Top 5 Mistakes Rookies Make When Playing Slots


The most popular of all the online casino games, real money slots, is also one of the most beginner-friendly with this in mind, we’re looking at 5 rookie mistakes to avoid when playing slots. Both land-based and online casinos often offer hundreds of slot games, and with no skill involved, players can enjoy gambling without pressure to learn strategy.

Yet being beginner-friendly is not the same as being player-friendly. Slots are incredibly lucrative for casinos because they do not pay out 100% of what players put in. Coupled with the low number of staff needed to oversee the machines (compared to table games), it’s no surprise that casinos encourage players to spin the reels.

None are more susceptible to the allure of slots than new gamblers, attracted by their bright lights, simplicity, and often large jackpots. Here are the top mistakes rookie slots players make, and how to avoid them:

1) Not Checking RTP

Whether you play in person or online, no slot machine pays out 100% of what players put in. If they did, the casinos would go out of business pretty quickly! The Return to Player rate (RTP) is a percentage figure showing how much of the money wagered is paid out to players in the long term. For example, if a slot machine has a 95% RTP rate, it pays players 95% of the sum of the wagers made. The remaining 5% is kept profit for the casino, also known as the house edge.

Rookie players tend not to look at the RTP, but it’s incredibly important! RTP rates on machines vary hugely, from around 75% – 99.5%. Thankfully, most casino licensing bodies require operators to make the RTP rate available to gamblers. When playing online, this is usually written in the ‘additional information’ section of the game, though it may also be under the ‘terms and conditions.’

We recommend never playing slots games with less than a 97% RTP rate.

2) Ignoring Volatility

It’s a common misconception amongst rookies who know about RTP, that playing at games with a high one will mean they win more often. That’s simply not the case. The reality is that the RTP and the game’s volatility are two different things. While an RTP is an indication of how much the player can expect to be paid out in the long term, the game’s volatility is an indication of how often players can expect to win.

Some games payout small amounts to players regularly – these are said to have low volatility. Some games payout huge jackpots very infrequently – these are said to have high volatility.

Highly volatility slots are best for those playing the long game. These slots take a lot of patience and nerves of steel. It may take a long time for players to strike a win, though when they do, it will (in theory!) be much bigger. Low volatility games offer less risk. Generally speaking, players will find little wins every so often. Big wins are rare in low volatility games, but not impossible! Rookies should keep in mind the types of games they want to play, research accordingly using online casino reviews, to make sure you play at safe online casinos.

Both online and brick-and-mortar casinos offer hundreds of slots games.

person playing video slot at casino

Someone playing 5-reel video slots.

3) Skipping Jackpots

Most rookies will play slots games that appeal to them aesthetically. While this is a great way to choose, it’s not the only factor to consider! As we’ve already discussed, in the long term, the RTP for slots is always less than 100%. This means that players can expect to get back less than they gave in. A fair exchange perhaps, given the hours of fun and thrills that slots can provide!

However, if you’re looking to make money from slots, know that it is very difficult. Your best hope is to play games with sizeable jackpots, or at least find a free spins casino. Some of the jackpots online are truly life-changing sums. Why would you play for any less?

4) Disregarding Paylines

Paylines are the horizontal lines on a slot machine that indicate different ways to win. In the early days of slots, there were three reels and just one payline which went straight across. These traditional slots can still be found online, but slots with multiple paylines have become much more common because they offer players more ways to win.

Rookies tend to ignore paylines. While this is okay at some slot machines where the paylines are fixed, they are seriously hindering their play at others! Some slots (usually progressive jackpots) ask players to choose how many paylines they’d like to play on. The number of paylines acts as a multiplier on the stake made. Often players are ineligible for the jackpot unless they’re betting the max amount and playing on the maximum number of paylines. Be sure to check the terms and conditions of the game you are playing to discover exactly what the rules are.

That said, we only recommend playing with the maximum number of paylines if your bankroll allows for it. If it doesn’t, try finding a game with a lower max bet limit. Failing that, bet on fewer paylines and keep your fingers crossed for a moderate win!


5) Lacking Bankroll Strategy

Many rookies make the mistake of betting too much, too quickly. Slots software doesn’t take into account previous spins when deciding the outcome of each play, so you have an equal chance of winning each time you spin. By nature of the complete randomness of each spin, hitting a losing streak in slots is common. This means that when rookies don’t manage their bankroll well, it can deplete incredibly quickly — especially if you don’t take advantage of a casino bonus or no deposit bonus.

If you’re looking to play slots for a while, play with low stakes. There is such a wide variety of games online, you’ll be able to find ones offering as low as $0.01 bets. Set yourself a session budget, and once that money has run out, stop playing.

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