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What Are The Best (And Worst) Slot Machines To Play?

Introduction to Slot Machine RTP

When it comes to smart slot machine play, the first thing you'll hear touted is something known as “RTP” or the Return-To-Player metric. This number should be sacred to any slot machine player looking to maximize their chances at striking it rich with those ever elusive jackpots. RTP signifies the payback to players based on the amount of money they input, on average. As a player, you really want to make sure your RTP is as high as possible. It is without question your single best chance at coming out ahead.


The RTP is often denoted as a percentage payback or as a payback of cents on the dollar. For this article, we'll use the percentage symbol. Most slot machines around the world will vary from as little as 80% RTP to numbers as high as 98% or sometimes even higher in rare situations. These rare situations will often involve progressive jackpots which we will get to shortly on in the article. The RTP calculation is the expected long term payback that a machine will give out over time. For instance, if you put $1,000 into a machine with a 95% RTP, you would expect, over the long run, to get back $950. This number, however, can be hugely overcome by luck (for instance, with a jackpot win) or can come with worse results if you are unlucky. 95% RTP in this example would just be a statistical average and by no means certainty.

Before we begin, it's also important to decide what type of slot machines we are talking about when referring to the “best” slot machines since that will depend on the player. The two major design choices for an avid slot player are as follows:

  • Progressive Slot Machines / Standard Slot Machines

  • Brick & Mortar Live Slot Machine Experience / Online Slots Experience

Progressive slot machines will tend to have very large jackpot prizes but that will come at the price of not winning as often for the slot machine player. So if you are the type of user that wants a rare moon shot at life changing money, you should probably go for progressive slot machines. Meanwhile if you would prefer more consistent and smaller wins, you should go for standard payback machines.

The interesting thing about progressive slot machines is that their RTP will vary over time. The higher the progressive jackpot becomes, the higher the RTP is to the player. Interestingly, if the RTP becomes high enough in rare situations, it can actually earn you money in the long term with a positive RTP. However, knowing when this is the case is a tricky proposition since these types of numbers aren't usually published to the public and is also beyond the scope of this article.

Nonetheless, with your slot machine experience, be that online or live, that will depend entirely upon your preferred style of play. Some players may want to be immersed in a specific kind of fun Vegas casino style atmosphere, while others may want to play from home or shelter themselves away from the coronavirus pandemic. Some may also want a mix of both depending on the occasion. Whatever your case may be, it's important to realize that both options exist.

Live Slot Machines

As a general rule of thumb with live slot machines, the more you bet the higher your RTP will be. The first and foremost important thing you can do is to choose a machine that you are comfortable hitting the “Max Bet” button with. If, for instance, it is a penny slot that has the option for 10, 20, 30, 40 or 50 credits, you will often be receiving by far the highest RTP if you press the 50 credit button.


More so than just that, the higher the slot machine limit that you choose, the better the odds tend to get as well. If you start to play machines with a Max Bet that changes from 50c up to $5 or $20 per spin, you will start to receive better odds. This of course, can become an extremely expensive habit if you were to end up going on an unlucky downswing. These types of bets are also often not affordable to many players that are simply looking to have some casual fun.

So you'll have to decide seriously about the trade-offs between a higher RTP while also playing slot machine limits with money that you are comfortable with potentially losing.


Vegas Machines Example


1¢ Slot Machines 5¢ Slot Machines 25¢ Slot Machines $1 Slot Machines $1 Megabucks Machines All Slot Machines
The Strip - 88.33% The Strip - 91.96% The Strip - 89.34% The Strip - 92.34% The Strip - 87.31% The Strip - 91.84%
Downtown - 88.96% Downtown - 93.32% Downtown - 93.91% Downtown - 94.12% Downtown - 86.40% Downtown - 92.22%
Boulder Strip - 90.53% Boulder Strip - 96.30% Boulder Strip - 95.77% Boulder Strip - 95.49% Boulder Strip - 87.61% Boulder Strip - 94.26%
N. Las Vegas - 90.79% N. Las Vegas - 95.24% N. Las Vegas - 96.27% N. Las Vegas - 95.62% N. Las Vegas - 86.98% N. Las Vegas - 93.34%

Data from July 2018 to July 2019.

