Ask Zeus: Volume 1
"Can I Win at Slots?"
The quick, general answer is no, you can't and if you think you can, you're deluding yourself. A more nuanced answer is that you can win in the short term, but over time you will lose. Depending on your style of play, you may win 5 out of 6 sessions, but then that 6th session will wipe out those 5 winning sessions and more. And an even more nuanced answer is that technically, you may be able to find certain progressive machines that you can play for a positive expectation if you become a slot vulture and that's all you play. There may also be occasional promotions that casino marketing managers launch that are to a player's advantage for a short time. For example, if a casino offers you a loss rebate program, that may be in your favor. But all of these exceptions are for somewhat rare events, and not something you can take advantage of on a regular basis. Typically, unless you win a life-changing amount of money, over time you will lose. Period. You can mitigate those losses by taking advantage of player-card promotions, but even then, you will not be able to stay ahead for long.
"What Slots Should I Play?"
Typically speaking it comes down to personal preference based on a number of factors: Do you like mechanical or video reels? Is your goal to win during your session or play for a certain amount of time and entertain yourself? Do you like slot bonuses? Do you enjoy winning at each spin and giving up the occasional Big Win in exchange in order to do that, or the opposite where you generally lose but when you do win, you win big!
"Are Higher-Denomination Slots Better Bets?"
Once again I'll provided a nuanced answer: generally speaking casinos set their machines of a particular denomination to the same odds: technically what is known as the "Hold Percentage" which is the amount the machine will over the long term keep for every dollar wagered through it. Generally the hold percentage on high-denomination machines is LESS than that of lower-denomination machines, making them technically better bets. Of course if you play the same number of spins through a high-denomination game versus a low-denomination game, your theoretical loss on an absolute basis will be higher on the higher-denomination machine. So even though it may technically be a better bet, if you play more than you normally would, your losses may also be higher.
"A Jackpot Just Hit, Should I Play It?"
Generally speaking, the odds of winning a Jackpot on any particular spin are the same, so the odds of winning a Jackpot on a machine which just paid out a Jackpot are the same: in fact, I've done it! Now, I'll qualify this by saying if the Jackpot was a progressive, you may not want to play that machine if another machine offers a higher progressive value for that Jackpot.
"Are 'Pick' Bonuses Fair?"
You've seen "Pick" bonuses before: basically you're given items on the screen to choose with some choices better than others. Many times you may not even realize you're playing some form of a Pick bonus but they're incorporated in many games as the complete bonus itself, such as the Lucky Star Bonus in Starry Night. Or as the beginning part of a bonus, such as with Quick Hit Platinum.
Are they fair? If the remaining choices are revealed at the end, then yes, they are fair and your choices DO matter. If the choices are not shown, then what you do likely does not matter. Slots don't need to "cheat" in order to win, and for every pick bonus that doesn't go great, there will be others that do go well!