How a Slot Machine Works

Slot machines have been around for over 100 years, but they’re almost nothing like they were 100 years ago. The first slot contained a 5-drum machine with 50 playing cards for symbols. These slot machines couldn’t pay out directly, and the owners of these machines could easily remove symbols (obviously changing the odds drastically). This early version of a slot machine game was a failure. Buy how times have changed since then. Now you are able to play online slot machines for free or real money, and the graphics on today’s games are incredible.

How Slot Machines Used to Work

In 1891, Charles Augustus Fey invented the first 3-reel mechanical spinning slot machine. The Liberty Bell slot machine was made of 100 pounds of cast iron. Unlike today’s slot machines, Fey’s slot game was completely mechanical. The mechanical machine consisted of reels, stoppers, kickers, a cam, notched discs, and of course a handle. All of these parts have been replaced by computer programs today.

The actual mechanism behind these early slot machines were actually simple machines using a basic pulley system.

These original slot machines gave away money and candy, and they were popular in bars. The bar symbols on today’s slot machines represent a chewing gum prize, and the fruit represented various flavors of candy.

Electrical Slot Machines With Motors

Pinball machine manufacturer revolutionized the concept of mechanical slot machines in 1963 with an electrical machine with motorized payouts, lights and sounds, and a hopper. Cheating on these new electro mechanical slot machines became a lot harder, and multi coin slots became available. These multi coin slots allowed for bigger jackpots too, making the machines more popular with players. The gears of the old mechanical slot machines were replaced with motors, and the stoppers were replaced with solenoids.

Computerized Slot Machines – How Slot Machines Work Now

Slot machines were revolutionized again in the early 1980’s by Inge Telnaus, who developed a patent for a computerized method at determining the outcome of a slot machine also called a “virtual reel”. Casino owners loved these new machines, because the actual physical reels the old slot machines relied on were no longer needed.

These “virtual reels” are assigned numbers in a computer program. First the non paying and low paying combinations are given their number sequence (which involved the majority of digits used), leaving only a few numbers for the higher paying winning combinations.

The numbers are then inserted into a game chip where the random number generator scans all the numbers entered into the system until the bet button is pushed. The bet button stops the random number generator’s cycling of numbers, and the result determines a winning or non winning combination.

The result on a slot machine can change if the handle is pulled within a mere tenth of a millisecond. The RNG (random number generator) selects an outcome once someone signals the reels to spin, and when it has received its numbers it sends a signal to the motor, which stops the physical reels. The slot reels today have nothing to do with your wins or loses. They are there for informational and entertainment purposes only.

Online Slot Machines

Online slots UK games use the same system, but there is no physical machinery at all besides the computer the game is being played on. These online slot machines are the truest example of a virtual slot machine game. The random number generators used in online slot machines work exactly the same as the random number generators in a traditional casino slot machine. Online casino sites with jackpots over £1,000,000 are now a common sight these days.

Why Video Slot Machines and Online Slot Machines Offer Larger Jackpots

Video slot machines can hold more reels and have more symbols on each reel than a mechanical slot machine. The old mechanical slot machines were limited to approximately 3 to 5 reels with 10 to 20 symbols on each reel. With a limited number of reels and symbols, the amount of the jackpot had to be limited to make the slot machine profitable.

Video slot machines don’t have physical reels and symbols. The symbols and reels are just images on a screen, and a video slot machine can theoretically have 100 symbols on 10 reels. This can dramatically change the odds of hitting a winning combination, which makes it possible to offer much larger jackpots.

In fact, the number of reels and symbols represented on a video slot machine don’t even really matter as far as the payout percentage goes. The random number generator determines the payout percentage. On the old mechanical slot machines, the number of symbols on each reel and the payout for the combinations determined the payback percentage.

On a mechanical slot machine, there are x amount of symbols per reel. Someone can easily calculate the probability of a particular combination by multiplying the symbols against each other. So for example if a 3-reel slot machine has 22 symbols on each reel, any given combination would happen according to the following formula:

22 x 22 x 22 = 10,648 possible combinations.

So the odds of hitting a jackpot are 1 in 10,648. The machine will break even if it pays out $10,648 and will only profit if it pays out less than that.

But a video slot machine can be programmed to only hit a winning combination once in every 50,000 spins, regardless of the number of reels and symbols. And that’s why video slot machines and online slot machines are able to afford larger jackpots.