Slot machines are a firm favourite with players in every casino lobby, both online and land-based. Maybe it’s because they’re so simple to play: you place your bet, hit the button and, after a few seconds of sounds and visuals, the right symbols in the right positions could make you a winner.
But what’s going on exactly during those crucial seconds between spins? In this article we take you behind the reels to find out exactly how slot machines work and in the process bust some common misconceptions that players have about their chances of landing a paying line.
In fact, we’ll reveal a surprising fact about slots right now: the odds of winning are always the same for each spin you play on a particular machine. That’s right, the chances of winning on your first spin or the tenth or the twentieth are identical! Since the odds are determined mathematically, you could theoretically hit the jackpot at any time. And it gets even more fascinating from here, so keep reading to learn more about the inner workings of your favourite slot games.
Let’s focus on what makes a slot machine tick. Firstly, most games have between 3 and 5 reels, and each reel can have anywhere from 30 to 50 symbols or possible ‘stop’ positions. A group of reels spinning together will have hundreds of possible stop combinations along every active payline, but only a very small subset of those combinations will pay out something.
The way the game determines which combinations to display at the end of any given spin depends upon a complex mathematical algorithm that is performed each time you hit the Spin button. The software that runs these calculations is called a Random Number Generator (RNG) and this basically holds the key to whether you’ll hit a winning combination or not.
It takes the RNG an infinitesimal amount of time to draw new symbol combinations each time you play, and after you hit the spin button, the RNG has already determined the outcome. That means there’s no parallel universe where you hit the spin button a second sooner or later and hit the jackpot! The spinning reels and the ensuing whizz of colours and sounds are all for anticipation. Once the spinning stops and the music winds down, the symbols appear on the screen; the secret that the RNG has known all along is finally laid open for you to see.
Since the RNG can cycle through thousands of symbol combinations per second before landing on the one that will be displayed on the screen, there’s no way you can feasibly spot any patterns or predict the outcome at any given point in time. The Return To Player rate (RTP) of a slot machine calculates the odds of winning over the span of many, many random sessions.
Playing The Waiting Game
A slot’s pay table details all the game’s winning combinations and what each line-up is worth based on the amount wagered. The software uses this information to calculate the coin value of every individual symbol, which in turn helps it figure out the odds of a particular symbol appearing on the reels.
As you already know, slot machines can have multiple winning lines appearing on the reels, each paying out a different amount of money depending on the value of your initial bet. All these paying combinations are ‘averaged out’ to determine the mathematical odds of how often and how much a slot machine will pay back to the player over a larger number of spins. This is the basis of what makes certain slot games more profitable than others.
Playing For The Thrill Of The Game
Since the numbers that determine slots’ outcomes are generated randomly, you never really know for sure when the next winning line will show up on the screen. So don’t be too hard on yourself if you’ve had a dry spell – it wasn’t your fault!
While it’s fascinating to delve into the mechanics of slots and understand how they work, it’s good to remember that the fact they’re created this way is what makes slots such a fun and exciting game in the first place. That’s why players ultimately choose a slot because they love the theme, or because they’re impressed by the size of the jackpot, or simply because they a certain game simply “feels right” for them. For most people, it’s the nature of the process that gets them in front of a slot that matters most, rather than the technical details of what affects the outcome.
Fun For All Players, At All Levels
Since the outcomes of slot machines are based on random number generators that spout new combinations of digits based on unchanging odds, spinning the reels doesn’t require special skills. All-comers are welcome at pulling the lever or hitting the button, which is why despite all our talk of probabilities, one thing we can be absolutely certain of: slots – whether virtual or physical machines – will continue to dominate the casino floor for a very, very long time. Are you ready to join in the fun?