A slot machine is nothing more than a mechanical device set to operate according to a short list of rules. Players pay to spin the reels while hoping they land on a winning combination of symbols. If the reels align in the right order, the player is rewarded with a prize paid out according to a predetermined table. If they don’t, the player loses their wager and another coin or credit must be paid to spin again.
Slot machines can be played for a wide range of stakes. Beginning with the penny slots, machines that require only one cent to purchase a spin, and moving up to nickel, quarter, and dollar slots. Just like video poker though, the payout tables are usually standardized, so no matter if you’re playing for pennies or dollars, the payouts are always commensurate with your wager.
The concept of penny slots is a bit deceptive though, because even though each line you play costs one cent, you’ll usually need to play multiple lines on each spin. This means the price of a spin can reach 10 cents or more, but this figure still represents a discount on traditional quarter slots. Some slot experts advise sticking to the higher-denomination machines anyway, because these tend to offer a slightly lower house edge over time than penny slots.
When people hear the term “slot machine,” the image that typically comes to mind is what gaming experts call the “three-reel, single line” version of the game. This means three reels outfitted with various symbols, such as the 7, the Cherry, or the Bell, are spun and only one combination is used to determine if the player wins or loses.
This is the game you’ve seen on television and in the movies, with players anxiously waiting as the first 7 appears, followed by a second and if they’re lucky, a third to trigger a jackpot payout. In this game, there’re usually between 12 and 15 payouts on the table, escalating from 1:1 pays for making the minimum qualifying combination all the way to 4,000:1 (depending on the pay table) for the triple-7s jackpot.
While playing three-reel, single-line slots there’s only way to win: form a qualifying three-symbol combination using only three symbols. However, a variant of slots that is proving to be ever more popular changes things up by adding more reels and pay lines to the mix. An example is known as “five-reel, 25-line” slots.
These machines increase the action by spinning five reels rather than three. Furthering the entertainment value is the addition of up to 25 pay lines, which means multiple combinations can be winners on the same spin. Diagonal and zig-zag combinations of the right symbols also pay out, so one spin can trigger several different pay outs simultaneously. Most players today prefer five-reel, 25-line slot machines because they add an element of fun and unpredictability to the game.
Of course, the human mind has managed to create hundreds of games within the game, and each one relies on a distinct set of rules. Part of the fun and entertainment associated with slot machines comes from the sheer variety of games available on the casino floor.
You’ll find TV tie-ins featuring Sex and the City or The Walking Dead, themed games revolving around fantasy characters, or similar variants. All of these games operate according to the same basic rules, but each one includes special features unique to that game. Whenever you sit down at a slot machine you’ve never played before, be sure to read the rules screen on the Menu before beginning the game, because you could miss out on potential jackpots by neglecting to select crucial pay lines.