Slots are the most popular games in casinos in the U.S. and rapidly increasing their presence worldwide. Out of the hundreds of millions of people that use them every day, only a few truly understand how they work, and the history behind them. We have created this ultimate guide to help all players and interested new-comers with tips, understanding how they work, how much money they can win, what their chances of winning are, and much more. Our guide includes 11 different chapters on the most important aspects of slot machines, with detailed topics inside each chapter. By the end of reading this detailed guide, you will know all the ins and outs of slot machines.
JFK specializes in everything there is to know about slot machines. We have started the Flippin n Dippin’ movement to provide High Limits Slots experiences at casinos all over. We provide the best tips for gamers that want to have fun and win big! We see it as our top priority to help you increase your odds on high limit slot machines, play responsibly and improve your overall gaming experience. We make beneficial information available to not only members but non-members that want to make some money without using much of their hard-earned funds.
It can often be intimidating for new casino-goers to interact with the experienced players and dealers at the tables. This factor makes slot machines contribute to the majority of all casinos’ revenues. However, they weren’t always the most popular or effective way to gamble and win big.
Slot machines have grown worldwide and become one of the most popular ways to win money, even over table games. This is in a large part due to the fact that they are very easy to use and affordable when placing bets. They are appealing to participants because they can wager small amounts of money with the opportunity to win big. Technology has also made modern slot machines visually appealing and fun to use. A large percentage of first-time casino visitors often go to use slots first.
Slot machines were created by a mechanic in San Francisco in the late 19th century. They first started off with small forms of entertainment that were placed on the front counters of shopkeepers and business owners. In their start, slots would dispense small items like chewing gum. When introduced to the casinos, slots became a small and inexpensive way to entertain the significant others of people that played at the tables of casinos to win big.
The original model or concept of the slot machine was the Liberty Bell, invented by Charles Fey in San Francisco in 1895. This could be used by simply dropping a coin in the slot and consisted of three spinning reels and a handle on the side.
The reels had five different symbols to land on including the Liberty Bell, horseshoes, diamonds, spades and hearts. The middle of the display included a single payline. By lining up three Liberty Bells, one would receive the top payoff which was usually half a dollar. This is way less than what slots have grown to be today.
In its start, the three reel system would replace other wagering machines in popularity like poker machines and color wheels. However, slot machines that paid money would be illegal in the U.S. until Nevada legalized casino gambling in 1931.
Trade simulators would be placed on the counters inside stores to attract more customers and drive business. Instead of money, the machines would dispense items like gum, cigars and golf balls.
In 1932 another manufacturing company from Chicago named Lion Manufacturing joined the game machine industry. It would later change its name to Bally Technologies and move to Las Vegas, Nevada where slot machines were prevalent. Once gambling was legal in Nevada, Bally would become Herbert Mills’s main competitor in manufacturing slot machines. They would create the Bally Baby which was a countertop machine that awarded cards that could be traded for gum.
Another global leader in the slots industry is Scientific Games Corporation. They are providers of lottery games, electronic gaming machines, server-based lottery and gaming systems, sports betting technology, loyalty and rewards programs, and online social, mobile and interactive content and services. Scientific Games has its products installed in 450 different jurisdictions around the world. Just in North America it has 975,000 units installed. By acquiring so many other companies, they have experienced competition amongst their own product lines for space in the casinos. Scientific Games is also the owner of other major slot machine companies such as:
Other popular worldwide slot machine manufacturers are:
One of the first major manufacturers of the three reel slot machines was Herbert Mills in 1907. This Chicago manufacturer had already specialized in making coin machines such as vending machines and movie-viewers. Herbert Mills began the worldwide spread of slot machines and was the first manufacturer to use fruit symbols on the reels. Internationally, these machines are known as fruit machines.
Most slot machine fans have heard of the next manufacturer. IGT or International Gaming Technology is the leading slot machine manufacturer and designer worldwide. Their machines make up the majority of machines in any casino. Games that they make include Wheel of Fortune, Lobstermania, and Double Diamond. IGT has merged and acquired multiple corporations such as GTECH, Holdco and Georgia Worldwide Corporation. Along with doing business in over 100 countries, the company has contracts with over 700 casino operators in North and South America. It also offers DoubleDown Casino, an online social gaming casino ran through Facebook and Apple iOS.
