Slot Machines – Mastering the ‘one-armed bandits’

Everyone who plays casino is all too familiar with slot machines. They are very diverse and come in various shapes, colours, styles and types. Without doubt, slot machines are one of the highest tech games you’ll find in a casino. 

However, the slot machine you see today has undergone a lot of evolution to become a piece that entices players. Surely, the modern slot machine isn’t the same as the first ones created in the Wild West. 

Let’s face it. Slot machines are cash cows for casinos. They make exorbitant sums from it as it is the most popular game for gamblers. And you know how easy it is for gambling to go wrong. But countless people keep coming back, gambling on slot machines and hoping to hit JACKPOT! 

Slot machines are referred to as ‘one-armed bandits’ because of the arm attached to the earlier models. And also because of their ability to empty players’ pockets like thieves would. 

In this article, we’ll be talking in detail about slot machines. We’ll teach you how to play slots and recognize the different types. You’ll also learn how to understand the odds and stretch the bankroll. And finally, you’ll know how to take advantage of the comps. 

So get ready, we are preparing you for your showdown with the one-armed bandits. 

Understanding Slot Machines and how to play

The design of slot machines didn’t change much in the early years. The only significant change then was the expansion of the reels to 20 symbols. And this increased the possible combinations from 1000 to 8000. Yeah, that’s a lot of increment. 

Increasing the combinations means there are more ways to win. The jackpot was also bigger. And this caused a lot of excitement in the gambling community. 

The modern sophisticated slot machines you see are so much different from the original model. So many twists and updates. But the one thing that never changed is the goal for gamblers. And that’s to align identical symbols in a row. 

Now, the design of the machines varies. Some have five reels while some have three. Some utilise a button to push while some utilise a handle to pull. But whatever the modification is, all you have to do is align identical symbols. Up-down, left-right or diagonal. And you’ve hit a JACKPOT!

Playing the game, easy as pushing a button

The jackpot is one of the reasons slot machines are so popular. Who doesn’t fancy the chance of winning life changing money? But another reason why slots are popular is their simplicity. 

Slots are easy to play. You don’t need any complicated strategy or decipher some tedious rules. Nope. Just put in your money and watch the reels spin. If the same symbols align, you can call yourself a winner. You can even play with your eyes closed. The machine will pay you every time you win whether you know it or not. 

There are a number of buttons on slot machines that make playing easier. 

Money slot: Slots allow you to play with coins or bills. You put your coins in a slot while there is a receptor for your bills. When you use paper currency, the machine will show a credit for the bill you inserted. 

Bet One: You use this button to wager just one of your credits. 

Bet Max: You use this to wager the maximum amount of credit the machine allows per spin. There’s a limit for each machine. 

This saves you the trouble of repeatedly pressing the Bet One button. 

Change: This button is for summoning a slot attendant. 

Cash/Credit: You are calling it a day. This button allows you to withdraw your winnings or any unused credit.

Dissecting the Innards: How Slot machines works

It’s not unusual for new players to think there’s a way you have to press the button or pull the lever so your chances of winning increase. Well, to clarify things and maybe break your heart, no strategy exists!

If you like, say a little prayer, press the button so hard your thumb hurts or even blink three times. Or do anything else. It changes nothing because the outcome of your game has been determined before you make your move. Confused? Don’t worry, we’ll explain. 

What determines the outcome of every spin is the computerized Random Number Generator (RNG) chip. The RNG cycles through millions of random numbers. It never stops and keeps working even when no one is using the machine. 

So when you make your move, the RNG freezes the current numbers as well as their corresponding positions on the reels. You can now see your fate is pretty much preordained. 

The utilisation of RNG technology means you can’t predict the outcome of a spin or change it. There is no strategy you can use to win. Absolutely none. The images you see flashing on the machine are just for design. The RNG has already decided the outcome.

Also, there is no repeat of cycles. There’s no pattern. Each spin is unique and completely independent of any previous spins. RNG is a pretty cold creature. No emotion, no sentiment. 

Getting wise to virtual reel-ality

We’ve already established that the RNG is random. But it also gives room for some minor modifications on individual machines. Confused again? We’ll explain.

Normally, slot machines have 20 different symbols on each reel. But the RNG also creates it own virtual reels with far more possibilities. The advantage of this is that there are bigger jackpots. But this option also lets casinos adjust the odds for individual slots. 

So don’t be surprised if you see the odds for two similar slots are different. But fear not, casinos cannot change odds at will. There’s no way casinos can tweak the odds in their favour when they are losing. 

A great deal and paywork is required to reprogram RNG chips. In fact, slots are rarely reprogrammed after being put out for use. The manufacturer would have set the odds before shipping the machines to casinos. 

The coinless age of Slot Machines: cash out ticket

Models of slot machines that use coins are quickly going into extinction. The new paper technology called Ticket In Ticket Out (TITO) is now being favoured. And rightly so as it has a number of advantages. 

Gamblers don’t have to carry coins all over the casino. Imagine carrying around 400 coins to the cashier’s desk just to cash out $20. Sounds ridiculous, right?

Casino also benefit more from coinless slots. Their costs is reduced as they don’t have to continually refill machines with coins. And secondly, they make more profit as players can spin more on coinless machines. Players no longer have to stop to put coins into the slots. 

TITO slot machines need no coin hopper as it accept both cash and machine tickets. Psychology is important in gaming. And for this reason, coinless slots are still programmed to produce the clinking sound of coins when you win.

The ticket also makes playing easier and more flexible. It’s very easy to change machines. You just cash out your credit on one machine and take your ticket to another machine. It doesn’t matter if the new machine uses a different denomination. When you feel like calling it a day, redeem your ticket at the cashier’s window. 

And make sure you don’t lose your ticket. Always try to cash it before you leave the casino. Expiry dates of tickets varies and some may be valid for up to six months. 

Casinos make a lot of money from unclaimed tickets. And guess what? Most of the tickets are under $1!

And that concludes the first part of our series of articles on slot machines. Go ahead and read the next article about identifying the different types of slots.

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