How Do Slot Machines Work | Learn The Basics

How Do Slot Machines Work

Casinos originally introduced early slot machines as a pastime for casual players. A Slot machine is unlike traditional table games like blackjack or craps. They need no gambling knowledge and may be played by anyone with a small stake.

This concept was a breath of fresh air for casinos, who were accustomed to slot machines sitting on the sidelines and generating less than 20 percent of annual gaming profits.

Modern Slot machines have evolved considerably over the years, both in terms of technology and style. Traditional mechanical designs have been almost entirely supplanted by computer-controlled devices.

The game, on the other hand, has remained largely unchanged.The machine has three reels, each with a picture painted on it. The player rotates a handle to alter the position of a sequence of reels (typically three) that have images printed on them. It’s determined by which pictures line up in the center of the viewing window, known as the pay line.

The payout for each reel is determined by the winning image that appears on the pay line. You win if each reel contains the identical winning picture (certain single images are occasionally winners as well). The amount you win, also known as a payout, is determined by which pictures appear along the pay line.

In this post, we’ll look at what makes modern slot machines’ reels spin and how they compare to old mechanical models. Also, we will look at the odds of winning on a slot machine like Quick Hit and examine some popular variations on the classic game.

The traditional slot machine has an intricate construction of gears and levers. The reels are held up by a metal shaft that runs down the center. A handle mechanism is used to activate the device.A braking system stops the spinning reels, and sensors communicate their position to the payout system. A coin detector notes that a coin has been inserted and unlocks a brake so the handle can move.

There are numerous methods to arrange these components, and manufacturers have tried hundreds of methods over the years, so we’ll look at one particular style. The standard design has three reels mounted on a central shaft. Three notched discs are attached to the three reels, and three more notched disks are attached to the two lateral shafts.

A kicker is mounted on a secondary shaft below the main one.The three discs are placed inside the vane chambers, and the kicker paddles line up so that a player can push against the notches on the discs. A second shaft also contains a series of linked stoppers, which fit into the notches on the discs.

The stoppers and the kickers are both attached to springs, which keep them in a standby posture. The kicker is kept behind the discs by means of springs, while the stoppers are pushed up against the discs, keeping them in place.

Pulling the Handle

Someone pulls the handle on a slot machine, several events happen. Here’s what happens:

The player views things in this manner. The handle is pulled. A clunk is heard, and the three reels begin to spin. Then all of the three reels simultaneously cease spinning one after another, followed by a payout (if required).The player is anxious to find out which symbols will be displayed until the machine begins to roll again. If the 1st reel stops on the jackpot symbol, then you must wait for the next reel to end before learning if it’s a winner, and then lastly the third. The player wins if all three exhibits the correct symbol.

Conventional, non-computerized mechanical slot machines eventually gave rise to electrical machines that worked on similar principles. The reels of an electrical machine are spun by motors, and the stoppers are usually triggered by solenoids, albeit in a similar manner to before. Electrical machinery, on the other hand, has more sophisticated money-handling systems like those seen in a vending machine and brighter light and sound displays.

Once the reels have stopped in both styles of slot machines, the machine must determine whether the player has won or lost. In the next section, we’ll look at some methods for determining this.


Slot machines employ a variety of payout systems. A jackpot is detected in one of the most basic designs by noting the depth of notches on the reels’ discs. To make it simple, let’s look at a slot machine with a very basic payout scheme. The machine accepts only one type of currency and just one picture combination that generates winnings.

When someone puts a coin in this machine, it falls into a transparent casing. The case’s bottom is a moveable shutter linked to a metal chain as shown in the drawing. Normally, the linkage keeps the shutter shut. When the machine strikes gold, however, the third stopper shifts the link up, allowing the shutter to open and coins to fall out of the machine.

The three discs have notches for each reel stop position. The jackpot stop notch is deeper than the others.Because of this, when the jackpot stop is triggered, the first stopper moves to the left farther than it would for any other stopper. If the second reel also stops on the jackpot.

If the 2nd reel stops on the jackpot, though, the second stopper will not slide all the way into the notch. The first stopper has a catch that prevents the second stopper from going past it.The second stopper has a catch that keeps the third stopper from moving forward. The first and second reels must fall on the jackpot symbol for the third stopper to fully engage with the jackpot notch.The shutter opens to remove all of the coins that have been wagered since the previous jackpot.

