Slots Introduction and Welcome:

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Remember when the only slots available were clunky, tiny, fruits-bell reels and Vegas, the city that grew from a vast desert landscape, was the only place to play?

Computer technology has taken slot players down a long paved neon, graphically rich and audibly-enhanced road to the latest treat for the senses: bonus video slots.

Now we play Monopoly, listen to Elvis tunes, Make A Deal, spin that Wheel of Fortune and revel in the casinos' 'virtual video arcades'. Slot Players have come a long way and don't you just love the excitement?

Mindless casino game - you say - not anymore - my slot friends.

It's no longer a matter of: insert coins, pull handle, cross fingers and dream of the big jackpot. A slots education is now a pre-requisite of any casino visit.

Not only should you choose and observe the slot selections/schedules presented, but wager management is key to your surivival in a game that now produces 70% of most casinos' revenue. If you don't become slot-smart and learn the correct strategies; you are missing out on some nice paydays.

We all know the casinos and the programmed RNG have the upper hand in the slots challenge; however in the coming weeks and months, we will embark on a slots education that can and will improve your slots play, preparing you for those jackpot quests.

Selecting the correct slot versions, location, slot testing, and playing the right denomination to suit your wager management plan are all learned strategies offered here.

To teach these concepts, I divide slot types into three major categories: basic or 'classic' slots - those 3 reel wonders most of which sport a single payline; the most popular being Diamonds and Red, White & Blue 7's. Always a good starting point for slot players.

Progressives with ever-growing jackpots - primary and secondary, plus Bonus Video Slots that are causing a gaming revolution. These newbie slots should be examined at different levels, in my opinion; baby steps before giant leaps.

Future articles will present novice, intermediate and aggressive play, Slots 101, 201 and 301 if you will.

This educational slots site has been designed for novices and veterans, thus providing a graduating guide for all slot players.

I suggest you begin your slots training with slot terms, then read through the other slots-related material and articles. Come back often for the latest slots news, updates, refresher course or a short memory-jogger.

We'll explore all types of slots adding new versions information, playing strategies with best pay schedules, wager management tips and slots to avoid. Plus slots stories and frequent comps/slot clubs updates: a definite benefit for casino players. Internet slots gaming is definitely in the mix presenting suggested online casinos and software to download for play at home. Also, send your slot questions along; I will be happy to answer them.

You need not be overwhelmed in the slot players' world any longer. I will sort out this mountain of information and present specific, accurate strategies to stretch your gambling bankroll. I have found, as you will, that knowledgeable, confident players can and do enjoy every 'casino experience'.

I am pleased to be your personal slots instructor and leave you with these words:

'When you practice intelligent gambling; you not only have good luck, but you are making your luck'.

The Annoyance-Factor

As much as I enjoy spending time at my favorite casino/hotels and I have visited my share--it seems that often, the ‘annoyance-factor’ also accompanies me.

I was reading an interview with Frank ‘Lefty’ Rosenthal at Casino.com and while the entire article was very interesting - a couple of quotes should be remembered.

What would you say are the biggest differences in LV today from the time when you ran the show? I think we where more conscious about more superior service-one on one. When you came into any of our properties, no matter who you where, literally, you were a VIP. And that's the way our corporation was instructed to treat you as opposed to being cattle.

Would you go as far as saying that casinos in Las Vegas treat people like cattle today? Yes, I would. The town is so big. It's a whole different ball game. The help is less informed. The old time operators understood the games and they had a better understanding for romancing the customer, satisfying the customer, and bringing the customer back.

Those were the days when casino owners offered a patron money for the bus ride home or temporary food and lodging. While I certainly don’t want to return to the ‘mob’ days, I would appreciate the superior service aspect to make a comeback.

Here’s my pet-peeves list - aren’t you annoyed by writers who use lists?

This list is in no particular annoyance-factor order, I hate all of them without bias.

1) Those eternal line-ups at the cashier cages. I want my coins in crisp bills-fast! Of course, I always get in the slowest line. You have a nice win to cash out, but you are not so lucky when selecting in which line to stand.

Many casinos have adopted the one line, first available cashier approach - good idea. Also, those blasted coin buckets that don’t fit under the spewing coin tray without tossing coins all over the floor. One more thing, what’s with the shortage of coins in a roll of quarters - last time I looked $10.00 = 40 coins, right?

