How to win at slots – 9 useful tips

How to win at slots - 9 useful tips

There’s nothing quite as exciting as watching the symbols on your favourite slot game line up just right. It’s that feeling that keeps players coming back to online casinos time and again. Of course, players will always lose more than they win – that’s just the reality of life – but those who enjoy slots for the experience will find the wins that do happen extra rewarding.

If you know anything about slot games (or have read our in-depth slots guide) you’ll know that there is no skill element involved in slots. Every spin results in a completely random result that players can neither control nor predict. So is there a way to win on slots? Is there a secret to it?

The short answer is no. There is no way to influence your outcome on a slot game. But there is plenty that a player can do to improve their chances by making smart decisions. There is no one-size-fits-all strategy, and anyone trying to sell you one is trying to make a quick buck, but there are some considerations to keep in mind to maximise slot wins, should they happen. Today we will be talking you through the best way to make the most of your slot play.

Table of Contents:

How to choose the winning slot

As we said before, it’s not possible to predict exactly when a slot will award a win and how much that win is worth. So really, the question isn’t “how do I pick a winning slot?” but “how do I choose the right slot for me?”. This is where JohnSlots comes in. We believe that knowledge is everything when it comes to online casino gambling and we’re here to provide that information so you can make an educated decision that suits your needs.

At the end of the day, there is no one single ‘right’ slot for everyone. That would be a very dull situation indeed. Here is all you need to know to choose the right type of slot to match your gameplay.

How to win at slots - do you research

1. Do your research

As they say, knowledge is power. That’s true in most scenarios, including online gambling. You wouldn’t rock up to a used car showroom and buy the first one you see. The same goes for online slots. While there are many appealing and attractive games out there, looks aren’t everything.

The important info is of the technical sort and in some cases, can be tricky to track down. Things like a game’s RTP value, its volatility, and the kind of features it includes. The latter is probably the easiest to find out. Game developers are keen for players to know what their products are all about. But when it comes to RTP and variance, these bits of info can be harder to find.

Luckily, our slot reviews are a good place to find this kind of detail. We hunt down as much information as we can about the games we review so our readers don’t have to do that hard work. Our reviews include in-depth explanations of what each special symbol and bonus feature entails, how it is triggered and how it can impact a player’s winning chances.

Another way to learn more about a slot is to play it. Most game developers offer free play on their slot titles, which means players can spin to their heart’s’ content without spending a cent. Aside from that fun part, free slot play is a useful tool. It can show the player how bonus features work in practice, how often they are active, what different symbols do and so on.

Demo play is a good way to find out what a slot offers without any personal risk to the budget. And since it is free, players can spin for as long as they want and really get a feel for how the slot performs over the longer term.

2. Use probability to boost wins

If you’re handy with a bit of maths, calculating a slot’s probability can be a useful exercise. Let’s take a fairly simple example to illustrate. We have a 3-reel slot and each of those reels has six symbols on it. That means that there are 6 x 6 x 6 or 216 possible combinations of symbols that can land when the player spins the reels.

In games with more symbols per reel or more reels, that number goes up significantly. The number of combinations can be used to determine the probability of hitting a win through a very simple formula:

Total number of winning combinations / Total number of potential combinations

So you’ve worked out the number of combinations, the next step is to figure out the number of winning combos. This method will only determine the probability of a win happening and says nothing about the size of the said win. When using this formula, winning 10 coins and winning 1,000 coins are considered the same.

The paytable will help you determine the number of winning combinations. Slots with a small number of winning combinations are less likely to pay out a win if there is a large number of potential combinations and vice versa. Some slots are extremely complex, with different rules for different symbols so working out the probability of a win can be a challenge when using this method. However, if you have a head for numbers, it is definitely worth getting stuck in.

Play slots with the highest RTP

3. Play slots with the highest RTP

A game’s Return to Player value determines how much of a player’s wagers will be paid out as winnings over the long term. While RTP does not help us predict exactly how much or how often we’re likely to win, it does give a strong indication of the game’s behaviour.

Playing high RTP slots gives a player the best chances of regaining a good proportion of their bankroll over time. Progressive jackpot slots are notorious for having a very low RTP, which makes sense given that they only pay out quite rarely.

4. Check slot volatility

Volatility or variance describes how often a slot is likely to pay out and how much. These two factors are inversely proportional – slots that pay out frequently, pay out in small amounts, while those that pay out rarely, reward with larger amounts.

The player’s personal gambling style and their budget will determine which kind of slot volatility they should aim for. Low variance slots will appeal to players who prioritise having a longer gambling experience over high risk gameplay that has the potential to end very quickly.

High variance slots are more likely to interest players with bankrolls big enough to be able to survive long stretches without a win before a big reward might land. The majority of players fall somewhere in between and prefer medium volatility slots. This also explains why many game developers focus on medium variance slots and offer so many of them.

