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How slot tournaments work

Author’s Side Note: Don’t forget to check out our new t-shirts here: – they make a GREAT gift for the holidays!

Slot tournaments. You’ve heard about them. You’ve seen me play them before on my YouTube high-limit slots channel. I’ll even be playing in one today at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas (and I’ll be doing live streams today and tomorrow with results summaries). But how do slot tournaments even work? It’s not the typical scenario, where you just put money in a machine, and get a chance at winning some huge jackpot handpays. Tournaments can actually be a little overwhelming if you’re playing in one for the first time, so I though I’d take a moment to explain, in detail, exactly how slot machine tournaments operate:

Unlike regular slot play, you don’t put “real money” into a slot machine during a tournament. Instead, everybody in the tournament pays some kind of advance “buy-in” before the tournament starts. In some cases, your buy-in might be a real money amount that you have to pay upfront. But in other instances, like the slot tournament I’m playing in today, nobody pays anything upfront, and instead, a casino will offer you free tournament entry as a perk for spending a lot of money at their establishment during the rest of the year. (With today’s tournament at The Cosmopolitan, for example, everybody who qualifies gets free entry – but to qualify, you need to have earned one million player’s points at The Cosmopolitan since the start of the year.)

Once you’ve entered, and the tournament begins, every player is allotted the same amount of time for slot play, maybe four hours over the course of two days. During this time, your goal is to play as much as possible, because the machines are programmed to win much more frequently than they usually do. But when a machine hits during the tournament, it pays you credits, not real dollars, so your objective is to win as many credits as you can in those few hours. This is when you’ll see some serious, rapid button pressing.

When the allotted time for the tournament has expired, whichever players have the most credits win the top prizes – it’s as simple as that. In the tournament I’m playing in today and tomorrow, they’re giving away $100,000 in total, broken down as follows: If you have the most credits, you get $50,000; second place gets $10,000; third place wins $5,000; and then fourth through 40 each win $1,000.

Unfortunately for me, despite all the slot tournaments I’ve ever played in (which you can watch here, and here, and here, and elsewhere on my YouTube channel, too), I’ve never had a significant win directly from a top placement in a tournament. However, during the tournaments, for all players entered, frequently, the casinos will often also give out additional prize money through random draws, just to keep things interesting. The last time I was in this same tournament last year, for example, it was a drawing (not slot play) that won me $15,000 in free play! In fact, even though the tournament prize pool for today is $100,000 (well, two $100K tournaments, actually), the total value in prizes that they’ll be giving away – including all the extra drawings – is over $400,000!

So, with this in mind, I hope you’ll please take a moment to wish me good fortune! With a little luck, perhaps I’ll walk away with something. And now that you know how slot tournaments work, maybe you can too.

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