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Slot Machines, Reels and Stopping Points

Curious about how online slot machines work? It's just about understanding how its virtual reels and stopping points work. Let's see how slots operate.

The first and foremost thing to understand about slot machines is that their resells are perfectly random. There is absolutely no system, no manner of hacking, that can help you predict when that elusive jackpot will hit. Slots are configured in such a way that casinos will always beat the slot players as a whole, in the long run. Note we said "as a whole" and "long term." In the short term, individual players can get lucky and win more than they lose in slots.

If you look at an online slot machine's screen, you will see reels with various symbols on them. In reality, there are no physical reels in the slot. It is only computer software that gives the illusion of reels. When you see the illusory reels spin, you think the spin results are happening before your eyes. They aren't. In fact, the results were already determined when you pressed or clicked the spin button. The spinning reels are only ceremonial.

This is how an online slot machine arrives at a spin result. Each "reel" has a list of stopping points, say 100, stored in a part of the slot known as a "random number generator." Now let us say there are 5 symbols on a single reel. Those 100 stopping points are divided UNEVENLY among the symbols. Generally, the more valuable a symbol is, the less stops it has. The less valuable it is, the more stopping points. Result? Those bars appear just about every other spin, but that elusive dollar sign rarely stops on the payline!

It works the same way with combinations. How do you get 777 of the same color? Well, there will be stopping points for each 7 on each reel. But what if there are 5 stops for a white 7 on reel, 12 stops on reel 2 and only 1 stop on reel 3? That would make the combination harder to achieve.

The random number generator, as its name implies, chooses from the stopping points at random. It picks a stopping point for reel 1, then reel 2 and so on. It does so without any "memory" of what its other choices were. So it is all quite random and the slot machine does not "know" what it "chooses."

So the next time you see a jackpot symbol stop JUST below or above the payline, don't be upset. The online slot machine isn't cheating you. The results were already made before the reels began spinning. Further, because the symbols are weighted accordingly, the casinos don't have to cheat you. They will always win in the long run even if you get lucky and win big.

As a final note, do not assume that a 3 reel slot machine has better odds of being won than a 5 reel slot, just because it has fewer symbols and reels. It depends on how the symbols are weighted and numbered. When all is said and done, what matters most is what games you enjoy most. And there's no doubt slots are fun to play.