The inquiries come in often – how do I find higher paying slot machines, also known as loose slot machines? It can be a difficult question to answer, especially when games don’t tend to tell you what they’re set to payout over time, and the same game at different casinos may be set to different payout options.
That said, there are some markers that you can look for that can give you a clear idea of games that will have a better overall payback and give you a better chance of achieving a good outcome.
1. Review Casino Payback Reporting
Most commercial markets have some form of casino payback reporting that is shared publicly with anyone who is interested. Some websites, such as state gaming commission sites, have historically provided that data in a way that is accessible to players to learn a bit about how things are changing over time.
In some more established markets like Atlantic City, Nevada and Connecticut, the payback data is more robust, but even in newer markets like Massachusetts, some basic payback data is out there.
2. Select a Higher Denomination Option
A review of that payback data we just discussed will surface a pretty standard finding – casinos tend to set payouts higher on higher denomination slots than lower ones. This is in part because the wagers tend to grow as well, although that’s not always the case – you can play three quarter slot machines on the same casino floor where a penny denomination machine maxes out at $10 or $20 a spin.
As such, you can identify games with higher denomination options that fit your budget, and take advantage of that to enjoy looser slots than if you were playing a penny denomination machine.
3. Spot Casino Marketing Promises
If a casino is making an intentional decision to offer loose slots relative to their competition, they’re going to go out of their way to make sure you know this. They will do this through their marketing in very clear and explicit language.
El Cortez is a great example of this – for years they’ve maintained a statistic on their website that notes how much looser they are vs. the Las Vegas strip on their slot machine payouts. And while that number has slowly shrunk with time, it’s still a significant difference between them and a strip casino, which can make a difference if you play a lot.
So casino marketing about loose slot machines can be a helpful way to identify a casino that has them. Just make sure it’s based on the data, as casinos will also market when they’re “voted” loosest slots, which is a purely subjective rating and not one based on the data.
4. Look For Signage Guaranteeing Loose Slot Machines
Sometimes casinos will use certain banks of machines as a marketing opportunity to draw more play. Here’s an example of a game where the machine notes its payback visible – 97% on this dollar machine.
If the game itself is marked with a specific payback, you can count on that machine to be set up with that payback. If there’s a sign on a bank of machines that specify payback, similarly you will be able to assure that the payback on those games is what it is shown to be.
But be careful – if a sign over a bank says “up to” as part of the language, that usually means only one or a smaller percentage of the bank is at that higher payout, and you won’t necessarily be able to discern which one(s) have that higher payback, or what the rest of them are set to be. Marketing language tends to be precise in casinos because they have to deliver on what is promised due to regulations.
5. Glance At Video Poker Pay Tables
Casinos that run a tighter ship tend to do so across their games, and similarly those that run a looser floor tend to do so across the games too. So with that in hand you can take a look at other, more transparent games for some intel.
While you generally can’t tell how much a slot machine will pay, you can tell what a video poker game will pay, because there’s only so many hand combinations in a single deck of cards and all of the game’s payouts are listed right on the screen.
This was a tip previously shared on a forum by Kevin Sweet, at the time a VP at the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas responsible for what was on their gaming floor:
Most of you know I’m a gambler myself, so I’m just as in tune with how a floor feels as you guys are. I basically look at a casino’s video poker paybacks to determine the type of floor the rest of the games are probably set at. Is the $1.00 and $5.00 poker set fairly, if so, I hope the rest of the floor is too.Kevin Sweet
While you won’t know exactly what the games pay, in relative terms you’ll have a better idea of what to expect. Using the information at your disposal, you can get a better sense of what to expect over time from your gambling sessions, and how to make the most of them.