There is one unchangeable rule of gambling that all players should know: the house always wins.
But this quote is often misunderstood. Contrary to what many believe, it doesn’t mean that the house will beat every single player every time they play.
If this was the case, there would be no jackpot wins, and no professional gamblers. What this rule really means is that for every 1 player who goes on to win big, many more will lose. The house wins because there are more losers than winners, and your goal as a player is to become part of that small group of winners.
This is easier with some games than it is with others. Poker and blackjack, for instance, can be beaten with knowledge and skill; sports betting is based on knowledge, experience and analysis. Some of the toughest games to beat are slots and other interactive games.
But “tough” doesn’t mean impossible, and in this guide we’ll show you several ways you can increase your chances of winning big playing interactive games.
How to Beat Slots
First-up, it’s the turn of real money slots, which are consistently the most played interactive games on online casinos. These attract casual players and experienced players alike and there are thousands of different games out there.
1. Study the Payouts
All online slots have a fixed payout, which is often displayed in the form of a percentage. This percentage amount is typically between 95% and 98%. It rarely goes lower than 90% and it never goes higher than 100%. The higher it is, the better the slot is, as it tells players how many games they can expect to win.
For instance, if the game has a payout of 98%, you can expect to win 98 out of 100 times. This doesn’t mean that you will always get this return, but rather it’s a ratio you can use to determine how profitable a game is.
If you want to consistently beat real money slots then you need to focus on the games that have the highest percentages, or at the very least avoid the ones with percentages less than 95%.
These payouts are known as Return to Player (RTP) averages and all slots have them. If you can’t find them on the slot itself, then look for the audit report that was performed on the casino and/or its software developer.
You can also find the average payout on any given casino by looking at our casino reviews here.
2. Focus on the Bonuses
Welcome bonuses can go a long way to improving your chances of getting a return. You’re basically playing with free cash after all. Think of it this way, slots have a very high payout but typically tip the balance in the casino’s favour over the long-haul.
By playing with a matched deposit bonus you’re basically doubling your chances of getting a return, which means you have more chances of getting that single big win that makes all of the difference and secures you a big payout.
It’s not just the welcome bonuses either. Everything from free spins to loyalty bonuses are essential to getting you a big return. Any time you play for free, you’re generating a profit with every penny won on every spin.
3. Don’t Forget Variance
Variance is one of the most important yet overlooked aspects of online slot machines. It’s potentially even more important than RTP, and is essential that you get it right.
Variance refers to the frequency of wins. A slot with Low Variance is one that provides regular small wins, while a slot with High Variance is one that provides irregular large wins.
This is important in two different areas:
- Stake: If you are sitting down to play a long game, one that involves hundreds of spins, then High Variance is okay. If your goal is to sit down and play for just a dozen or so spins, Low Variance is the way to go.
- Play-Through Rate: When working your way through a play-through rate you need to focus on Low Variance, as that will have the least impact on your balance while still helping you to chip away at the wager amount.
4. Don’t Let the Aesthetics Fool You
Online casinos like to distract you from poor odds by using big graphics. This is very common today, and it’s a technique employed by name big developers.
We actually really like some of these developers and the games that they provide, but make no mistake about it, those big 3D graphics are there to entertain only and to take your money while you are being entertained.
We understand why players are drawn to these games. We are as well. But more often than not, the games that pay the most are the games that have the most basic graphics.
5. Quit While You’re Ahead
There are a lot of conspiracy theories out there concerning online slot machines. Some believe they are all rigged, others believe that the house has a considerably bigger edge than they admit.
None of these are true. The industry is so tightly regulated that this just doesn’t happen. However, there is one conspiracy that we are glad to admit to, as we have noticed it ourselves.
It concerns the fact that many slot machines seem to pay out a lot of money when you first play them, and then quickly dry up. It’s uncanny how many times this happens—you can almost set your watch by it.