This type of layout is typical in slot machines. In order to pay out partially on some images and entirely on the jackpot combination, more complicated versions of this design are often used.

In some of the electrical machines, the discs have a chain of metal contacts linked to them. One of the contacts activates a stationary contact connected to a circuit board when the reels stop. Every stop on each modern slot machine wheel or reel will close a different switch in the electrical system in this manner. The machine’s electrical circuit is configured to operate the payout mechanism after certain combinations of closed switches are established (jackpot winners).

The photoelectric method, which is more sophisticated, employs photoelectric cells (also known as photo diodes), which generates a electrical current when exposed to light, to determine the position when you play slot machines. A series of holes are drilled around the outer edges of the rotating discs in this system. A light source is placed on 1 side of the disc, and a photo diode is positioned on the other.

The light passes through the holes in the disc and shines on to the photo diode as it turns.The photo diode creates the same pattern of pulses of electricity as a result of the disc’s holes. An electronic circuit may use this pattern to determine the reel’s position based on it.

Modern slot machines no longer have cams and ratchets. We’ll look at them next, in which case newer versions employ computers rather than gears.

 Computerized Slot Machines

Desktop slot machines are a modern phenomenon that have taken the world by storm. On the other hand, classic slot machines are meant to mimic and feel like old mechanical versions, but they employ a distinct strategy. Instead of relying on the movement of the reels, the outcome of each pull is determined by a computer in the machine’s middle.

The computer sends short digital pulses to the step motors, which cause them to rotate each reel and stop it at the pre-determined mark. Step motors are controlled by short digital signals from the computer rather than a fluctuating electrical current produced by an ordinary electric motor. Pulses move the motor by a precise amount, or step, at every revolution.

Even if the computer directs the reels to stop, the games are not pre-programmed to pay out at a specific time. A random number generator at the core of the computer ensures that each pull has an equal chance of hitting the jackpot.

When the slot machine is switched on, the random number generator spits out whole numbers (typically between one and several billion) 100s of times every second. The computer instantly records the following few digits from the random number generator as soon as you pull back (or press) the arm. Then these numbers are sent through a basic algorithm to determine where the reels should rest.

In a typical three-reel machine, the following is how things progress.

Slot machines have gotten a lot more adaptable thanks to computer technology. Players may now bet money straight from their bank account, rather than dropping coins in for each pull, as an example. Players can also keep track of their triumphs and failures more easily, as well as the casinos. Modern devices are also easier to operate, since players can simply press a button to play a game rather than pull the handle.

One of the key benefits for machine manufacturers is that they may quickly adjust how often the equipment pays out (how loose or tight it is). We’ll look at how to modify the slot machine’s chances of hitting the jackpot in the following section.

 What are the Odds?

In a contemporary slot machine, the chances of hitting a specific symbol or set of symbols are determined by how the virtual reel is constructed. As we demonstrated in the last section, each stop on the physical reel may be associated with more than one stop on the virtual reel. Simply said, if a particular image is on the actual reel and has virtual stops that correspond to it, there’s a chance of hitting it approximately n times (n being an integer).

The top progressive jackpot stop (the one with the highest-paying jackpot image) for each wheel in a weighted slot machine corresponds to just one virtual stop. The betting odds of hitting the jackpot image on any one reel is 1 in 64. The chances of landing the jackpot image on all 3 reels if all are set up similarly is 1 in 643, or 262,144.The virtual reel on large jackpot machines may have many more stops. This greatly reduces the chance of winning that grand prize.

The losing blank should, therefore, be above and below the jackpot picture. More virtual stops may correspond to fewer physical ones. As a result, the player is most likely to strike the blanks right next to the winning stop.This leads to the belief that they “just missed” the jackpot, which encourages them to keep gambling, even if their actual proximity is irrelevant.

A machine’s program is designed to give back a certain percentage of the money put in. This percentage is called the payback percentage. With a payback percentage of 90, the casino takes roughly 10% of all money put into the slot machine and gives away the rest. The casino wins over time with any payback percentage below 100 (and they’re all under 100).

In most jurisdictions, the law demands that payback rates be above a specific threshold (usually around 75%). Most casino games have a considerably higher payback percentage than the minimum, which is frequently in the 90 to 97 percent range. Casinos don’t want their machines to be significantly less generous than their rivals’.

The odds for each slot machine were calculated into the program on the computer chip. The casino cannot alter the odds on a slot machine without replacing this chip in most situations. There is no method for the casino to “tighten up” a machine at once, as many people believe.

