Slot machines have become far more advanced in recent years. The average new game offers multiple features and a variety of betting options.
These extra frills are designed to make slots more entertaining. But you may be surprised to know that they can also save you money while playing.
This might come as a shock was considering that slots are considered the most addictive casino games. Their hooking features are a big reason for this belief.
I’ll admit that slots frills are designed to keep you in a trance. But I also want to discuss how there’s a good side to these features with regard to preserving your bankroll.
What Are Some Available Slots Bonuses & Special Features?
Before I begin covering how slot machine features help you save money, it’s worth going over what exactly you can expect in the way of bonuses and other extras.
Free spins were one of the first special features to be added to slot machines. A free spin is exactly how sounds in that you get free chances to win real money.
These spins are triggered by landing three or more scatter symbols anywhere on the reels. The number of free spins that you receive depends upon the game.
Generally speaking, though, you can expect to get anywhere from 10 to 20 free turns. You play these spins like normal, with the key difference being that you don’t have to actually wager anything.
Some games also offer other special elements during the free spins. You might get expanding wild symbols during this bonus, for example, which means that wild symbols expand to fill an entire column.
Many slots even allow you to retrigger free spins by landing three scatter symbols during the bonus.
Second Screen Bonus Round
Second screen bonus rounds have gained a lot of popularity in recent years. These rounds take you away from the normal reels and onto a new screen.
What’s exciting about second screen bonuses is that they let you play a unique game that has nothing to do spinning the reels. Instead, you get to enjoy everything from shooting objects to playing board games.
Here’s a brief description of the various types of second screen rounds that you’ll find in slots:
- Spin a wheel – You spin a prize wheel to win various payouts and other rewards.
- Pick’em round – You select objects in order to reveal prizes.
- Shooting – Shoot at targets through a first-person view to win payouts.
- Board game – Roll the dice to move your character across a prize-filled board.
- Skill-based game –Use skill to boost your chances of winning payouts.
Have you ever had the desire to turn a small payout into a larger prize? Gamble rounds give you this opportunity by allowing you to risk your current win for a bigger payout.
Any game with a gamble round lets you manually activate this feature after winning a prize. You, of course, don’t have to gamble your payout, but it’s nice having the option to do so.
Once you choose to gamble a payout, you’ll play a second screen game. These rounds usually revolve around a 50/50 opportunity, such as trying to choose a higher card than the dealer.
Here’s an example on how gamble rounds work:
- You win a payout worth five coins.
- You select the gamble option.
- You draw a single card, which turns out to be a 9.
- The dealer flips over a 7.
- You win, because your card is higher than the dealer’s.
- Your payout is doubled to 10 coins.
Also note that some gamble features allow you to choose whether you’d like to double or quadruple your prize. In the latter case, you’ll often select which card suit will be dealt (one in four chance).
Gamble rounds give off the appearance that you’re receiving equal odds when considering the payout and your chances of winning.
For example, trying to draw a higher card than the dealer gives you a 50% chance of winning in real life. Your odds of winning are 1:1 as long as you receive a 1:1 payout in this situation.
But gamble round outcomes are decided by a random number generator rather than true odds. Therefore, you might only have a 49% chance of drawing a higher card instead of a 50% chance.
Nevertheless, gamble features are still exciting. This is especially the case when you’d rather go for a larger prize over banking a few coins.
Rolling reels is a feature that gives you an opportunity to form more wins within the same round. Symbols from your first winning combination disappear, allowing icons from above to take their place.
Assuming the new icons dropping from above create another win, these symbols will also disappear and allow more icons to fall from above.
This helps you earn extra wins in a situation that would otherwise end the round.
Here’s an example on how rolling reels work:
- You spin the reels and get three gazelles in a winning pay line.
- The three gazelles disappear, allowing three lions to fall from above and form a new win.
- The three lions disappear, allowing three elephants to fall into their spots and create a new win.
- The three elephants disappear, and three mismatched symbols take their place.
- The round ends.
A normal slots game would see your turn and after you form a payout with the three gazelles. But thanks to the rolling reels, you’ve now collected two extra payouts.
It’s worth noting that rolling reel slots see you win on fewer spins. However, the payouts that you do collect can be massive when new wins continue forming within the same turn.
How Do These Slots Features Save You Money?
You can see how the features covered above can definitely add more entertainment to your gaming experience.
But how do they work to make your bankroll last longer? To answer this, I’ll start by looking at old-style slot machines.
Older slots were based on mechanical reels and had no special features. Instead, players were simply entertained by the pure act of gambling.
The problem with these games is that it was hard to add features given the limited potential of the mechanical design.
But in the 1970s, improving computer technology allowed casinos to roll out video slots. These machines give slots makers more control over what they can do in terms of graphics and features.
The first video slot machines weren’t amazing in terms of graphics and extra frills. But these games have improved immensely over the decades.
Today, you can play slot machines with 3D graphics and stellar features. This has helped make slots the king of casinos.
Besides entertainment, another by product of increased features involves more potential results. Rather than simply pulling a lever to see if you win or lose, you can generate different outcomes such as a second screen bonus or free spins.
These features break you out of the humdrum of spinning the reels over and over. More importantly, it takes time for the game to run through free spins, a bonus, or extra payouts due to rolling reels.
The fact that these extras slow down the game also prevents you from spinning the reels faster. Therefore, you’re saving money without even realizing it.
This is great if you’re a player who often falls into a slot machine trance and continues spinning the reels without thinking. Bonuses and other features automatically slow down the game so that you don’t have to worry about your play rate.
Here’s an example on how bonuses help preserve your bankroll:
- You perform 700 spins per hour on a game with no features.
