A Brief Slot Machine FAQ: Key Questions Answered

Slot machines are by far the simplest games on offer in any casino.  This applies to both traditional casinos and their online counterparts, which tend to be stacked with hundreds of the things.

With no real skill or experience involved, slots can be enjoyed by first-timers and seasoned casino veterans alike. 

As for how slots work, it’s useful to familiarise yourself with the basics of slot game mechanics.  With this in mind, here’s a brief FAQ covering several important questions on slot games and their features:

1 – How is the Result of Each Spin Determined?

The vast majority of slots (and all online slots) these days are powered by RNG technology. RNG stands for ‘Random Number Generator’, which uses software algorithms to create a 100% random outcome. 

With each spin, this random number generator is activated and determines the positions the reels land on. By ensuring every spin is completely random, there is no realistic way of predicting or influencing the outcome.

Consequently, there is no online or offline slot on the market that can be manipulated in such a way as to guarantee the player wins a prize.

2 – What Does RTP Mean?

RTP is the ‘return to player’ percentage of a slot machine.  This refers to how is paid out in prizes on the basis of how much money the machine collects.

In a typical example, a slot may have an RTP of 95%.  This means that for each £100 the machine collects, £95 is returned by way of prizes.  However, this does not mean that any given player who bets £100 will receive £95 back.

A machine with an RTP of 95% could collect thousands of pounds before paying a prize, only to then pay a much larger prize to one lucky player. 

3 – What’s the Key to Success with Slot Machines?

There isn’t one – playing online slots is all about enjoyment. Where RNG technology does its job properly, every spin is akin to rolling a handful of dice. 

There’s nothing you or anyone else can do to predict or influence the outcome.

4 – What Are Penny Slots?

The term ‘penny slots’ is used in reference to any slot that allows players to spin the reels starting from 1p or 2p. Understandably, they’re hugely popular among newcomers and can be great for players with a limited bankroll.

Penny slots can be hugely enjoyable, but have a tendency to have a fairly low RTP.  In addition, the odds of winning a meaningful prize when playing penny slots are also stacked against you.

This is why the vast majority of casinos earn most of their money from penny slots. They’re great for low-stakes entertainment, but don’t offer much scope by way of prizes.

5 – Should I Always Bet Max Coins?

The answer to this question depends on two things – the machine you are playing and the level of risk you are willing to take.

In some instances, slot machines are programmed to offer better odds with bigger wagers. In which case, betting max coins means reducing the house edge at least a little.  All well and good, but the benefit is largely augmented by the fact that you’re putting more money on the line.

Even when betting max coins does give you slightly better odds, there’s still a house edge in play. You may lose less often, therefore, but you stand to lose more when you do.  It’s the classic ‘swings and roundabouts’ situation, where neither approach is necessarily better.

6 – Do Online Casinos Change RTPs?

If the casino in question plays by the rules, then no – the RTP is fixed. It’s worth remembering that almost all online casinos rely on external software providers. The games you play aren’t actually engineered by the casino, but by established developers.

Its these developers who set the RTPs for the games they subsequently licence casinos to use. RTPs which are fixed and must not be halted in any way by the casino.

While it’s technically possible for a casino to alter an RTP, it isn’t something that tends to happen. Though it’s one of many reasons why it’s essential to do business exclusively with licensed, and regulated and reputable casinos. 

7 – How Can I Find a ‘Hot’ Slot Machine?

You can’t, as sadly there’s no such thing.  Contrary to popular belief, slots in their contemporary form cannot be ‘hot’ or ‘cold’. It’s often assumed that when a slot hasn’t paid out for some time, it’s guaranteed to do so soon enough. Just as slots that have recently paid out plenty of prizes are assumed to be set for a subsequent dry spell.

In reality, this simply isn’t the case.  With each spin, the odds are in exactly the same and the random number generator does its thing.  Irrespective of how many successful or unsuccessful spins have come before, the next outcome is always random.

Hence, it’s best not to waste your time or money attempting to track down a ‘hot’ slot machine. 

8 – Are Online Slots Better Than Traditional Slot Machines?

Last up, this is totally a judgment call and a hugely divisive argument. From a purely logical perspective, there are huge advantages on both sides of the coin.

With traditional slot machines, you get to soak up the intoxicating atmosphere of a real-life casino. You get to interact with a real slot machine in-person, which is a hugely enjoyable experience. Plus, there’s the social aspect of traditional casino gaming which is also a blast. 

Online, virtual slots also have their advantages. Sign up with an online casino and you could score a bunch of free spins as a welcome bonus. You don’t have to leave home to play, you can choose from thousands of slots at the touch of a button, and you can play via just about any mobile device. Plus, there’s no risk of getting to the casino only to find a huge queue at the game you were hoping to play. 

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