Slots Tournaments Strategy

It may come as a surprise to some of our readers that a straight-forward activity like slots tournaments comes with strategic guidelines. At the end of the day, tournament or no tournament, players simply pull a lever (or press a button) and wait for the slot machine to work its magic. The truth is that there is no effective strategy to playing slots on your own, but there are several tips, mostly involving bankroll management and choosing the best machine, that can improve your overall balance at the end of the day. When it comes to tournament play, however, other factors are involved, and strategy should be applied to your game.

The first thing to remember is that tournaments are played against other players and the clock. You are not battling a machine, but rather the other entrants to the tournament. With a guaranteed prize pool, it is irrelevant how many chips/credits you end up with. Remember: payouts are not in proportion to your winnings. They are according to your relative finishing position.

Based on the previous statement, it makes sense to follow these guidelines:

  • Play fast! That is the most important tip.
  • There are two basic types of slots tournaments, and playing fast is especially important when playing the more popular “designated machines, no chips” type. In these tournaments, once the time has run out credits you didn’t use are lost, and don’t count towards your winning, so speed is of the essence.
  • Don’t waste time counting your winnings. The casino will do that for you as soon as the tournament is over. You should spend whatever time you have pushing those buttons and spinning those wheels. This tip strongly applies to both types of tournaments.
  • Stay focused! Don’t waste valuable time worrying about other players. No one is ever eliminated during a tournament, and each player is sitting at his or her machine, so there really isn’t much going on. Just concentrate on using up your credits before the time is up.


The above guidelines only help you if your opponents are making mistakes and wasting time. It’s clear that using up your credits is optimal play, so you can expect all your opponents to be doing the same. The truth is, the important decisions are made before the tournament even begins.

When it comes to buy-in fees and payouts, there are three different kinds of tournaments:

  • Freerolls
  • Casino makes a profit
  • Casino pays out all entry fees


Understanding the difference between the three will help you enroll only in thouse tournaments that most greatly benefit you.

Freerolls are tournaments that don’t require an entry fee. They are very common in online poker rooms, but online slots freerolls are harder to come by. They can be found, however, in many brick-and-mortar casinos. For the casinos it’s a great way to attract people and get them used to playing slots. Sometimes freerolls are open to the general public, but most times they are an invitation-only affair. Casinos use these freerolls to reward loyal players, sometimes as part of a larger comps package.

The advantages of playing freerolls are obvious – you’re not risking anything other than your time, and you have a chance to win a real prize. You should look for freerolls if you want to enjoy the fun and thrill of slots play, without risking a thing.

If you are required to pay an entry fee to participate in a tournament, there are still two types you should look out for. Some tournaments pay out all the entry fees they have collected, splitting them amongst the top spots. In other cases, the casino facilitating the tournament will keep a cut, and that is how the casino makes a profit. Obviously, playing the first kind of tournament is to your advantage. Here is an example: suppose the entry fee is $10, and there are 25 people who signed up for the tournament. The total paid in entry fees is $250. If the casino keeps a cut, it will usually be around 10%, so in this case the prize pool will be $225. If the casino does not keep a cut, a total of $250 will be split amongst the winners. Obviously, the second option is better since you risk the same amount of money, but stand to win more.