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Is there a magic number for winning on slots?


Slot players are always on the look out for the magic formula to guarantee winnings. This is of course impossible because of the very nature of the random number generator. However there are still little things that can help us improve our chances. The first of course is to play slots with higher theoretical return to player percentages (we have more than covered that aspect in our massive return to player database).

Another essential bit of knowledge is knowing how a slot plays and pays, this is achieved through free money slots play. But what more knowledge can we gain? Well if you sat down and recorded a billion spins on a given slot you can very accurately work out the average feature bonus hit frequency and average feature bonus win value. Of course who has the time for that? The best we can do is work on thousands of spins rather than millions or billions. And in theory we should get pretty close to the actual real numbers.

Apart from knowing the bonus hit frequency it is probably useful to know the average big win hit frequency. Basically arm yourself with as muh knowledge as possible so you can figure out a strategy. And hopefully figure out a magic number of spins for the point of doubling or trebling your stake size.

Now as I say, there are a lot of players who focus only on the bonus hit frequency and who if that magic number is 150, they will bet say 20 cents per spin for 150 spins then ramp up the bet size to say 90 cents per spin if the bonus round hasn’t dropped yet. Now in theory this can be a sound strategy a lot of the time, particularly on some of the older generation online slots whose mathematics was a little simpler and therefore were slightly more predictable and consistent. But still all that needed to happen was landing a few bad bonus rounds in a row and/or a lengthy run of 300 spins or more without landing the bonus and this strategy has gone out of the window.

Yet even if we have experienced this, we still keep trying and trying again! To this end I am going to do 2 case studies on NetEnt slots. 2,000 spins on Steam Tower and 4,000 spins on Wild Water.

Online Slot Bonus Hit Frequency Case Study 1:

Let’s do a little case study now. We know that NetEnt the Steam Tower slot has a very frequent landing free spins bonus. The average bonus hit frequency for this slot is reported as somewhere between 70 and 90 spins. So I will set up the slot on quick spin, do two sets of 1,000 spins and record the results.

Starting Spin Number Spins Till Bonus Bonus Win Bonus Win x Stake
1810 190 36.89 35.13
1752 58 12.52 11.92
1668 84 14.63 13.93
1544 124 35.56 33.87
1384 160 5.6 5.33
1353 31 60.62 57.73
1318 35 22.61 21.53
1247 71 23.1 22
1207 40 30.87 29.4
1147 60 35.35 33.67
1057 90 23.15 22.05
1032 25 102.27 97.4
932 100 32.76 31.2
749 183 15.54 14.8
747 2 26.11 24.87
677 70 22.75 21.67
570 107 62.58 59.6
503 67 28.49 27.13
471 32 21.28 20.27
460 11 52.57 50.07
434 26 15.82 15.07
431 3 29.89 28.47
305 126 19.95 19
292 13 11.13 10.6
146 146 7.56 7.2
25 121 18.54 17.66

From the above table we can see that the longest we went without landing the free spins was 190 spins with other barren runs being 183, 160 and 146 spins. The shortest time between free spins landing was 2 and 3 spins.

The highest free spins win was 97.4 times stake with 3 other free spins rounds winning over 50 time stake. Only 2 lots of free spins gifted us less than 10 times our stake. So overall a reasonably consistent offering.

Starting Balance = 5,000
Balance after 1,000 spins = 4,802 RTP over 1,000 spins = 80%
Balance after 2,000 spins = 4,717 RTP over 1,000 spins = 91.5%

Now we should take into account our overall return to player that this slot gave us. I have separated this per 1,000 spins to make it easier. If the long term return to player had panned out over this short period of time then we would have expected to have only lost 100 euros over the test period. We lost nearly 6 times that amount so this wasn’t the greatest of runs we were having. Not terrible but not very good.

25 from 2000 = once every 80 spins
Average Free Spins Win = 29.26 x stake


So now we get to the good stuff. The bonus hit frequency during our test run was 80 spins and out average payout from free spins was 29.26 times stake. If we try and close in on the real theoretical return to player I would say that you can probably guesstimate figures of:

Bonus hit frequency = every 75 spins

Average free spins win = 30 times stake.

