it. However, at most Microgaming, RTG and Playtech software-powered casinos the Reverse “feature” exists (no US players allowed at Playtech casinos mind). What’s more, you’ll find many casinos will set it to 12, 24 (most common) or even 48 hours. Hell some of the less reputable RTG and Playtech ones even go beyond this. Not good. So the trick is to find a casino that has a low Reverse time or will set a low one for you.

There are very few that will do this, but [King Neptunes] and [Trident Lounge] will both reduce the reverse time from the default 12 hours if you request it (I tend to go for 1 or 2 hours) and [iNetBet] (RTG) process cashouts every day, sometimes twice, so this tends to work with a little more self-control.

#4 Increasing The Bet Size After A Win

This is a surefire way to bust out – and what’s more you’ll feel worse because there was a time when you were up! When you hit a big win you should decrease the bet size. Win $500 at $5, decrease to $2.50. Sure you can gradually step it up but try not to go over the $5. My advice is to cashout some first – maybe what you started with and 25% again – that way if things do go tits-up, at least you had a winning session and some to play with. The more diligent slots player will cash it all out then go do something else. But if we all had that self-control, the casinos would have to set the house edge higher!

So there you have it: those are the four most common pitfalls a slot player can make. My advice is to sit down before every session, plan how much you are going to spend, the maximum and minimum time you are prepared to play, and set a regular cashout strategy. At least that way you will lose less often and stretch your bankroll a lot further.

Finally, if you are new to online casinos and slots play, then check out my article entitled Where To Start Playing Slots.