With better graphics, interactive bonus games and innovative designs, slots are getting more and more advanced. Game providers are all competing to provide us with the ultimate entertainment. Beneath the amusing and charming exterior, we do however find the same old mechanics that ensures that the house always has an edge on us. In spite of this, we still love taking our favourite slots for a few lucky spins, hoping to hit that big win.
In the following article we will take a closer look at the mechanics behind slots, why we’re losing on them, how we can improve our chances of winning and why we love to play so much.
The basics – Slots are all about chance (RNG)
Slots have no memory. They never know how much you have won or lost and therefore this will never affect the outcome of a game round. Every spin is unique and the outcome is always randomly decided, which is guaranteed by a random number generator (RNG) being used in the slots.
To give a very simple example of this, you could picture rolling a die. The chance of hitting either one of the six numbers on this die is 1/6 every time you’re rolling it, no matter what it has previously shown. Slots work in a similar way, but where every number is a combination of different symbols and every time you press the spin button, it’s not a die of six numbers rolling, but a die that has thousands of numbers and thousands of different outcomes.
Another slight difference is that the probability for each outcome on a slot machine is not the same to one another. There’s something called hit frequency, which is a value set to determine what the probability should be for a certain outcome to happen. Let’s illustrate this by going back do the die again and picturing that the number 6 represents the highest paying symbol in the slot, whereas the number 1 represents the lowest paying one. Instead of every number having a 1/6 chance of showing up, we’re reprograming the die so that the number 6 is showing up half as often (1/12) and the number 1 twice as often (1/3). When we’re now rolling the die the outcome will still be randomly decided, but the probability of hitting the number 1 is now twice as high as 2-5 and four times higher than hitting the number 6.
We could also illustrate this by coming up with our own slot machine. Let’s call it “The Lucky Aquarium” and make things really simple by only giving this slot five different symbols; treasure chests, golden fishes, purple fishes, yellow fishes and red fishes.
|Five treasure chests||2500||0.001%|
|Five golden fishes||1000||0.015%|
|Five purple fishes||400||0.05%|
|Five yellow fishes||50||0.5%|
|Five red fishes||5||7%|
As you can see in the table above, this made up game has a probability (hit frequency) of 1/100,000 (0.001%) to hit a winning line of five of the highest paying symbols (treasure chests), whereas the probability of hitting any winning line of five symbols is about 1/13 (7.566%). This is an example of how it could look like in a real slot. It is however important to know that all slots have different values when it comes to payouts and hit frequency. Generally speaking, it’s fairly common that slots have about 40% probability of hitting any winning line of any symbols.