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Winning at Slot Machine Games

When you enter a casino, it's important to remember one thing: There's a reason they call it "gambling". No matter how good a player you are, there's always a chance -- usually a very good one -- that you're going to lose. There is no particular strategy that we can suggest you follow on how to win at online slots, but ways to make sure that you do not lose everything if you follow a few simple steps when playing.

But there are ways to increase your chances. The games that afford the most opportunity to win are blackjack and poker (including video poker). Why? Because those are the games where skill and strategy play a part, where you're not just left to the whims of luck and chance. Sure, you're stuck with the cards you're dealt. But you have options as to what to do with those cards. Two people could be dealt the same hand and still win or lose depending on how they play it.

Slot machines, on the other hand, are governed strictly by randomness. The modern computerized ones randomly generate numbers that correspond with possible outcomes of the reels. Whether you win or not depends on whether you hit the "spin" button at the precise instant that a winning number has been generated. In other words, it's entirely up to chance.

That said, there are small tips and strategies that can help you be a little smarter about how you play the slot machines.

First, avoid machines that are right next to the buffet line or other places where people are standing around idly. Why? Because the casinos put their "tighter" machines (ones that don't pay out as much) in places where there's a captive audience of people who are likely to play just because they're stuck there for a few minutes.

The machines that cost more to play ($1 and $5 machines) have higher payout percentages than the nickel slots. Look for signs that say "98 percent payback," or some other similarly high number. Avoid the ones that say "UP TO 98 percent payback"; we all know what "up to" means in advertising.

Where the slot machine is placed can be important, too. If a casino is going to be dishing out big payments, it wants to make sure everyone can see it happen. Slot machines tucked away are no good. You want the ones on elevated platforms, near the change booths (so that people getting change will notice how much the people around them seem to be winning) and near the coffee shops and snack bars (ditto, for those who have taken a break from gambling to eat something). These are the machines that are most liberal with their payouts.

Also, older or less glitzy casinos away from the strip tend to set their slot machines looser in order to attract business. Fancy places like the Bellagio don't need to do that, do they?

Once you've found a slot machine that you think might be loose (and remember, casinos never put two loose ones right next to each other - so try the machines on either side, if the one you've chosen seems tight), there are more things to consider. Always play the maximum number of coins, as that is the only way to hit the jackpot. And don't play multiple-payline slots at all. The payouts aren't as good as single-payline slot machines, and it costs more to play them.

The most important thing about slot machines is to put a cap beforehand on how much you're willing to spend, and to have fun while you're doing it! Don't become intent on spinning the reels quickly, or on feeding coins in as fast as you can. Pace yourself, enjoy yourself, make it a fun experience. It's a game, remember?