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How Slot Machines Work 2021 | How Slots Work

How Slot Machines Work: Slot Machine Reels, Mechanics and Random Number Generator

Slot machines, also known as fruit machines or simply slots, are one of the most popular types of casino games, because they come with engaging visual and sound effects, no matter if you play them at land-based or online casinos. Plus, slot machine reels are very easy to spin, and there are no skills required to play them. 

With a massive growth in technology, slots have evolved as well. But the question remains the same - how do slots work? Once you figure out how they work and get the hang of them, you’ll be able to tackle any slot, including both those in land-based casinos as well as online slots, and enjoy the drill. So here in this blog we’ll try to answer this simple yet very important question.

Slot Machine Parts and Mechanism

Ok, when it comes to playing slots, you don’t need to be a pro to learn how to spin the reels and figure out how it all works. Of course, you will need to understand some slot basics and what each button does, but it takes very little time to get the hang of the game, we promise!

The main parts of every slot machine mechanism are known to be the reels and random number generator (RNG). There are various types of slot machines; they all have the same structure and they all use RNG, but we’ll get to that later. Other parts of a land-based slot machine include:

  • coin slot - a place where you put your money and/or credit cards
  • lever - pulling the lever activates the reels
  • payout trigger - determines the payout amount
  • reel plate - is placed inside a combination lock
  • winning line - also known as payline and you’ll read more about in this text later. 

Attached to a handle mechanism, the metal shaft is the central element that supports the reels and gets things moving. 

Slot Reels Explained

So what are slot machine reels anyway? Also known as fruit machine reels, they are groups of symbols that, in most cases, spin vertically. There are many kinds of slots according to the number of reels they come with and the most common are 3- and 5-reel slots. Old-school 3-reel slot machines, or classic slots, are low-risk games that are easiest to play. 5-reel slot machines are surely more popular in the world of slots. Their high-quality graphics, styled features, flashy animations will make you wanna press that “Spin” button right away.

3 reel slot machine spinning before displaying the winning combination

Although each slot is somewhat unique, most of them are played in the same way. Once you learn the basics, get acquainted with the symbols and the features, you’ll be all set for playing thousands of casino games without any concerns. First thing you need to do is start the game. Go to your favourite casino and choose the slot you wish to play. In most cases, you’ll be able to try playing in free mode first, and that way you’ll get familiar with the game’s rules before you start spinning for real money.

Slot Machine Random Number Generator

Inbuilt into the slot, a Random number generator (RNG) is a very complex algorithm which basically generates all outcomes that cannot reasonably be predicted, in order to ensure that every result is independent of the previous spin. So, if you snagged a winning combo, or failed to land matching symbols on the reels in your previous sessions, they will have no impact whatsoever on the outcome of your next session.

After pushing the “Spin” button, the virtual reels start spinning and RNG generates a sequence of symbols in a random manner.

Here’s how the RNG gaming works - after pushing the “Spin” button, the virtual reels start spinning and RNG constantly generates a sequence of symbols in a random manner, with every session being unique, of course. 

microchip with random number generator for slots generates numbers and decides the position of slot reels all the time

There’s also a number that shows how often a winning combo on a slot machine lands, and it’s called hit frequency. In other words, the higher the frequency, the more often will winning combinations land. Slot machines that have a high hit frequency are called “loose” and these are not always the best ones to choose to play, as they don’t feature a high payback percentage. A low hit frequency slot machines, on the other hand, are known as “tight” slot machines and come with a payout rate that’s better than loose machines.

Now, payback rate or payback percentage is another thing you need to consider when playing slot machines. Payback rate basically grows with the amount of money that has been put into the specific slot machine.  

Ok, now at this point, we’re all interested in slot machine RNG crack - is it really possible to hack a random number generator? Well, in theory, it is. You can predict the next sequence if you know the algorithm and the exact moment the number is generated. But, in practice, the algorithm is hidden from everyone and everything, except from the regulating bodies.

Slot Machine Paylines and Pay Tables

Pay table is the list of payouts and winning combinations in a certain game, and it basically tells you how the game works. Now, the pay table does not open automatically, so you’ll need to know how to access it before you start spinning. Usually, it comes in a form of a question mark or a trophy. As every slot has a certain number of symbols, the pay table tells you what high paying symbols are and what low paying symbols are.

Likewise, there is a precise number of paylines, sometimes they are fixed and sometimes they are not. Basically, slot machine paylines are paths showing how symbols have to align to activate wins. Slot machine lines can vary from 1 payline right up to 1024 paylines and beyond.

There are two types of paylines – some slot machines come with adjustable paylines, while others only feature fixed paylines.

In most cases, the number of betting lines goes from 25 to 30 paylines, per slot. Like we said, some slot machines allow you to adjust how many paylines you want to activate; others however only feature fixed paylines where you need to play all of them. So, no matter in what direction the wins are being formed, and no matter what number of active paylines there are, each time you spin, a payline will always cross the same number of symbols (i.e. 5 symbols on a 5-reel slot). The less paylines you activate, the less chances of winning you’ll have, but one thing is certain - each spin will cost noticeably less. But those who play progressive slots tend to activate as many paylines as they can afford.

Make sure you check the pay table and know what symbols are most valuable and find out how you can trigger bonus rounds.

Furthermore, it’s essential to look at the symbols that need to be lined up to form a winning combo - see which image is the scatter, which is the wild, and if there are any additional bonus symbols in the game or multipliers that cause payouts to be multiplied. Then, get informed on how you can trigger the game's bonus round or Free Spin feature and you’ll be halfway through. Also, pay attention if there’s a gamble game involved and what you need to do once it’s activated.

slots pay table showing that a straight line is as a winning combination in this payline

Then, set the coin value and the betting range, by using the arrows or + and – sign or by clicking on the number. More precisely, in most slots, “bet” will set the amount per line that you want to bet, and along with “lines” and “coin value”, it will be the overall bet you want to stake for the single spin.

Now all that’s left to do is press the 'Spin' button or use the “Autoplay” option, if you wish to choose the number of spins in advance.

Slot machine probability is determined by the total number of symbols and the number of reels. 

Slot machine probability formula is easy to understand. It’s determined by the total number of symbols on each reel and the number of reels. So, for example, on a 5-reel slot machine featuring six symbols respectively, the total number of possible combos would be 6 x 6 x 6 x 6 x 6 = 7.776. To calculate the odds, on the other hand, you just divide the total number of winning combinations by the number of possible combos.  

A Whole New World of Slots Awaits

Now that you know what each button does and that you got acquainted with basic terms like paylines, pay tables, RNG, don’t be afraid to spin those reels and try your luck. Keep in mind though, it’s all up to your lucky stars! Unfortunately, there is no tutorial on how to be lucky and snag those winning combinations, just enjoy the moment and be sure you don’t get carried away!

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