2) Casinos set-up in such a maze of criss-crossing aisles that you have to be a rocket-scientist to find the exits. During this search, you are regaled by

the constant ‘Wheeeeeel of Fortune’ chant in the casinos. Can we kill or at least soften that sound?

While, we are talking about the set-up of the casino floor, would it be too much to ask for more restrooms? Don’t tell me you can’t afford it - maybe you could place some slots there, so the space is not totally wasted on required customer comfort.

3) Machines that are not replaced---the buttons stick or come off in your hand as you try desperately to hold a card. Some screens are so blurred or ‘sun-burnt’ that you can barely see what is going on in front of you.

4) Casinos who continue to serve drinks to someone who really does not need ‘one for the road’. It’s just good PR to put this client in a cab and thank them for visiting. I was playing a ‘hot’ VP machine and the guy two machines over was so drunk he could not find the coin slot without dropping them all over the place, plus he suffered the added discomfort of banging his head

during retrieval. I called over two waitresses and suggested a cab, but was ignored. A customer service opportunity lost.

5) Casino/hotel check-in that takes more than 10 minutes.

Casino security - all single women should automatically get a room next to the elevator without asking and get an immediate response when requesting an escort to their car. Parking lots that are not well-lit and well-patrolled. Easy answer for this one - use valet parking at all times - the few bucks are worth the peace of mind. No need to loudly announce my room number or how much money you are counting out.

6) a) Blackjack rules - not only do the rules change from casino to casino, but since when do 6-8 decks, burning 10-15 cards and mid-shuffle become attractive to me as a player? When I show the least inclination towards playing intelligently - casino management reserves the right to remove me from the property. It’s tougher to count cards with multiple decks and the table maximums are in place - why are the casinos running scared?

b) A ‘hot’ craps table that suddenly comes to a grinding halt because dealers decide that it’s time to ‘ask questions’. Does this game have a rhythm to it - you bet - does this ploy affect the shooter - often. Do the dealers know this - bet your last buck on it!

c) Megajackpots that are paid out over 20 years, or paid up front at a huge discount to the ‘winner’. ‘Certified’ or guaranteed slots not clearly marked and why are there not loads of these slots everywhere?

d) Keno runners - give me some credit for knowing that this is the worst bet in the house or do I have to wear a sign ‘ I don’t play Keno’ to be left alone.

7) Machine Hogs - read the message ‘one machine per customer at busy times’. Don’t these people know that when slots are placed side-by-side; rarely do they both pay? And when you finally do get to play your favorite machine, you are treated to the ‘foaming at the mouth’ onlooker who will hover until you surrender. Dream on - son!

8) Casino players who touch the screen after enjoying their latest snack, bang on it, caress it, breathe heavy or the worst--talk to their newest acquaintance - the slot machine. Get a room, for crying out loud or save it for those 900 numbers! People who leave little momentos after exiting the slot - cigarette butts-ashes, wrappers, any old garbage - not an appreciated gift.

9) Unfriendly or uninformed staff. ‘I don’t know' or 'we don’t offer that’ should not be part of the vocabulary for any hotel/casino representative.

A decent, living wage so that staff members are not constantly groveling for tips should be high on casino management’s to-do list.

So, for the ‘privilege’ of playing at a particular casino, I am expected to pay the staff salaries with tips? Don’t get me wrong, I tip for good service as everyone should, but, with one exception - when I am expected to tip the person who brings MY winnings, usually after a very long wait.

10) Casino/hotel management who are not in touch with customers’ wants, needs and dislikes concerning all aspects of their gaming establishment. Take a poll, offer comment cards with a free gift for completing, use your club card mailings for feedback, place a suggestion box in a visible area, teach your staff the art of customer satisfaction and ask them to approach customers for their opinions.

What can we, as casino players, do about the annoyance-factor? Plenty - start by being vocal, in a nice way and make sure that top management people hear your advice. Write a quick note about your complaints and leave it in your room or at the front desk. An avalanche of patrons’ complaints cannot be ignored for long.

I know this is not a complete list, therefore I am asking for your ‘stop the annoyance-factor’ feedback. Also I would be glad to hear about your favorite casino that has fixed and/or addressed any of the above annoyances.

