How to Play Slots in Vegas

How to Play Slots in Vegas

So you want to know how to play slots in Vegas?

This post has the most detailed, accurate how to play slots in Vegas guide on the internet.

You’ll start by choosing a slot machine from an endless line-up of gambling machines. Most of the actual physical actions involved in playing these games are obvious to anyone.

But you should still be aware of some of the features of a real, physical slot machine in Las Vegas.

Knowing How to Play Slots in Vegas Begins with Understanding the Machine

Slot machines are really nothing more than computers with fancy facades.

But that facade is important because it’s what motivates you to play.

Most slot machines in Las Vegas have — at a minimum — the following bells and whistles:

  • Paytable
  • Lever
  • Spin button
  • Ticket in ticket out system
  • Spinning reels with symbols
  • A readout displaying the number of coins played, the number of coins you have left in the machine, and how much you won on your last spin
  • Cashout button
  • Betting amount buttons
  • Denomination label

The Physical Slot Machine Features to Understand

The paytable is a list of the possible symbol combinations and how much each combination pays out. It’s usually at the top of the machine, but it’s also sometimes hidden on the computer screen and must be triggered by a button that says show the paytable.

The paytable also shows the configurations of the paylines if the game has multiple lines.

The lever sets the reels to spinning, but most people just use the spin button nowadays.

The ticket in ticket out system is how you get money in and out of the slot machine. Modern Vegas slots no longer use coins, and they pay out in tickets that you can cash in at one of the machines for that purpose. Also, you can feed the tickets into the machines in lieu of cash.

The spinning reels are just for show, but they’re what determine your payout. The symbol combinations correspond to specific numbers generated by the computer powering the machine — the random number generator (RNG).

The readout shows how much money you have in the machine and how much you’re risking on each spin. It also shows you how much you won on the last spin.

The cashout button enables you to collect your cash when you’re done playing. It triggers the ticket in ticket out system to print you a ticket.

The betting amount buttons enable you to decide how much you’re betting per line and per spin.

The denomination label is a sign posted on the front of the machine that indicates what denomination equals a single coin. For example, if the game has a red sticker on it that reads $1, you know you’re playing a game where 1 credit is the same as $1.

The First Thing You Should Do When You’re Learning How to Play Slots in Vegas

The first thing you should do when you’re learning how to play slots in Vegas is carefully read the payable. It’s just a grid that shows the possible symbol combinations you can wind up with along with how much each combination pays.

You need to read this so that you know which symbols to hope for. If you don’t understand which symbols trigger which payouts, any Vegas slot machine is unbelievably boring.

You also need to understand how the payouts work so that you can decide how many coins to wager and how much you can win by making that wager.

The ticket in ticket out system enables you to input cash or tickets from other machines. The computer in the machine converts that cash into credits based on the denomination of the machine.

Here’s an example:

You’re playing on a 25-cent machine — a quarter slot game. You feed a $100 bill into the game. You get 400 credits, each of which is worth 25 cents.

All the payouts on the game are measured in these units, too.

Always Join the Slot Club and Play with the Slot Club Card Inserted

One of the features I didn’t mention earlier (but should have) is the card reader for your slot club card. Some casinos also call this the players club card. Either way, you should always have one, and you should always play with your card inserted.

This card is how the casino tracks how much wagering you’re doing. They use this data to assign you comps, rebates, and rewards.

Always sign up for the club.

Always play with the card inserted.

The slot club card is your passport to the world of slot machine junkies. Slots are purely about entertainment value, and playing with the card inserted provides you with more entertainment.

Here’s how:

In 1985, slot club cards became popular in Atlantic City. Slot machines were just undergoing a boom time, then. The casino was able to reward frequent gamblers easily with this scheme.

Signing Up for the Slots Club and Getting Comps

The comps you earn playing slots have nothing to do with how much money you’ve lost. They don’t care how much you’ve won, either.

The card does provide the following data to the casino, though:

  • What denomination you’re playing
  • How much money you inserted
  • How long you spent on the machine
  • What amount of money you’ve played through the machine

The casino is counting on getting is projected win from the aggregate slot players, though, so they don’t care how much you win or lose.

You get your rewards based on how much money you wager.

Signing up is easy. You just go to the slot club booth and fill out a short form with your name, address, phone number, and email address. That gets you on the casino’s mailing list, and they’ll start sending you coupons and freebies just to encourage you to come play.

They’ll also ask for your birthday so they can send you something free for your special day, too.

The people at the slots club booth will be super-helpful. They’ll even give you an extra, duplicate slot club card.

Cashback, Comps, and Rebates

Once you get your card, try it out. Insert it into a slot machine, insert some money, and spin the reels a few times just to get the feel of the game. Don’t forget to take the slot club card with you when you finish, too.

Here’s what you can expect to get from the casino — all based on how much you play:

  • Free meals
  • Discounted (or free) hotel stays
  • Presents from a casino host
  • Free entries into slot machine tournaments
  • Concert and event tickets
  • Free slot machine spins
  • Cashback
  • Rebates

Getting this free stuff is possibly the best thing about playing slot machines.

But don’t fall into this trap:

Some slots players play beyond their means to try to win more free stuff.

How the Comps Are Awarded

Different casinos have different formulas for awarding comps. If you’re unclear about how you earn points, most casinos have a slots club host who will happily explain the program to you.

Don’t expect to get treated like a VIP just because you signed up and put $100 into a slot machine. The casino starts paying attention to you after you’ve brought them $2000+ in action.

That’s easy to do, though, since most players get in 600 spins per hour on these games. Even if you’re only playing for 25 cents a spin, that adds up fast.

In fact, a slots player who spends a lot of time at the casino playing the quarter machines is worth more than a blackjack player betting $25 per hand.

Basically, the rewards are based on the amount of action you put through the machine. It might be converted to points, and those points are based on a tiny percentage of your action — like 0.2% or 0.3%.

For example, if you’re betting 3 coins per spin on a quarter machine, you’re betting 75 cents per spin 600 times per hour.

That’s $450 per hour in action.

If the reward rate were set for 0.2% of your action, you’d get $0.90 per hour in rewards.

How to Play Slots in Vegas Like a Smart Gambler

The first trick for a smart slot machine player is to choose the right game. This isn’t as easy as some gambling writers make it out to be. For example, a lot of people claim that the games on the ends of the banks of slot machines pay out better.

That’s not true and shouldn’t bear on your decision.

You should, instead, try to find the games with the best payback percentage. The payback percentage is the amount you mathematically expect to keep out of the long run.

Also, the payback percentage is just the house edge subtracted from 100%.

The payback percentage for slot machines is a mystery to the player, by the way, although the casinos do have specific minimums. In Nevada, the worst possible payback percentage is 75%. That’s still a whopping 25% house edge.

Competition has made various casinos offer better payback percentages. In Vegas, the best payback percentages are at the casinos on the Strip.

Those are the games you should choose, because their payback percentages hover around 95%.


If you never read another post about how to play slots in Vegas, you’re well-armed for your next casino visit.

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