The slot machine is pretty impressive when you think about it. It has evolved substantially over the last 120 years, starting out as a relatively simple machine paying out jackpots of 50c in 1894, to vastly complex interconnected machines with multimillion dollar payouts. You’ll spot slot machines just about everywhere you go in the UK and Australia, in casinos across America and cruise ships around the Pacific. You’ll even find innovative twists on traditional slots in the game centres of Japan. With such huge popularity and worldwide acclaim, the humble slot has picked up a fair few urban legends over the years – urban legends which simply don’t add up to much.
Ladbrokes recently posted an interesting and informative infographic detailing the myths & facts of the slot machine, shining a light on these urban legends once and for all. It may come as little surprise that most of the myths surrounding slot machines fall into two camps – ways in which you can win more, and ways in which the casino makes you win less.
There seems to be a theory, no matter where you go in the world, that slot machines which have paid out recently are incapable of paying out again. This could be because the machine is physically empty, it could be because the machine has warmed up or it could be because the casino’s manager has a secret switch turns off payouts. In truth, this is all completely inaccurate, partly because anti-laundering laws state that it’s illegal for casinos to try to help certain people win more often.
Because of this, slot machines run on random number generators which determine whether or not you win the moment you hit play or pull the lever. With every spin on every slot being entirely random and fully independent, there are no ways you can trick the machine into helping you win. This includes warming the coin in your hand before you play, blowing on the coin for good luck, or any other gaming ritual you may have come across.
There are several other theories floating around that say that you have more of a chance of winning on a 3 reel slot than a 5 reel slot, and a physical 5 reel slot than a virtual 3 reel slot. This is all entirely inaccurate, too, and this is because of the way a slot machine works. By using a random number generator the randomness is conserved whether you’re playing online or standing in a casino in Atlantic City – your odds across all three machines are virtually the same.
No matter what you do, there is nothing you can do to affect the randomness of the slots. The only way you can affect the outcome of the spin often lies in slot machine bonus games. On these machines if you happen to line up the right symbols you’re thrown into a minigame where you can try your luck at earning a free spin or extra cash. Since these are often skill-based, you can often start to win more by learning the rules of the game. If you want to take this to its extreme, the Japanese pachisuro machines offer just this. These machines allow players to win videogame battles by playing the slots. With these, the right level of skill and proper timing, these story-themed slot machines are beatable in the same way a videogame is. However, you’re still subject to random chance and a random number generator.
The take home message here is that whether you’re playing online, playing in England, Australia or anywhere else, your results are decided the moment you commit to the spin. Any theories, any urban legends and any myths you have heard are just that – stories to psyche yourself up for the play. Whether Lady Luck is on your side when you drop that coin in the slot is, and always has been, pure chance.