I believe all is not lost, casino management can and will change. If they don't, the ease and popularity of online gaming is lurking in the wings.

We just need to nudge them in the right direction before they completely forget what the words ‘customer service’ mean.

All of us have the right to enjoy every casino experience.

You can contact me at gayle.mitchell@casino.com or askthepro.casino.com.

The Death of Coins..say it ain't so...

Lately, I find that my dreams of generous slot jackpots while carrying buckets of coins around my favorite casinos are at odds with the dreams of casino management. The ''sound of rain'', as my Mom says -- coins falling into the metal holder--going, going, gone? Listening for that familiar winning sound around you to determine if you selected a winning casino-going? or "do I choose 2 or 3 coin slots"-gone?

The news bandied about for the last year; and in some cases implemented, is that casino management dreams are focused on 'cashless' slots. What nonsense!

Following are the options that are on the table as per casino management, (c.m.) or cut moneybuckets in my glossary.

Tokenization: nothing new here, the Aussies have been using this system forever and have implemented this on their own Aristocrat bonus video slots that can offer 20+ paylines. A single dollar coin or token is used for all denominations; e.g., a single token in a quarter machine produces 4 credits for play or 20 nickels. When cashing out, odd amounts are dispensed via the hopper.

Sounds simple and clean, however what's to stop cashless momentum (c.m.) from installing only dollar slots if the thinking is that all slot players are now dollar players----your wager management plan has now flown out the window and the price of gaming just increased.

Caring management are soooo concerned that you are lugging around those heavy buckets of nickels when you could easily carry a rack of 100 tokens----anyone convinced?

I buy 5 rolls of nickels or quarters, not heavy at all, and play a row of basic slots until I find one that gives more than it receives. When I fill those buckets to the top, it's no chore, but downright fun to 'lug' them to the nearest cashier window.

Should I lose this 5 roll purchase, and this indeed happens; it is time for a break at that point, to re-evaluate my wagering plan. Do I move to another part of the casino floor? another casino? video poker perhaps? or is it shopping or dining time?

Even the most disciplined player would find it difficult not to continue dipping into that rack of dollar tokens at their disposal.

Ticket Printers: in many parts of the country, particularly Indian casinos; this method is common place. Different systems pay off in scrip or cash register receipts. What is to be done with this piece of paper when it's printed and in your hand? Can you go to another slot? another denomination? what if the amount does not divide evenly into another denomination? e.g. $35.75 cannot be played evenly at a dollar slot. Do I have the distinct pleasure of standing in a cashier or ATM line with 20 other people to cash out? That's not an exaggeration; this envisioned 'supreme' casino floor will eliminate nearly all change carts and those very friendly people who maneuver them. Is it printed to be user-friendly? or will I mistake it for my latest grocery purchase and trash it?

One thing, of which I am certain -- playing the 'hit and run' method of 3-5 pulls and moving on is out, unless I in a ticket collection mood; plus inserting

cash (dare I use that word) into bill acceptors of a bank of slots is too costly in the short term.

Smart Cards: lay your money down, get a card, insert into machine - winnings added, losses subtracted -- head to ATM kiosk to cash out.

Hmmm, but, but, what if I forget my card in a machine, like I have many times with a slot club card? What if the card does not register properly and my wins are not added? Is there a possibility of human error or computer error?

Hands up those people whose banks or credit card companies have never made a mistake with their credit or debit cards? Hmmm, didn't think so.

Does anyone else remember that these so called 'smart cards' failed miserably at the Atlanta Olympics? Have they suddenly gained acceptance? ---certainly not by casino patrons.

What is wrong with the status-quo? Change is not always good; although, in this case, change as in coins in a bucket has always been good.

Slot players could still carry their buckets or coin rolls, and yes, bill acceptors have their place especially for the 9+ line bonus video slots.

However, let us make the decision as to whether we want to insert a 10, 20 or 50 buck bill and for crying out loud, give us coins back at the push of the cash-out button -- not some bizarre casino scrip or receipt that will get lost with real live currency in our wallets.

I can hear the currency manipulators wailing about the high overhead of handling all this coinage and how these same employees could be better utilized as customer liaisons rather than changing or cashing out monies.

Pullleeeze, why don't we just organize a telethon for c.m.'s?