The magic number for Steam Tower:

So armed with the above information, can we work out one single magic number? Is 75 spins our magic number? Well if we were to double our stake on 75 spins then we would only get the timing right 3 times out of 11 that went over 75 spins (when the bonus landed on 84, 90 and 100 spins) and if we doubled our stake on 150 spins then we would have a 1 in 3 success rate (when the bonus landed on spin 160).

I think with this example we would probably have ended up worse off working with this strategy as the bonus wins on those times we got it “right” were poor on average. Our biggest win came at the lowest stake level.

If we went with doubling our stake every 100 spins then I think we would have done equally poorly.

Looking through all the data I think the best return might have been had if we had gone 1.05 for 50 spins, 2.10 for the next 50, 3.15 for the next 50 and 4.20 for the following 50 spins. But the results are far from conclusive without knowing what happened in between the bonus rounds.

As an experiment I may well do 2,000 ish spins with this strategy later on.

Online Slot Bonus Hit Frequency Case Study 2:

Our second case study is running 4,000 spins on NetEnt’s Wild Water slot. Now I’ve heard from some sources that the bonus hit frequency is as low as 125 however I would have said it was closer to 150. But we’ll see what results the test throws up. I have set the slot up once again to do quick spin and to make it easy I’ve gone with a simple 1.00 per spin stake.

Starting Spin Number Spins Till Bonus Bonus Win Bonus Win x Stake
3848 152 46.85
3793 55 30.85
3332 461 22.2
3212 120 31.55
3036 176 172.45
2753 283 10.85
2726 27 5.4
2388 338 54.45
2034 354 23.85
1854 180 25.8
1668 186 23.95
1161 507 6
812 349 67.55
-45 857 2

Ouch. That was harsh, painful, tight. A really awful run. As you can see I ended up spinning 4045 spins in order to land that last free spins round, not that it was worth the wait as it was the worst of the lot only paying 2 times stake!!!

Biggest win was a very healthy 172 times stake, not the biggest I have seen, I’ve landed a fair few wins over the 400 times stake during my time playing this slot.

Longest period without landing a bonus was a nightmare 857 spins.

Balance after 1000 spins = 4870 RTP over 100 spins = 87%
Balance after 2000 spins = 4527 RTP over 100 spins = 66%
Balance after 3000 spins = 4140 RTP over 100 spins = 61%
Balance after 4000 spins = 3907 RTP over 100 spins = 77%

Feel the pain. This was truly an epic slot fail king of run. This kind of run would be enough to bankrupt anyone. There’s no other way around it, this was awful.

14 from 4045 = once every 289 spins
Average Free Spins Win = 37.41

This run was so bad that there’s not a great deal we can really conclusively draw from the results. The bonus hit frequency of once every 289 spins flies in the face of our previous estimate. However given our overall return to player over this period we could argue that an average run would have given us far more free spins rounds. I think that the average free spins win is reasonable but as I say there are some huge wins to be had here so I’m going to stick my finger out and go with the following averages:

Bonus hit frequency = every 200 spins

Average free spins win = 40 times stake.

These numbers are by no means accurate but this is a high volatility online slot which is why the numbers can vary so hugely.

The magic number for Wild Water:

Well this is tough to even consider. The fact that the session was so bad means any “magic number” would only be limiting the damage. There were also 2 wins during the base game of 100x stake and unfortunately I didn’t note down when these occurred.

But looking at damage limitation I think the best single number I can come up with from the data is 750.

Magic number conclusions:

The data I have gathered here is far from conclusive and the variation in the data between the two slots proves that each individual slot requires its own unique strategy. And the data also proves that losing runs can be ridiculous, meaning it is really all down to a lot of luck.

