How Slot Machines Work

If you have ever wondered exactly how slot machines work, I have put together a shortexplanation below. There are basically two kinds of slot machines; reel slot machines and video slot machines. The third section below deals with progressive jackpot slot machines, which can be either reel or video slot machines.

How Reel Slot Machines Work

When I answer the question of how reel slot machines work, I am talking about slot machines with actual reels, not just graphics or pictures of reels on a screen.

When the slot machine handle is pulled or the slot machine spin button is pushed, the reels start turning. Each reel has a certain number of stops. In the old slot machines, the odds were completely controlled by the number of each symbol per reel. For example, a 3 reel slot machine with a top payout for 3 gold stars would only have one gold star per reel, but may have 4 or 5 spaces per reel for lower paying or non paying symbols.

The odds of hitting the top payout on these machines were easy to figure if you knew the total number of stops per reel. If there were 20 stops per reel and only one symbol per reel, the odds were 20 X 20 X 20 = 8000 to 1. You simply multiply the number of stops times itself for each reel. The same machine with 40 stops would give the odds of 40 X 40 X 40 = 64000. This greatly limited the top payout amounts available on these types of machine, because to have enough stops per reel to make large payouts possible, the reels became too big.

The newer versions of reel slot machines work around this by using computer software in combination with the reels and random number generating software. By using random numbers to match pre-assigned winning and losing combinations, simple 3 reel and 5 reel slot machines can now offer top payouts in the hundreds of thousands of dollars or more. This really makes them much closer to the way video slot machines work than the old fashioned reel slot machines. Continue reading “How Slot Machines Work”