Slots Guide for Beginners: History, Tips, and Strategy

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Introduction

Among all the games available at land-based and online casinos, some of the most popular are the slots.

The term slot machine is derived from the fact that these were machines that had a slot in which you could insert a coin to play them, and there were also slots for collecting payouts. The initial slots had simple and fun graphics; over time video slots came into existence and the evolution of technology enabled the development of slot games with high quality graphics and animations and loads of features.

So when did the slots come about and how have they evolved over time? How do the slots play out now and what are the software providers offering them? Is there any basic strategy that you can apply? Would you need tips as a beginner, and what would be the best slots for a beginner to try out? We discuss all of this on this page.

Table of Contents

  1. Introduction to Slots
  2. A Brief History of Slots
  3. Slots Software Providers Today
  4. The Progressive Slots
  5. Slots Basic Strategy and Tips
  6. Myths Associated with Slots
  7. Best Slots for Beginners

A Brief History of Slots

The earliest version of the modern slot was invented by Sittman and Pitt in the year 1891. This machine had 5 drums with 50 card faces on them and a lever. It was simple and fun to use: all you had to do was insert a coin and pull the lever. Once the drums stopped spinning you got a poker hand and how much you won depended on your hand. There was no cash payout; you got paid in gifts available at the establishment where the machine was.

Sittman and Pitt’s machine was complicated; so somewhere between 1887 and 1895 Charles Fey of San Francisco, California, devised what is known as the Liberty Bell machine. This one had a simple mechanism of operation: there were 3 reels with 5 symbols in all. The symbols were diamonds, spades, hears, horseshoes, and a Liberty Bell. With an automatic payout mechanism the Liberty Bell was a huge advancement over Sittman and Pitt’s machine. The next slot machine to come up was the Operator Bell in 1907, manufactured by Herbert Mills.

Other machines included the trade simulator (winnings were in the form of chewing gums of different fruit flavors). The next big step in the evolution of steps was in 1963 when Bally Technologies came up with Money Honey, the first completely electromechanical slot. The first genuine video slot came into existence in 1976, thanks to the efforts of Fortune Coin Co., a company out of Las Vegas and it was approved by the Nevada Stage Gaming Commission. There is an American first as well: Reel ’Em In by WMS Industries became the first American video slot to offer the ‘second screen’ bonus to players.

Slots went online in 1994 and these and all modern slots use the random number generator (RNG), also called the pseudo random number generator (PRNG), to ensure complete randomness and fairness in their results. Now you have interactive slots, slots with 3D graphics and animations, multiple bonus features, progressive jackpots, and more.

Slots Software Providers Today

All slots at online and mobile casinos today are developed by software providers. The first company behind the software for online casinos was Microgaming and it had a good selection of slots. This company continues to be an industry leader in casino software and has over 850 high quality online slots and 350+ mobile slots. There are countless other casino software providers with high quality slots today. Some of the most popular ones, apart from Microgaming, are:

Each of these providers have slots with unique qualities. NetEnt for instance is known for the innovative features in all its slots, while BetSoft is known for its 3D slots. Playtech is the largest casino gaming supplier to trade on the London Stock Exchange’s Main Market. RTG is known for its unique and interactive Real Series slots. And then there is Quickspin, which is focused only on developing online and mobile slots.

There are also older land-based casino software providers like Aristocrat and Bally who have switched to developing product for online and mobile casinos as well. Each of these slots providers has slots as the majority offering in their game list, which speaks about the popularity that slots enjoy among players.

A software provider will offer slots and the rest of the games in its portfolio in one of two modes – download or instant play. In the earlier days the download version was the one that was solely available; with the development of Flash technology came the second version, the instant play version. With the instant play version you do not need to download software to your computer or mobile device; you can play directly from a browser.

For long the download version carried more weightage as it included the full complement of games; the instant play version was a lighter version that had most of the games. However, the advancements in technology, like the arrival of HTML5, has made it a level playing field. Now there are software providers like NetEnt, Quickspin, and many others who offer their slots games and in fact the entire game portfolio solely in instant play mode.

The Progressive Slots

As we mentioned earlier, there are different kinds of slots today. One of the most popular because of the sheer size of the payouts they offer if you hit them at the right spot are the progressive jackpot slots. These are slot games – 3-reel or 5-reel that have a progressive jackpot attached to them. These have been around from before the online slots emerged and are popular among players.

With the use of microprocessors and software to ensure randomness came along another idea sometime in the mid-1980s: what if we attached a progressive jackpot to the slot by putting aside a percentage of the money wagered by a player on a slot and adding it to a jackpot that grew progressively over time (hence the name) so that by the time a player hit it the payout would be really high volume?