If I were to pick anything that stands out between the two slots, it is that number 750 which could have been applied to both slots in one form or another. It is also a number that you can probably apply to a good number of high variance slots like Jack and The Beanstalk and Gonzo’s Quest from NetEnt, as well as Microgaming classics like Jurassic Park, Immortal Romance and slots of that calibre. You can also take that number and throw it into Playtech’s classic Marvel series of progressive jackpot slots. In fact this is a number so vague and relatively large that you could probably apply it on most slots. Why? Well just work on the percentages, 750 / 751 * 100 is 99.8668% meaning statistically you have a chance of the random number generator throwing up one spin that high which is going to equate to a big win.

But that all certainly does not make 750 a magic number. If I really had to summarise the information we have so far I would have to say this was a complete waste of time! However one thing I still have left to do it test out the 50 spin magic number on Steam Tower.

The Steam Tower slot test:

I am going to make this easy for myself and have a starting spin stake of a nice round €1.50 per spin. If I fail to win free spins within 50 spins I will up the stake to €3.00, if I fail again I will up it to €4.50 for 50 spins then €6.00, etc:

1 – 50 = €1.50
51 – 100 = €3.00
101 – 150 = €4.50
151 – 200 = €6.00
201 – 250 = €7.50
251 – 300 = €9.00
301 – 350 = €10.50
351 – until free spins drops = €12.00 (max stake)

I am limiting this at 8 times original stake as that’s really as far as I would dare to go. I am using a base unit of €1.50 as this will nicely illustrate whether or not this magic number works very well or terribly. For real money play unless I had a huge balance I would be more inclined to use a base unit stake or 0.15 or 0.30

The test will end once I have won 10 lots of the free spins bonus.

Ready? Let’s go!

Stake when free spins won Free spins win Win times Stake
1 10.5 409.5 39
2 1.5 48.8 32.53333333
3 3 64.6 21.53333333
4 1.5 76.5 51
5 1.5 57.7 38.46666667
6 1.5 83 55.33333333
7 1.5 58.4 38.93333333
8 3 72 24
9 1.5 138.5 92.33333333
10 3 81.6 27.2
  Starting Balance 5000
Ending Balance 4480

Well how’s about that then. A massive massive loss. Basically before the first free spins win the balance was way down at around 3,600 and the free spins win managed to only get the balance back up to 4k. There was basically no going back from there. Everything went brilliantly according to plan after that and we managed to recoup more than €400 over the next 9 drops. But that is the problem with a martingale type of beting system. All it takes is one bad run and you have no way back.

All of which leads me really nicely into the complete opposite strategy, and one which I actually do use very often when playing real money slots.

Backing Your Wins – The Anti-Martingale Slot Strategy

There is a school of slot thought dedicated to backing your wins. That meaning if you get a good win, double or treble your stake for a few spins. Then return to normal again.

If we take a look at Steam Tower we could argue that we can use our magic number 50 but the opposite way round. Simply take a 2 stake strategy, 2.10 and 1.05. We start off at the lower stake until we hit free spins for a first time. After free spins we double our stake for 50 spins but if free spins don’t land we then lower the stake back to normal again.

In this manner we take advantage of the times the feature drops close to the previous one but we make it impossible to get hurt too badly by long long barren runs.

Take the original 2,000 spins as an example.

For the 15 times the feature landed after 50 spins we averaged 67.13 spins at 1.05 plus 50 spins at 2.10

For the 10 times the feature landed before 50 spins we averaged 21.8 spins at 2.10

Would the overall result have been different? Probably not much different but I suspect we would have ended up closer to break even.

But if we take a look at the second test we did. The 1400 loss made running up to the first lot of free spins would have been significantly lower. The loss would still have been significant but would have been a quarter of what it was in this example. The 350 loss would have been clawed back easily. But take it a step further and when you see that 6 of the other 9 free spins rounds dropped in within 50 spins (double stake) then you will see that with this strategy in this second example we would actually have ended up being healthily in the profit. My guess would be around €500 profit.

Final Word

The choice is entirely yours as to exactly how you want to play the slots. And everything depends upon which slot you play. But I think the data shown here shows that the martingale system is far too high risk. The double down or backing your wins strategy is on the other hand something worth considering. But please please test it out on various slots in demo mode before you consider using it on real money slots.

And finally, every slot is different. One strategy or one not so magic number does not fit all!

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