Slot machines are the most popular games in any casino, but most people have no idea how it works. Some people have the wrongly framed view of the slot machines structure, while others try to benefit from the ignorance of the rest of the gaming community.
The purpose of this article is to explain in details how slot machines work in reality. Once you get an idea of the internal structure of slot machines, you can understand how they attract you, depending on your personality. Playing slots can be fun, but the slots are extremely profitable games for the casino for a variety of reasons, not only because of the algorithm of their work.
Slot machines use a RNG (random number generator)
The first slot machines that worked with simple coins used a RNG (random number generator), as well as modern slots and any other casino game. In a sense, a roulette wheel, a deck of cards and even a pair of dice are random number generators. Modern slots use a computer to generate random game situations that determine winnings.
It is important to understand that the result of each spin is really random. Games are not based on any cycles, even coming out of the jackpot is not tied to any particular algorithm predicted. The gaming machine could be neither “charged” nor “dead”. It can only seem like that, but in reality one couldn’t predict the behavior of the machine more precisely than the next card of the deck.
A casino always has an advantage over the player
It is a fact, it is applicable to any casino game. Casino gets the advantage on the basis of mathematical expectation and high turnover. Any winning combination is paid slightly lower than the probability of winning is.
Think, for instance, of the roulette. The chance of a specific number drawn is 37 to 1. In this case, the bet is paid in an amount of 35 to 1, and you don’t need to be a genius to understand how the casino profits in this situation.
Slot machines operate in the same way.
As a rule, slot machines have three or five reels.
The reel is actually an image that “spins” on the screen of the gaming machine. Each reel has several symbols, and if those symbols fall into a certain order, you win. The lower the probability of any combination is, the more money you get for it.
When slot machines first appeared, they were mechanical, and reels were actually rotating wheels, sometimes very huge, but modern slots are controlled by a computer, and often it’s just a picture on the screen. However, in both mechanical and modern gaming machines, the winning solely depends on a random number generator, whether it is mechanical or computer.
In mechanical slot machines, the position where the reels stop is called “stop”.
Reels of the first machines could stay either at one of the symbols or at a blank space between symbols. In those days, the chance of each symbol drawn was approximately the same, but it’s not like that in modern slots, as these chances can vary.
The first slot machines had only 10 “stops” on the reel, while the modern slots has from 30 to 50 “stops”. The more “stops” are on each reel, the less the chance to win is and, consequently, the higher potential winnings are. If you play the game with 10 “stops” on each reel, with equal chances of getting each of them, your chances of making a combination are equal to 1/10 to 1/10 to 1/10, that is 1 out of 1000. If payment for the combination is significantly lower than this, you lose money when playing this slot.
Modern slots can adjust this value with the balancing algorithms.
Balancing system regulates how often the reel stops in a particular position
For example, you are playing a slot with 10 symbols on each reel. However, one of the symbols is special, and appears only once of 100 spins. In this case, chance for getting three of such symbols is equal to 1/100 to 1/100 to 1/100, ie 1 out of 1,000,000! In theory, this combination can bring you a prize of one million dollars at the bet of $1, and then the bet will not be losing in the long run. Casinos like to make such offers to attract players, and players love such offers even more.
Other symbols appear in half of all spins, in such case, the chance to get three symbols is 0.5 to 0.5 to 0.5, or 1 out of 8. If the payout for such a combination is 2 to 1, the casino has great mathematical advantage, while the player an impression that he wins quite regularly.
The last thing you need to understand is how to determine the payout percentage
This is the mathematical expectation of how much the slot machine will give as a prize in the prolonged period of time. For example, the machine is set to 97% of payments at a distance, it means that the casino takes conditionally $3 of every $100 won. The actual payout percentage is somehow different from the expected one, and the smaller the number of spins is, the more significant the difference is, but in the long run, on conditionally infinite period of time, this figure will almost exactly match the one above. In any case, the casino always wins.