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Learn how to play slots

Guide online slot — slot machines from A to z

  1. How slot games work
  2. Myths about slot machines
  3. How programmed slot machines
  4. The payout percentage and variance of slot machines

Slots are currently the most popular game in the casino. The basic rules of this game has not changed since 1899 when Charles fey made the first slot machine. The player makes a bet and spins a set of reels with symbols. Each of these spinning reels is stopped at random. The player wins if the reels stop so that they form a line with the same characters. The rarer the winning symbols, the higher the winning amount. The payout for each winning combination shown in the table of benefits.

At present, the accident is stopped mechanical reels are replaced with random numbers, computer generated, but the principles remain the same. These principles of randomness are met by each licensed gambling provider. Randomization in slots has some very interesting effects, and every advanced player it is important to know them.

“The principles of randomness are met by each licensed gaming provider”.

How slot games work

Most online slots still use reels to display the result of each spin. Despite the fact that the results on the reels are given a computer math game still contains from 3 to 5 sets of characters (virtual drums)that stop in random positions. Why change something that’s worked fine for years?

Modern online slots have many new features that were not possible with mechanical reels. The symbols and the Wild, Scatter, free spins, bonus rounds and much more.

The random number generator (RNG)

There is one thing dealing with all honest slots: the result of each round based on the random number provided by random number generator (RNG). A random number generated by RNG, “according to” the reels when to stop and thus decides the outcome of the game. This means that the same game with the same random number should always give the same result.

The higher your bet, the usually higher payout percentage (RTP) of your betting system. We assume that all other rules of the betting system remain unchanged.

As random numbers are generated and then used in slot machines

  1. RNG generates a random number.
  2. The mathematical module of the game chooses a random number and calculates where to stop the reels.
  3. The game stops the reels in certain positions and calculates the resulting rotation.
  4. The outcome of the spin is then displayed to the player who initiated it.

    Your victory (or defeat) in each round is determined solely by your luck. The result does not depend on your previous wins or lossesor gains or losses of other players. It’s gambling in its purest form.

    The result does not depend on your previous wins or losses or gains or losses of other players.

    Not be amiss to explain how randomizing (RNG). Modern randomization that are used in online casinos are specialized hardware devices that generate random numbers from electromagnetic noise. It’s like an old TV without a signal — a lot of black and white dots. Black pixel is 0, a white pixel is 1. Take a snapshot of a small portion of the TV screen, convert the pixels to 1 and 0, record them in a text file, and you get a random number.

    The randomizer generates thousands of random numbers every second. Therefore, on the one hand, you will be able to affect the outcome of the next round by pressing the button a second later. However, on the other hand, you have no chance to predict whether the result is better for you or not. Thus, the fair accident is preserved.

    The random number generator Quantis

    How to make a casino?

    You may ask: if slots can’t be manipulated, as a casino make?

    The answer is simple: slots are designed so that they pay in the long term less than that set by the players.


    Imagine a simple game: you give me $ 1 and flip a coin. If it comes up heads, I’ll give you $ 1.50. If it comes up tails, you lose. It is obvious that the advantage is on my side. If you are lucky, you can win several rounds in a row, but in the end I still have a clear advantage. The randomness of this game is fair, but the long-term prospects in it.

    The slots almost all the same, only much harder. The mathematics of slots is determined by:

    • set of symbols on virtual reels
    • the size of the winnings in the paytable
    • the rules and probabilities of all of the bonus features
    • the settings of all the bonus features

    Math game combined with honest random numbers gives casino long-term advantage to the players. So casinos and earn money.

    “Mathematics of the game combined with honest random numbers gives casino long-term advantage to the players.”

    Myths about slot machines

    Now that I explained how to operate fair slots, it is time to destroy some popular myths about slots.

    Myth # 1: “Slots have cycles of winning combinations. You can win, watching these cycles and getting in the game at the time of winning part of the cycle.”

    It is a myth because slots really are based on fair random numbers. The house edge is hidden in the math of the game, and there is absolutely no need to complicate the whole system with any type of cycle.

    In fact you can see different options. But that is a result of natural randomness that cannot be predicted.

    Myth # 2: “Slot machines are programmed to not pay big winnings and pay only when in the machine enough money.”

    It is a myth of the days of standalone gaming machines, when a player took his winnings directly from the machine. But it’s still just a myth. If you win more money than is in the slot, the difference you will pay the casino.

    Modern slot machines are connected to a Central server, and all winnings are paid out by casino personnel, so there is no need to store cash in a slot machine. Random numbers work very well, and this myth is simply not justified.

    Myth No. 3 and No. 4: “If enabled, the AutoPlay payment is less than if you do spin manually and Manual impact on the arm machines gives you more chances than clicking the button for spin.”

    Those who know how slot machines realize that both of these myth have no meaning. The mathematics of the game remains unchanged, and the random number remains valid, regardless of whether you use auto play, the lever or the spin button.

    How programmed slot machines

    This is my favorite part because in the past I have personally developed software solutions for the gaming provider. 🙂

    Launch the casino and creating good games requires a number of skills. Moreover, players love to play the same game again and again. Probably that’s why were are specialized companies that focus solely on creating games in the casino. This is also the reason you can play the Starburst slot at many casinos. NetEnt (the company that created the Starburst) is an independent company.

    Here’s how it works in brief:

    1. Casino initiates your session.
    2. Your browser communicates with servers of the game provider, not the casino directly.
    3. Random number and the result is also generated by an independent company (the gaming provider).
    4. Casino just confirms your bets and be notified about your winnings slot provider.

