Slot machines are big entertainment and even bigger business on the internet. These games offer some of the most exciting experiences in gambling destinations, especially considering their provision in a vast array of choices. While each slot offers a different flavour of gaming fun with varying themes and features, nearly all of them are built around the same basic framework. The designs and mechanics of the games trace back to their nineteenth-century predecessors. Various improvements have been made over time to meet the needs of each incoming generation of gamblers, but numerous aspects in the details have similar blueprints. This article breaks down how slot machines work by looking at the gameplay procedure, how winnings are generated, and what punters can expect to collect.
The massive popularity of slot games is mostly credited to the simplicity of their playing procedure that accommodates both new and seasoned gamblers. The process is also consistent in nearly all pokie machines with only a few changes made to the buttons and fields used to achieve it. Generally, players are expected to spin the reels and wait for the results. The process often goes as follows:
- Choose an ideal slot that suits your gambling aims, whether by accommodating appropriate betting limits or having an attractive paytable
- If the game has adjustable win lines, activate those you would like to remain active. The number of active paylines influences the final bet value. It is recommended to play with all bet lines since they increase the chances of mapping out payout combinations
- Proceed to place the desired bet. Depending on the chosen pokie, this adjustment is made in either one or two fields. The game may allow the selection of coin value and the number of coins to use per spin. The choice can also be limited to either one of these fields.
- Spin the reels using either the spin or autoplay buttons. The latter allows the game to play consecutive rounds automatically, most of which can be preset. In some cases, a turbo spin option is provided as well, which runs the spins faster than usual.
Once the results of each spin are revealed, repeat the procedure until the desired payouts are acquired, or the designated gambling amount depletes. Considering how slot machines are programmed, no skill can be applied to influence the results of each round.
Slot gameplay remains similar in both the free and real money versions. The only difference is the use of fun credits in free slots and actual cash in the real money versions. Due to the higher risks in the latter category, the winnings collected in cash slots can be withdrawn once any stated casino terms are met. This procedure is executed using a control panel placed at the bottom or sides of the game. Typically, online gaming software developers have signature UI panels in their games, and they are often used as identifying features.
The Random Number Generator
When it comes to the results of slot machines, they are entirely random. It is impossible to accurately predict the icons that will be displayed after a spin. In the early days of slots, the random nature of slot results was determined by a rotating drum. The device was fitted with 50 of the 52 cards in a poker deck, excluding the joker cards to give the house an upper edge. As technology progressed, the mechanical drum was replaced by electricity-dependent programs. When online slots were introduced, so were Random Number Generators to maintain the element of luck.
An RNG, as Random Number Generators are popularly referred to, is a program that produces random results using complex mathematical formulas. The software is continuously creating long codes that could contain numbers in the billions and randomly picks any to display random results. The longer the produced numbers, the higher the chances of having random results in each spin. Seeing that slot games have hundreds of possible icon combinations that can be displayed in each slot spin, this system works seamlessly. Once random codes are revealed, a formula is used to equalize the result with icons found in the slot, which are then displayed on the playtable.
The most popularly used RNGs in slot machines are Pseudo-Random Number Generators. PRNGs use internal calendars or clocks to come up with random results, which differs from ordinary RNGs that use atomic decay or thermal noise.
Random Number Generators are usually not entirely random, since they require a base value to work with, which is referred to as the seed number. This value is only known by the developer and is not public knowledge to either casinos or players. If either one of these parties were to access the seed number, their chances of accurately predicting slot results would rise significantly.
There have been instances where casinos have been caught influencing the results of video slots by acquiring the seed number illegally. The most common cases surround jackpot slots, where the combinations used to trigger the pooled prizes are removed from the lineup. This leaves no chance for the win to be collected, even though it is displayed in the paytable. RNG testing firms come in handy for this purpose where they regularly test the software for fairness and offer their seals of approval to help players tell chaff from legitimate casinos.
