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Best Way/Time to Play Slots

4 September 2003

By John Robison

I'm a person who loves playing the slot machines. Mainly I play the nickel machines. What advice can you give on winning or bettering my chances of winning on these machines? The ones I like most are as follows: Jackpot Party, Life of Luxury, Millionaire, and some others. Do you recommend playing dollar machines and if so, which ones?


Dear Vicki,

The results of each spin are chosen at random, so there's nothing you can do to improve your chances of winning.

But there are things you can do to make sure you have the slot-playing experience you want.

First, make sure that you can afford to lose the money you're playing with. This money should come from your entertainment budget, and not the rent or food budget.

Second, play the games that you like to play. Some games give you lots of small payments and some give fewer, larger payouts. If you like to have lots of tray money to keep you playing, go for machines that hit frequently. If you don't mind feeding the machine to get you through dry spells, go for the lower hit frequency machines.

Third, stretch your bankroll by playing the right number of coins for each type of machine. I have a number of articles on the site about this subject. On the multi-line/multi-coin video slots, I generally recommend playing one coin per line. The payouts on additional coins per line are just straight multiples of the one-coin payout on most of these machines, so there's no advantage to playing more than one coin per line.

Finally, use your slot club card every time you play and use your slot club benefits as much as you can.

Dollar machines usually have higher paybacks than lower denomination machines, but that's irrelevant if dollar machines don't fit into one's slot-playing budget. If dollars fit your budget, then the machines I'd recommend to you are the ones that you enjoy playing.

Best of luck in and out of the casinos,

Dear Sir,

When you go to a casino and walk in the door, ready to play the slots, how do YOU play and do you think you have better luck playing this way? Just wondering how a pro goes about it?

Thanks in advance!

Dear L.L.,

I wouldn't call myself a "pro." I don't make my living playing slot machines and I'm skeptical of anyone who claims they do.

I like to think that I make my own luck by looking for machines that will give my the experience I want. For example, I like machines that require skill, so I play the Mikohn slots frequently. I also play a lot of video poker.

I also like machines that hit frequently, so I avoid low hit frequency machines. I have a series of articles on the site about identifying low hit frequency machines.

I also stretch my bankroll by playing the best number of coins to play for the type of machine I'm playing. Again, I have a series of articles about the best number of coins to play for each type of machine on the site.

Getting the slot-playing experience you desire is the way to win at the slots. We can't always walk away with more money than when we started, so we have to ensure that we at least have a good time playing.

Best of luck in and out of the casinos,

Hi John,

Two questions:

What is the best time of day to play slots? People always say "late." Are they talking around midnight, after 10pm or early morning hours? If the RNG is the factor, what difference would it make?

Second question, why do the experts say "avoid holiday weekends?" What difference would that make in a slot machine if it's all RNG? What would make the difference in our play period?


Dear Nancy,

The best time of day to play is the time of day you want to play. Neither the time of day or day of week has any effect on your chances of winning.

You're absolute right to say that the clock and the calendar have no effect on the RNG. Your chances of hitting a winning combination on any particular machine are the same on every spin.

The only reason I know of to play late and to avoid holiday weekends is to avoid the big crowds. You have a better selection of available machines when there are fewer people are playing.

Best of luck in and out of the casinos,

If you were playing a low denomination $0.05 machine, which one do you think gives you more bang for the buck (bonus rounds/winnings)? On the same note, if you were playing the big nickels, which machine would you go for and would you use max coins or one at a time?


Dear Nancy,

I pay more attention to how much I enjoy playing a machine than I do to how frequently the bonus round hits, so I don't really know which ones hit the bonus rounds most frequently. That said, I don't enjoy playing a machine that rarely hits the bonus round.

I like the Mikohn slots a lot because I like machines that require some skill. My favorite Mikohn game is Ripley's Believe It or Not because I know a lot of useless information. I also like Scrabble, even though there is no skill involved.

On the few occasions I've played $5 machines, I played straight multipliers. On a straight multiplier, I could bet one coin per spin and know I was getting the highest hit frequency and payback possible on the machine.

Best of luck in and out of the casinos,

Hi John,

We go to Point Edward Charity Casino in Sarnia. Is there a difference in payouts because of its being a Charity Casino? How do they determine how much money goes to charity?

It is a great little casino. We play slots and generally always win. Not large amounts, but enough to make it fun. The food is great and the employees are super. They always have some sort of drawing going on. It's a fun little place.

We are headed to Mackinac Island. Can you recommend any good casinos in that area?

Thank you, I enjoy your articles.


Dear Putty,

I'm afraid I can't help you with either of your questions. I did a quick search for articles about the Point Edward Charity Casino and none of them mentioned how they determine how much money goes to charity. I'm sure a quick call or a letter to the Alcohol and Gaming Commission would get you the answer.

I'm not familiar with the Mackinac Island area so I can't recommend any casinos there.


Send your slot and video poker questions to John Robison, Slot Expert, at

John Robison
John Robison is an expert on slot machines and how to play them. John is a slot and video poker columnist and has written for many of gaming’s leading publications. He holds a master's degree in computer science from the prestigious Stevens Institute of Technology.

You may hear John give his slot and video poker tips live on The Good Times Show, hosted by Rudi Schiffer and Mike Schiffer, which is broadcast from Memphis on KXIQ 1180AM Friday afternoon from from 2PM to 5PM Central Time. John is on the show from 4:30 to 5. You can listen to archives of the show on the web anytime.

Books by John Robison:

The Slot Expert's Guide to Playing Slots