How Does A Casino Slot Machine Work?

Going back in time, slot machines in casinos had handles and coin slots. Those are harder to find now. In casinos that still over coin slots, people flock to them because the sounds of coins falling into the metal dispenser and the sounds of the spinning reel add excitement.

Many slots now are video slots. They are essentially a computerized slot in a cabinet. Online slots don't even need that cabinet. Have you ever wondered exactly how a slot machine works? We have the answer.

The Basics to Playing a Slot Machine

Slot machines have reels, the button or lever to get the reels to spin, and symbols on the reels. Within the machine or computer software coding, there are controls that stop the reels after a short while. When the reels stop, the symbols are revealed. On a 3 reel slot, you usually need three symbols across the center row of the reels, though games with multiple paylines change that. On a 5 reel slot, there are usually several if not hundreds of paylines that require a match of three or more symbols for you to win.

Before you spin, you need to set your bet. Next, you spin and wait for the reels to stop or hit the stopper to make them stop immediately. Finally, you sit back and see if the combination of symbols has triggered a winning combination. If it has, your money comes out of the coin dispenser on a coin slot or flashes on your screen before getting added to your casino balance.

Some games have bonus features and bonus rounds that add value to your prizes. These range from pick 'em instant cash prize games or free spins with multipliers.

Slot Machine Terminology

Most people know the basic terminology for a slot machine. If you're new to slots, you may have a hard time at first. This is a quick look at the important terms to know.

Bet – Also called your wager or total bet, this is the amount you're betting on each spin. It's usually calculated by taking the coin value and multiplying that by the number of credits and/or the number of paylines. For example, if you're betting a penny on 20 paylines, your bet is 20 cents per spin. If you're betting a penny, 5 credits, and 20 paylines, your total bet is $1 per spin.

Coin Value – This is the value of the coin that you select. In many games, the coin value starts at a penny and may go up to $10 or $20. The higher you go, the more you'll bet per spin. Prizes in slots are based on the coin value.

Credits – Some games, especially classic slots, allow you to bet one, two, or three credits. In a 5 reel slot game, you may find this called the bet multiplier and see it go up to 10x. This increases the number of coins you risk per spin. It also increases the prizes found on the paytable.

Paylines – This is the number of ways you can form a winning combination across the reels. When you place a bet, you can either bet on one payline, a few paylines, or all of them. The ones you bet on are your active paylines. In some games, you won't have a choice and all paylines are automatically wagered on.

Paytable – This is the grid that shows you the amount you get paid for having the right combination of symbols on an active payline. Those prizes are called payouts.

Reels – These are the columns found on your slot game. It can vary, but most slots have 3 reels, 4 reels, 5 reels, 6 reels, or 7 reels.

RTP (Return to Player) – RTP is the percentage for how much money that's taken in it wagers is returned over time. It's important to note that this percentage is usually based on months of play, it's not a percentage based on each session. If a game has an RTP of 96%, it doesn't mean you're guaranteed to win back 96% of your wager each time you spin. It's an average of all players over a long period.

Are Slot Machines Really Random?

Slot machines use a Random Number Generator (RNG) to ensure that the results of a spin are completely random. RNGs are complex computer programs that take something physical, such as the current radiation levels from the sun, or a mathematical formula to create an algorithm that delivers a random number. That number then determines how the symbols on the slots will land when the spin ends.

As the mathematical formulas or physical reading change regularly, it's virtually impossible for anyone to crack the code and know exactly how or when to spin the reels in order to win the jackpot. RNGs ensure fairness and randomness of the slot combinations.

Do Dollar Slots Pay More Often Than Penny Slots? How About High Limit Slots?

Statistically, experts on slots odds find penny and nickel slots in a land-based casino average 92 to 93% for an RTP. Quarter machines do slightly better at 94%. Dollar slots are even better at 95 to 96%. Finally, the high stakes games are best with an RTP of around 98%. Again, remember that an RTP is based on months and not just one session of play.

Slots are designed to be random, so the experiences players have differed. Progressive jackpot slots can be harder to win than a classic slot, but there's no way to guarantee a win. The best thing to do is to keep your bets small so that you can play for longer. When you do win, don't get tempted to spend it all. Set some aside to play with and make a promise to yourself that you won't touch the rest.

How Do You Find Which Slot Machines Pay the Best?

Slot machines pay different prizes out based on their paytable. What's important to remember is that you can play a game for hours and never get one of the higher payouts. You could also win the jackpot on your very first spin.

The RTP is one of the best ways to decide which slots to play, but it's not a guarantee. Even a high RTP could have you playing for weeks without getting more than a few dollars here and there. Sometimes, the most rewarding slot machines are the classics. As you play slots in a casino or online, you'll come across slots that seem to be more favorable than others. This will change over time, but there's nothing wrong with finding a favorite slot and sticking to it. Enjoy!