Winning at a Slot Machine – Pure Luck or Mathematics?

Slots Probabilities


One of the most popular and probably the most common games in a casino, slot machines, are a particular favourite for new or rather less experienced casino goers who do not want to risk their money in a game of poker or blackjack or roulette but still want to experience the thrill of gambling.  Slot machines are an easy choice of game, requiring just one coin for a spin and giving tons of excitement in return. One goes through a range of feelings as they watch the reels rotate, keeping their fingers crossed, wishing for the reels to stop at that one lucky symbol which will give them the jackpot.

But is winning at a slot machine really about luck? Unlike a game of poker or blackjack where a player faces actual human opponents, playing at a slot machine is simply trying to beat a mechanical thing which works according to the pattern fixed for it.


How Does a Slot Machine Work?

A typical slot machine has 3 reels with maybe around twenty symbols on each reel. The basic concept of a slot machine is that when a player inserts a coin and pulls the lever, the reels start spinning and if they stop at the same symbol, the player wins the prize.

The mechanism itself is easy to understand. But when one starts to calculate the actual chance of winning a prize through this mechanism using the rules of math, the answer is astounding. For a three reel machine with twenty symbols each, the probability for the first reel to stop at the winning symbol, the chance is 1/20 and the same goes for the other two reels too. Together, all three reels will stop at the same symbol only 1 in 8000 times!

There are also bigger slot machines with 5 reels and with many more symbols. In recent times, there are even machines which are not purely mechanical in their operation but also make use of microprocessors for deciding the reel combinations. One cannot even begin to calculate the slot probabilities for such kinds of machines.

What is a Slot Machine Pay Out or a House Edge?

In order to earn a reasonable amount of profit, the casino owners set the slot machine to give out only a certain percentage of the total money put into it when the reels do stop at the winning symbol.  As an example, if you put in $1 coin in the machine for 7999 times, you will be investing $7999 in the game but even then then at the 8000th spin, though the reels will stop at the same symbol, the pay out that the machine gives will be less than $8000.  This happens because, for every coin inserted, the slot machine keeps a percentage of it and returns only the remaining amount to the lucky winner. This technique is called the house edge and the final percentage that the machine pays to the winner is the slot machine’s payout.

Generally, casinos have been known to keep a pay-out of 95% to 99% for their slot machines. It must be understood that even this pay out percentage only applies to the lucky winner of the jackpot and not to each and every player that spins the reels. One should not be misled to believe that simply because a casino advertises its machine to have a 99% pay out means that every player will get 99% of their play money back. This is a popular myth among casino goers and must be put to rest.

When Can You Win at a Slot Machine?

In simple terms, you can win at a slot machine if you are the lucky one to spin the reels at the exact time when the machine has reached its winning probability. There is, of course, no way to predict or even calculate which spin the machine is on and therefore there is no way to be absolutely certain that your spin is going to win the jackpot.

It is not possible to beat a slot machine through pure math. As explained, it would take 8000 spins for even a simple 3 reel slot machine to reach the jackpot and there are no legal ways to rig a slot machine.

Play Slots For The Thrill of the Game!

Slot machines are one of the most fun games to play in a casino. From the big gamblers with deep pockets to elderly ladies with their buckets of casino chips, everybody loves a gamble at the slot machines.

It turns out that since these machines do work on a mathematical set of online slot probabilities, there is nothing that one can do to beat the mechanism. It may not be possible to predict how many spins the machine has taken but there are some machines which also have a component requiring a player’s skills where it may be easier to win.

And in Conclusion…

So, go on and try your luck at the slot machines. Maybe fate will smile upon you as you pull the lever spinning you towards your jackpot or maybe the gods of mathematics will favour you by putting the slot odds in your favour.  In any case, enjoy the slots for that rush of excitement, for the thrill of knowing that you may become a millionaire in a second and for that intoxicating delight of gambling.

Think no more – play your favourite pokies online slot today!