On the chart up above, you'll see that the slot payback varies from, on average, as low as 88% to as high as 96%. This makes sense and falls in line with the general 80%-95% expected RTP on most live slot machines. This is because while some machines on the low end will pay as little as 80%, for those that use the "Max Bet" feature, their RTP will increase a lot which will give an overall average boost to penny slot players up to 88%. Meanwhile, while there is perhaps an average of 95% RTP on some of the more expensive machines, some players can get lucky and temporarily bring up their RTP to 96%. You'll also see some sections, say under the $1 column where some users only received 92%. These users almost certainly got unlucky! So there will be some variance and deviation away from expected norms based on how lucky (or unlucky) slot players are.

As far as which machines are worth playing within that context, that data can be tricky to obtain since it normally isn't published on a per machine basis. So you'll have to mostly go by the statistics and the type of information that was generated here. As that data in the chart above shows, there is a trend towards better RTP as the price point moves up but it is by no means a guarantee. This is because there is a lot of luck or variance associated with slot machine payouts. So while the payouts will generally be better as the price point goes up, this will not exclusively be the case.

Online Slot Machines

The world of online slots has better data published about the statistics and RTP of the machines. When it comes to online slots, you really need to be quite picky about choosing the correct machines. With so many options at the touch of a button, you don't really need to settle for anything but the best.



Secondly, unlike most of the live brick & mortar slot machines, you aren't often going to run into problems where you are encouraged to bet more money to receive a better RTP. Many online slot machines run on a fixed payout schedule regardless of the bet size. This works out well for the user because they can then gamble at their own convenience without feeling external pressure to chase value by betting outside of their comfort zone.

Some of the best online slot machine payouts are in the table as follows:


Ranking Slot Machine Title RTP
20 Aztec's Treasure 95.00%
19 Break Da Bank Again 95.43%
18 Jungle Jim 95.98%
17 Berry Berry Bonanza 95.98%
16 Wizard of Oz 95.99%
15 Gonzo's Quest 96.00%
14 Immortal Romance 96.00%
13 Viking Runecraft 96.00%
12 The Eye of Ra 96.00%
11 Bonanza 96.00%
10 Starburst 96.01%
9 Avalon 96.01%
8 Fire Joker 96.15%
7 Book of Dead 96.21%
6 Narcos 96.23%
5 Twin Spin Deluxe 96.61%
4 Thunderstruck II 96.65%
3 Dead or Alive 96.80%
2 Reel Rush 97.00%
1 MintDice 98.00%


With so many online slot options out there, settling for anything less than 95% should be deemed completely unacceptable when you can so easily take your business elsewhere to somewhere better. The best value in the industry will often be found with Bitcoin slots – this is because Bitcoin is one of the cheapest payment mechanisms on the internet today and most of the savings are passed down to the slot player, giving them huge value.

Additionally, it should be noted that some of the best Bitcoin slot games will use provably fair technology. This will help ensure you that you are getting a fair game and is one of the only ways you can know with mathematical certainty that your slot machines are not rigged. This all applies to the 98% RTP machines on MintDice giving some of, if not the highest RTP in the industry while also providing provably fair technology on it's online slot machines.


Last Words

For some, the experience and thrill of gambling simply can't be outdone by the live experience. The social atmosphere, the lights, the action and the fun can only be modeled by such an experience. However, with a slot RTP payback that can often only sit around 80-95%, there is a lot left to be desired for the serious slot machine player.

For the more serious slot machine player that wants the highest value for their play, they will typically have to turn to online slots. These games will generally have smaller overhead maintenance to run than an entire casino and many savings will be passed down to the end consumer. Nowhere is this more true than for provably fair and/or Bitcoin slot machine operators which can have RTPs as high as 98% with payout multipliers up to 10,000x!

The ultimate decision will be up to the slot players themselves as they both have plenty of circumstantial merit. Either way, we wish you the best of luck chasing the slot machine jackpot of your dreams.

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