How to Win at Slot Machines

Wondering how to win at slot machines? If you are going to gamble at a casino, you may think that slot machines are easy. You don't have to know the rules of complex games like craps, and slots offer odds of return that could be in your favor. Knowing some of the facts about slot machines will help you decide which machines to play, how often, when to move and what to expect.

How Slots Work
Modern slot machines have a random number generator, also known as an RNG, that works all the time, whether the machine is being played or not. It works faster than the fastest player can spin or press the button. When a player spins or presses the button, the machine displays the most recent set of random numbers that were generated. What this means is that every number is independently generated and has no bearing on the previous number displayed or generated. There is no pattern to wins or payouts. Machines are not "due" to hit a jackpot after a certain number of pulls, and it doesn't matter how fast a person plays. 

Older slot machines did have mechanical elements that triggered payouts after a certain amount of time. These mechanical features no longer exist, even in machines that have mechanical reels. Whether you win or lose depends entirely on the numbers generated by the machine's built-in computer.

Three-Reel Machines
A machine with 3 reels that has 10 symbols on each reel with two blanks between each symbol has 30 positions on each reel. That means there are 27,000 possible combinations when you pull the handle.

Each reel has a series of stopping points that are triggered by the numbers generated by the computer. To make things more complicated, a single number may trigger several different potential stops on the reel.

When you place a bet and spin the reels, the numbers generated by the computer trigger the reels to stop in specific places. You're essentially betting on the possibility that the computer has chosen this particular moment in time to generate a payout.

Payout Odds
Some machines are set for higher hit frequencies. This means there are more numbers that will generate a match for a payout. Machines with higher hit frequencies have lower payout percentages, meaning you'll win more often, but you'll get smaller amounts. Machines with higher payout percentages generally have a lower hit frequency. For those, a jackpot is more sizable, but the odds are lower that you will actually win.

Machines that have a higher hit frequency are known as "loose," and those are ones to look for if you're hoping to spend a lot of time playing. Sometimes an attendant will know which machines are loose, and be able to direct you toward those.

Payback percentages are set by state gaming commissions, but this only indicates how often a player should win, not the amount a player should win. As a rule, slot machines pay out at a rate of around 90%, though the payout rate can be as low as 75%.

Finding a Machine
If you're looking to increase the odds of finding a loose slot machine, stay away from high-traffic areas in a casino. Avoid places where people are waiting in line, because these areas tend to have people playing while they wait, which allows the casino to run tighter machines.

Go to the areas that are in view of the high-traffic areas, but not on top of them. Look at the average payouts and jackpots for the machine; if they're lower, the machines likely pay out more often. If you find yourself playing over and over again without winning, try going to a casino that's less popular or that's a little older. Casino operators will increase the payout percentages on their machines as a way to bring in business.

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