Can You Become a Professional Slots Player?

From being a hobby or form of entertainment, gaming across the board is offering a way for the players – not just developers and publishers – to become professionals in the field. In video gaming, online streaming and eSports have enabled the rise of professional gamers over the last decade or so. In casino gaming, professional players have been around for a long time, but not as noticeably in the most popular format of play.

Slots are, by far, the most sought-after games at online casinos. The demand is so high that developers have found that it’s viable to release multiple new games each month regardless of the sheer volume of other developers releasing games regularly too. Despite the number of people playing, the idea of a professional slot player seems almost surreal due to the format of the game. However, there might just be an avenue to becoming a professional slots player of sorts.

Gambling professionally is a risky but very real career choice

Chris Moneymaker discusses his against-all-odds victory in the World Series of Poker as an amateur online qualifier.

To be able to make a career out of gambling, not only does there have to be an accommodating infrastructure in place, but you also have to be very, very good at the game to minimize potential losses. Card games that offer the chance for skill-based play have become viable as the basis of a professional gambling career.

Poker is, of course, the most famous of the gambling games which cater to professionals. There are good-money tournaments set-up around the world which are taking place very regularly, with the most prestigious events offering huge sums to all of the top finishers. In 2003, amateur online poker player Chris Moneymaker shot to fame by winning the World Series of Poker Main Event. Working as an accountant at the time of his win, he was the first player to ever triumph over the colossal tournament having qualified online, turning professional after doing so.

A colossal, against-all-odds victory isn’t the only way to break into the professional ranks, however. For many poker players, it’s a case of getting experience, accumulating a decent-sized pot, and then gradually building into more and more high-value tournaments. In blackjack, it’s a case of studying the game, learning Basic Strategy and examining the probabilities and strategies of the game, and then subtly using it on the casino floor. The margin of which the result of a round comes down to skill-based play over complete randomness is crucial to a game lending itself to potential professionals.

With skill and experience driving professional gamblers in games like poker and blackjack, it seems as though slots are incompatible as the base game of a pro. However, while the results of each round are entirely random, there is a degree of ‘skill’ and experience that can be gained, which potentially lends slots to professional proficiency.

A skewed balance of luck and skill in slots

As you would assume, the balance of luck and skill is far more swayed towards skill in a game like poker than it is in slots, where the outcomes are almost entirely luck-based. Being run by a random number generator with little input from the player, results are randomized. However, there are aspects of the build of online slots that enable players to plan their session and get a general idea of what to expect and how long to play for – forging a kind of strategy.

The first aspect that all knowledgeable slot gamers look to is the return to player percentage (RTP). It’s a less relied upon statistic with more information being available now, but players seek the highest RTP ratings as they relay how much money that’s paid in over time is paid out. RTPs of 95% or over is the preference in non-progressive jackpot video slots. The popular game Bonanza meets that tier with an RTP of 96%, which is a reason why it is so widely played. The second and most important aspect is the volatility.

Also known as “variance,” volatility tells the savvy player how often and how much the game will payout on average. Overall, low volatility indicates that the game will pay out more regularly but in relatively smaller amounts. High volatility slots don’t pay out as often, but when they do, the payouts are often larger. Across the entire slots catalog, each game fits into a different volatility value. The popular Starburst is a low volatility game, Eye of Horus is a medium volatility game, Narcos is a medium-high volatility game, and Fox Fire is a high volatility game – with all of these slots also meeting the demand for a 95%-plus RTP.

With this information available on slot games, would-be professional slot players can examine a title, weigh-up how large their bankroll needs to be, the optimum size of their stakes compared to the longevity required, and then set off on playing to the game’s system. With a high volatility game, slot players will want a larger bankroll and to play for longer spells – calling it a day if the awaited bigger payout arrives. With lower volatility games, it could be more a case of building up a smaller bankroll. In a way, this is how a strategy can be formed, with a player’s experience with a certain slot allowing them to read the games and plan their bankroll better.

Perhaps the way to turn pro is the same way as gamers do

A highlight reel showing several online iGaming streamers winning on the low volatility slot game Starburst.

People have managed to make careers out of broadcasting their gameplay, commentary, and reactions while on video games. Most of the time, these videos aren’t even helpful guides; they just offer a different form of viewing, which allows the community to engage with the player and the title at hand.   The platforms of streaming, particularly Twitch and YouTube, have become so popular that people turn to them as a go-to source of entertainment – from major eSports tournaments to just watching a deer in Grand Theft Auto V. Outside of this, a lot of Twitch channels are built around the personality of the streamer, and watching them provide commentary of the games they're playing. This builds a community amongst viewers and incentivizes them to get involved and become loyal viewers.

With slot gaming, we can already see an emerging scene of game streaming. As people can monetize their content on platforms like Twitch, showcasing slot gameplay and accruing an audience can eventually lead to a steady income. Furthermore, sponsorships and partnerships with slot game developers who want exposure for their products can increase the revenue stream beyond just the advertising and subscriptions. However, to achieve this, players have to build a sense of community by being charismatic, engaging, informative, entertaining and stage risky moves – such as huge bet runs and by allowing the audience to pick their games.

Slots don’t naturally lend themselves to the professional scene due to how the RNG governs them. However, strategies can be formed by analyzing their mechanics, and careers based around slots can even be forged thanks to online streaming.

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Last Updated: Jul 03, 2020