The reels are just a player-friendly interface, and are told where to stop by the RNG. Nor is it unusual for a machine to pay back percent or more for several dozen pulls. Nowadays more than 70 percent of casino revenues comes from slot machines, and in many jurisdictions, that figure tops 80 percent. In the short term, anything can happen. Like all of his systems, you quit on any machine when you hit 9 naked pulls. There was nothing she could do as a passerby scooped a handful of coins out of the first tray. Those have been standards ever since I started writing about casinos and casino games 20 years ago.
How Slot Machines Work
It's not unusual to go 20 or 50 or more pulls without a single payout on a reel-spinning slot, though payouts are more frequent on video slots. Nor is it unusual for a machine to pay back percent or more for several dozen pulls. But in the long run, the programmed percentages will hold up. The change in slots has come in the computer age, with the development of the microprocessor. Earlier slot machines were mechanical, and if you knew the number of stops -- symbols or blank spaces that could stop on the payout line--on each reel, you could calculate the odds on hitting the top jackpot.
If a machine had three reels, each with ten stops, and one symbol on each reel was for the jackpot, then three jackpot symbols would line up, on the average, once every pulls, or 1, pulls. On systems that electronically link machines in several casinos, progressive jackpots reach millions of dollars.
The microprocessors driving today's machines are programmed with random-number generators that govern winning combinations. It no longer matters how many stops are on each reel. If we fitted that old three-reel, ten-stop machine with a microprocessor, we could put ten jackpot symbols on the first reel, ten on the second, and nine on the third, and still program the random-number generator so that three jackpot symbols lined up only once every 1, times, or 10, times.
And on video slots, reel strips can be programmed to be as long as needed to make the odds of the game hit at a desired percentage. They are not constrained by a physical reel.
Each possible combination is assigned a number, or numbers. When the random-number generator receives a signal -- anything from a coin being dropped in to the handle being pulled -- it sets a number, and the reels stop on the corresponding combination.
Between signals, the random-number generator operates continuously, running through dozens of numbers per second. This has two practical effects for slot players. First, if you leave a machine, then see someone else hit a jackpot shortly thereafter, don't fret. To hit the same jackpot, you would have needed the same split-second timing as the winner. The odds are overwhelming that if you had stayed at the machine, you would not have hit the same combination.
Second, because the combinations are random, or as close to random as is possible to set the program, the odds of hitting any particular combination are the same on every pull. If a machine is programmed to pay out its top jackpot, on the average, once every 10, pulls, your chances of hitting it are one in 10, on any given pull. If you've been standing there for days and have played 10, times, the odds on the next pull will still be one in 10, Those odds are long-term averages.
In the short term, the machine could go , pulls without letting loose of the big one, or it could pay it out twice in a row. So, is there a way to ensure that you hit it big on a slot machine? Not really, but despite the overriding elements of chance, there are some strategies you can employ. We'll cover these in the next section. Because most players do not understand how slot machines work, whole sets of beliefs have grown over when to play a machine and when to avoid it.
Little truth is in any of them. Here's a look at some of the more pervasive slot myths:. Change machines after a big jackpot -- the machine won't be due to hit again for some time.
From a money-management standpoint, it makes sense to lock up the profits from a big hit and move on. But the machine is not "due" to turn cold.
In fact, the odds against the same jackpot hitting on the next pull are the same as they were the first time. Play a machine that has gone a long time without paying off -- it is due to hit.
Slot machines are never "due. Casinos place "hot" machines on the aisles. This belief is so widespread that end machines get a good deal of play regardless of how they pay. It is true that not all machines in the same casino are programmed with the same payback percentage.
And it's true that casinos want other customers to see winners. But slot placement is more complex than just placing the hot ones at the ends of aisles. The payback percentage is lowered when the crowds are bigger and demand is greater.
It's not that easy to change a machine's programming. Changing the programmed payback percentage requires opening the machine and replacing a computer chip. That's not something to do cavalierly.
How to Play Craps. How to Play Blackjack. How to Play Roulette. How to Play Video Poker. Related Content " ". If I see the bonus triggers or the jackpot symbols at the top, should I quickly hit the button again and try to stop the reels? I had that thought myself the first time I accidentally double-hit a button and saw the reels click to an immediate halt.
In nearly all slot games that allow you to stop the reels, there is no skill or timing involved on your part. The reels are just a player-friendly interface, and are told where to stop by the RNG. But this is extremely rare. The engineering is good enough that almost all the time, the RNG and reel display are going to match up.
There are rare exceptions. In their original incarnation, Reel Edge games enabled players to touch and stop the reels one at a time.
There was actual skill involved. Your timing in stopping the reels determined the outcome. The reels spun very, very fast, so it was going take a keen eye and sharp reflexes to get better than random results, but it was possible. In the original three-reel Blood Life game, I identified a green 7 as the easiest symbol to pick out as it whizzed by. I touched each reel individually as I saw a green 7 reach the top of the slot window, and managed to stop 7s on all three reels.
Alas, I failed to land them all on the same payline. Some younger folks with quicker reactions may have been able to do better. The new generation of Reel Edge puts the skill-based portions of the games in the bonus events.