How Do Slot Machines Work

How do slot machines work? Will knowing the mechanics and mathematics behind the slot machines give you an edge when you enter a casino? Is there a way to beat the odds and win jackpots, or at least enough small payouts to come out ahead? The short answer is no. The longer answer is that knowing how slot machines work can help you decide which ones to play and what to expect.

Slot machines all have random number generators (RNGs) inside them that generate a constant stream of random combinations, even when they're not being played. When a player pulls the lever or pushes the spin button, the computer selects the random number generated at the exact millisecond the player activated the machine, and shows the reels accordingly.

The most important thing to understand about this process is that for any machine, the odds of winning don't increase each time you play. Every time you play, the numbers are randomly generated. This means that a machine is never due for a jackpot, even if it spit out losing combinations the last thousand times it was played. Playing more on any given machine won't give you better odds of winning. All it will do is make it more likely that your odds will match the machine's payout percentage, which is often set between 90% and 95%.

Certain slot machines have incentives for putting in the maximum allowed coins per spin. This is to entice you to spend more per spin, in hopes of winning more or getting bonus things such as free rooms, food, admission to shows, drinks, etc. You need to decide if these things are worth the extra hit to your wallet. The more you spend, the fewer times you will be able to play before your money runs out. Look for the machines that offer the highest payout percentages, because the small payouts will help your odds of return.

What not to Expect
Because slot machines are always run by the random number generator, the outcome will not change based on outside factors. Don't expect to increase your wins whether the machine hit a jackpot the play before you or six weeks ago. Every play is random.

If you have a slot card inserted, it won't increase your odds of winning. The day of the week, time of play and location of the machine have little bearing on the odds of winning, although casinos will often put machines with lower payout ratios in high-traffic areas, while those with better payout ratios are hidden deeper in slot rooms.

The payback odds of a particular machine depend on the way the machine is set. If the odds are posted, you can select the machine that has the highest odds advertised. If odds aren't posted, look for machines with lower jackpots and average payouts, as these tend to offer a higher payout percentage.

The number of players in the casino and the temperature of the coins you use have no effect on the machine. Remember: random numbers are generated each and every play, and even when the machine is not in play. When you play slots, you're gambling on the chance that you've picked just the right second to get a winning combination of random numbers. 

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