It’s also worth noting that gaming machines don’t loosen up on their own. That is, they are not more likely to pay out as time goes on. Because the computer always generates new random numbers, you have an equal chance of winning the jackpot every time you pull the lever. In the regular gaming environment, the notion that a machine can be “ready to pay” is only in the player’s head.

You’ll have plenty of gaming options when you go to a casino and start betting on the slot machines. Different types of machines feature various numbers of reels, as well as different numbers of pay lines.

Most machines with multiple pay lines let you pick how many lines to play. Only the single line that runs straight across the reels counts for the lowest wager. If the player wishes to put more money into the game, they can play the additional horizontal and vertical lines above and below the main pay line, as well as the diagonal lines crossing over and under the reels.

Players will generally only be eligible for the maximum jackpot if they make the maximum wager on machines with several bet options, whether they have many pay lines or not. As a result, gaming researchers advise players to always wager the most.

Modern slot machines come in a varieties of payout options. A fixed payout amount is used in standard flat-top or straight slot machines. The jackpot prize in a progressive machine gradually rises as players add more cash into it, until someone wins it all and the progressive jackpot is reset to a beginning amount.

In one typical progressive arrangement, several machines are connected together in a single computer system. The jackpot is made up of contributions from each machine. Some large progressive games connect machines from different casinos all throughout a city or even a state together.

Some video slot machine versions are just for show. Video slots work in a similar way as traditional ones, but instead of real rotating reels, they feature a video image. When these games initially debuted, players were suspicious of them; without the spinning reels, it appeared as if the games were fixed. Even though the reels and handles in today’s machines have no bearing on the game’s outcome, manufacturers include them to provide gamers a sense of control on slot machines played.

Today, there are a variety of different newer slot machines available that have bonus rounds. These are simply a few of the most current popular slot variations. Game companies continue to develop new machines with creative spins on the traditional game. Many of these variants are themed around specific themes.

The Las Vegas modern machines have higher paying symbols, a bonus round. Sometimes gambling machines will have jackpot symbols.

Random Number Generator (RNG)

If you have come to this site to learn “How do slot machines generate random numbers” or “Are slot machines truly random”, you have come to the right place. In this article, we will tell you how a slot machine really works. Also, we will go into the details on some frequently asked questions Have you ever wondered how slot machines work? Whether you have played slots for a long time or you just joined the bandwagon of slot lovers, it is a common question and is important to have a better understanding of the basics of how slots work. It could be three reel slots, the five reel slots or even the all ways slot machines.

Having a better understanding will not only help you have the required knowledge on various slots but also because this will make you a good player. That is reasonable because, with a better understanding of let us say ways win slots, you will be in a better position of hitting the jackpot because you understand the rules. Check out this video below.  .

Basics Of How Slot Machines Work

It is good to remember that while it is fun to play slots whether, from land-based casinos or an online site, they also give the operators an excellent income. This, of course, is based on among other reasons, how you play your games. That means, if you blindly play slots without the knowledge of slot rules, you will end up using quite a lot of money that will be for the benefit of the operator.
How Slot Machines Work

That is how they make money anyway. To avoid this nasty scenario, you need to have a better understanding of the basics of how slots work, that, of course, include ways to win or all ways pays slot machines.

Classic Slots And Modern Slots

Back in the day when slots first came to the market, they used coins because they were all mechanical. But all the kinds of games back then also used a random number generator. What a contrast that video slots use a computer that generates numbers randomly thus determines the game.

Whether you are playing slots for the first time are among those that took part in playing classic slots where the mechanical number generator was used it is important to note that the results achieved are truly random.

No one can say with certainty that they can predict the winning number. It is purely random. But there is something that you need to understand correctly. The fact is that if you do not play as per the rules of the game, the casino from where you are playing your games will have an edge over you. That would be sad.

To illustrate how hard it is to predict, here is an example of roulette, which the odds of hitting certain specific number are 37:1. Surprisingly, a bet on a certain specific number would only pay off at 35:1. With such a huge discrepancy, you do not need to be a genius to figure out how casinos get an edge over players!

Slot machines work similarly. Whether they have three wheels or 5 reels, they work the same way. Note that it is likely that is will be hard to line up a particular set of matching symbols in a given reel or pay line. Because of that, it is most likely that you would have lost thus casinos having the edge over you.

