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Rules for Playing Slots

Betting
All bets on all slot machines are made using coins, tokens or credits. The denominations of the coins can be $0.05, $0.10, $0.25, $0.50, or $1.00. Penny machines are being phased out and nowadays there are only very few to be found in modern casinos. Tokens come generally in high denominations and can range upwards from $1.00 to $5.00 to $25.00 or other values. Many of the machines have an additional slot on the front where the player may insert paper currency in exchange for coins, tokens or credits.

The player will be able to bet between one to five coins, depending on the number of reels in his/er selected slot machine. Some machines will allow bets of more than five coins. The player bets by inserting his coin, or a number of coins, into the single slot provided near the top of the slot machine. The coins will activate certain paylines as they are inserted, one at a time. Simultaneously, the activated paylines will be illuminated.

The Game
Once the player has made his/er bet, s/he will start the game by spinning the reels first. S/He can start the reels by clicking a push button, or by pulling the arm of the slot machine downwards. In online slots, the player gets the same result by clicking on the Spin (or Play) button, or by clicking the machine arm on the side of his/er machine. Both actions will start the reels spinning.

The reels will spin for only a few seconds, slow down quickly and stop moving. When the reels stop, the game is over. During the spinning, flashing lights, musical sounds and, in the event of a win, the tinkle or crashing of coins go off.

The Payout
In the event of a win, one or more coins will immediately drop into the trough at the bottom of the slot machine. The number of coins paid will depend on the number and type of winning combinations displayed in the machine window, and on whether the player betted on the combinations shown.

A typical sweet win would be where a number of the available symbols (cherries, bars, stars, numbers, among others) line up on a payline in one of the winning combinations listed on the payout table. For example, three bars in a row may pay 20 to 1. Three cherries in a row may pay 3 to 1. Paylines can be horizontal, vertical and/or diagonal depending on the type of machine and related payout table.

Usually, when a player hits one of the smaller winning combinations, s/he is paid automatically by the slot machine. Larger jackpots, however, are paid personally by a casino employee, who is notified of the win by a flashing light on the top of the machine.

In the event the player wins a larger jackpot, which is usually announced by a flashing light, s/he must stay with his/er machine until the responsible casino employee arrives with his/er payout. If the player goes to get an employee instead of waiting, it is impossible to prove that the player is actually the winner.

Slot Machines Operation
The player who wants to improve his/er odds at winning has to understand how the modern electronic slot machines actually work. In most casinos, the operation of the slot machine, its size and payout frequency are dictated by a computer.

The total function of each machine is determined by programmed microchips, which include random number generators, a coin totalizing counter, and sub-programs which take into account the number and denomination of coins played each time. They also record the frequency with which each payline is activated. The master program calculates the results for each play cycle, and will set the type and frequency of payout in accordance with the house payout percentage for the machine in question.

Naturally, the number or reels, the symbols on each reel, and the total of pay-lines are taken into account, but they are not as critical as they were in earlier times. In effect, the greater the number of reels and symbols, the harder it is to hit the jackpot or any other winning combination. The payout, however, can be proportionately greater.

It is important to understand that the number of symbols on each reel is programmed into the computer that operates the slot machine, and that the actual number of symbols depends on the size of the jackpot that the machine offers. The reason for increasing or decreasing the programmed symbols is to have control over the size and frequency of the jackpots. Initially, these are normally reduced until the machine has generated sufficient cash to pay for the larger jackpot and at the same time yield a profit for the casino.

Average Payback
The term ‘average payback’ refers to the average percent of the money betted in a slot machine, which is paid back to the player. Most machines are programmed to pay out from 83 to 98 percent of the coins that are played over the course of a pay cycle. It is particularly interesting to note that, on average, the payback increases progressively with the higher denomination machines. See the following chart for recently confirmed average paybacks.

Cash Denomination

$0.25

$0.50

$1.00

$5.00

Average Payback %

91.6

93.0

94.3

95.6

The player should be aware that the average payback may well be different from machine to machine and from casino to casino. For example, the big casinos in downtown Vegas may have different paybacks from those on the Vegas Strip, Laughlin, Vancouver, Reno, Winnipeg or Tahoe. The wise player, therefore, will always carefully study the types of machines, payout tables, and average paybacks offered in whichever casino s/he chooses to play.