You have likely been there yourself. You sit down to play, things go okay for a short while, but nothing amazing happens. Then you hit a winning streak. The random bonus features keep landing, you keep getting the big hits on the Choose-Me games, and you secure a big profit.
Then, spurred on by those wins, you play some more, only to hit a losing streak that lasts until you have no money left.
There is motive for this technique, because casinos know that players will not give up if they are winning a lot of money. In fact, many will happily lose all of their money and then deposit money assuming that their winning streak will continue.
As for the legality and fairness, well, there may be something to that as well.
Even if you dismiss the suggestion that the games are rigged to pay out big and then to dry up, you have to admit that the variance and the payout would cause such a pattern. In other words, if a slot machine pays out a lot of money, then it needs to put a stop on things in order to balance the payouts.
As a player, you can take advantage of this by quitting when you’re ahead and moving onto another slot. As soon as the wins dry up and your suspicions are aroused, quit, move on, and let the good times roll.
How to Beat Other Interactive Games
While online slots are the biggest and most popular type of real money interactive game, they are not the only ones. There are a wealth of other interactive games on modern online casinos, and as with slots, there are ways you should play these to maximise your chances of winning.
Virtual Sports Betting Games
These games can be found on most sports betting sites right now. They are virtual games that are played every few minutes and let you bet on certain markets.
They include football games where you can bet on Win/Lose/Draw markets and horse racing games where you pick a winner.
There is really no way to get the better of these consistently, but experience tells us that you should quit as soon as you are ahead as the variance can turn on you quickly. It is also important to stick with the 50/50 markets in football and to bet on the short-priced horses in horse racing.
Also, don’t get excited if your horse leads the race until the last few seconds, only to lose. It’s not a sign that you came close, it’s just the way these games are programmed. The casino wants to give you that “close call” as they know it will cause you to play more games.
We discussed strategies for beating video poker in our guide to consistently winning at card games (see here), so we won’t go into detail again here. But there are a couple of important things to consider:
- Understand the rules and hand values.
- Focus on expected value.
- Play games with fewer hands, not more.
- Sign-up to a loyalty scheme and stack-up those loyalty points.
Keno and Bingo
The only useful advice we can give when it comes to beating keno and bingo is to always opt for the latter instead of the former. Keno is a sound game that can win you a lot of money, but it is played against the house and they have a significant edge over you.
Bingo, on the other hand, is played against other players and they have as much chance of winning as you do. Technically, the odds of a return are smaller, but the game has a fairer and more balanced setup all round and it’s definitely the game you should be focusing on if you want regular wins.
Exchange games are exclusive to BetFair. They are based on the BetFair exchange system, but instead of taking bets on sports and other such outcomes, the bets are taken on games like Hi-Lo.
The good thing about these games is that they are played against other players, as opposed to the house. This means that you don’t have to overcome additional odds—a coin flip really is a coin flip. To understand what we mean by this, and to learn more about overcoming these games, read on.
House vs Player
If you play a game of poker against another player then you are relying entirely on your skill and your ability to beat them. It’s a game that incorporates patience, psychology, skill and knowledge. You can get the better of them by out bluffing them, out playing them, or just needling them until they crumble.
You are always on an even playing field, and can always get the better of them even when luck isn’t entirely on your side. Got a bad run of cards? It doesn’t matter, just bide your time until things pick up.
It’s different when you play against the house. They take large antes and other initial bets, they can not be bluffed, and they always have the cards in their favour.
This is true even when you are playing against a real dealer in a real casino setting. The casino doesn’t want to have to rely on the skill of that dealer. If they did, it would be possible for them to lose large sums of money, and that’s just not how casinos work.
So instead they create games that require no dealer skill, games where the dealer just has to play by the book and still has the edge over the player. If you want to really exceed in an online or offline casino, you need to avoid these games in favour of games that are played against other players.
Even if those games are luck-based, like bingo, they still give every player a chance and are therefore always preferable.