What goes into the programming of casino slot machines?

Real money gamblers have seen land-based and online electronic gambling games. However, all they know is you either put cash into a device or make a deposit at an online casino, set your bet and click the spin button. Pull on the level or click autoplay and you are on an exciting adventure. As a result, you will see symbols land randomly. While this is the basic premise, there are a lot more that goes into programming slot machine jackpots.

Have you ever played a video game online or at an arcade? Basically, an casino slot game is very similar to a video game. While this might seem far-fetched, it is true. However, the developers spend millions of dollars to keep players spinning reels entertained and even addicted in some cases.

Players Chance Of Winning Real Money Increases Over Time

When Charley Fey invented his first Liberty Bell game, each of the symbols had an equal chance of winning. Therefore, players can win the same amount of real money with an equal chance of a matching symbol coming up. However, software developers got smart and created more ways to win. As a result, there are still a limited number of reels. However, the casino games are so fun and entertaining, people keep spinning even if they are not winning.

What algorithm do slot machines use?

Basically, all electronic gambling games are computerized and use algorithms like random number generators (RNG). While each device may look similar, they are usually very different based on the way the game was programmed. Furthermore, the software developer programs the device using the random number generator algorithm but they fine-tune each game to be unique and one-of-a-kind.

How do slot machines generate random numbers?

So, are slot machines truly random? Yes, they are! Basically, Each game uses a computer program with a random number generator. As a result, the outcome is randomly determined even when online casinos offer progressive jackpots. Moreover, developers may program their modern devices to show certain symbols more than others. However, the results are truly random.

This concept is very different than getting a random outcome playing a table game. For the short term, slot machines have worse odds of winning big than the majority of table games. Therefore, if you play slot machines, make sure you are playing to have fun. If you are looking to make money gambling, you may want to try poker or blackjack.

Why do US slot machines not have nudge or hold features?

Whether you are playing video, classic or a progressive slot machine, you will see the newer titles have more features. Some of them have Hold Features and a Nudge Feature. Basically, developers understand that people like to play multi-coin games. As a result, they offer the hold feature to give the player the opportunity to use a specific strategy.

The player’s strategy would be to play the game using one single coin for as long as they want. If a matching combination comes up, then they can click or tap the hold feature. Once they tap on the hold feature, they can bet the maximum number of chips or coins. Said differently, the hold feature is an electronic version of the old-school behold and draw machines, in the 1960s from Bally’s.

The Nudge Feature Becomes Popular In The United Kingdom

Have you ever used the nudge feature? Several developers offer this feature but it did not become as popular in the United States of America. Folks in the United Kingdom, who play “pokies” enjoy the nudge feature much more. However, developers make US machines with many other features to give players the illusion of the game being mechanical. Moreover, this is done to the point where the graphics are so good it looks like there is a real lever to pull down.


How do you win at slot machines?


  1. The higher the slot’s denomination, the better its payback percentage.
  2. Make certain you bet enough to be eligible for the jackpots.
  3. Choose games that are right for you and your playing style.
  4. Always stay within your means.
  5. To succeed, start small and build from there.

What triggers a jackpot on a slot machine?

The majority of slot machines have random number generators that may create thousands of numbers per second, each of which is linked to a different combination of symbols. You win if the random number generated in the exact moment you activate each play matches a payline; otherwise, you lose.

Is there a secret to winning on slot machines?

What are the greatest ways to win at slots? There is no way to guarantee success at slots every time. In fact, whether you play smart or stupid, you’re probably going to lose more frequently than you win. The house always has a leg up on roulette and other games because it’s impossible to be consistently successful.

Can you tell when a slot machine will hit?

The number chosen by the slot machine next is unpredictable by everyone looking at it. This is why a jackpot can never be said to be “due.”


Rich Caesar

Rich Caesar

Rich Caesar is our US gaming news correspondent for For the past six years, Rich has covered gaming markets in North America. Rich first joined in July 2014. Rich has written for a variety of gambling related publications over the years, and his work has been quoted in several industry magazines. He is always excited to bring a new perspective on what's happening in the gaming space. We look forward to what he writes for us next! Rich likes to keep updated with the worldwide gaming industry, and he takes special notice of anything new or that might be changing soon. Rich is originally from the United States but has spent many years living in different countries around the world. He loves anything outdoors and exploring, but he could also spend an entire day fishing on a boat without any difficulty. Currently, he lives in Canada.


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