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Why Can’t I Win at Online Slots? Understanding How They Work

online slot games

May 22 2024, Published 5:23 p.m. ET

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The history of slot games began with a glorious gong from the Liberty Bell, made in 1895, and the wheels have been turning ever since. Fruits, symbols, stars, minerals, faces, logos, you name it, slots had them throughout their rich history. They are one of the staple games of physical and online casinos, and as such, attract many players and theories. It's natural for people to have good luck rituals and habits when playing slots, but knowing the science behind them can be far more beneficial.

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1. Basic terms

From niche to widely popular games and industries, specialized terms and phrases are normal, and essential for understanding what you are getting into. Some of the usual slot terms are:

  1. RTP

  2. RNG

  3. House Edge

Here and below, we'll go through them and others so that you and any other player can better understand how slots work and use some of the mechanics to your advantage. Many leading casino sites dominate the industry precisely because they offer high RTP values on slot machines. RTP is shorter for return-to-player, and it's usually in the 95-99% area, showing what percent of funds will eventually come back to any player over a certain period.

Naturally, the higher, the better is the norm here. Vlad Grindu says good way to choose between the best online real money slots, like those at the top casinos listed by Techopedia, is to compare their payout rates (RTP) and volatility levels. The RTP provides a rough estimate of how much the game pays in the long term, while the volatility indicates the way the wins are awarded.

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2. Predicting the random chance

RNG is next in the line and stands for random numbers generator. Slots may not always have numbers, but symbols, cards, etc, but when you substitute anything appearing on the wheel for numbers, it becomes apparent how RNG is involved. Each wheel can have a set number of symbols. From five to ten, the more symbols are present, the more combinations can occur. When you factor in the number of wheels (or lines) spinning, the number of combinations skyrockets.

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All great non-Gamstop casinos offer their players an option to increase the number of lines per spin, raising their chances of hitting a certain combination. Now, when you turn each symbol and wheel into a number, you'll realize that an RNG is shuffling them each time, that is spin. There are two types of RNG:

  1. Hardware device

  2. Software algorithm

And playing on online slots naturally involves understanding how the software algorithm works. Today, AI integration is everywhere, helping investment opportunities by making predictions and complex calculations, but even advanced AI can't predict the outcome of your next spin with absolute certainty. You can increase your odds with more lines and the number of spins because you're giving your slot game a chance to produce more combinations. The algorithm behind any slot game is truly random and certified by authorities, giving each player the same fair chance at any slot game.

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3. House Edge

The last term that needs explaining is how house edge, which in short, stands for the advantage of the casino over the player. Each game is built with a certain house edge factor and it's important to play at slot machines with the lower house edge. Each casino expects to profit from a game, as basic financial literacy implies, because they are, after all, a business. This practice leads to games with lower house edges usually having restrictions, like maximum wins, the number of bonuses, and others, but they are consistent in player winnings.

Finding a casino with the lowest house edge on slots and the highest RTP ratio gives any player a mathematical advantage, and even though there may be some restrictions, these slots offer a steady stream of smaller wins.

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4. Social casino

At first glance, playing at social casinos isn't winning, so players who seek to win at online slots avoid them, making a mistake and not using a free resource. Social casinos are places where you can't bet money on games, but can't win any cash prizes. They offer a more beginner-friendly atmosphere and a slower pace due to the different nature of their organization. But they are also an important testing ground, giving each player a demo version of any casino game, where they can essentially test out new strategies, ideas, and moves without any risk of losing money or getting penalized.

Regular online casinos may offer some free spins or an X amount of tries with online slots, but social casinos are much better suited for testing out plays or strategies, due to them being completely risk-free. Sure, you won't win anything, but you'll gain valuable experience and game knowledge, which is transferable when you start playing a real money slot game.

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5. Diversify

Sometimes, an online slot game is not working out for a player, regardless of strategies, time, or investments made. Whenever you feel a slot game is not for you it's ok to change to a different slot game. Online slots are incredibly diverse, offering a fresh experience with each theme. Whether it's ancient Egypt, Rome, the far future, or a pirate ship theme, a fresh start can make all the difference. Online casinos offer some free spins for new slot games, and regularly checking the online casino's portfolio can be beneficial to your winning strategy.

For example, whenever an online casino introduces a new slot game, it's good practice to try it out, as it could be beginner-friendly and tailored favorably to new players so that the game can gain traction. Theme weeks or promotions are good indicators of where you should go and play because online casinos that offer thousands of slot variants wish to promote them all and have them all be in use, even if at only some point. Lastly, just as casinos diversify their portfolio, so should you. Some online casinos can offer a certain beneficial feature for online slots, which might suit some players but not all. Others can have what was missing but still miss the complete package. The important thing to do is research and look around for what slot games work for you and resonate with your gameplay style, regardless of public opinion, as it is you, in the end, who is playing and wishes to have a good time.

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