5. Avoid branded slots and progressive jackpots

There’s nothing wrong with branded games themselves but the way they are marketed can have players overlooking the important stuff. Branded games are usually the ones that draw a lot of attention, with game developers and casinos looking to advertise them as often as possible and in the most prominent places.

Players can be drawn in by the game’s branding rather than its actual merits. The hype around characters and collaboration can conceal the fact that the game doesn’t have a very appealing RTP or that its volatility does not fall within the player’s preferred level. While some branded games are excellent, we find that the focus on the brand itself rather than the quality of the slot may be detrimental to the player’s experience.

The same applies, in a way, to progressive jackpots. Everyone wants to win that life-changing sum and every time there is a huge win, you can expect masses of coverage about it.

While the prospect of winning big appeals to everyone, players should keep in mind that progressive jackpots are not built to pay out regularly. They usually have a very low RTP.

Smaller jackpots offer a better chance of a win but the smaller amounts they offer make them less appealing to the win-hungry players. Give these smaller jackpots a chance and you might be pleasantly surprised.

Bet levels, coin value and bet lines - play smart

6. Bet levels, coin value and bet lines – play smart

Playing slot games involves a lot of choices and choosing which slot to play is only the beginning. Players also need to decide how to bet and at what level. If you can afford to place bets on all the available bet lines, we would recommend doing so. It is possible to narrowly miss out on a significant payout simply because not all the bet lines are active.

If you cannot bet on all available lines, we suggest mixing it up a bit. It can be tempting to stick to the same bet level until your bankroll runs dry but changing course every so often can help keep you in play longer. Up your bets when you seem to be on a winning streak then bring them down again once the luck runs out. You can also move onto a different slot if the lack of wins is causing frustration.

7. Max bet – better winning chances?

In theory, at least, setting your bet size to the maximum bet will mean bigger wins, should they happen. However, in practice, a more measured approach is best. Only bet what you can afford to lose. While you can change your bet size, in either direction, as it suits you, betting at the max level will eat into your bankroll very quickly indeed and players with smaller budgets might see them completely in minutes.

Bet smart and don’t be afraid to adjust the bet size in response to what is happening on the reels. Sticking to a single bet size throughout may work for some players but for the most part, staying reactive in terms of bet size can help keep you playing longer.

8. Use bonuses and free spins

This might seem like a no-brainer but it bears repeating. Casinos offer bonuses and free spins as a way to incentivise players to sign up and they are popular for a reason. While wagering requirements should be kept in mind, it is possible to win big while using free spins or casino bonuses. Don’t let that opportunity pass you by!

Stop when you hit your limit

9. Stop when you hit your limit

Whatever your playing style or the size of your bankroll, one of the most important skills for a gambler is to know your limits and respect them. At the end of the day, slots are a game of chance and there is no guarantee you will win big at any point.

Before you start to play, set a bankroll limit and stick with it. No ‘one more spin’, no adding more cash to your account. Even with the most finely tuned strategy out there, you have no guarantees. Know when to stop so you can come back and play another day.

If you have trouble with this, there are plenty of resources out there to help you keep control of your gambling. There’s no shame in getting help but playing beyond your means is a recipe for disaster. Stay in control.

Is there a good slot strategy?

Yes, there is a good slot strategy but unfortunately, we can’t give it to you! Each player must develop their own means of weighing up their odds, choosing the right slot and playing smart.

This means that players must do their homework before they play and figure out which methods best fit with their playing style and their budget. A high roller will implement a different strategy to a player with a small budget, for instance, and being aware of what you want out of your gambling experience will help you come up with the right strategy for you.

To try to win big or small? To play jackpot slots or not?

Slot strategy for small budgets

High RTP and low variance games are your friend. Your choice of bet size can also make a big difference – betting at £0.10 will have you playing a whole lot longer than betting at £1 when your budget is £20. Your winnings may not be sky-high but neither will your losses.

Keeping an eye on your performance can also help. Resist the temptation to jump between different slot games so you can track the behaviour of a few slot games and really get to understand the way they are built.

Slot strategy for big budgets

If you’ve got a large bankroll, you have some extra options available to you but we would still recommend being smart about it or you could quickly end up without two coins to rub together.

Low RTP games like progressive jackpots do not pay out often but with a large enough bankroll, they could be worth the wait. If you enjoy risk, high volatility slots are the way to go but be warned – like in any casino game, there is no guarantee and having a large bankroll does not mean you can always outlast a slot before it pays out.

Whatever the size of your budget, it makes sense to employ some risk limitation practices. Always stick to your budget. Once you’ve hit your limit, stop.


We’ll say it again – there is no one, single, foolproof slot strategy that guarantees a win. It simply does not exist and if it did, gambling would be a very boring pastime indeed. That does not mean that players cannot improve their gameplay and their chances of winning.

With a little bit of research and patience, it is possible to develop a strategy that takes into account slot mechanics, the player’s budget and preferences, and those all-important factors like volatility, RTP and odds. Through this guide, we hope we have given you all the tools you need to come up with a strategy that rewards with the max slot wins.