Learn about slot machines before you sign in to play

Springbok Casino, while heads above the other online casinos, does have one thing in common with them - our most popular games are the slots. More people play the slots than any other game at the online casino, but many people don’t have a clear understanding of how slot machines operate. Other gamers think that they understand how the machines operate but they’re totally wrong. There are a lot of myths about slots and if you’re going to maximize your gaming experience, you should know exactly what the machine can and can’t do.

One question that you might want to research involves the issue of the random number generator. Does the RNG really work and is it really random enough to reward your lucky spins?

About the Random Number Generator

Slots gaming is, basically, fun. There’s not a lot of strategy or technique involved. You just follow the machine’s prompts, spin your reels and, if you’re lucky enough to get a bonus game, make your picks. Casinos love slots because they’re very profitable for the casino operator.

Today, all slot machines are based on a highly technologically advanced random number generator. Today’s RNG is a modern version of the early randomness of the spinning reels – similar to the random results delivered by a roulette wheel or a pair of dice. Today’s slot machines use a computer to generate random numbers and that computer determines the outcomes of the game.

So you can rely on the results being truly random. That means that the machine doesn’t work on any kind of cyclical basis. Jackpots don’t become “due,” meaning, you can’t assume that, because a jackpot hasn’t hit in a specified amount of time, it’s due to come up.

Slots results don’t go hot or cold, either. So anyone that tells you that you can predict, in any way, what the machine is going to do is telling you a story. It’s true that slot machines may seem to run hot or cold in such a way that they deliver a bonus jackpot after no jackpot has been hit for a certain period of time. In truth, the slots results aren’t something that can be predicted, any more than you can predict, with any degree of certainty,  what the next card will be when dealing a deck of cards. 

Casino Edge

Don’t forget that the games are built to give the casino an edge over the player. This is true with all of the game machines including video poker and video blackjack. And in fact, we all want this because otherwise, the casino would go out of business immediately.

The casino’s edge is calculated using algorithms to ensure that every bet on every casino game offers a lower payout than the actual odds of winning.  

For example, if you play a game of European roulette, your odds of hitting a specific number are 37 to 1. So when you bet on a specific number, the payout should be 37 to 1, right? That’s not the way that it happens. When you bet on a specific number and it comes up, your payout is only 35 to 1.  The remainder is the casino’s profit.

Slot machines work the same way. Old-fashioned slots had 3 reels but almost all of today’s slots have five reels. The reel is the image that spins on the machine, displaying symbols. When you line up certain combinations of symbols, you win the payout. Some symbols are more likely to line up and they have lower payouts. The symbols that are least likely to line up have higher payouts for that particular combination.

For the first decades of slots – almost the first century – the machines were physical machines and the reels were physical metal hoops. Now that the slots are powered by computers, they basically display images on a video screen, even the slots at land-based casinos. The random number generator that’s located inside the computer determines the outcome.


The traditional slot machines had intricate mechanisms on which the images were contained. There were between 10-32 symbols on any reel. Those symbols came to be referred to as “stops”. Today’s gaming machine slots, including online slots, are not restricted by physical space so they can contain many more symbols/stops.

After a spin, each reel stops on a symbol. Those are the symbols that the random number generator “reads” when it determines whether a combination has been formed. On old-fashioned slot machines, each symbol would have an equal chance of emerging. Now that the slots are run by computers, the odds are more complex.

One of the game symbols might be an orange that might come up every 60 spins while a cherry might come up on an average of every 10 spins. The possible combinations are endless.

In three-reel slots, it becomes easier to offer large jackpots when you have a higher number of stops on a reel. For example, in a game with 10 stops on each reel, your chances of landing on each stop will be equal --- 1/10 X 1/10 X 1/10, or 1/1000. If the payout is larger than 1000 units, you’ll lose money on that game. Over the early years of slots there were approximately 10 stops per reel but modern computers, which use a weighting system to adjust the odds, have between 30 to 50 stops per reel.

Weighting System

The weighting system is the determiner of how likely a particular stop is to be picked. In a slot machine with 10 symbols, one of those symbols is a high-payout symbol so it only comes up once every 100 spins while the other symbols come up more frequently.

The odds of getting 3 of that high payout symbol are 1/100 X 1/100 X 1/100, or 1/1,000,000. Theoretically, the casino could offer a payout of $1 million on that combination and still make a profit over the long run because all the players think that THEY will achieve that combination.  Which casino wouldn’t love that kind of action?

Continuing on, a second symbol might be programmed to come up half the time. Then, the chances of hitting that symbol might be as low as ½ X ½ X ½, or 1/6. So the casino can still offer a payout of 2 to one and make a significant profit. The player, however, sees the wins coming in and feels that he’s on a winning streak.

Par Sheet

Modern slot machines are designed with a par sheet. That sheet specifies the weightings for each stop on the reel. That par sheet publicizes the house edge and odds for a slot machine game. You’ve probably never seen a par sheet because the gambling companies keep these par sheets hidden. They don’t want players to get a glimpse of what the house edge, the odds or the payback percentage is.

Payback Percentage

The mathematical prediction of the amount of money the machine will “payback” over time is the payback percentage. For example, on a machine that’s programmed to have a 96% payback, the machine will pay out 96 cents on every dollar - leaving just 4 cents for the casino's operating expenses and profits.  

The random number generator ensures fair play for all gamers but the odds are still weighted on the side of the casino. And, as we said, that's fair - if it weren't that way, the casinos would all close quickly and we wouldn't have our entertaining online casino to cuddle up with on a cold night.