Winnings and Bonuses
Even with no way to influence how to win in online slots, the games offer some of the best incentives in the gambling realm. Each slot machine comes with a unique set of winnings that are often crafted to match the software developer’s image and theme. With each spin, players have equal chances of landing any of these winnings with no influence from the previous or next round. Even with each game having distinctive payouts and bonuses, they mostly fall in similar categories, including:
- Symbol combinations
Character payouts are the most popular of all slot winnings, and they have been a defining factor for the games since their invention in the mid-1800s. These wins are awarded when icons of a kind, mostly three or more, appear adjacent to each other. In most cases, the payout patterns are determined by active paylines, and they have to start from the leftmost column. In others, win ways are used in the place of bet lines, which means that the combos can appear in any order as long as they are on adjacent reels. Some online and mobile slots use icon clusters for payouts instead, which triggers winnings when similar ones appear next to each other horizontally or vertically. Either way, the value of wins is usually determined by the bet value used and the characters in the combos.
Slot wilds are used to stand in the place of other icons to either complete or extend payout combinations. These bonuses appear as symbols, and in some cases, can even create combinations of their own.
Scatters are special symbols as well, and they usually trigger payouts or bonuses without having to abide by the payline rules applied to standard symbols. These icons are mostly used to activate bonus rounds when three or more come into view.
- Free spins
Free spins allow players to spin the slot without any dent to their balance, but they still offer a chance at collecting winnings. Freebies are often triggered by scatter symbols, and the number of bonus rounds awarded can be relative to the number of icons used to activate them.
- Gamble feature
The gamble game springs to life after payouts are collected in the base game. Players can use the winnings of the round to place a wager for double or nothing. In most cases, the gamble feature requires players to guess the colour of a down-facing card. In others, they either have to flip a coin or choose a card value higher than that of the dealer. Winning the round doubles the payout, and the players can either collect the awarded amount or try their luck several times more. However, the wrong answer often sees collected wins stripped away before being sent back to the base game.
Some slots come with in-built mini-games that break the monotony of spinning reels. Mostly, these games are crafted to suit the theme of the game. For instance, in the Fairytale Legends: Mirror Mirror slot, the mini-round redirects players to a mine where the seven dwarfs in the Snow-White story work. In the bonus, players randomly pick different gems off a wall, which the dwarfs proceed to mine and reveal different credit wins.
Popular Slot Myths
Slot machines may lack skill application to influence the results of each spin, but gamers have over the years come up with different tactics of gameplay. Some of these methods are straight out misconceptions, and here are some of the most common ones:
- Slots are rigged
It is often stated that the house always wins, which means that casinos usually have the upper hand over gamblers. While this is true, the results of slot gameplay remain random with higher chances of losing than winning. This defies the belief that slot games leave punters with no chance of winning at all. However, casinos do not play any role in the generation of winnings, and they remain as random to them as they are to the gambler.
- Use of bonuses influences payout odds
Bonuses and promotions offered by gaming clubs do not change the chances of winning combinations for better or worse. These incentives only grant players the opportunity to spin the reels for free on the casino’s budget. However, their odds of landing winning combos and bonuses remain the same as when you play for fun or real money.
- Time of gameplay matters
This fallacy is popular in brick and mortar casinos but is often believed by online gamblers as well. This myth indicates that slots are inclined more to pay during specific hours or days. The notion behind this belief is that gambling websites try to lure players during off-peak times with significant winnings. Since slot games operate using RNGs that do not have in-built memories, it is easy to debunk this myth. The results of each turn are entirely random, and they cannot be modified according to specific times.
The Importance of RTPs and Volatility
The results of slot machines cannot be predicted accurately, but RTP and volatility give players a vague idea of what they are in for. The RTP rate, which is Return to Player rate in full, usually expresses the percentage of payouts a slot is likely to award over the long run. The higher the RTP, the better the chances at landing decent payouts. However, understand that these rates are calculated over millions of spins, so playing a few hundred rounds can have different results.
Volatility, on the other hand, tells the risk associated with each slot game by telling how often and how much it is expected to table winnings. Low volatile slots usually present small wins regularly while high volatile ones offer big wins in more rare occasions.
It is only right to understand how slots work before indulging in what they have to offer. The mechanics of slots may change in one or two titles, but they usually play within the bounds mentioned in this article.