Years later a Bally engineer by the name of Si Redd created video poker, but Bally did not support it. Redd took the initiative to found his own company named Sircoma to produce video poker. It gained popularity and his company went public and sold stock.
The company would operate in Reno, Nevada and eventually become International Game Technology (IGT), which would be the world’s largest slot machine manufacturer. As of 2014, IGT has merged with various other gambling services and technologies such as the Italian based leader of lotteries, GTECH.
IGT would create computerized slots that included virtual reels and random generators, which provided more variation in odds, leading to very large jackpots. The company also created the Megabucks game which linked machines located in various casinos in order to make multi-million dollar prizes available.
Currently, most of the slot machines used everywhere are displayed on video screens opposed to mechanical reels. The original video slots to imitate the three-reel slots weren’t successful. The Game Maker introduced by Bally in 1994 was the first slot game with unique video representations of spinning reels. Not only did it include a slot, but video poker and video blackjack games. This was the first video machine to gain a significant amount of popularity. Aristocrat and WMS would then create bonusing slots which would popularize the video format even more. International markets are currently led by video slots which now make up over 80 percent of modern casino slot floors.
Technology has changed the face of slot machines, having a bigger impact on them than any other casino games. Major technological advances in slots include:
Bally Technologies became the first major innovator of slot machines. They created the first slot machine to accept not only pennies but nickels and quarters. After producing the Hi-Boy in the 1940s, Bally became a leading provider for slot machines. Bally would make 80 percent of all slot machines by the 1960s, by this period they distributed the first slots to include electronic features.
Machines such as the Money Honey that included the coin hopper, were capable of providing larger payoffs without stopping play for the attendants to pay by hand. Slot machines actually wouldn’t be as popular as they are without these new innovative machines that paid out more.
IGT also took advantage of an add-on innovation from Anchor Gaming called the Wheel of Gold, in order to popularize the bonus wheel. After working with this smaller company and licensing the Wheel of Gold, it would be featured on the television game show “Wheel of Fortune”. This would make the Wheel of Fortune slots one of the most widely used machines to this date.
Many other slotmakers around the globe have also left their footprints on the manufacturing of slot machines. Aristocrat Technologies has made an impact by creating games with five reels, multiple paylines and bonus events at the start of the 1990’s. Seeing that Aristocrat’s games were so successful around the Pacific, American developers like WMS gaming would pioneer multi-line video bonus slots in the U.S. shortly after.
Another innovation with influence on the slots industry was the multi-game machine. Nowadays the machines have multiple games installed inside them and allow players to choose the games by touching icons on the screen. Before this feature existed, Bally had launched the Game Maker in 1994. This machine had a slot, video poker, and video blackjack. The popularity of poker and blackjack had helped to increase the popularity of video slots. IGT would then make a similar machine called the GameKing.
Bonus wheels have been a vital factor to slot-goers casino experience nowadays. The first bonus wheel was introduced as the Wheel of Gold by Anchor Gaming in 1995. The wheel is usually placed above the slot machines and when it releases a sound, to signal that it is spinning, every player in the area usually stops what they are doing to watch and see how many bonus credits the player will win. This would be followed by IGT releasing the Wheel of Fortune and afterwards many other manufacturers including this tool with their games.
Multi-line video slots with bonus play have also become a gaming trend over the years. This is due to the success that Aristocrat Technologies has had with video slots with multiple paylines overseas. Multi-line slots first became popular in the U.S. in 1997 when WMS Gaming introduced Reel ‘Em In. This would include five paylines. Along with matching fishing lure symbols appearing on the screen, a scene is displayed with fishermen on a lake and allows players to touch the screen in order to reel in a fish for bonus credits. This has been a vital aspect to the popularity of modern slots, seeing the bonusing factor in such a creative form.
