How Do Slot Machines Work?

how do slot machines work

Even as popular as slot machines are both in casinos and online, we still know very little about them. One of the more frequently asked questions about them is “how they work.” Unfortunately, their workings can be more complex than you’d imagine – and involve something called an RNG, which helps make games fair and unpredictable.

Predicting when you will win at slot machines may seem possible, but the odds depend solely on chance. You can attempt to determine your odds by studying the pay table and considering which payouts may occur more frequently; this will enable you to formulate strategies designed to improve your odds.

At one point in time, when mechanical slots were the norm, one could determine their chances of hitting a specific jackpot by calculating how many stops — symbols or blank spaces that could stop on a payline — were available on each reel. For example, three physical reels featuring 10 symbols each could only produce 103 possible combinations, thus restricting jackpot sizes.

Modern slot machines contain microprocessors that enable manufacturers to assign specific probabilities for every symbol on each reel. Although it might seem that certain symbols have an increased chance of appearing, that is only due to how a random number generator selects those numbers each spin.

Some old-school tricks remain used by casinos today. One is encouraging players to wager maximum coins since this will lead to a higher return percentage on some older three-reel machines, but not always with video and online slots because their payback percentages depend on incentives built into their pay tables – such as offering an increased top jackpot if maximum bets are placed.

Cheating can also be an issue; historically when electromechanical slot machines were popular, players used “tilt switches” to manipulate circuits and set off alarms. Modern machines may not use physical tilt switches but any door switch that is in an awkward location or nonfunctional reel motors could be seen as attempts at cheating.

Some casino employees were caught trying to manipulate results, with one prominent case happening in Nevada where an employee team were arrested after gathering around Big Bertha slot machine and climbing onto it in order to try rigging its outcomes. Security were alerted of their plan, however, and quickly stopped the gang. Though rare these days as most slots now connect directly with central systems that store all player information; online gaming makes spotting this sort of behavior much simpler but you still may come across casinos who are less vigilant than necessary.