Understanding Comps

Making the Most of Free Play: Game Selection

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Written by Joshua

In my previous post, I spoke about making the most of free play, and why bet level makes a difference. Today, I’ll cover game selection.

Everyone has different styles of play, so this will focus more on what to think about based on your goal.

Video Poker for Conversion

Nickels royal flush on free play

Most of the time, casinos will allow you to use free play on Video Poker. There are exceptions, but if you have this allowance, and you’re aiming for the maximum chances for conversion, Video Poker is a great choice. Payback is generally a few points higher than the equivalent slot machine at the same denomination.

Things you should keep in mind:

  • You shouldn’t do this if you don’t understand basic strategy and can play accurately. Poor Video Poker play can heavily reduce your expected payback, to the point where it’s safer to play slots.
  • Not all video poker is created equal – there are varying games, with varying strategies and variance attached to each. The lowest variance, and among the easiest strategies to learn, is Jacks or Better. As it happens, it’s also the game with the lowest variance, so the swings aren’t as wild.

At the top of this section is a Royal Flush I got on nickels while playing just $20 in freeplay – that was good for a $200 win, and really propelled a good session at the casino that day!

Low Volatility Slots – Still Aiming for Cash

If you don’t know proper Video Poker strategy, or would rather stick to slots, you can look to games that have a lower volatility. I’ve spoken about how to detect volatility in slots in the past. Generally speaking, if you play standard games with no progressives, or even games with no bonuses (such as Twin Win), you will likely have less volatility.

Games by Gimmie Games (excepting Mighty Cash), Bally (excluding Ultimate Fire Link) and Incredible Technologies are generally lower in volatility (there are exceptions) and are likely to give you steady, smaller wins that keep you going.

If you want a game with progressives, the older 5-physical reel Quick Hits with a $1.50 max bet has been pretty good; it’s going to be more volatile than games without progressives, but has otherwise a lot of traits of a less volatile game with lots of smaller wins that keep you going.

Lower volatility slots is a good middle-ground if you’re still trying to convert your free play into a further extension of your cash bankroll for your visit.

Swing for the Fences – Higher Volatility

Some people like to take a risk with their free play. So playing a more volatile slot will certainly fit the bill. The trick is to bet at the same level you would as if it were cash, so you get enough tries to make something happen.

You can play games like Dancing Drums, which offers access to a five-figure grand jackpot at as little as 88 cents a spin, and with bonuses that are sufficiently volatile (assuming you trigger one) that you can get a massive win even at smaller bets. All the Links/Mighty Cash/symbols with credits on them games have volatility but with enough spins there’s a reasonable chance you can hit something.

Just remember that if you play a highly volatile game and you come up short on any major hits, you’ll be behind the curve on what the casino thinks you’ll gamble in a session, as that free play is going to be factored in (since it’ll turn into cash that then gets bet itself). So your offers may suffer if you don’t get the same level of coin-in to which they’re accustomed to seeing from you.

About the author


My name is Joshua, and I’m a slot enthusiast who works in tech as a marketer by day, and dabbles in casinos periodically during off-times. Know Your Slots will reflect my interests in understanding the various ways you can play slots, travel, casino promotions and how you can get the most out of your casino visits.

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