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  • Writer's pictureJamieson

Slot Machine Mechanics: Understanding How They Work

Slot machines, also known as fruit machines or simply slots, are one of the most popular types of casino games. They are known for their enticing visuals and sound effects, appealing whether played in land-based or online casinos. Moreover, the reels of a slot machine are incredibly easy to spin, requiring no special skills to play.

With the advancement of technology, slots have evolved too. However, the question remains the same – how do slot machines work? Once you understand their workings and get accustomed to them, you can tackle any slot, including those in land-based casinos as well as online slots, and enjoy the thrill. In this blog by 7XM, we aim to answer this simple yet crucial question.

Parts and Mechanics of Slot Machines

When it comes to playing slots, you don't need to be a pro to learn how to spin the reels and understand how everything works. Of course, you'll need to grasp some basic slot knowledge and what each button does, but it takes very little time to get the hang of the game.

The core components of every slot machine mechanism are known as the reels and the random number generator (RNG). There are various types of slot machines; all have the same structure and all use RNG, but we'll get into that later. Other parts of a land-based slot machine include:

  • Coin slot – where you insert your money and/or credit cards

  • Lever – pulling the lever activates the reels

  • Payout trigger – determines the payout amount

  • Reel plate – placed inside the combination lock

  • Winning line – also known as the payline, which you'll read more about later.

Attached to a handle mechanism, the metal shaft is the central element supporting the reels and setting things in motion.

Explaining Slot Reels

So what are slot machine reels? Also known as fruit machine reels, these are groups of symbols that, in most cases, spin vertically. There are many types of slots according to the number of reels they include, with the most common being 3- and 5-reel slots. Old-school 3-reel slot machines, or classic slots, are low-risk games that are the easiest to play. The 5-reel slot machines are definitely more popular in the slot world. Their high-quality graphics, stylish features, and brilliant animations will entice you to hit that “Spin” button instantly.

Although each slot is somewhat unique, most of them are played in the same way. Once you learn the basics, become familiar with the symbols and features, you're ready to play thousands of casino games without any worries. The first thing you need to do is start the game. Go to your favorite casino and select the slot you want to play. In most cases, you can try playing in free mode first, and in that way, you become familiar with the game rules before you start spinning for real money.

Slot Machine Random Number Generator

Built into the slot, the Random Number Generator (RNG) is a highly complex algorithm that usually generates all outcomes unpredictably, to ensure that each result is independent of each spin. So, whether you get a winning combo, or fail to match symbols on the reels in your previous sessions, they will have no effect on the outcome of your next session.

Here’s how RNG gaming works – after hitting the “Spin” button, the virtual reels start spinning, and the RNG continuously generates a sequence of symbols in a random manner, making each session unique.

There's also a number that shows how often a winning combo arrives on a slot machine, called the hit frequency. In simple terms, the higher the frequency, the more often winning combinations occur. High hit frequency slot machines are known as “loose” and are not always the best choice to play, as they don't feature high payback percentages. Low hit frequency slot machines, on the other hand, are known as “tight” slots and come with a payout rate better than loose machines.

Now, the payback rate or payback percentage is another thing to consider when playing slot machines. The payout rate generally grows with the amount of money put into a particular slot machine.

At this point, everyone is interested in the slot machine RNG crack – is it possible to hack the random number generator? Well, in theory, it is. You could predict the next sequence if you know the algorithm and the exact moment the number was generated. But in practice, the algorithm is hidden from everyone except regulatory bodies.

Slot Machine Payline and Pay Table

The pay table is the list of payouts and winning combinations in a particular game, and it usually tells you how the game works. Now, the paytable doesn't automatically open, so you need to know how to access it before you start spinning. Usually, it comes in the form of a question mark or a trophy. Since every slot has a specific number of symbols, the pay table tells you which are the high-paying symbols and which are the low-paying ones.

Also, there is a precise number of paylines, sometimes they are fixed and sometimes they are not. Typically, slot machine paylines are paths showing how symbols must align to activate wins. Slot machine lines can vary from 1 payline to 1024 paylines and more.

In most cases, the number of betting lines ranges from 25 to 30 paylines per slot. As we said, some slot machines allow you to adjust how many paylines you want to activate; others, however, only feature fixed paylines where you must play all of them. So, no matter in which direction the wins form, and regardless of the number of active paylines, every time you spin, a payline will cross the same number of symbols (i.e., 5 symbols on a 5-reel slot). The fewer paylines you activate, the smaller your chance of winning, but one thing is certain – each spin will significantly cost less. However, those playing progressive slots tend to activate as many paylines as they can.

Moreover, it's important to look at the symbols that need to line up to form a winning combo – see which picture is the scatter, which is the wild, and if there are any additional bonus symbols in the game or multipliers that cause payouts to multiply. Then, gain knowledge on how you can trigger the game’s bonus round or Free Spin feature, and you're halfway there. Also, pay attention if there's a gamble game involved and what you need to do when it's activated.

Next, set the coin value and the bet range, using the arrows or + and – signs or by clicking on the number. More specifically, in most slots, the “bet” sets the amount per line you want to wager, and along with “lines” and “coin value”, this will be your overall bet you wish to place for a single spin.

Now all that's left to do is hit the ‘Spin’ button or use the “Autoplay” option if you want to select the number of spins in advance.

The probability of slot machines is easy to understand. It's determined by the total number of symbols on each reel and the number of reels. So, for example, on a 5-reel slot machine featuring six symbols respectively, the total number of possible combinations would be 6 x 6 x 6 x 6 x 6 = 7,776. To calculate the odds, on the other hand, you just divide the total number of winning combinations by the number of possible combos.

A Whole New World of Slots Awaits

Now that you know what each button does and are familiar with key terms like paylines, pay table, RNG, don't be afraid to spin those reels and try your luck. However, remember, it all depends on luck. Unfortunately, there's no tutorial on how to be lucky and hit the winning combinations, just enjoy the moment and make sure you don't get carried away!


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