It's interesting to note that Las Vegas is very slow in implementing any of the above changes because the majority of casino players are tourists who visit a couple of times a year and they do not want these changes. Happy to see that the majority rules in this gambling capital.

This rant of mine does have a serious concern; which is slot players' speed or rhythm of play and how it affects the gambling bankroll.

I have long been an advocate of pacing your play and stretching your bankroll for a more enjoyable casino experience.

Hoppers empty, coins jam, 'call attendant' signs flash and you need more coin rolls; all these events slow you down enough to take a break, relish that moment or that particular win.

I can't help but theorize that with a cashless environment, the pace would quicken allowing a frantic stream of tokens, scrip or 'smart cards' and before you can say "give me a bucket of coins" your gambling bankroll has disappeared.

Do ya think that the cashless monitors know this will happen...duh?

If you agree with me concerning this cash-gone scenario, I implore you to state your case loudly and clearly to slot hosts, change people and casino management.

I am not ready to turn in my bucket and the dirty hands were earned and regarded as a reflection of my latest battle on the casino floor.

Spinners and handle-pullers unite...keep the magic..the crusade continues.

Where, Oh, Where are the Loose Slots?

The most-often asked question at slots.casino.com is where do I find the loose and best-paying slots? For the novice, a 'loose' slot is a type of slot that has more paying symbols, and is programmed with a higher percentage payout; the only slot any serious player wants to chose.

However, unlike video poker players, who read a pay schedule on the machine thus determining a full-pay vs short-pay version; a slot player must spend some time 'on jackpot-research' wandering the casino floor towards a profitable end. Also, like any casino game, you want to monitor your gambling bankroll. I have watched gamblers step inside a casino and dump more coins than their weekly lunch money into the first slot they see. These random choices cost money and can be avoided with a quick recon trip around the casino. In my books and seminars, we learn that you should never choose and play a slot machine at random or by chance.

Location, location, location is the key here, with basic slots. Our job as serious slot players is to crack the slot mix or slot placement code. You have to put yourself in the mind of the slots manager.

As a slots manager, I will put my loosest slots in high-traffic areas where passersby can see a lot of slots players winning often. I also want slot players held captive deep in the underbelly of the casino, where they get comfortable and not leave immediately with their winnings. You will often see slot players spinning their reels near the entertainment lounge, around the gaming tables or casino entrance. As a slots manager, I know these people are there for a short time only, and then they will move on. So, why should I reward them with a loose machine? An excellent place to start is in the center of the casino near the main cashier's booth and scope out those basic slots with single paylines, two coin max and double bonus options.

Competing casinos with 'come-hither' signs offering up to 98%, or 'certified' 100% slot payouts can narrow the search for dollar players. As you scope out the slots before you; look up to zero in on the denomination you can best afford. How many times have you dropped coins into a machine that quickly drop out, as you realize you just put quarters into a dollar slot? A lot of slot players like to play two machines at a time, side-by-side. If I were a slots manager, I would know this and place tight slots next to loose ones.

What one giveth, the other taketh away. So, don't play two slots next to each other. And, for the same reason, don't play next to a winning machine. Location is not as important with progressives, but 'best-payouts' are words that spring to mind with mega-jackpots aplenty at casinos worldwide; however, a search is in order for the largest primary and secondary jackpots. Scanning the casino floor for the largest progressives' numbers will benefit the player. Shop for value. One bank of machines can be paying more than the next, and you will be glad you took the time to look around.

As you wander the progressive carousels, look for near capacity with few seats empty; those players have already done the research for you. Mega-jackpots that rapidly increase way over the minimum are 'due'. Case in point: as I write, the MegaBucks jackpot is over 32 million and previous win was 27.5 million. Mathematical odds suggest a hit real soon. You can track these jackpots at: www.a2zlasvegas.com/games/progressive/jackpots.html, or call 1-888-448-2WIN for daily updates. You should be aware that these slots have comparatively low payback percentage rates. 80% is not uncommon, and the jackpot might be paid out over 20 years.

