Slot machines are among the most popular games in the world, both in betting shops and online. You’ve probably heard stories about slot “experts” improving their odds with simple tricks and strategies. You may even wonder how you can get in on the game.
Let’s take a look at the mechanics behind slot machines and see how well those tricks hold up.
How does a slot machine work?
All digital slots operate based on a random number generator, or RNG. This is a basic computer process designed to assemble random strings of numbers.
The RNG in an average slot machine assembles hundreds of random sequences every second. Before you begin a game, the computer is already generating number sequences. The machine then records the randomised set of numbers generated the millisecond you click “start,” thus determining the position of each slot reel.
Contrary to popular belief, slots are not programmed to have “hot streaks” or “cold streaks.” Each pull has the same odds, and the probability of winning isn’t impacted by how long you sit at the machine or how long it’s been since the machine paid out.
Let’s assume you’re sitting at a slot machine in a high street betting shop. You don’t have any luck, and you decide to switch to a new machine. Minutes later, someone comes along, sits at the machine you just vacated, and wins a jackpot on the first go. You can take solace knowing your odds wouldn’t have been any better if you’d stayed put. It’s all a matter of luck.
How slot machines play with your perception
Make no mistake: slots are a game of chance. However, they can use certain tricks to make you feel you have more control over the outcome than you actually do. Here are a few common examples:
- False wins: This occurs when you win, but your prize is less than what you wagered. It feels like you won, but in reality, you’ve lost money.
- Near-misses: A jackpot symbol appears directly above or below the pay line, giving you the impression, you were just one space away from the prize. Research suggests there’s a psychological effect at work, making you more likely to keep playing if this happens.
- Stop buttons: You might feel like pressing the “stop” button will have an impact, but because of the RNG, the outcome is already determined the moment you hit “spin.”
- Small wins: Similar to false wins, small wins give you the sense that you’re making progress. However, they’re not collectively enough to recoup losses.
What are my odds?
To be blunt… they’re not great. For example, assume each of the three reels on a machine has 64 virtual stops. That means your odds of landing the jackpot 1 in every 262,144 pulls.
Remember – digital slots are all based on the random number generator. There are no real shortcuts or tricks that can help improve your odds. Some slots may have a higher payback percentage, but these machines don’t change your actual odds of winning.
Beyond that, though, improving your odds at the slots is just a myth.