Slots Tutorial, History, Strategy, Rules and Odds

What are Slot Machines?

Slot machines are also referred to as 1-arm bandits, slots and fruit machines. They are gambling devices. Each slot machine must have a minimum of three reels. When players push the lever or initiate the game by any other mean, the reels will start spinning. These reels have different symbols on them. The symbols that appear on these reels can be traditional symbols such as cherries, sevens, one bar, two bars, three bars and other fruits. This is why they are called fruit machines. Other modern machines can have other symbols that are based around a specific theme. The player who spins the reels will be paid according to the combination of symbols that appear on the reels. These slot machines are quite popular and they make up more than seventy percent of the income of any casino, whether online or land-based.

The Concept behind the Different Names

A slot machine is named as a result of the slot where players insert the coins to play the game. The fruit machine naming is because of the fruit symbols that appear on the symbols. The one-arm bandit naming refers to the lever “one arm” that players pull to start the game.

The History of Slot Machines

The history of Slot Machines dates back to the late 1880s. It was invented by Charley Fey. At that time, the symbols that appeared on the reels of the slot machine were poker symbols. These slot machines had 3 spinning reels. The symbols included diamonds, horseshoes, hearts, spades and bells. The fact that the game had only three reels and five symbols made it easier to create automatic payouts. The paytable of this game included several winning combinations. The higher paying combination was paid when players got three bells on a row. This combination would pay 50 cents. This game was very successful and popular.

Pitt and Sittman invented another form of the gambling machine back in 1891. This machine is looked upon as the early version of the slot machine that is found in modern gambling. This game contained 5 drums and fifty cards and it was themed around poker. This game was very popular in bars and other venues. Players who wanted to play the game would place a nickel and pull down the lever. The drums will start to spin. Players will then be rewarded according to the strength of the poker hand. Most of the rewards were in the form of free cigars or drinks, according to the products that are offered at the bar or the establishment. Most of these machines did not have a jack of hearts and a ten of spades in order to make it hard for players to get a royal flush.

In 1907, another slot machine was created by Herbert Mills, it was named the Operator Bell. In 1908, a lot of slot machines were installed in almost every salon, bowling alley, barbershop and cigar store. In fact, one of the original slot machines “Liberty Bell” can be found in a Restaurant in Reno and in the Liberty Bells Saloon.

Another device was created that rewarded players with chewing gums that are fruit flavored. This is why the symbols that appeared on the reels included different fruits. Up to this date, some machines still feature fruits on the symbols. Even the BAR symbols that were used in these machines and in the logo are still used in the traditional slots of today. These machines gave people rewards in the form of food or products in order to get around the gambling laws but Iowa courts ruled that these machines are gambling devices despite of the awards that they give.

Bally, in 1963, invented the first ever electromechanical machine that was entitled The Money Honey. This is the first slot machine to have a bottomless hopper and offers players automatic payoffs. The biggest win on this machine was equal 500 coins. This machine was the reason behind the popularity of electronic gambling. In 1996, the first ever video slot to offer players some kind of bonus round was named Reel “Em.

The introduction of multi-line slots happened in 1990s. These games offered players more than one winning line which means that players will have more chances of winning. This means that players do not have to get the winning combo on an aligned line on the screen, they can be scattered on the reels but on an activated wager line. Slots can have well over 100 paylines, some games offer players up to 1024 different ways to win. These video slots are usually themed around something. This can be a TV show, a movie or any other theme. Themed games include I Dream of Jeannie, The Addams Family, Happy days and more. The year 2005 witnessed of a new type of slots. These new slots mixed between traditional slots and the video slot machines.

Cheating at the Slots

Before the creation of video machines, the mechanical slots were vulnerable against cheating. This is because players could spin the reels without inserting a coin by using a lengthy wire. This allowed players to play the game without paying. This is why the modern slots are computer controlled in order to prevent any kind of cheating or fraud.

The Game Procedure
Players who wanted to play this game would start by placing a bar-coded coin or money in the opening slot of the machine. The player will then pull the lever down or click on a button on the touch screen in order to initiate the game. Then, real reels or simulated ones will start to spin on the screen. These reels have different symbols. These symbols include fruits, sevens, Bars, cherries or other symbols that the game is themed around. Players will have to get specific combinations of symbols in order to claim a payout. Video poker is one kind of slots but instead of symbols, players get cards and they are paid according to the strength of their poker hand according to the paytable of the game.

