Slot machines and online casinos
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by: Charlie.
A classic slot is a thing of beauty. Like a well-designed watch, the classic slot is built to withstand the rigors of everyday use, while maintaining its allure as the years spin by.

First designed by Charley Fey in 1887, it’s much more then a coin deposit slot, a coin retrieval tray and something in between to entertain the player. The slot, to a gambler, is a symbol of hope, which, at any spin, can change his day, week, year, or in the case of progressive machines, his life.

The classic slot configuration is an arrangement of three reels on a metal central shaft. Beyond that, there are many engineering arrangements, but generally, the reels are pushed along by kickers and are halted by a set of stoppers, both of which reside on a second shaft below the central shaft.

When the player pulls the handle on a mechanical slot he sets the reels into action by activating the kickers, and the reels spin until the stoppers take hold and lock the reel into place, revealing the symbol on the payline. In reality, all three reels could be stopped simultaneously, but then where would the suspense be?

The modern slot, though it bears striking resemblance to its ancestor, is built on a completely different principle. The modern machine, like so many modern machines, is run by a small computer that determines where each reel will stop. Contrary to common misbelief, the computer does not predetermine when the machine will pay out. In fact the computer is there to ensure that each spin of the reels is indeed a random occurrence.

The computer ensures that each spin is completely unpredictable by generating a set of numbers using a Random Number Generator. It then determines what virtual stop the reel will land on by using a generated random number, or a derivative of that number. Virtual stops are mapped to physical symbols on the reel, and the selected symbol lands on the payline, just like in Fey’s slot machine.

Online casinos, as you would suspect, utilize a computer of their own to determine the outcome of each spin of the reel. In online gaming, the computer that generates the random numbers which determine the symbol appearing on the payline, isn’t located in the casino software that resides on your computer, but at a remote location. It alerts the software on your machine of the outcome of your wager and tells it to display the correct results. Your online casino knows, a split-second before you do, if you’ve won or lost your hand – you only know when you look at your balance.

As in the days of old, your casino knows what odds the slot machine is expected to pay out long before you put your first coin in. But what they don’t know is when the machine will payout, and who it will payout to. Most online casinos pay out around 95%, so the casino is looking for around a 5% profit over time. But that doesn’t mean that in a short run you can’t win a small fortune, and it doesn’t mean that the jackpot can’t come your way.


© Copyright 2004 Gambling Online Magazine
This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed

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