- You bet $1 per spin.
- 700 x 1 = $700 wagered per hour
- House edge is 8%.
- 700 x 0.08 = $56 in hourly losses
- You perform 550 spins per hour on a slot with multiple features.
- 550 x 1 = $550 wagered per hour
- House edge is 8%.
- 550 x 0.08 = $44 in hourly losses
This isn’t to say that you should ignore bankroll management when playing slots with features. In fact, I’m going to offer some additional advice on bankroll management later.
But you can at least look forward to a slower game pace that still offers plenty of entertainment. Extra features not only serve to add more fun to a game, but they indirectly lower your theoretical losses.
Watch Out for High Minimum Spins
Slot machines with features aren’t always the angels that I’ve made them out to be. Sometimes games with the best features also have high minimum spin costs.
As you may know, many slots require a minimum spin in order to play. For example, you might have to bet at least a penny on all 50 lines of a game.
This leaves you wagering $0.50 on every round. And while you have lots of chances to win, the amount of money that you’re risking also adds up.
I personally like playing slots that have $0.25 minimum bets or lower. This allows me to get more play of my bankroll.
It’s easier to find slots with lower minimum spins at online casinos. Land-based casinos, on the other hand, feature slots that require up to $3 minimum wagers.
I’m not advocating that you completely avoid brick-and-mortar casinos for this fact. Some of the slot machines with the highest minimum spins are among the most entertaining.
Instead, I’m merely recommending that you take the minimum spin into account. Don’t blindly assume that a game with lots of features will save you money.
Slots Bankroll Management Advice
The first step to properly managing your slots bankroll is defining how much you can afford to lose. Slot machines are among the most volatile games in the casino, which raises the possibility that you can lose your bankroll in a short time span.
This makes it very important that you only set aside the money you can afford to lose. Look over your monthly income and bills/expenses to determine how much disposable income you have.
Then, take a percentage of your disposable income and put it towards slot machines. The percentage largely depends upon your personal preferences, but I don’t suggest putting any more than 20% of your extra money towards slots.
The next step is to figure out your theoretical losses per hour. This can be difficult when considering that slots – unlike less volatile games like baccarat and blackjack – feature wild swings every hour.
A good way to estimate your theoretical losses is to assume that you lose between 250 and 350 betting units per hour.
A betting unit simply refers to your average wager size. If you commonly play quarter slot machines, then your unit size should be $0.25.
Here’s an example on using this method to perform bankroll management calculations:
- You bet $0.25 per spin.
- You expect to lose 250 units per hour.
- 250 x 0.25 = $62.5 in hourly losses
- Your bankroll is worth $300.
- 300 / 62.5 = 4.8
- Your bankroll will last for theoretically last for 4.8 hours.
Earlier I mentioned how you’ll usually lose between 250-350 betting units per hour.
I suggest using the lower figure when dealing with a game that has several features. The gameplay will be slower, thus resulting in you being exposed less to the house edge.
Using general expected losses is fine when you’re dealing with a smaller bankroll. But you may want a more-accurate way to measure potential losses with a larger roll.
You should determine payout percentage for games in this case. Doing so isn’t hard with most online slots, because you can find their return to player (RTP) figures with relative ease.
If you want to know payback for Rival Gaming’s Cosmic Quest: Mission Control, for example, you can google “Cosmic Quest Mission Control RTP.” This brings up multiple results on the first page showing that Cosmic Quest: Mission Control offers 95.0% payback.
Finding payout percentages for land-based slot machines is nearly impossible. Gamemakers and land-based casinos don’t publish RTP for specific games.
But you can generally assume a game’s payback based on its coin denomination. Here are general ranges for each coin denomination:
- Penny slots = 88% to 91% RTP
- Nickel slots = 90% to 92% RTP
- Dollar slots = 93% to 95% RTP
- $5 slots = 94% to 96% RTP
- $25 slots = 95% to 97% RTP
Once you know your unit size and a game’s RTP, you can proceed to calculating how long your bankroll will last.
Here’s an example:
- You bet $1 per spin.
- You make 600 spins per hour.
- 600 x 1 = $600 per hour
- You’re playing a slot with 93% RTP (7% house edge).
- 600 x 0.07 = $42 in hourly losses
- You play for 5 hours.
- 42 x 5 = $210 in theoretical losses
Assuming you don’t like the size of your theoretical losses, you can do one of three things:
- Choose a game with higher payback.
- Choose a game with the most features.
- Select a slot with a lower minimum bet.
- Save more money for your bankroll.
It’s nice that you have multiple options with regard to improving the longevity of your bankroll. I personally recommend looking for a combination of higher RTP and smaller minimum wagers.
Of course, there’s always the chance that you’ll end up winning a huge payout and walk out of the casino with a large profit. But it’s best to be prepared in case you lose money like the average player.
The primary reason why you choose a slot with multiple features is because you want more entertainment value. But these extras also offer a nice side benefit by slowing down games and helping preserve your bankroll.
Obviously, you hope to win with slot machines. The reality, though, is that you’re playing negative expectation games that will see you lose money on average.
This is where it pays to have multiple features that slow down the game and add more excitement to the equation. Free spins, gamble rounds, second-screen bonuses, and rolling reels can all work to extend slots spins.
It’s hard to pinpoint exactly how much slower a slot will go when it has several extra frills. But you can definitely expect more time-consuming spins.
Of course, slow play rate isn’t the only thing that affects your theoretical losses. A game’s RTP and your minimum spin cost also play a role.
But if all other variables are equal, then you’ll lose less money when a game has additional features. Moreover, you’ll normally have a better time playing these slots as well.