Until the 1980s, table games like roulette, blackjack, and craps contributed the bulk of every casino’s revenues. Slot machines, which had been around for nearly a hundred years, were still considered to be something of a side show, a distraction, not truly a part of mainstream gambling.
But then, in 1981, a revolution occurred. International Game Technology (IGT) introduced a new technology called the “random number generator.” This computer device allowed electronics to replace the bulky mechanical apparatus inside the machines. More importantly, it opened the door for huge jackpots and an incredible variety of entertaining new games through the marriage of computers and video screens.
Today, slot play is every bit as important to casinos as the tables in the “pit” area. There are high-roller slots as well as penny slots, and slot “loyalty clubs” have been established to reward frequent players. Slots require little concentration and even less knowledge of “rules,” which is why so many people new to casino gambling find them to be an easy introduction. For adults of all ages, slots provide anticipation and excitement along with a source of amusement and relaxation.
Easy to Play
To begin playing, all it takes is dropping a coin in the machine’s slot or sliding paper currency into the bill insertion mechanism. The number of “credits” or “plays” that are available will appear in an electronic display. The player then chooses the size of bet to be made and/or the number of paylines desired by pressing the corresponding buttons that light up on the machine’s face just below the video screen or slot window.
To activate the machine, a lever is pulled or a “start” button is pushed. This causes the slot’s reels to spin. Each reel will come to rest on its own, although some machines feature “stop” buttons that allow the player to halt the spin. If a winning combination of symbols appears on the payline(s) selected, the slot machine will payout a fixed amount, as shown on its pay table. Win or lose, the player will then be prompted to play again. Ay winnings will be displayed electronically near the credits total. Some machines feature a “repeat” button that allows the same bet to be placed again and again.
Of course, the object of the game is to earn a reward by catching a matching combination of symbols, and the higher the payout the better. The top prize on a machine is called the “jackpot,” which is a term derived from poker as far back as 1881. Casino slot jackpots range from several thousands to many millions, depending on the machine, the amount bet, and the combination of symbols obtained. When a big jackpot hits, bells ring and lights flash, attracting plenty of attention from other players and casino staff. A slot attendant will come by to confirm the win and see that the jackpot is paid out properly.
A Few Basic Guidelines
Even though no specific rules govern the use of slot machines, all players should be aware of a few basic guidelines to get the most out of play. At the very least, it is a good practice to read and clearly understand the pay table for the machine that has been selected. When the pay table is not posted on the face of the machine, it can usually be accessed by pressing a “see pays” or “help” button. The table will then be displayed directly on the video screen or in the slot window.
It is also a good idea to learn what’s required to hit the jackpot. Quite often, the top prize can only be won when the maximum bet has been made. Along the same lines, certain combinations of symbols may trigger bonus rounds, and knowing what they are or where they must appear is an important aspect of play.
No matter what machine is selected, players should always be careful when pushing buttons. The “max bet” button is frequently positioned adjacent to the “start” or “replay” button. This makes it easy to place a maximum bet by mistake. Some slots allow players to adjust the number of paylines and/or locked reels after accidentally pressing a button, but almost none of them will allow a bet to be changed after an amount has been entered.
Also, in games where reels are “held,” it is the player’s responsibility to ensure that the screen indicates which reel(s) have been locked before pressing the “spin” button. Sometime a button needs to be pressed quite firmly to activate the “hold.”