Did you know there are over 900,000 slot machines in the US right now? They’re one of the most popular forms of gambling in both physical and online casinos across the country.
Most people are familiar with the basic concept of how slot machines work. You insert a coin into the machine, and it randomly displays three symbols. The right combination of symbols means a payout, either very small or as large as $1m.
That’s about the extent of people’s understanding of these machines. Here’s the lowdown on how slot machines really work.
The Components of a Slot Machine
First thing’s first, how is a slot machine made?
They’re carefully assembled piece by piece on factory lines before being quality assessed and sent out to casinos. Slot machines are comprised of several mechanical and computational components that work together to make the game run.
Let’s take a look at these components.
The Paytable and Play Button
These components are both on the slot machine to make the game clear to the player.
The paytable is a chart on the front of the machine that informs players about the rules of the game and the features of the machine. This is where you’ll find all the info you need about how much you can win. It also tells you what all the different paylines are, but more on those later.
The play button lets the player choose the amount of money they want to bet and the number of lines they wish to play.
The reels are the part that everybody knows. Reels are the things inside the slot machine that spin around.
You’ll usually find 3-5 reels in each machine. The reels have symbols printed on them, and these symbols are the metric used to determine whether or not you have won any money.
The iconic symbol of the slot machine is the Liberty Bell. This image goes all the way back to the first-ever slot machine, invented in 1895 by a San Fransisco car mechanic.
The place where the reel stops spinning is called a ‘stop.’ Stops are weighted depending on the payout that can come from showing certain symbols.
Specific stops may be weighted more so that they show up less often. The ones that show up the least often are the ones that offer the biggest payouts. As a general rule, the more stops you have on a reel, the easier it is for the casino to offer large payouts on that machine.
Paylines is the term for all the various combinations of symbols that can result in a payout. In most slot games, you’ll find around 25-30 paylines.
This is essentially what you’re betting on when you play. You’re betting on the likelihood of the reels stopping on a specific payline.
Random Number Generator
You might be wondering how slow machines manage to figure all this out? Well, nowadays, they have computerized random number generators that do all the calculations for them.
The random number generator is what decides which symbol is going to stop where. Using a programmed piece of technology like this helps keep the game completely random and free from outside meddling.
How Slot Machines Work
So how do all those components come together to work then? Well, let’s look through a typical game and see what happens at every step.
First, you insert the money and activate the game using the handle or the play button. As you’re doing all of this, the random number generator processes thousands of numbers a second. The three numbers that the computer is generating at the exact time you press the button will determine where all the reels will stop.
The reels then spin round according to the number that the RNG has assigned them, and then they stop. If you’ve hit a payline, then you’ll get a payout. If not, you can play again if you wish.
Each spin is completely random and independent from the spins before and after it, and it is impossible to predict what the next spin will be.
Odds of Winning
The odds of getting a winning payline depend on the machine that you’re playing. The computer within the machine has all the information regarding odds and payouts based on payout percentages.
Payback percentage is often required by law to be above a certain threshold, usually 75%. However, it’s not uncommon to now see payout percentages of upwards of 90%.
Everyone playing a slot machine dreams of hitting the jackpot. If that’s what you’re aiming for, be sure to bet the maximum amount. Most slot games are designed to now payout the jackpot without the maximum bet being placed.
Online Slot Machines
For most of their history, slot machines were physical machines that you had to play in a casino.
But now, you can play in online casinos for real money. This allows you to play from the comfort of your home. Online casino games work in much the same way as regular casino games. It’s just that the entire process is computerized.
Online slot machines work in the same fashion that mechanical ones do. There’s still a random number generator determining the outcomes to keep the game random and fair.
Slot Machines Will Continue to Evolve
So there you go, that’s how slot machines work. Slot games will continue to evolve and change shape as time goes on, but the principles will always remain the same. This is why slot machines have proven so popular over their 126-year history.
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