    But there is one very important caveat: your loss (as well as the winnings) is purely coincidental. Even if you are playing your favorite game in an unknown casino, you are safe from the point of view of fairness of the game. But, however you are not immune from the risks associated with the actual getting their money. In order to protect yourself, use our casino reviews to find reputable casinos that actually pay money even when you win big. In the past I had a gaming session with RTP below 50%.

    To help you understand what a single spin in the game:

    As programmed slots

    1. The player clicks the spin button on a slot machine in your browser.
    2. The game sends a message “back” to the server of the game provider.
    3. Server provider gaming calculates the required rate. Server provider gaming asks a casino to deduct the amount of money needed for the spin.
    4. The server of the casino confirms this amount.
    5. The server is the provider of the game requests a random number from the RNG.
    6. RNG generates a random number.
    7. The provider’s server the game uses a random number to spin the virtual reels and calculates the result of the game round.
    8. Server provider gaming server asks the casino to add the winnings to the player’s account.
    9. The casino server adds and confirms the win.
    10. The outcome of the round returns to the game, which runs in the browser of the player.
    11. The outcome of the round is animated and displayed to the player.

    And all of this usually takes less than 200 milliseconds :).

    A payout percentage (RTP) and variance slots

    The payout percentage and variance are 2 of the most important mathematical characteristics of the slot machine. They mainly affect how much and how often you win. However, it is a bit more complicated. But I’ll try to explain.

    A payout percentage (RTP)

    RTP(Return to Player as well as the “payout ratio”, or “payout”) is a long — term statistical percentage of the total amount of money won divided by the total amount of wagered money. The phrase “long-term statistical percentage” can seem daunting, so here’s a more clear explanation:


    If the RTP of the games is 96%, this means that if you start with 1 000 000 000 dollars, and then will play 1 000 000 000 rounds for $ 1 each, in the end, you get about 960 000 000 dollars.

    If you play only a few hundred rounds, your current income can range from 30% to 1000%. But the more rounds you play, the more likely you will be closer to the statistical RTP of the slot machine. That’s why I used such large numbers in the example above.

    The most common payout percentage in online slots is about 96%. Some slots such as Blood Suckers, have a RTP of 98%.

    “The most common payout percentage in online slots is about 96%.”

    RTP (payout percentage) is a very popular feature in online slot machine, because it can be expressed by a single number. It is easy to compare and most popular game providers provide information about the RTP for each slot. And it is easier to write articles like “the Top 10 slots with the highest payouts”.

    RTP can be used for a variety of simplified calculations (e.g., the percentage of losses during the wagering requirement).


    Simplified calculations are good when you need to impress your friends over a glass of beer. But for more serious calculations (e.g., those that we did in our article about hunting for bonuses) you will need to take into account the volatility, or variance.

    The variance of the slots is quite a complicated concept, so I’ll start with an explanation of the variance in roulette:

    • When you bet on a color, you can win the amount of 2 times the greater of your bet, and you win quite often (18 of 37 rounds).
    • When you make a bet on a number, you can win the amount is 36 times your bet, but to win, you can only 1 of the 37 rounds.

    Dispersion of roulette can be expressed by numbers from 2 to 36, depending on what type of rate you choose. Higher variance means that your personal victory will be higher. However, you’ll win less, and you most likely will lose your entire budget.

    The variance in slots

    Variance slots cannot be expressed by one number, so how can you win thousands of various amounts are the result of many different winning combinations. I found that the most accurate way to represent variance slots is the chart:

    The variance on this slot game

    This chart depicts the total amount of winnings paid out in the form of different multiple bets. For example, the above chart shows that 15% of all winnings are paid in the form of individual winnings the amount of 2-5 times more bets, and 10% of the total number of wins are paid at a higher individual winnings the amount 200-500 times more bets.

    How to calculate variance

    Since variance cannot be expressed as a single number, the providers of games are usually referred to the category of slots from “low”, “medium” or “high” variance. These categories cannot be effectively compared or used in calculations, but they can give you a basic understanding of the volatility of the game you have chosen.

    The definition of the real variance slot (in the diagram above) is a very complex task. In fact, you have to reconstruct the set of reels of the game and correctly assess the likelihood of other gaming functions. Even for me it’s quite a difficult task, which depending on the slot can take a whole day or more.

    The variance of the slot you can roughly calculate from the paytable and reel set. Search for the highest winning combination. What are the chances to collect? How much will you win?

    Personally I like games with high variance, because you can win a lot of money and you can have the same thrills with lower rates. And lower rates mean that statistically you will lose less. This effect can easily be compensated by a lower payout percentage.


    For example, a payout in the lottery about 50%, but the chance to win the jackpot and become a multimillionaire still attracts players. Even my mom sometimes buys a lottery ticket and imagining what she would do if I win. And while it will never throw a dime in a slot machine.

    If you do not take into account the lottery, slot machines are the most volatile type of game you can play in a casino. The advantage of high dispersion can beat the high payout percentages of games like blackjack or roulette. To learn more about variance and percent of payment, and how they affect your chances of winning, read this article.

    How to increase the variance of the slot machine

    Here are some techniques that you can use to increase the variance of the slots:

    • Use the button double up (black/red). The payout percentage will remain the same and you can easily increase the variance of the game to the desired values simply by gambling until you win enough money.
    • Change the number of paylines to 1 and increase the line bet. The odds of winning in this particular line below, but you can expect much higher wins. If you don’t believe me, try this tactic in our online slots in demo mode;).

    These were the main tips which can be useful for you. However, if you really want to learn how to get the most out of playing slots, read the following article.

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