Progressive slots are linked depending on the kind of progressive they are:

  • Local progressive slots: They are linked across a network of machines within a casino. So while the payout is high it is not sky-high because of the limited network of players contributing to it.
  • Network progressive slots: They are linked across multiple casinos, which leads to a significantly higher number of players contributing to the jackpot. As a result the payout for these progressive slots is very high, often running into millions of dollars.

Some of the biggest payouts have been on progressive slots. The world record for an online progressive slot payout is held by the Mega Moolah slot from Microgaming. On 6th October 2015 Jon Heywood from the UK landed a mammoth €17,879,645 on this slot at the Betway online casino. He is not the only one; there are a significant number of players who have ended up millionaires after hitting one of these jackpots. The top progressive jackpot slots today include:

Slots Basic Strategy and Tips

Slots are games that are completely luck-based; you do not need any special skills to play these exciting games. So how effective are the strategies that you see at different sites online, when it comes to translating them to wins while playing slots? A game of luck can have only one factor determining the outcome: luck; strategies really do not help. It would be naïve to invest money in learning optimal slot strategy when there is no way it can actually help you.

However, there are a few basic strategy points that you can follow. These have nothing to do with how you actually play the slot, in terms of what amount to wager, any special action to perform before hitting the Spin button, or anything like that. The basic strategy has to do with how you manage your money and handle the game. It will not help you win, but it will definitely help you cut down losses and bring a semblance of balance in your win-loss ratio. Most important, it will help you prolong your stay at the casino with just the initial finance you have set aside. Here are a few basic strategies you can adopt:

  • Read through the pay table and learn the game thoroughly before you play. You will then know what the different bonuses are and how to trigger them. Familiarity makes play easier.
  • Before you sit down to play a slot game, assign a budget to yourself, which means you know beforehand the exact amount of losses you are willing to entertain before calling it quits. And ensure that you stick to the budget.
  • With the budget you have, reason out the coin size that you want to play with. There are different options you can try out. For instance, you could place a high-value wager (high value compared to the overall budget that you have) and if you win, get back down to the low coin value wagers that you had planned.
  • Play long enough to be able to use the VIP program and the comp points that the casino offers. These give you more and higher bonuses.
  • If you are looking to play a progressive jackpot, make sure you bet maximum. But make sure you don’t spend all your money chasing the progressive jackpot.
  • If you are losing, do not play with the intention of recovering your losses. Chances are you will only lose far more than you would have with sensible budget-driven play.

While these are just some basic tips slots, you can find more tips in this article here that outlines Eleven Good Tips for Playing Online Slots.

Myths Associated with Slots

Because slots are not skill-based but luck-based games, there are a number of myths associated with them. This is only natural, because winning or losing is not in your control, you spin the wheel and leave it to fate. Here are three common myths related to slots.

Every slot gives you an equal chance of winning. This is not true at all. The element driving the outcome of a spin is a random number generator, a machine. It is programmed with a significant amount of winning and losing combinations. The winning combinations can be either big wins or small/medium wins: the sheer math of it ensures that the big win combinations will be minimal, which is why the odds of hitting them are lower. The higher chances are of losing or scoring small insignificant wins, just enough to keep you interested.

Progressive jackpots are hit only once in a blue moon. This is not true, as well. Every spin in a slot is completely independent of the preceding or succeeding spins. So it is highly possible that a progressive jackpot hit today may be hit again a couple of weeks later, and there is factual data to support this.

Slots are the worst games to play at an online casino. Quite the contrary, actually: they are fast, exciting, and have loads of features designed to help you score some wins. The RTPs are of a decent range – anywhere between 86% and 99% – and there are the progressive jackpots to try out, too!

Best Slots for Beginners

So which are the best slots for beginners to start with? That is a question that does not have a specific answer; it basically depends on the player and what he is looking for. Every software provider has a range of high quality 5 reel video slots that come with exciting features. So 5-reel video slots may be a good way to go. The games themselves are very simple to play and the paytable lists out all the features and what is required to trigger them.

If you are looking at an ideal slot to start off as a beginner, here are a few things that can help you zero in on one.

  • Check for slots with multiple paylines
  • Look out for slots that have a good range in terms of coin size; this gives you the flexibility to vary your bets.
  • Jackpot slots are tempting, but it may be a good idea not to go for them directly as a newcomer as many of them have the jackpot feature activated when you bet max only.
  • Try out slots with multiple bonus features and innovative features on the reels, as these will give you the chance to score more wins, even if they are smaller.
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