Slots - Past Present and Future

By: Gen Wright

Slots have come a long way since Charles Fey created the first one in his auto shop in 1895. Since then, those "One Armed Bandits," as they are commonly called, have captivated our eyes, our minds, and most certainly, our wallets. What is it that draws us to these machines of fortune and failure?

At first, slots were big clunky devices made out of cast-iron. They were so big and heavy, Fey couldn't make them fast enough. His first machine was called "Liberty Bell," and consisted of three reels with pictures of hearts, diamonds, clubs, spades and a cracked liberty bell. When the reels were spun, they would stop in a random order, and if you lined up the liberty bells, the big jackpot payout was 50 cents, paid in ten nickels. The machine became popular, and sparked a new revolution in gambling.

As time progressed, slots were made of less heavy material, and eventually the mechanical gears and lever controls were replaced with electric components. Also, the number of reels varies from machine to machine. Gone are the days of three reels - now some machines have up to seven. That hasn't changed the appeal that makes these machines one of the most popular games in the casino.

Slots are most certainly a game of chance, but their play style remains the same, no matter what type of machine you are playing on. First thing you need to do, of course, is to drop your coins into the slot. Next, select how many coins you want to wager on each "pay line" Then, depending on the machine, grab that big lever and pull, or push the button. What happens next will amaze some people. In modern games, a random number generator will start to work. The part that will amaze you is that the outcome has already been determined before the reels even start to turn. The random number generator determines the stopping order, as well as the position of each reel. When the reels stop, if you have a winning combination, the coins are added to your "bankroll" or drop out of the chute into the tray at the bottom. In video slot machines, which most modern ones are, payout can occur in multiple combinations. You can win across, diagonally, and in some cases, even in a v-pattern. Some video slots have a "bonus" game which will trigger on certain combinations, and those bonus games can spell big winnings. Of course, the more you wager per line, the bigger your winnings.

One of the biggest misconceptions of slots is that if a machine has paid out big, it won't pay out again for a long time. In fact, every spin you make on a video slot is in no way related or affected by the last. Each spin has exactly the same odds of winning. Those odds can vary from casino to casino, but you can be assured that slots will continue to attract gamblers for years to come.

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