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How to Play Penny Slots

May 29, 2022

The very first slot machines, omnipresent in bars throughout late 1800s New York City, awarded prizes such as free beer and packs of cigars to patrons for a nickel (five cent) wager. Nowadays the prizes are much bigger, and so are the stakes – or are they? Penny slots are still some of the most popular games out there. Want to know how to play penny slots? You’ve come to the right place.

What are penny slots?

When you play slots online, you’re able to set your stake to whatever suits your bankroll. In many online slots, this wager can be as low as £0.01. That’s a penny slot.

However, there can be a catch – many penny slots require a minimum number of lines that have to be played. This means that a £0.01 wager might actually be £0.20 or even £0.50 depending on the number of lines that are made mandatory.

There are, however, may slots that allow players to deselect paylines and thereby play the lowest possible wager of £0.01. Of course, if you are only playing one of a possible 25 paylines then your chances of winning are significantly lowered.

Why do penny slots cost more than a penny?

Historically, back before the evolution of slots paylines, penny slots did indeed cost a single penny. In those days, slots were simple three-reel or five-reel affairs with one fixed payline. Match enough symbols on that one payline and you would win.

Today, though, even mechanical slot machines have multiple paylines. Online slots and digital live slots have dozens, hundreds or even thousands of paylines on which you can win. This makes the games more exciting, but also means that you must usually wager on each payline. This means that a £0.01 bet on a 25-payline slot will actually be a £0.25 wager.

Penny slots are very popular online

Best penny slot machines to play

When it comes to learning how to play penny slots, your personal tastes are going to be the overriding factor as to what games you enjoy. If you’re looking for the best penny slots then here are a few favourites from our selection of online slots:

  • Age of the Gods could be the most recognisable slot series at any online casino. The original game has spawned many more sequels and spin-offs, each with their own unique bonus features and minigames. The original Age of the Gods game has 20 fixed paylines for a minimum bet of £0.20.
  • Gonzo’s Quest takes you on an Aztec adventure with conquistador Gonzalo Pizarro y Alonso, with cascading reels for big potential wins on each spin. This game also features 20 fixed paylines with a minimum stake of £0.01 per line.
  • Starburst is the cheapest of the penny slots on our list and also one of the world’s most popular online slot games. This space-age adventure has just 10 fixed paylines, meaning the minimum total bet is £0.10.

Penny slot strategies

By and large, penny slots are played in the same way as regular slot machines. Any bankroll strategies that you apply to your regular slots can be applied to playing penny slots online. That being said, there are a few considerations to take into account when playing these games:

  • Remember bankroll management
  • Pay attention to the RTP
  • Play all the paylines
  • Know when to stop

Remember bankroll management

You’re playing penny slots because they’re cheap. We get it. But that doesn’t mean you need to throw your bankroll management plan out of the window. You might only be betting £0.25 per spin, but one run of poor luck over the course of a few dozen spins could see your bankroll plummet.

In short, remember the old adage: look after the pennies. Decide on a bet for your gaming and stick to it. Don’t be tempted to jack up the stake after a win, or (even worse) to chase losses. Set aside a portion of funds with which to play the game (e.g. £25 for 100 spins worth) and stick to that plan.

Pay attention to the RTP

While penny slots offer great entertainment value, you might end up with better bang for your buck playing fewer spins on a pricier slot depending on the game’s RTP. A slot’s RTP (Return to Player) is a measurement of how much a player can expect to lose over a long period of playing the game.

A penny slot with a low RTP (less than 90%) might be poorer value than a higher-stakes slot with a higher RTP. Of course, you will need a larger bankroll to play the higher-value slot for the same amount of time. Because of this, you should consider whether you care more about your time spent being entertained by the game or the impact on your bankroll.

Play all the paylines

For some people, this advice might be against the grain of playing penny slots, but it is advice very much worth taking on board. Because some penny slot machines give you the ability to choose how many paylines you play, it could be tempting to play fewer paylines in order to have a smaller bet.

This will reduce your wager, but it will also drop your odds of winning. If a slot has 20 paylines, that means there are 20 patterns on which symbols can fall in order to give you a return. If you only play one of the paylines, there are 19 patterns that will do nothing but lose your stake.

In addition, many progressive jackpot slots give players an increased chance of winning the jackpot if they wager more. By reducing the number of paylines you play, you are effectively reducing your RTP along with your stake.

Know when to stop

All in all, the biggest mistakes players make when learning how to play penny slots are the same mistakes players make with gambling in general: not knowing when to stop and failing to play responsibly. Responsible gaming is incredibly important. The use of our various tools and guidelines on responsible gaming is well worth a read for any penny slots player.

How to play penny slots

Penny slot odds

We have already mentioned the concept of RTP (Return to Player) in slots. This number, expressed as a percentage, is the determining factor for your chances of winning in the long-term. Bear in mind that the RTP cannot tell you the volatility of the game, which refers to the frequency and size of payouts.

The RTP is, in short, the amount of money the machine will return over a statistically significant sample (usually millions) of spins. It gives you an average idea of the value of the machine. An online slot with an RTP of 97.23% will return £97.23 of every £100 wagered on average. This remains true whether this is one million spins of £100 or one hundred million spins of £1 – though some slots adjust the RTP based on the current wager.

On average, you will find that penny slots have a lower RTP than most online slots. Generally, an RTP of 96% or less is considered on the low side for an online slot. An RTP of less than 90% is extremely low. Most penny slots will have an RTP around 95%, which is not shockingly low but does put them on the low end of the slot spectrum.

How much can you win playing penny slots?

While the RTP of penny slots can be on the low side, the maximum potential wins are not necessarily lower than other slot machines. For example, Age of the Gods features a multi-level Progressive Jackpot that can be won on any spin. The RTP of this game is 95.2%, which is on the low side of average for an online slot.

Typically in jackpot slots, the lower your wager the less your chances of winning the top jackpot prize. This is true in Age of the Gods, but you can still win the big jackpot while betting the minimum of £0.20. A lower RTP in a penny slot game does not necessarily mean that you can’t still potentially scoop a large win.

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