The “Reel” Truth About Slots


Slot machines are popular with players and casinos love them. They should love them. These seductive bandits haul in a majority of the casino’s gaming revenue each year.

When you walk into a casino slots dominate the landscape. They are everywhere. In Vegas you will find them in local stores, restaurants, and bars. There may come a day when they are placed in the bathroom stalls. Well, it is idle time, might as well gamble, right?

Slots are fun too. They are a perfect match for our short attention spans. These machines can gobble up your money and complete a spin cycle in seconds. Your money can disappear fast. Most slots do offer incredible, action-packed bonus rounds with potentially big payouts. So what’s not to like?

Slots don’t require any skill other than pressing a button or pulling a handle. Slots suck us in with flashing lights, video clips, exotic sounds, and gigantic jackpots. They are fun too. What’s not to like?

Slots keep pace with pop culture. Popular movies, singers, or television shows may lead to a slot machine made in their image. Some of the newest slots are Duck Dynasty, Elton John, Mad Men, and Britney Spears.

There are books, videos, and newsletters that delve deep into the inner workings of slots so we won’t do that here. There are a few tidbits though that may offer some insight.

Many slot players are deceived and motivated to play by a myth that surrounds slots. They believe that a machine is hot, ready to hit the big one. There is no truth in this.

The truth is that each and every pull on a slot machine is totally random. The myth is that you can tell when a machine is ready to hit or if it isn’t. It may hit. It may not hit. This is true, but it is true only because each spin is truly random.

Since slots are random, theoretically, you could hit the jackpot twice or three times in a row. Or, you could play for days and never hit it. A little genius chip called the Random Number Generator (RNG) controls the outcomes. The RNG generates hundreds of numbers per second so a millisecond difference in when you hit the button will change the result.

In addition, when you push the button or pull the handle the results are predetermined at that point. The spinning wheels are just for your entertainment. The reels will eventually line up as the RNG had predetermined.

Another relatively unknown fact is that the physical reels have sister “virtual” wheels that are invisible to the player. The player may see the 22 turning symbols on each wheel, but there may be 64 or more symbols on the matching virtual reels. This translates to less of a chance to land a winning combination than one might think.

If you are in the game to win, then always play the maximum bet. If you don’t, you will miss bigger wins and sometimes the bonus rounds. Always read the payout scale and see the differences when you don’t bet maximum. Even on a penny machine, the maximum bet can be several dollars. Serious players know that you have to have a pretty good bankroll to be successful in the long run with slots. But, of course, there is always that person who puts in a buck one time and wins the million dollars.

One way to learn more about the virtual reels and the inner workings of slots is to watch the Youtube video below. It is a short 4-minute explanation that is easy to follow and very interesting.

Video is here.


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