All bets on all slot machines are made using coins, tokens or credits. The denominations of the coins can be $0.05, $0.10, $0.25, $0.50, or $1.00. Penny machines are being phased out and nowadays there are rare few to be found in the modern casino. Tokens are generally in high denominations and can range upwards from $1.00 to $5.00 to $25.00 or other values. Many of the machines have an additional slot on the front where the player may insert paper currency in exchange for coins, tokens or credits.
The player will be able to bet between one to five coins depending on the number of reels in his selected slot machine. Some machines will permit bets of more than five coins. The player bets by inserting his coin, or a number of coins, into the single slot provided near the top of the slot machine. The coins will activate certain paylines as they are inserted, one at a time. Simultaneously, the activated paylines will be illuminated.
Once the player has made his bet, he will begin the play by starting the reels spinning. He will start the reels by clicking a push button, or by pulling the arm of the slot machine downwards. In online slots, the player gets the same result by clicking on the Spin (or Play) button, or by clicking the machine arm on the side of his machine. Both actions will start the reels spinning.
The reels will spin for only a few brief seconds, slow quickly and come to rest. When the reels stop, the play is over. The play is accompanied by flashing lights, musical sounds and in the event of a win, the tinkle or crashing of coins.
In the event of a win, one or more coins will immediately drop into the trough at the bottom of the slot machine. The number of coins won will depend on the number and type of winning combinations displayed in the machine window, and on whether the player bet on the combinations shown.
A typical sweet win would be where a number of the symbols, i.e., cherries, or bars, or stars or numbers etc., line up on a payline in one of the winning combinations listed on the payout table. For example, three bars in a row may pay 20 to 1. Three cherries in a row may pay 3 to 1. Paylines can be horizontal, vertical and/or diagonal depending on the type of machine and related payout table.
Usually, when a player hits one of the smaller winning combinations, he is paid automatically by the slot machine. Larger jackpots, however, are paid personally by a casino employee, who is notified of the win by a flashing light on the top of the machine.
In the event the player wins a larger jackpot, accompanied by a flashing light, he must stay with his machine until the responsible casino employee arrives with his payout. To leave the machine in search of a casino employee often leads to problems in identifying the winner.
The player, who wants to improve his odds of winning has to understand how the modern electronic slot machines actually work. In most casinos, the operation of the slot machine, and the size and frequency of payouts are dictated by a computer.
The total function of each machine is determined by programmed microchips, which include random number generators, a coin totalizing counter, and sub-programs which take into account the number and denomination of coins played each time. They also record the frequency with which each payline is activated. The master program calculates the results for each play cycle, and will set the type and frequency of payout in accordance with the house payout percentage for the machine in question.
Naturally, the number or reels, the symbols on each reel, and total paylines are taken into account, but they are not be as critical as they were in earlier times. In effect, the greater the number of reels and symbols, the harder it is to hit the jackpot or any other winning combination. The payout, however, can be proportionately greater.
It is important to understand that the number of symbols on each reel is programmed into the computer that operates the slot machine, and the actual number of symbols depends on the size of the jackpot that the machine offers. The reason for increasing or decreasing the programmed symbols is to control the size and frequency of payouts, i.e., jackpots. Initially, these are normally reduced until such time as the machine has generated sufficient cash to pay for the larger jackpot and, at the same time, yield a profit for the casino.
The term, average payback, refers to the average percent of the money bet, in a slot machine, that is paid back to the player. Most machines are programmed to pay out from 83 to 98 percent of the coins that are played over the course of a pay cycle. It is particularly interesting to note that, on average, the payback increases progressively with the higher denomination machines. See the following chart for recently confirmed average paybacks.
Cash Denomination $0.25 $0.50 $1.00 $5.00
Average Payback % 91.6 93.0 94.3 95.6
The player should be aware that the average payback may well be different from machine to machine and from casino to casino. For example, the big casinos in downtown Vegas may have paybacks which are different from those of the casinos on the Vegas Strip. Those paybacks can differ from the average paybacks of a casino in Laughlin, or Vancouver, Reno, Winnipeg or Tahoe. The wise player, therefore, will always carefully research the types of machines, payout tables, and average paybacks offered in whichever casino he chooses to play.
I have two new online casinos that offer a better than average Payback Percentage for their slot machines. Just be aware that the more bonus prizes that are offered (I.E. progressives and bonus slots) = a lower payout percentage, closer to 85%