Pokies and Slots Academia
Introduction to Slot Machines, Pokies and Fruit Machines
A slot machine is one of the most popular casino games in the history of gambling. This is why whenever someone mentions gambling or casinos, the image of long rows of slot machines, or one arm bandits comes to mind. In fact, these machines are so popular that they contribute up to 70% of the average income of casinos in the United States.
A slot machine is also known as a Fruit Machine, in British English. It is also called Pokies or Poker Machines in New Zealand and Australian English and, Slots in Canadian English. Other names include one arm bandits. The reason behind that name is the fact that the game is initiated by pulling a lever (the arm) and that it has the ability to take the money of players (bandit). In simple words, the slot machine is a gambling machine that has 3 or more than 3 reels that start spinning once players pull down the lever or click on the “Spin” button. The symbols will start spinning and when they stop spinning, players will be paid if they have achieved any payable winning combos on the paylines of the game. These games can have one single middle payline or a number of paylines that can reach 200 lines in video slot machines at online casinos. These slot machines have a currency detector. This detector allows it to validate the authenticity of any coin or any form of money that is inserted into the machine.
Random Number Generator
It is also referred to as an RNG. Almost all modern slot machines are designed using a PRNG (Pseudo Random Number Generator). This generator is what generates the random symbols on the reels when they spin. This way, the result of the slot machine is completely random and unbiased to the casino or the player.
Although all games that run on a PRNG will have to eventually repeat the number sequence, players cannot predict the outcome. This is because the machines are specifically designed to overcome such problem as they are designed to keep generating numbers even while the machine is not being used. This is why players will not be able to take advantage of the sequence in any way in order to win.
The Different Types of Slot Machines
There are various types of slot machines. Some of these types can be found at both, land-based casinos while others can only be found online. These types include:
Classical Three Reeled Slot Machines:
These slots were originally found at land based gambling venues, pubs and clubs. They were called Fruit Machines, because hey mainly had fruit inspired symbols and one arm bandits. These slots have 3 reels with classical symbols on them that usually include fruits, bar symbols and bells. They can have one middle payline or up to 5 paylines.
Modern Five Reeled Video Slots:
These digitized machines do not have mechanical reels but electronic ones. They can be found at land based and online casinos. These machines have 5 reels and up to 200 lines. They usually do not have classical symbols as the symbols are inspired around the theme of the game.
Ways to Win Slot Machines
Ways to Win slots can offer 243 ways, 1024 ways and up to 3,125 ways to win. These games do not offer players paylines that they can place their bets on, but instead, it offers them ways to win. They will place bets on the entire position of the reels instead of fixed patterns or lines. For example, players who place a bet on 1 from 243 ways, it means that they will get 3 symbols in the 1st reels which can pay anywhere in these 3 positions while the remaining reels will pay in the center position only. Some games can even bring players the best of both worlds as they can place a bet on lines and ways in the same game. This helps in increasing the winning chances for players.
Linked or Progressive Slots
Some games offer jackpots that can be very rewarding but no matter how big they are, they will never be as big as linked or progressive jackpot games. Linked slot machines are games that are connected with each other. Whenever a player enters the casino that offers this game and places a bet, the progressive jackpot of the game will increase. The jackpot will keep on increasing until a lucky player succeeds in triggering the progressive jackpot of the game. Then the jackpot will be reset and so on.
Some games can be linked with other games in other casinos, these games are not owned by the casino as they are owned by the manufactures. The same way, whenever a player places a bet on the game at any casino, the progressive jackpot of the game will increase until a player hits it. Same goes for online casinos as the progressive jackpot game would be connected to the Progressive Network of its software developer.
United Kingdom and Fruit Machines
The provision and the operation of the Fruit Machines in the United Kingdom is regulated by the UK Gambling Act of 2005 which replaced the old Gaming Act of 1968. The Fruit Machines in the United Kingdom are categorized according to the definitions that are set by the Gambling Commission of the United Kingdom.
The casinos that were built under the Gaming Act of 1968 are allowed to offer up to 20 machines of the B category to the D category or any number of the D and C fruit machines. As for the casinos that were built under the Gambling Act of 2005, big casinos can have a maximum of 150 machines of any combination in Category B to category D. As for small casinos, they can have a maximum of 80 machines of any combination of fruit machines in category B to category D.
