There are a lot of myths relating to how slot machines work and most are based on the way the the original games worked. In the early days of slot machines they were simple mechanical games where each symbol had exactly the same chance of appearing on each spin. This made it very easy to work out the odds of winning.
For example if a game had nine symbols on each reel you had a one in nine chance of getting any particular symbol or a one in 729 chance of getting the three jackpot symbols. The fact that reels could only accommodate a certain amount of symbols resulted in much lower jackpots than you would find today. To offer bigger jackpots the slot makers turned to computer technology. This started the transition to the modern day slot machine.
Today there are no purely mechanical slots found in any casino so the math listed above no longer holds true. We still see articles where the odds are explained as above and this is one of the reasons why this myth has perpetuated. So how do slot machines really work?
All modern day slot machines work in the same way. This might seem strange considering there are thousands of game variations and many different categories that slots can fit into. The basis of all of the slot machines you can play today both at traditional casinos and at casinos on the Internet is the random number generator or RNG.
The random number generator is the heart of a slot machine and is used to control all outcomes on the reels. When you press the spin button or pull the handle a number is instantly generated. This number corresponds to a certain group of reel positions. The outcome is decided as soon as you activate the reels so the actual spinning is purely for entertainment purposes.
Many players think that three reel classic slots have better odds of winning because you can calculate the payout based on the amount of symbols on the reels. This was true when slots were first invented but today this is incorrect as the reels can have hundreds or thousands of virtual stop positions that you cannot see. This mixed with blank reel sections and symbols control the games payout percentage.
Video slots work in the same way although they rarely have blank reel positions. Instead the virtual reels can contain hundreds or thousands of symbols. The position and number of symbols on each virtual reel control the games overall payout percentages. The symbol positions never change unless the payout in changed.
Each and every spin has exactly the same chance of winning. The odds of winning do not change based on the amount of coin in or the amount of spins played. This is one of the most important aspects of how slots work. Every spin is random but the odds of getting big wins are lower than the the odds of getting small or no wins at all. This is due to the symbol positions on the virtual reels.