Slots inspire so many (conspiracy) theories among the casino-loving crowd, but the general consensus goes something like this: they are money-sucking spawns of hell. At least that's what the experts say, and we're inclined to believe them. Our very own Michael Shackleford, the Wizard of Odds himself, always advises against these sinister machines, and when asked how to play them best, his answer is simple: ''Don't''. Fair enough, the man's got credentials to back him up. Among other accomplishments, he was an Adjunct Professor of Casino Math at the University of Nevada (yes, this occupation does exist). Apparently, slot machines are too fast for our own good. Spin after spin, and there you are after an hour, short a few hundred bucks, wondering what the heck happened. Funny how the most popular game is, in fact, the worst choice with regard to the win to loss ratio, isn't it? Be that as it may, some of us play slots almost exclusively, and we are not ashamed to admit it. That's how we roll!
So why, Mike, do you have to shatter our dreams? How are we, loyal devotees of jolly old reels, supposed to handle this harsh truth about our beloved game? We don't want to cross over to the dull side of video poker. For us, the unpredictable nature, the unexpected lucky streaks, the bars and bells are what the magic is all about, rather than the skill-paved road to victory others prefer. But let's look at the bright side - there's wisdom even to slot play, as confirmed by Mike and the rest of the gambling pros. It's silly to think chance and probability can be manipulated to work for us, or that winning most of the time is even remotely plausible. However, there are things we can do to tip the scales of fortune in our favor.
No! to Branded Slots
Have you ever seen the cabinet of IGT's Avatar? Looks like a piece of alien machinery from a futuristic sci-fi blockbuster - just like those pods you can actually see in the movie! The game debuted in 2013, which makes it terribly old from the perspective of gambling technology, but it is still quite an awe-inspiring sight. Who knows how much money went into the making of this hulking piece, the permissions and licensing alone must have cost a fortune, along with the fancy graphics, the motion chairs, the surround sound, and the rest of the advanced mumbo jumbo?
Does it even pay off to make these machines? Of course, you're the one to cover the costs! For obvious reasons, branded slots have a MUCH lower RTP than any other genre on the casino floor. As a rule of thumb, they come with a whole bunch of confusing bonuses, features and unlockables, more than we can possibly figure out in a single play-through. You've probably heard about the ''emotional architecture'' that manufacturers use to lure in players, especially younger generations and noobies. It's a clever strategy, as humans are attracted to familiar themes, bright lights and loud sounds. Licensed releases have these in abundance and they are always the first thing to catch your attention when entering a casino. Don't give in to temptation! Sure, they're fun, but they are also very cheap.
Classy on the Outside, Rotten on the Inside
If you need a suit or an evening gown to get inside, run away as fast as you can. Luxury resorts are for big shots who can withstand big losses both financially and mentally. Some of these fancy places put even Versailles to shame, and it doesn't take a genius to realize that a huge part of the maintenance funds comes from the wallets of players. Naturally, games here are as tight as it gets - you might sit down on that chair with a smile on your face, but chances are you will walk away sad. If your intention is to play, have fun and win - find yourself a less glittery, more reliable place. When you're hungry, does having burger and fries wrapped up in a pretty paper make them taste any better?
Time to go Home
Self-discipline is the hardest of life's challenges. A happy gambler is the one who knows when to quit. The philosophy of moderation is nothing new, in fact, this is usually the first thing you'll hear as a rookie. It's tough to let go when you're so passionate about something. Especially when fast-paced, hypnotic, endorphin boosters like slots are SO much fun, we should know! But when a game doesn't work with you, don't work with it. As simple as that.
Contrary to the popular opinion, betting the max is not always the best strategy to employ. The higher the wager, the less play-time, and you can't expect to hit anything in just a few spins. It's better to play safe - determine how much you can afford to lose, bet small, and pretend to be cool when your time is up. No one wants to hear that famous ''sir/mam, you need to leave the premises''!
Saved by Loyalty Perks
Dear slot player, casinos love you and the cash you're bound to lose. It is awesome because they'll go to great lengths to make you feel appreciated and eager to spend more money. A vast majority of establishments offer complimentary points for every wager you make. These are stored on a so-called players rewards card, to be redeemed for free rooms, meals and shows, or for big discounts on these and many other services. This really is an easy way to get some of your money back or to at least feel a little better after having suffered a significant loss. A nice comedy show or a savory dinner work wonders to cheer up a disgruntled gambler!