Invented by Charles Fey in San Francisco, California, the
slot machine has grown into the most popular casino gambling
game type. Called slot machines in the United States and fruit
machines in Great Britain, these machines call for the push of a
button or pull of a lever before three or more reels begin
spinning and the possibility of winning a jackpot exists. Slot
machines have also been known as one-armed bandits because they
originally had to have a side lever pulled. From humble
beginnings, the slot machine has grown into a highly popular
cash-cow responsible for roughly 70% of the average casino's
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The History of Slots
Charles Fey's first slot machine was called Liberty Bell and
operated mechanically. The Liberty Bell had three spinning reels
which contained a total of five symbols each. Fey's Liberty Bell
allowed for players to receive an automatic mechanical payout
when the correct symbols happened to land on the machine.
Nothing like this had ever been seen before and it immediately
huge following. Even after such machines were outlawed in Fey’s home state he continued to find success building the machines for customers in neighbouring states and beyond.
As mechanical gaming machines became popular their payouts began to vary. While some machines simply paid winning players in currency, other machines that lacked mechanical payout awarded winning players drinks from the bar, cigars, and even chewing gum. The popular cherry and watermelon symbols on modern slot machines are derived from these early machines that paid winners in flavored chewing gum. Paying winning players in food and drinks was an attempt by
establishments to avoid gambling violations and attention from law enforcement.
The first slot machine as we know them today was created by Bally in 1963, and it was called Money Honey. This was the earliest slot machine that compares with modern slots and had a bottom hopper with large automatic payouts that did not require the aid of an attendant.
Modern Slot Machines
Unlike the original slot machines, today's slots are highly
technical, operate electronically with computer chips and have
the ability to detect counterfeit currency. Modern slot machines
as we know them can be played by entering some form of coin or
paper currency. The machine is then activated by pulling a
lever, pushing a button, or pushing a touchscreen. The more
modern machines have started to utilize touchscreens on machine
faces. The object for the player is to get more currency out of
the machine than was put in. There is a wide variety of slot
machines and they can involve no skill, a certain level of
skill, or create the illusion of requiring skill.
Winning a slot machine requires that symbols are matched on spinning reels or on spinning reels on a video screen. Symbols can be fruits, letters or numerals and tend to be easily recognizable. While matching symbols usually signify a win, the correct combination of multiple symbols can
also mean a win depending on the individual slot machine. Multi-line slot machines have increased in popularity since the 1990s and appear to offer better odds of winning, although they more than likely are programmed to offer the same odds as any other machine. Multi-line slots offer wins for a correct combination of symbols on more than one row, or payline.
They can include up to five paylines and can offer wins for visible diagonal and vertical
combinations. Slot machines can range in denomination from 1 cent to $100 or more per credit. Larger denomination slots are often in a separate High Limit area of casinos with special attendants to provide for players. Multi-denomination slot machines have recently become popular in larger casinos. These machines allow players to enter larger sums of money while specifying
smaller amounts they want to wager on individual spins. This allows players to keep money in the machine while playing as opposed to entering money for each individual spin.
Due to the nature of slot machines, there are very few rules
for players. In order to play a slot machine, the minimum amount
of money must be entered into the machine. The machine must then
be activated by pushing a button, pulling a lever, or pushing a
touchscreen. To be successful, the symbols on the reels or video
screen must appear in a winning combination. Payouts for winning
spins will be made by coin in the hopper below the machine or by
a printable receipt which must be presented to a casino bank
clerk. Although there are methods for bypassing the traditional
rules of slot machines, such as using counterfeit tokens, these
methods are frowned upon and usually illegal.
Being that slots are programmed machines, there is a limited
amount of strategy that can be used when playing. However,
knowing and understanding the various machines can be used to
increase the potential for a win. A key difference between reel
slot machines and video slots is in how payouts are multiplied.
When playing reel slot machines, the only method of obtaining
the jackpot is to enter the maximum number of credits allowed.
When playing video slot machines, the predetermined payouts are
multiplied by coins per line.
Simply put, this means it is advantageous for a reel machine player to bet the maximum amount while for a video machine player it is advantageous to bet the maximum number of lines. Some casinos in the United States offer free membership into slot clubs which return a small fraction of the amount wagered in slot machines in the form of complimentary hotel rooms, food, drink or other prize.
Joining one such club is a small way of reducing potential loss to the slots. Another strategy common among slot machine enthusiasts is to watch other individuals playing slot machines and watch for those who have not been winning. After a player bets and loses numerous times on a slot machine they eventually give up and move to another machine. At this point it can be advantageous to take over the original slot machine because it is due for a larger payout. The theory behind this method is that slot machines are programmed for large payouts rarely and allowing somebody else to use up the slot's losing spins increases the odds of sitting down to a winning spin.
No matter how skilled an individual is, it is important to remember that slot machines are programmed for success over players in the long-term and players best chance for profit is in the short-term. Of all the casino games being played today, slot machines are by far the most
popular and widely used. Slots have an extensive history in the United States and have been enjoyed by millions. Their bright lights, flashy colors, and the possibility of fortune lure people of all kinds.
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