Take a seat once you choose the best progressive, but keep in mind one constant rule: always play max coins at progressives -- it's mandatory. Bonus Video Slots are now everywhere in casinos. While location is not a key factor here, there is no question that big payouts are. Frequent payouts, albeit not always as much as you bet, are paid approx. every 2-3 spins. A hunt is still required; this time for secondary jackpots. I stood between a Jackpot Party slot and Sphinx machine; one offered a secondary of 22,500 coins, the other 10,000 coins. I promptly parked in front of the Sphinx. Primary jackpots are not to be sneezed at either; one version of Monopoly offers 100,000 coins. A couple of other tips: Avoid the tight (low-paying) slots in restaurants, bars, airports and supermarkets.

Talk with other slot players. An 'us-against-the-casino' mentality makes most people willing to share information. Talk to the change people and ask them where the best slots are located, or which slot machines they recommend. These people make their living primarily on tips, so they may clue you in, hoping you will return to thank them with a tip. When is the best time of the day and week to play slots? Best time of the day is in the wee hours of the morning (2 to 6 a.m). The best days of the week are after a weekend. In both cases, you will be playing just after the tourists, who have spent a long time priming the slots--not always with maximum coins or correct strategies. Plus at this slow time, many more machines are available to choose. In the end, a short walk around the casino not only fills your exercise requirement for the day, but can provide a pocketful of coins. The quest continues, 'tis a matter of knowing what to look for, yes?

 

Armed with this slots education and a small amount of patience, you can confidently find the slot of your dreams and hey, don't forget what your Mom told you: "Always share"!

The Slots Wager

"Slots", he scoffed, but then I had heard it all before. "You call yourself a gambling expert yet you suggest, in your books, that slots is one of the better bets in the casino?" "Sam" is a blackjack player, an educated card counter and 'grind' player extraordinaire.

I patiently asked what he earned per hour on an average night? Using the previous evening as an average he replied, "$80/hour" for 4 hours play, $320. The wager was about to begin: "I will play dollar slots for four hours with a starting bankroll of $200, and if I win more than $320, you will play slots with me for 1 hour and get "slot educated"---deal?. I knew that if he lost, the payback of playing a game he hated would be a far worse scenario that handing over any amount of money to me. The first 2 hours found me with only $100 ahead, but I wasn't worried. I was enjoying myself free of the pressures of any blackjack or craps 'grind' player who must master total concentration with thought processes totally focused on their current hand/dealer hand or roll of the dice - ow that hurts! Not to mention card counters who constantly need to "not" look like they are counting cards.

Yes, I'll admit that the casino has a house advantage with slots, however learning and knowing valuable information that can help determine if and how I play certain slots has served me well in the past. I continue my quest as before, by observing casino slot locations, slot types and payouts. Many versions are spread before me: Multiplier, Bonus Multiplier, "Wild" Multiplier - couldn't resist these newest bonus versions; Buy Your Pay, and Double Machines. I always start any slot session by seeking out Double, Triple Diamond, and RWB 7's and analyzing their location before playing. Slot Testing is recommended before continued play on any chosen slot.

I stayed away from Progressives for this wager as a larger bankroll was required; besides the newer Bonus Slots were calling. Monopoly, Elvis and Reel 'Em In bonus slots completed my last hour of play to put me over the top.

Sam met me at the casino entrance and as I showed him $645, I also asked if he would like a drink before our slot education class. I figured he needed one; but I did not rub salt in the wound by relating to him that I normally charge for a "Hot Slots" seminar; advice he was getting for free; far be it from me to gloat! Turns out, he warmed to Double Diamond, RWB 7's and Monopoly - not a sore loser but no convert, I'm sure.

Now I know that a certain amount of luck was involved in this wager, but I still contend that there are specific strategies that can be learned to improve your slot profits. Not all slots are alike.

Slot machines sell "the dream" - we know that, however you can improve your chances of attaining that dream whatever your current "wish list" may be.

70%+ of casino players participate in a slots competition as they take up the casino challenge. Why? Because we like the action, the adrenlin rush, the contest, and yes - the risk factor - we thrive on it: life is a risk.

We want to shed our everyday routine for the fun and excitement of a comfortable, seductive surrounding that offers a possible payback and comps. What other form of entertainment offers the player a return on their investment? Slots offer privacy, no intimidation factor and with new Bonus Slots; a varied slot selection awaits us for an exhilirating sensory casino experience.

Play with a game plan within your limits, but most important, have fun!