Online slots are a great way to spend an hour or so spinning up a storm, trying to get a win. But sometimes it feels like you never do? While there are some pirate operators offering truly rigged slots - which get shut down very quickly - is the online slots game actually impossible to win?
What’s your definition of rigged?
If you think something is “rigged,” then you probably think there’s not a chance in high heaven you’ll ever win. If you’ve sat down at a slot machine at the casino, you may have found yourself losing, spin after spin, wondering why anyone would bother playing this damn game in the first place. And it certainly does feel like that if you’re on a losing streak.
Unless the person next to you has their game bells ringing and lights flashing, rapidly and loudly paying out the progressive jackpot, you might wonder if all the machines in the whole place are rigged. They don’t call the machines the one-armed bandit for nothing, do they? Designed to rob you blind, don’t they say?
The casino’s definition of rigged is something different
The good news is that, in fact, this is not the case. Slots machines are not rigged so that you never can win or get up and have runs. What they do guarantee, however, is that you approach infinity spins, you will lose X cents from every dollar that you put into the machine.
Now here’s the thing. That X can vary pretty significantly. What X – or how many cents off the dollar you’ll lose for infinity spins – actually is all depends. It depends on the casino that you play at. Or if it’s another venue, the type of venue you play at. It depends on your location. It depends on the type of slot. It may depend on how new or popular the game is. It may even depend on the whim of the operator.
There is one thing that is certain though. All slot machines – whether online or in real life – have limits to how high X can be. The limits are set by the government body in charge of the jurisdiction the casino is registered in.
X and RTP
So, let’s say that X is 9c on the dollar. In gambling terms, this is equivalent to 91% RTP (Return to Player). You will always find the RTP outlined in the fine print of a slots machine or online casino. A certain slots game may have RTP of 91%, 94%, or 97% – depending on their marketing strategy at the time. A new game may be set at 97% to draw new players in early, before moving it down to 91%. This change may not be noticed by players unless they are reading the fine print and they may wonder why they are losing more regularly if they are and avid player.
Random Number Generators (RNGs)
While the reels in each slots game are fixed, although might be different during a feature, or have floating reels over the top, etc., the particular symbol spot on the reel that each spin stops on is determined by a Random Number Generator.
Random Number Generators, or RNGs, are particularly sophisticated in slots games, to stop anyone tampering with or calculating the outcome. While it’s beyond the scope of our article here, you can read up on RNGs in detail here.
What’s the best strategy to win big, then?
As all slots have an RTP under 100%, that means that you will never be a winner if you play infinity times. But, since that’s not possible, you have to think a little more strategically. So, if you are up from a run on the slots, it’s best to cash out. The likelihood of losing increases the longer that you play, the more spins that you spin up.
Secondly, read the fine print. Pick online slots with a greater RTP to lessen the chance of higher losses over time. Look for new games to see if they have a higher RTP. You can also often find deals like free spins and no deposit bonuses on new games which might give you a leg up as you go on a good run on the slots. Or maybe not, it’s based on luck, after all.
Thirdly, try for jackpot games. Whilst it’s very easy to find slots to play for free, the real action only comes when you have a chance of winning that big jackpot.
Does practice help you get better at slots?
Unfortunately for players, you can’t get better at slots by playing more and “learning more about the game.” Slots outcomes are based on probability with zero user influence (so brush up on your math terms!). You can get better at poker or blackjack – but not slots. Yes, it’s true the house always wins, but no, the game is not rigged.