Overall, technology has enhanced the slot machine experience. Due to the machines being computerized, bigger jackpots have been made available along with more options for playing experiences. The development of bill validators and ticket printers have also made playing more convenient and efficient while allowing low-denomination games. Slots have also become more appealing and entertaining due to bonus wheels and bonus events on the video screens. The creation of online slots has even made it possible for people to play from the comfort of their own homes. As technology evolves more and more, so will the slot manufacturing industry.
Progressive Jackpots have also been an important improvement in the world of slots. Slot machines with this feature add amounts from each wager to the jackpot until it is won. Once this happens, the jackpot is set back to the original amount and begins to build again. In the beginning of this innovation, there were only single-machine jackpots. Following this, linked progressives would be created, which electronically linked multiple games and caused the jackpot for all users to raise based on a large bet placed amongst any of the machines.
Even larger jackpots are built up from wide-area progressives which are even larger forms of the linked progressive. Along with machines being linked in one area within the casino, wide-area progressives link machines in different casinos. IGT Megabucks which was introduced in 1986 was the first wide-area progressive game. In 2003, this machine had paid a world-record jackpot of $39 million.
The first progressive slots only placed the jackpots on top-paying combinations. Multi-tiered jackpots have changed this with Mini, Minor, Major, and Grand jackpots. This became a major factor in casinos in the late 1990s when Aristocrat Technologies introduced the Cash Express game and Hyperlink jackpot system. This system makes small jackpots more accessible and keeps the player’s interest through more frequent wins. The small tiers range from $10 to the largest tiers of $2500. Multi-tiered progressives usually display the jackpot for a bank of various machines. These machines show when the bank is full, signaling that the progressive slots are paying out.
The inclusion of Bill Validators in slot machines makes using coins for every pull no longer a requirement. With this technology, the player must simply insert a bill into the reader for how many credits they want and play them off. Players can also print out the tickets if they don’t want to use all the credits. Ticket printers and bill validators allow the tickets to be inserted and their barcodes to be scanned on other machines to buy more credits.Using printers has been more efficient as large sums of money don’t have to be used by casinos to keep coins in stock. Attendants also no longer have to clear machines of coin jams or make players wait to refill them with coins.
It is very important for any newcomers as well as frequent casino goers to truly understand how slot machines actually work. Although playing slots is as simple as pressing a button, you can lose all of your money at the casino if you don’t understand how they work and approach them incorrectly. The two types of slots to understand are mechanical slots and video slots.
The digital era has made slots with a video screen or online the most sought after forms of playing slots. However, mechanical slots have maintained a loyal following for being traditional three-reel games. They have mostly remained popular in the United States. Software also still plays a major role in these machines just as it does for video slots.
Mechanical slots run on random number generators that determine which symbols the reels will display. These devices calculate the numbers that determine the symbols by using an algorithm. They also run at a rapid pace and are able to generate up to hundreds of random numbers per second. The random number generator even continues to run when no one is playing the machine. The amount of random numbers and how they relate to symbols changes each game along with the entry points for beginning the next calculation. The algorithm’s starting points can also vary based on whether the handle is pulled, one coin is bet, or the max bet button is pressed.
The random number generator works at a very fast pace meaning that stopping in between plays just for a few seconds can make a drastic change in the outcome, opposed to if you kept playing at the same pace. However this won’t make your result any better or any worse. If someone hits the jackpot once you leave, this simply means that the random number generator was at a different point of running its calculations.
Virtual reels make a significantly larger amount of possible outcomes than the of amount symbols and spaces on a mechanical reel being the determining factor. Mechanical reels have to fit inside the machine which often limits the number of symbols and spaces that can be used. Using a virtual reel can create up to 30 symbols and 30 spaces which enables a very large jackpot and allows more combinations.
Although three-reel mechanical games are traditional, video slots are now the most widely used machines in modern day casinos. Video slots are just as simple to play as mechanical slots. All the machines require you to do is insert your money into the bill validator, choose the number of paylines, how many coins you want wagered per line, and press the button to spin the reel. However, you should still have a profound understanding of how these slots work.