Fruit Machines Categories in the United Kingdom Explained:
Category A is a machine that has an unlimited maximum stake and maximum prize. These games were defined in the preparation for planned Super Casinos. Manchester was the only location that was chosen, despite the long bidding process that accompanied such decision.
Category B can have a maximum stake of £100, in multiples of £10 and a maximum prize of £4000. This category is divided into several sub categories. These categories are B1, B2, B3 and B4. The different between B1, B2 and B4 is mainly the maximum stake and the maximum prize that can be claimed. As for the B2 category, they are called FOBTs (Fixed Odds Betting Terminals). They have their own prize and stake rules. They can be found at betting shops or bookmakers and they can come in the form of a digitized roulette game. The games run on an RNG so the possibility of triggering the jackpot win is the same as any other fruit machine.
Category C has a maximum stake of £1 and a maximum prize of £70. This category is also referred to as Amusement With Prizes (AWP machines), fruit machines and one arm bandits. This type is usually found in arcades, clubs and pubs. Most of them have 3 reels but they can also be found with 4 or 5 reels and they usually have from 16 to 24 symbols on the reels.
Category D has a maximum stake that varies between 10p and £1 and a maximum prize is equal £8 (cash) or £50 (for non-cash prizes).
Pokies in Australia
As mentioned before, slot machines are referred to as Poker Machines or Pokies. The Australian styled pokies usually use video display in order to simulate the physical reels, they usually have 5 reels. These machines usually have extra bonuses and second screen type features such as a free spins round. They also have multiple paylines, up to two-hundred lines or ways to win slots, up to 3,125 ways to win. In 2010, there were more than 200 thousand pokies being operated in the country, which represented 2.75% of the total number of poker machines in the entire world, which is equal 7,249,919.
The regulation of offering such machines depends on the laws and regulation of each state government, this is why there is not one common law that covers all of Australia. These gaming machines can be found at gambling venues including casinos, clubs and pubs. These clubs include social, RSL clubs and sports club. The first ever state in Australia that legalized these gambling machines was NSW (New South Wales) and this was back in 1956.
In 1999, the Productivity Commission of Australia reported that Australia had almost 180 thousand pokies and more than half of this great number of poker machines was located in NSW. This number represented 21% of the number of poker machines around the world at that time. As for the revenue that is generated by poker machines, it accounted for more ½ of the 4 billion dollars, the total gambling revenue that was collected by the governments of the Australian States in 2002-2003.
According to the laws of Queensland, these machines in clubs and pubs will have to offer a return rate of at least 85 percent while the ones that are found in casinos will have to offer a minimum of 90% return rate. In the state of Victoria, these machines will have to offer a return rate of 87% and this includes the jackpot contribution. The return rate is always between 85% and 90% in the different states. In Western Australia, only a certain type of gaming machines is allowed in Burswood Casino. There are no pokies that can be found anywhere else.
Special Bonuses and Symbols
There are many features and bonuses that land based slots and online slots can offer. These special symbols include:
A bonus symbol is a symbol that has the ability to trigger a special and a unique bonus round. This can be a second screen feature or it can take place on the same screen of the main game. The bonus games are usually triggered when players get 3 or more bonus symbols on the reels and lines of the game.
The wild symbol is a special symbol that can replace any other symbol on the lines and the reels of the game in order to help players create a winning combo. Some games might offer more than one wild symbol while others can multiply any winning combos that are created by a wild symbol. Other slots can multiply the winnings even more if they were created by a wild symbol during a free spin.
It is another special symbol that rewards players generously. There are two ways in which this symbol can reward players. The first way is rewarding them by paying them scattered rewards. The other way is triggering the free spins round which is usually triggered when players get 3 scatter symbols at least on the reels of the game. The number of free spins depends on the slot machine and the number of scatter symbols that appear on the reels of the game.
Fruit machines will let players hold certain reels by clicking on the “Hold” button that is under each reel. Of course, players who want to do that will have to pay a certain fee. The fee to use this Hold feature depends on the symbols on the reels.
The nudge feature is activated randomly at fruit machines. This feature will enable players to nudge certain reels, this will nudge the symbols on the reel to allow for the creation of other combos on the reels of the game.
Collect A Wild:
This feature enables players to collect wilds. Whenever a player gets a wild symbol on any of the reels, it is collected under the reel. When players get a specific number of wilds, the entire reel will turn wild for a number of spins. This can drastically increase players’ chances of achieving a winning combo.
