Slot machines are the most popular gaming machines in any casino. However, very few people understand how they work. Some players demonstrate a complete misunderstanding of the subject, while others try to use them for their own profit.
This article will help you understand how Slots really work. When you have concrete information about the internal construction of a slot machine, you will then be able to determine how these machines will be right for you, depending on your personality. Slots can bring you a lot of fun, but there are a number of reasons why these machines are an extremely profitable game for casinos. The interesting thing is that the operating algorithm is not the only reason.
Slot Machines Use the Random Number Generator (RNG)
The first coin-operated machines used a random number generator, in exactly the same way as modern slots or any other casino game. A Roulette wheel, Deck of Cards, or Craps are, in a sense, random number generators. Modern Slots use computers to generate random game scenarios that determine winnings.
It is crucial to understand that any outcome of a spin is truly random. The games are not based on any cycles, and even the jackpot cannot be predicted. There is no way of knowing whether the machine is about to pay you a big prize or take your money. You may have mixed feelings about this, but in truth it is as impossible to predict the outcome of a spin as it is to guess a card in a deck.
The casino always wins
This is true for any casino game. Casinos make a profit thanks to mathematical expectation and huge turnover. Any win pays much less compared to the odds of winning.
Consider the game of Roulette. The odds of winning for a specific number are 37 to 1, but the win is 35 to 1. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out how the casino always makes a profit in this case.
Slot machines operate under the same pattern.
Usually, slot machines have 3 or 5 reels
The reel is the image that rotates on the Slot Machine’s monitor. Each reel displays several symbols and when they stop in a certain sequence, you win. The lower the probability of any combination of symbols, the higher your payout.
In the past there were real reels on the machines, but modern Slots are based on the computer’s random number generator. You see only a computer-generated image on the screen. However, it is a random number generator that determines the outcome for both mechanical and computer-driven Slots.
The position where the reels of the mechanical slots stop is called the “stop.
In the old days it was possible for the reels to stop on a symbol or a blank space between them. The odds of any symbol appearing were about equal then. Today, things have changed and the odds can vary.
Early slot machines had only 10 Stops for a reel while modern machines have 30 to 50 Stops. The more Stops each reel has, the smaller the odds of a win resulting in larger payouts. When you play a game with 10 Stops with equal chances for each, your chances for a specific combination are 1/10 x 1/10 x 1/10 x 1/10 which gives a result of 1 to 1000. If the payout for this specific combination is much less than this value, you lose money in this game.
These odds are adjustable by the modern slots algorithms.
The algorithms determine how often a reel stops at a specific position
Imagine you play a Slot Game with 10 symbols on each reel. However, one of these symbols is special; it appears only once every 100 spins. In this case the odds for 3 such symbols are 1/100 x 1/100 x 1/100 x 1/100 which gives a result of 1 to 1,000,000! If you are offered 1 million Euros for 1 Euro bet, you will not lose by playing this game in the long run. This is the offer that casinos like to make to attract new players, and people like to accept it.
The other symbols appear on half of all the rounds. The odds of getting all the symbols are ½ x ½ ½ x ½ which translates into 1-to-8 odds. If the payout for such a combination is 2 to 1, the casino has a huge mathematical expectation, while the player thinks he wins a lot.
List of True Odds
Any modern slot machine has its list of real odds that determines the same odds for any combination, not just the winning ones. Obviously, this list is designed to give the casino a positive mathematical expectation. The slot machines and software developers keep this list secret, which is why a player will never know the precise data for the RTP of a particular machine as well as some other numbers. Only numbers provided by independent auditors are known.
Last but not least, the payout percentage
This is the mathematical expectation that shows how much a slot pays out in the long run. For example, if the RTP is 97% it means that the casino gets $3 for every $100 bet. The actual RTP is somewhat different when compared to the stated RTP. It is important to mention, that the fewer spins you make, the bigger this difference is, but on infinite spins the real value should be equal to the declared value. Either way, the casino always wins.