Just how mechanical reels work, video slots use a random number generator to determine the results. The video screens simply provide a more attractive display of what the random number generator is doing. Video slots are also attractive due to their bonus events. However, less of their overall payback is put into the main game than mechanical reel slots.
Video slots are more popular than any other game in the casino, but weren’t always the most sought after game. The screens initially weren’t appealing due to their low-resolution and flat imaging. They also lacked bonus events, animations and sound effects, which are the main factors that make modern slots so popular. At the time, people were also skeptical of computers and thought that the results on the video screens could be fixed. Many players did not know that mechanical reel slots also were computerized.
Various events have led video slots to the status that they have now. The first video slot was introduced in 1975 when Fortune Coin Company released the Fortune Coin slot. However, video poker would become more popular and would pave the way for other video games. In 1994 Bally Technologies launched the Game Maker which was the first machine to feature multiple games. Each one could be played by touching the icon on the screen. Later in the 1990s Aristocrat Technologies introduced five reel games with bonus events. Its success in Australia and the Pacific led companies in the United States to develop video bonus slots of their own. In 1997, Reel ‘Em In, released by WMS Gaming would be the first successful video slot in the United States.
The popularity generated by Reel ‘Em In made other slot manufacturers realize that they had to develop video slots in order to remain relevant in the gaming industry. Three-reel games were still in the highest demand in the United States, but as more companies began to manufacture video slots, innovations would give them a boost. Major additions to the video slots would be:
Out of the different kinds of video slots, penny slots are the most popular. The majority of them have at least 20 paylines and 40 of them are a common number. Multiple paylines and ticket printers that don’t have to dispense pennies make penny slots possible. Video slots have extra entertainment value through video clips and bonus events, which makes players remember the experience and keep coming back even if they don’t win.
It is important for players to understand that odds determine the results with slot machines and ways that they can increase their odds. Slots are actually one of the most random machines to ever be designed. However, the odds are placed in a way that provides the house with an edge. In most instances, strategy does not have to be applied to slot machines.
Paying out less than the actual odds of winning a bet is how casinos are able to generate profits. For example, on table games like roulette, odds can be 37-1 including 0,00 and the numbers 1 through 36. Although the odds against that number are 37-1, the winner of that number will be paid 35-1. Slot machines handle odds the same way, but instead there are thousands and in some instances millions of different reel combinations and possibilities.
Along with this, the designers of the slot can decide how much every winning combination pays meaning that a game’s odds are determined not only by the amount of winning combinations but also the payoffs per winner.
Virtual reels have allowed reels to act as if they have a tremendously wider range of stops. The three reels have a hundred stops per reel, making a million possible combinations. The majority of modern slots have five video reels and allow the designer to make them as long as they desire. Each of these five reels have 100 hundred symbols, leading to 10 billion possible combinations.
There are various types of slot machines, with progressives being a very popular form. The jackpot starts at a base value and grows little by little. Once the jackpot is won, the number displayed on the sign is set back to the original base value. The three types of progressive slots are:
Most of the time a maximum bet is required to win any of these jackpots. For example, dollar machines with three coin maximums would require more than a $2 wager to win the jackpot.
Standalone progressive slots are featured on individual machines. The screen on top of the main reels usually displays what the jackpot is. The machine takes a fraction of the amount bet by each player and adds it to the jackpot. Once the jackpot is won, it is reset back to the base value and the building process is restarted. All of the standalone jackpots are usually located in the same area and each neighboring machine displays its own jackpot.
Linked progressive slots link various machines and their jackpots at one casino. Every machine included in the link provides the same jackpot to the players. The linked machines take a portion of each bet and add them to the main jackpot. Similar to the standalone progressive, the linked progressive sets back to the original base value for all of the machines once someone wins the jackpot. Machines for linked progressive slots can even be on the complete opposite sides of the casino and display the same jackpot.
