Slot Machine Payouts
Slot machines contain a "random number generator" which is essentially a micro-computer that constantly (even while the machine is not being used) spits out numbers. These random numbers correspond to positions on each of the reels inside the body of the slot machine. When you pull the handle or push the "Spin" button you aren't really initiating anything except the spinning of the reels -- which is merely for show. You are simply telling the machine to display the reel positions that correspond to the last set of random numbers that were generated. This random number generation helps determine the slot machine payouts, according to a pre determined schedule.
Slot Machine Payout Schedule
Depending on the slot machine payout schedule, winning payouts will vary from machine to machine. The number one piece of advice for slot players is to know your machine's payout. Those players who do not pay any attention to payout schedules are often the same players who walk away from the slot machines without a coin in their pocket. Similarly, those players who only pay attention to the max payout are limiting their scope of play and not really "playing to win" so to speak.
On the other hand, the smartest way to examine a payout schedule is to look at the lower winning symbol combinations. Choose a machine that offers the most winnings for the lower and medium symbol combos, because these are the ones you will be hitting most often, which consequently, will keep you playing longer. Do not play a slot machine simply because it has a high maximum payout. Don't forget that max payout may only apply if you're playing multiple coins at once -- something not every player at every slot machine does. Reasons for "playing low" are the simple fact that your chances of winning the large jackpot are a lot lower than winning smaller payouts. By walking around the casino, you should have a chance to look at all slot machine payout schedules before you begin to play. For example, let's say you want to decide between two slot machines. One machine offers a payout of 10 coins on a 3 coin wager for the lowest winning symbol combination, while the other machine offers a payout of 15 coins for a 3 coin wager with the same odds of winning as the first machine. The choice here should be obvious.
Slot Machine Payback Percentages and Hit Frequency
Given the random number generation factor of slot machine payouts, luck is as involved with slot play as it is with table play. However, the key point with slot machines is that they are set up with different payback percentages and hit frequencies, while the odds at table games are pretty much the same wherever you play because the rules are consistent from one casino floor to the next. Machines that pay off frequently are said to be "loose", but knowledge of the random number generation system should raise a red flag at the "loose" terminology -- just because a machine has paid out recently does NOT mean it will be paying out any time soon.
Besides, loose isn't always a good thing if you're looking for a hefty jackpot. If a machine has a high payback percentage (let's say 97.9%), but also has a high hit frequency, you'll end up with a lot of smaller payouts. If you're looking for this kind of game, you're in luck. You may come out ahead, but you'll be less likely to hit a sizable payoff that's worth writing home about. The best slot machines are those with a high payback percentage and a lower hit frequency.
So how do you spot these machines? You can't. The best you can do is ask a slot attendant or change attendant which machines are loose and hope this employee isn't frazzled or working a double or just plain mean. The rules of slot machine etiquette in the casino require that you do not act rude or bother the attendant for giving you a bad piece of advice if you come up dry on a machine. Remember, slot machine payouts are all decided by computer, and no human can interfere with their outcome.
A final note -- the casino can (and routinely does) change the payback percentages and hit frequencies of machines from a central control computer. This is another aspect of their business -- keeps things random and keeps their casino profitable. However, it does mean they keep track of what machines are hitting, and if you did get a good piece of advice from a floor employee, it is always a classy act to offer a tip. Consider it a sacrifice to the Random Number Generator gods.
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