Slot Machine Terms
We've defined commonly used slot machine terms in this section. Some of these terms are also used in other forms of online gambling, however, the definitions used here relate specifically to slot machines.
Bank refers to a group of slot machines, usually in rows or other bunch patterns, usually grouping similar game types.
Candle is a term used to refer to the light on top of a slot machine. It flashes or makes noise to alert a floor staff operator that change is needed, hand pay is requested, or there is a potential mechanical problem with the machine.
Coin hopper is a container where the coins that are immediately available for payout or pay-in are held. The hopper is a mechanical device that rotates coins when a player collects credits or adds them either by pressing a "Cash Out" button or inserting currency for play. When a certain preset coin capacity is reached, a coin diverter automatically redirects, or "drops", excess coin into a "drop bucket" or "drop box". (See definition below)
Drop bucket or drop box is a container located in a slot machine where excess coins are diverted from the hopper. Normally, a drop bucket is used for low denomination slot machines and a drop box is used for high denomination slot machines. A drop box contains a hinged lid with one or more locks whereas a drop bucket does not contain a lid. The contents of drop buckets and drop boxes are collected and counted by the casino on a scheduled basis which is different from casino to casino.
Hand pay is a slot machine term used to refer to a payout made by a slot or cage employee, rather than the slot machine itself. A hand pay occurs when the amount of the payout exceeds the maximum amount originally preset by the slot machine's operator. Usually, the maximum amount is set at the level where the operator must begin to deduct taxes. A hand pay could also be necessary as a result of a short pay or occasionally a mistake on the part of the machine itself.
Low Level or Slant Top slot machines include a stool so you can sit and play. Stand Up or Upright slot machines are played while standing. Most long term slot players are going to tend toward low level machines, while those players who like to jump around the bank of machines a bit more won't mind playing Stand Up machines. Slant Top machines are much more common and therefore much more popular.
Payback Percentage is the amount of money the slot machine eventually pays back to its slot players. This number is not over the course of a few spins, but covers tens or even hundreds of thousands of spins. This term is often misunderstood. The payback percentage applies to total dollars run through the machine and not the money you personally have entered. Remember, slot machines are based on random math, not on your personal play time.
Payline is a straight or zig-zagged line that crosses through one symbol on each reel used to calculate a player's payout and win or loss. Classic spinning reel machines usually have up to nine paylines, while video slot machines may have as many as one hundred or more -- technology will always increase the high level of paylines, with online machines coming out constantly with larger and larger numbers of paylines. The more paylines, the greater possibility of winning on large wagers, or so goes the thinking of most slots players.
Random number generator is a kind of computer chip that slot machines have in them which constantly selects and spits out random numbers. The RNG determines if your spin is a winner or loser. This computer chip constantly cycles though numbers until a coin is placed in the slot machine. Once the button or lever is pushed, the reel stops on the symbol combination determined by the number the RNG stopped on as the coin was inserted. All the reel spinning and lights flashing is just for show.
Rollup is what employees and players call the blinking and flashing lights and sounds that play to signify a win -- meanwhile the meters count up to the amount that has been won. This does little for serious gamers, but is exciting for the first time slot player or casual gamer.
Short pay refers to a partial payout made by a slot machine, which is less than the amount due to the player. This occurs if the coin hopper has been depleted due to large or consistent earlier payouts to players. The remaining amount due to the player is either paid as a hand pay or an attendant will come and re-fill the machine. Be patient, and if the service is quick or particularly kind, consider a hand tip.
Theoretical Hold Worksheet is a document provided by the manufacturer for all slot machines, required by law, which indicates the theoretical percentage that the slot machine should hold based on normal levels of play. The worksheet also indicates the reel strip settings, the machine's payout schedule, the number of coins that may be played, the number of reels and other information descriptive of any particular slot machine. This is the main way that machines are legitimized by local and state governments, and is used to display a machine's payout schedule -- the most important facet of a machine for any player.
Tilt is something that applies mainly to older mechanical slot machines. Mechanical slot machines had what were known as "tilt switches". Some less than reputable players used to shake or move the machine in an attempt to get coins to fall out of the drop box. The "tilt switch" was in place to alert casino operators that this behavior was happening, and usually to switch off the machine to avoid trouble. Today, the term tilt can refer to many different kinds of mechanical failures, from reel motor failure to door switch problems. Rarely does anyone attempt to "tilt" a modern casino machine.
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