When you walk up to a slot machine in a casino or log into an online casino and play the slots, it’s a battle between you and the machine to see who comes out the winner. Actually, even if you’re a professional, the machine will almost always come out ahead over the long term. That’s the way casinos make a profit. But for fun, you can sign up for a tournament where you’re playing against the other players. In the real world, one of the current tournaments is running at Cache Creek Casino in Brooks (Yolo County), for the next six weeks (it finishes at midnight on the 19th June).
Like most real-world tournaments, the casino has corralled a number of machines and members of the local slot club are rotated in every fifteen minutes to play for three minutes. The player who racks up the biggest score in those three minutes will be the winner. The total prize money fund is $200,000 with everyone in the top fifty winning at least $1,000.
Online, the same principles apply. Whoever enters the tournament is given a preset number of credits and a fixed time. The winner is the one who has the biggest total at the end of the allocated time. Some tournaments are free or by invitation – they are usually ways in which casinos reward the regulars who have a good spend online. The others have an entry fee. It is customary to return most of the stake money as prizes. This differs from the real world where the players may get other comps like drinks, meals or subsidised rooms in the hotel to offset any reduction in the prize money.
Obviously, if you have never tried a slots tournament, the best way to find out whether you enjoy one is to enter one that is free. The fact that you pay nothing up front and may still win a prize makes this format the most attractive for a beginner. The commercial rationale for the casino is that playing even a free tournament gets you playing in that casino. Once you are logged in, you are likely to play for real on either side of your allotted time, so the casino makes its money out of your other online time.
How do you play in a tournament? You need to be fast (and lucky). Whatever the time allocated, you must make sure you use all the credits you are given. The winner will have used all his or her credits, made the best decisions on holds, and been lucky with the draws. If you cannot get through your credits in the time, you are not going to win unless you are lucky enough to get some good scores. Always check the pay table before you start and make sure you aim for the best paying combinations. That means it’s all down to concentration and fast reflexes. As soon as you see the draw, you must be hitting the holds and draw button. If you slow down, you lose.
This high pressure may not be for you. If you’re playing for fun, this may be taking life too seriously. But if you do want to improve your skills, playing a tournament or two will get the adrenaline running and build up your speed and accuracy.