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How Do Online Slots Calculate Odds?

Slot games are known for being games of chance with randomized outcomes. There is no skill required to play the game, and there is no skill you can develop to improve your odds. Or, so it seems. You can do some things to improve your chances of winning to win slot games more often.

How online slots work

Every player has the same odds of winning in online slot games. There’s very little strategy in playing the game other than looking to match symbols along your play lines. Online slot machines have pre-programmed return to player ratios (RTPs). The software developer programs these.

If you’re playing slots in a casino online, your odds are usually better than playing a traditional slot machine. Online slots usually have high RTPs, with some games offering rates of over 90%. It’s important to understand one thing about RTPs. They don’t apply to short-term gameplay.

For example, if a slot game has an RTP of 90%, one might expect that you will have $90 out of every $100 of your bets returned to you, but this isn’t true. 90% of player bets in total will be returned, while the casino will retain an average of 10%. These rates apply in the long-term, over the lifetime of the game. The longer you play, the closer your return will match this percentage.

How to beat the odds in slots

Choose your game

No two slot games are exactly the same, and neither are their odds. You are more likely to see payouts if you play a game with a high RTP rate, so check the rates at your online casino before engaging in play.


Most online casinos offer free spins or bonus cash for signing up. Before you start betting on real money, you can use this as an opportunity to practice and get to know the game. Bonus rounds on slot games are a good way to hone your skills with extra spins.

Check the paytable

Every slot game comes with a paytable that shows you what the symbols are worth and the most lucrative combinations.

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Set and stick to a budget

This may be the most important piece of advice for playing online slots. Before you start playing, set a budget that you can afford to lose. Think of it as “entertainment spending” and don’t have expectations to win. If you reach your maximum spending budget, it’s time to stop playing.

Look for smaller jackpots

Games with smaller jackpots tend to pay out more frequently than those with large ones. If you’re satisfied with playing the game for fun, you can usually stretch your dollars further on smaller games rather than chasing big money.

The House Always Wins

The most important concept to understand when playing online slots is that their odds are pre-determined. The player or the casino can’t alter them, and the games are based on chance. Choosing your game wisely and gambling responsibly can help sway the odds in your favor, but the old adage of “the house always wins” still applies.

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