Slot Machines – How Do They Work?

A narrow opening or groove, such as a keyway in machinery or a slit for a coin in a vending machine. Also: (slang) a position, time, or place in which something may be located; a time or place for doing a certain thing: ‘I had an important meeting to go to, but I was slotted in after the two wingmen’.

In a slot machine, each possible combination of symbols is assigned a number or numbers. When the RNG receives a signal — anything from a button being pressed to the handle being pulled — it records that number or numbers, then compares them to an internal sequence table to determine which stop on each reel should be displayed. If a symbol is positioned in the slot at that point, it will be spun and a new three-number sequence recorded.

The machine’s microprocessor then uses this sequence table to map the resulting numbers to the stops on each reel. The result is that each spin has a different probability of producing a winning combination, so it’s impossible to predict the order in which a specific symbol will appear. This is one reason popular strategies such as moving to a different machine after a set amount of play or chasing a payout that ‘seemed so close’ are useless; there’s simply no way to know when a machine will hit.

The pay tables of slot games used to be listed on the face of electromechanical machines, but they’re now included in the help section of video slots. The tables provide detailed information on the symbols, payouts, jackpots, and other features of each game.