Slot Machines


The first slot machine was introduced in the 1890s by a man named Charles Fey, named the “Liberty Bell.” Since then, the technological advancements of the twentieth century have helped make slot machines the games that they are today – from electromechanical stepper slots to video slots run by computers. Today, they are the most popular form of gambling in casinos around the world.

Types of Slots

There are a wide variety of slot machines available in casinos today with new ideas and concepts being created by slot manufacturers every year. Below is a description of the general types of slot machines that you may find. Some slots combine two or more of each type.

Multiplier slots: Traditional three reel stepper slots allow you to play multiple credits per spin, usually up to three. The payouts for the winning combinations of these slots multiply in proportion to the number of credits wagered, with a bonus amount usually added to the payoff for the jackpot when the player is wagering the maximum credits. Below is the pay table for a 3-credit Double Diamond slot machine from IGT.


Multi-line slots: Three-reel slots may also have multiple pay lines, up to three, five, or nine unique pay lines. Each credit you wager activates a pay line, so the maximum wager is three, five, or nine credits. An example of a multi-line slot is the 5-line Double Diamond slot from IGT. The pay table is shown below.


Buy-A-Pay: This rare slot machine type can be confusing for a first-time slot player. Each credit wagered activates a group of symbols and winning combinations. For example, a wager of one credit activates the bars, two credits activate the sevens, and three credits activate the jackpot symbol. Two perfect examples of this type of slot are Blazing Sevens by Bally Technologies and Sizzling Sevens by IGT.


Video slots: The first video slots were introduced in the 1990s. Most of the newer and innovative slots that are in casinos today are usually video slots. Unlike traditional stepper slots, there is more flexibility on how slot manufacturers want to configure their video slots. Nearly all of them have multiple pay lines, sometimes as many as 100. Players can usually wager multiple credits per line, like a multiplier slot. In addition, video slots contain other bonus games that are triggered when certain symbols show up on the reels. These bonuses may require the player to pick symbols to collect extra credits. Others may award the player free spins. One of the most popular of these video slots is Super Jackpot Party by WMS.


Progressive slots: Any type of slot described above can also feature a progressive jackpot. The jackpot for these slots climbs up every time credits are wagered and it keeps climbing until someone hits it. Some progressive slots may be linked to others within a casino and even between other casinos. In the U.S. state of Nevada, the Megabucks slot by IGT gives the player a chance at a life-changing progressive jackpot that starts at $10,000,000.


Now some of you may be reading this and are probably wondering if there is a strategy to win at slots. Unfortunately there is no real way to consistently win at slots in the long term. All slot machines today contain a random number generator that determines the odds of the game and is programmed to have the slot pay out less than what it takes in. You just have to hope that you get lucky and stop the slot’s random number generator on a winning combination. As it is one of the easiest games to play, slots also give the player some of the worst odds and highest house edges in the casino. Plus, with a fast rate of play, slots will consume your gambling bankroll faster. Other games of luck such as Roulette and Baccarat have lower house edges than slots and have a slower rate of play.

“I don’t care that slots are a lousy bet! I like playing them the most and I still want to play!”

If you still insist on playing slots while at the casino, I have a few tips that you can use to help improve your play and possibly get lucky and win.

  • Use a player’s club card – Slot players are rewarded generously by the casino. If you are going to play anyway, make sure you sign up for that casino’s VIP program.
  • The higher the denomination, the higher the slot’s theoretical return – Unlike other casino games, the player is unable to figure out what the theoretical payback is on a given slot machine. However, it is generally understood that casinos set the paybacks by denomination. It is better to play a 25¢ denomination slot machine with a 5 credit max bet than a penny slot with a 125 credit max bet as the 25¢ slot will usually be set to return a higher percentage back to the player over time than a penny slot.
  • Have fun – Remember, slots and most games in the casino are a form of entertainment. Don’t play with more money than you can afford to lose and most importantly, have fun and enjoy the wins as they happen. Once you are not having fun anymore, you should leave.

One Final Note

If video poker interests you, I recommend that you and other slot players give it a try. Video poker, unlike slot machines, is a game of skill and the payback percentages on a video poker machine can be easily determined by observing its pay table. Once you learn the proper strategy of the type of video poker game you wish to play, the long term theoretical payback for the game you are playing will reach at least 98% to 99% and possibly higher!

Hope this article helps you understand about slot machines. I wish you good luck the next time you play at the casino.