Second Screen Features:
These features will take players to a second screen where they can do a variety of things, depending on the slot machine. For example, in some games, players can spin a wheel of fortune, or click on symbols to claim instant cash prizes. The second screen feature can be skill based or it can be luck based. It depends on the game itself as each game has its own bonus rounds.
The Gaming Procedure of Slot Machines
The gaming procedure at online slots and land-based slots is similar but of course, there are differences between the two of them:
For Land Based Slot Machines:
Players will start the game by entering a coin. This coin can be money or a casino manufactured gaming coin that is specifically designed for the slots available at the casino. Once players place their bet, they will initiate the game. They can do that by pulling the lever or by clicking on the spin button. The reels will start to spin and once the reels stop spinning, players will be able to claim winnings if they achieved any winning combos.
For Online Slot Machines:
After players select the slot machine that they want to play at, they will also start by placing a wager. They can do that at the control panel of the game. This panel is found at the bottom of the reels. This panel includes different options that players will go through in order to specify their wager. These options include the number of coins that players want to place on each payline they activated, the number of lines they wish to activate and the value of the coins they want to use to place such wagers. Players can also place the maximum bet possible by clicking Max Bet. Once players click on Max Bet, the maximum bet will be placed and the reels will start to spin. Once the reels are done spinning, players will be rewarded according to the winning combos they succeeded in creating.
Slot machines are programmed in order to pay back winnings that vary between 82 and 98 percent of the money wagered by players. This is referred to as the Theoretical Payout Percentage or Return to Player (RTP). The minimum percentage of the payout different from one country to another and it is typically regulated by the regulation and the specific law of each jurisdiction. For instance, in the state of Nevada, the minimum payout percentage is equal 75%, in Mississippi it is fixed at 80% while in New Jersey, it is equal 83%. For example, if a slot machine costs one dollar per spin and the RTP of the slot machine is equal 95%, this means that over the course of 1 million spins, the machine will pay players a total of 950,000 dollars while keeping 5%, which is equal 50,000 dollars. Surprisingly, online casinos usually offer higher payout percentages than the land based ones despite the fact that they are not obligated by law to do that.
The payout percentage or the RTP is not the only statistic that comes to play on these machines, as the percentage of each payout on the paytable is important. For example, if a slot game has twelve rewards in its paytable and if every reward on the paytable has a percentage of 1% except the jackpot that has a percentage of 100%, it can be quite deceptive. This is because this game can be very dull but it also means that the jackpot can be triggered once in 4000 spins, which means that the game will have an RTP of 100 percent.
The probabilities table of any slot machine is called the Reel Strip and Paytable Sheet which is also called PARS. This sheet will help players to know more about the slot machine’s psychology. For example, if the game has thirteen rewards that range between 1 to 10 to 2400 to 1. It will reveal that the 1 to 1 reward will happen once time every eight spins, the 5 to 1 reward will happen once time every thirty-three spins and so on. This sheet is not published, as it is confidential and the manufacturers and the developers of the games will not publish them. On the other hand, there is a big chance that you can find that sheet of some games published on a website online.
Pokies are also known for giving players a “Taste” with giving free spins and other online casinos giving no deposit bonuses. This refers to a small monetary amount that is given to players who are seated so it can keep them paying and engaged into the game. This is because if players keep placing bets and they do not get any rewards in return, they will most likely be bored and will leave this slot and go for another. The taste is usually the 2 to 1 or 1 to 1 payout.
Slot Machines Misconceptions
There are a few misconceptions regarding slot machines and its game play. For example, some players believe that if they click on the spin button, this will increase their chances rather than pulling down the lever. This is not true because both ways will have the same effect on the result, which is no effect at all.
Other players believe that tapping on the spin button constantly while the reels are spinning will increase their chances of winning. This is also not true because that will do absolutely nothing but cause noise and discomfort to other players in the gambling venue. In fact, a casino attendant will approach players who do that and ask them to stop.
Lastly, when players leave the slot machine and another player take a seat and hits a jackpot, it does not mean that he “stole” their jackpot. This is because even if the player was seated, there is a big chance that he would not have hit the jackpot.
Slot machines are games of pure luck. This means that no matter how hard players try to understand the PARS sheet or calculate the odds, there is no way to predict the symbols and the outcome of the machines. Players will not be able to use any betting system or a technique in order to win because it is 100% based on luck. This is because the machine keeps generating numbers through its RNG even when no one is playing on that game, so whether it runs on a PRNG or an RNG, there is no way to predict the result.