The Myths and Facts of the Slot Machine

Slot machines are fascinating feats of engineering, electronics and innovation. Here at Ladbrokes we know all there is to know about slot machines, from how they're designed to how they pay out. We've sat down and looked at some of the popular myths and misconceptions surrounding the slot machine, putting them to bed once and for all. Are you as slot machine savvy as you thought? Visit our site today and see how many of these myths you believed for yourself.

Slot machines have been around for many years now. Starting out in 1894 as the 4-11-44 Slot Machine, the evolution of the slot machine has brought us many fascinating innovations and fun new ways to spin the reels. Though it may look a little different in 2015, the old One-Armed Bandit has made it through the years relatively unscathed. However nothing can survive this long without picking up a few urban legends along the way. Old timers at casinos around the world will all be able to tell you of the secret tips and tricks which will help you win big on the slots – the questions is, are any these tips genuine or are they all just simple superstition?

Believe it or not, it's impossible to rig a slot machine without interfering with the internal mechanics of the slot machine, and you're almost guaranteed to get caught and prosecuted if you try to do this. All modern slot machines are designed to run on random number generators, forcing the machine to pay out entirely at random regardless of whether you pull a lever or hit a button. This random number generator is the same whether you're playing a 3 reel slot machine or a 5 reel one – this means that your odds are actually the same, no matter which machine you're playing on. A random number is a random number, no matter how many ways you spin it.

RNGs are integral to the way the slot machine works – without them it would be impossible to keep wins random. This doesn't mean that slot machines aren't fair. After all, would you play a game of Blackjack if you knew that the dealer could stack the deck against you? Of course not – that would be an exercise in futility and you would simply never win. Slot machines in the UK work come with a fixed RTP, or return to player amount, which is usually displayed as a percentage. It's a legal requirement in the UK to display this, along with the category of the machine and the type of payout the machine follows, on the side of the machine.

In order to keep everything standardised, the UK Gambling Commission tests each machine to make sure that their RTP is both accurate and fair. This can be worked out by looking at the type of payout the machine follows – or to put it simply, whether the machine is ‘compensated' or random'.

Random slots use an RNG to calculate whether or not each spin is a winning spin. All spins are entirely independent of one another, and have identical percentage probabilities of being a winning spin. The average RTP on these machines is calculated based the statistical probability of winning over a given number of spins. Compensated machines are slightly different in that they can adjust this percentage probability of winning in order to keep the RTP at a fairly constant level. If a compensated machine is running slightly below RTP, it can become a little more generous; if it is running above RTP, it can become a little bit less so. The results of the spin are still random, the machine just gets ever so slightly easier to win on sometimes.

It's because of this set RTP that there are no magic switches for turning off payouts, no rules governing when a machine can and cannot pay out and no internal thermometers to help sway the machine's decision and cough up the big wins. Time and temperature simply do not factor into the decision.

Somehow over the years two similar myths were born. One myth suggests that cold machines pay better than warm ones, another myth suggests that warming a coin your hand will increase your chances of winning big. Surely this means that using a hot coin on a cold machine is a sure win? Again, no – if it did then everyone would be winning at slots all the time. Slot machines do not run on thermometers and they probably never will.

So what about online slots versus land based ones? Some people believe that because of the versatility of computer programming, online slots are designed to pay out less frequently than land based ones. In fact, the random number generators governing modern physical slots and online slot machines are very much the same. It doesn't matter if you're playing on your phone, your tablet or on a physical slot machine – your odds of winning are exactly the same for every single play. On that note, playing more does not mean winning more – it may be tempting to believe that the more coins go in the more coins come out, but that simply isn't true.

If a casino were to be seen to be helping one person or a group of people to win more often than others there would be a public outcry. First and foremost this is simply dishonest, and dishonesty does not make for loyal patrons. Secondly due to anti-laundering laws the casino would face massive legal repercussions, and a shut casino simply can't have any patrons. Casinos cannot and do not pick their winners, and they certainly cannot influence whether or not a slot machine pays out. On that note, slot machines can't decide when they pay out either – the decision is made entirely at random.

And there we go – 13 myths about the slot machine successfully debunked. So what have we learned through this process? The result of any spin – be it online or at a physical casino, started with a pull lever or a push button, using a cold machine or a hot coin – is decided by a random number generator. Neither the time, date, temperature, nor phase of the moon can affect the randomness of the slot. At the end of the day, whether or not you win is up to Lady Luck, and it always has been. With that in mind, if you're up for the bright colours, flashing lights and the thrill of the spin, you can try hand at the slots over at the Ladbrokes Casino today.