Wide area progressive slots are similar to linked progressives but accomodate a much larger range. With wide-area slots, jackpots on machines at various casinos can be linked. These types of progressives always provide the biggest jackpots in any casino. IGT, the largest and most popular provider of wide-area progressives, introduced Megabucks as the first wide-area machine system in 1986. IGT also provides linked progressives based on Wheel of Fortune and other popular television shows. Whether the machines are at different casinos or not, wide-area progressives always display the same jackpots. Just like the other two progressive slots, a fraction of each player’s bet is added to the jackpot through the link. The jackpot will reset to its base value at every casino once it is won. Overall, these slots are able to link machines that are hundreds of miles apart.
Another type of slot is the bonus slot. During the 90’s when they gained popularity, players were attracted to the bonus award that could be gained after collecting enough coins or symbols on the screen to trigger it. Some players used this to their advantage by searching for slots that were close to the bonus. Not as many of these exist today, but they can be found in casinos that have older slots. 4 types of these slots were:
This was a three-reel slot designed by WMS Gaming that included a Dotmation screen on top of the mechanical reels. The machine would add a coin to an animated piggy bank every time three blank spaces appeared on the reels. Once a Break the Bank symbol hit the payline, the screen displayed the piggy bank being broken by a hammer. The player would then collect the money. Players would eventually realize that they only had to play when enough coins were in the bank for the symbol to land on the payline.
This game displayed red, white and blue 7’s on a racing track on a color LCD panel. This was before its maker IGT decided to invest in video slots. Whenever a 7 landed on the payline, the 7 for that color would move ahead towards the finish line on the display. Players were able to give themselves an edge by searching for screens that displayed 7s that were close to the finish line. These were due to give bonus payouts.
This game was developed by Silicon Gaming which is now out of business. This machine would provide a bonus once by opening a vault if the individual solved the full 10-digit code. Players gained an edge when they solved only 5 numbers through reel spins.
This game was also created by Silicon Gaming. Players had to collect five daggers stuck in the ship’s rail. Players also had an edge with this game if three or four daggers were there when they got to the slot.
This game was designed by Bally Technologies. In this game if you collected up to 1,200 green stamps that landed on video reels, you’d be granted a bonus event. Players would gain an edge by looking for slots that had close to 1,200 stamps.
Blazing 7s has been one of the most popular games since Bally introduced it in the 1970s. The game has been designed to have jackpots far more frequently. It actually started off as a dollar progressive three-reel game. During one dollar games the top jackpot begins at $1000. This is won by having three triple Blazing 7 symbols. Seeing that the jackpots for these machines pay out at a more rapid pace, they are usually won before reaching $1200 which is the amount that requires players to sign a tax form in the United States. Developers purposely did this, keeping the tax aspect in mind when designing the algorithm for it.
Seeing that it’s a buy-a-pay game, players must realize that enough money has to be bet in order to unlock all of the game’s features. Because Blazing 7s is a three-reel game that requires three coins, winning symbols are won by each coin, meaning that the last coin will unlock the Blazing 7s symbols, making the jackpot available for the player. Although three-reel versions of the game still exist in casinos, they are not as prevalent as they once were. Blazing 7s is still an important theme in the history of slotting and has led to other games with the famous 7 symbols including:
Blazing 7s has also led to new innovations such as:
This slot game was launched in 1989. It includes three-reels, a jackpot multiplier feature, and diamond symbols. After creating this, IGT had developed a large number of games related to it. Instead of the traditional reel symbols such as 7s, bars, double bars, and triple bars found on most slot machines, this slot is popular because of the Double Diamond symbol that doubles winning combinations. If a player gets a Double Diamond symbol with two single bars, they will be rewarded double the amount of the regular payoff of three single bars. With two Double Diamonds and a single bar, the payoff is doubled twice and the player receives four times the amount for the payoff of three bars.
Three Double Diamonds will make the machine’s top jackpot available. Although it isn’t the first machine to include a multiplier, it is very popular and has led to other games. Machines have been made with five and ten times the normal payout. Various IGT bonus and progressive slots including Wheel of Fortune and Megabucks have also use Double Diamond in the base of their systems. Spin-offs of Double Diamond include:
Double Diamond Deluxe- This game has a nudge feature in which the diamond symbols will either fall down to the payline or nudge up if the diamond is pointed upward.