Any game will have a pay table. This paytable is a table that shows players the available winning combos and their payoffs. These winnings can be a number of coins or a multiplier that depends on the stake or the coin that the players have wagered.

The rewards of video machines and reel machines are calculated in two different ways. For video slots, the rewards depend on the amount of coins wagered on each payline. As for reel machines, the jackpot can be triggered only if players have placed the maximum wager. For example, in the reel version of the Wheel of Fortune, players who want to trigger the bonus will have to place three coins as for the video slot version; players can trigger the bonus regardless of the number of wagered coins per payline.


There are numerous terms that are used by slot lovers, here are some of them and their meaning:

Carousel:Carousel referrers to a group of slots, this group usually forms an oval or a circular shape.

Candle: A candle is the flashing light that is located at the top of the slot machine. This light will flash if the machine needs change or if players need to place their bet. It will also flash if there is any kind of problem.

Bonus: A bonus is a special feature that usually has a unique name. This bonus is triggered when players get a specific combination of symbols. The bonus round can give players a number of free spins on the slot machine among other bonuses.

Upright Machines: Upright is a term that refers to slot machines that are played by players who are standing up.

Payline: A payline is a zigzag or a straight line that players will have to get a winning combination on in order to claim a reward.

Paytable: A paytable shows players all of the possible winning combinations of symbols that players can get in order to claim a payout. In land-based machines, players will be able to find this paytable printed on the slot machine itself. As for online slots, it can be either found on the main screen or the players have to click on a button in order to open it.

Random Number Generators (RNG)

These machines use a random generator of numbers in order to guarantee players that all of the symbols that appear on the screen of the machine are 100% random. This is because a former programmer named Ronald Dale Harris came up with an equation that helped him in knowing the next set of symbols according to the last symbols that appeared on the reels. This is why machines use a Random Number Generator, to prevent anyone from knowing.

Linked Machines

Linking slot machines with each other allows the machines to give players mega jackpot wins due to the progressive jackpot it accumulates. The slot machines that are manufactured and owned by the same owner can be linked together even if they are not in the same casino. The most popular example is the Megabucks slot machine that is found in Nevada. It offers players a progressive jackpot that is equal 10 million dollars.

Online Slots

Due to the popularity of these machines, they were transformed into online casino games. In fact, online slots are the most commonly played types of online casino games. This is why players will notice that the biggest gaming section in any online casino is the slot machine’s section.

Online slots resemble the land-based slot machines to a big extent. They both include reels and they are both activated by coins and they have symbols on the reels. The only difference is the technology. Since online slots are computerized, it allows for a lot of bonus rounds, animations, high quality graphics and a quick game play. There are online slots that offer players 1024 ways to win which is something that cannot be found at land-based slot machines.
Players will start the game by placing their wager. The wagering area can be found at the bottom. According to the type of game and the offered paylines, the wagering options will vary. Usually, players will pick a coin size. These coin sizes usually vary from one game to another. Players will then choose the number of coins that they want to place on each line. Lastly, players will choose the lines they want to place wagers on. Players will then click on “Spin” in order to spin the reels. Any winnings will be highlighted in the paytable and will be highlighted on the reels as well.

Special Features of Online Slots

Online slots have special features that cannot be found at land based slots.

Wild Symbols: A wild symbol is a symbol that has the ability to substitute for any other symbol when it appears on the reels. This symbol increases chances of winning for players by helping them form winning combos.

Scatter Symbols: A scatter symbol can trigger the bonus round and it can also give players scattered payouts if they appear in certain places on the reels of the slot machine.

Bonus Rounds: Although bonus rounds can be found at land based machines, online slots offer players a more extensive set of bonuses. These bonuses include free spins, spin the wheel bonus or a game of luck.

Video Clips: Some games, especially the slots that are themed around a TV show or a movie will feature parts of the movie or the TV show to players when they get certain symbols.

Additional features: Online slots allow players to utilize additional features such as the re spin feature and auto play. Auto play allows players to set a stake and a number of spins in advance.

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