Triple Double Diamond- Payoffs are triple the usual opposed to the regular double the payoff
Double Diamond 2000- This is a five-reel video slot gave low-denomination players an option with the multiplier aspect that made Double Diamond so popular
Double Triple Diamond Deluxe With Cheese-This is a three-reel slot that included not only the Double Diamond but also the Triple Diamond symbols. Along with the diamond nudge featured in Double Diamond Deluxe, this game also has a top-box bonus event in which rolled dice advance the player from layer to layer of a cheeseburger. During this process the player collects credits.
This five-reel video slot was launched by Atronic in 1998. This game which got its theme from ancient Egypt has been a major hit in casinos to this date. After acquiring Atronic, when it merged with GTECH, IGT has maintained Sphinx and released various sequels to the game. This game was highly enjoyable because it was a pioneer for video slots that included two-tier bonus rounds. This was more enjoyable than the previous second-screen bonuses provided.
During the bonus event, players are taken into the Pharaoh’s tomb and have to determine their path. By choosing the correct path, players are then taken to the inner sanctum. Here, players have even more chances to win larger bonuses. The huge success of Sphinx led to the creation of Sphinx II. This game includes all of the same features as the first Sphinx along with two-way wagering that can allow players to increase their bets. Additionally, winning combinations can be lined up from right to left or left to right. This sequel was then followed up by Sphinx Magic which included an additional bonus round to earn a progressive jackpot.
Atronic has also launched Sphinx 3D, which includes high quality three-dimensional video animations. There is also a bonus event in which the player goes on an adventure through the Sphinx. It includes stacked wilds and discs that look like a scarab stacking on the reel. The animation is so vivid and quality that it appears to pop out of the screen.
Three-reel slots used to dominate and have the largest presence in casinos. This was when Red White And Blue was one of the most popular slot games a person could play. Even though video slots are more prevalent nowadays, the game still has a presence in casinos. The payoff on 7s combinations makes this an appealing slot machine. Earning a red 7 on the first reel, a blue one on the second reel, and a white on the third reel provides players with a huge jackpot. However, any combination of three 7s will give the player a large payoff.
Following this is red 7s, then whites and blues in payoff size. Along with this, the bar symbols are color-coded. Single bars are red, doubles are white and triples are blue. If the bars are mixed but in order, the payoff will be larger. Not only do symbols make and impact but colors, meaning that there is a way larger opportunity for jackpots than the average three-reel slot.
In regards to three-reel slots, Red White and Blue was one of the first to attract players with more frequent wins. Although they didn’t payout as much as video slots, they were high for three-reel players. As video slots became more prevalent, IGT applied LCD panels to the machine’s top box and incorporated the game with the Racing 7s bonus event in which the first 7 to win the race earned the bonus.
This game was a pioneer for video slots and popularized the format in the 1990s. Its bonus event makes it still popular to this day. The player chooses from a group of five fishermen sitting at a pond, and the bigger the fish reeled in by that fisherman, the bigger the bonus will be for the player.
There have also been sequels to Reel ‘Em In including:
1. Reel ‘Em In: Cast for Cash:
This version of the game includes two screens where instead, the player chooses the fishermen from the screen in the top box. The main screen below displays the fish swimming. As the fisherman chosen drops the line into the pond, fish can be seen biting the bait. The same rules as the original apply with bigger payouts for bigger fish. In this version however, extras like a fishing derby or even virtual trips to fishing locations around the world can be won. Each of these global locations has one fish that grants a large prize. The special fish featured range from the Elvis Fish at Lake Mead in Las Vegas to the Loch Ness Monster.
2. Reel ‘Em In: Big Bass Bucks:
This version includes three bonus events. The biggest event is the Big Bass Hole, which lets the player continuously drop their line into the water until they don’t catch a fish. Every bass that the player catches grants a bonus.
3.Reel ‘Em In: Compete to Win:
In the bonus for this version, players compete to catch the biggest fish.