Slot machines explained: can you beat the odds?

Casino-based and online gaming offers access to various types of slot machines which each have differing game play and payout models. There are two main types of payout models—static and progressive. A static machine always pays out a fixed jackpot amount while a progressive machine has a jackpot that increases until somebody wins, which can be more exciting and lead to multi-million pound prizes.

Straight slot

There are many different types of straight slot or static machines including wildcard, buy-a-pay, multiple pay lines, multiplier, bonus multiplier and hybrid machines. A Wildcard is a machine featuring a wildcard symbol that can be substituted for any other and subsequently boosts the chance of getting paid. Meanwhile, a buy-a-pay is more expensive to bet on but it provides additional payout tables and extra bets which can increase the odds of hitting the jackpot via more winning combos. Finally, any of the multiplier straight slots feature either multiple pay lines, additional symbols and multiplier bonuses, while a hybrid uses more than one of the formats listed for a unique gambling experience.

Progressive slot

The most basic types of progressive slot machines are the classic 3-reel and 5-wheel slots that will either be standalone, locally linked or global progressive. A standalone machine is, as it name suggests, a single progressive that is not linked to a network of machines and has its own singular jackpot. In contrast, locally networked machines use a “skimming” process that vastly increases the payout.

The payouts are generally greater online as it is much easier to link virtual machines to create one huge packet. There are also global progressive slots spanning a much wider network and these offer the greatest reward but the lowest odds of winning.

There are thousands of online slot games available online and they can take the form of video slots, 5-reel slots, 3-reel slots, 3D slots, classic slots and progressive slots that are usually classified as either low variance (low risk), medium variance (medium risk) and high variance (high risk). Some of these games also have games bonus rounds and other bonus features

Payout percentages and odds

Online slot machines usually have a Return to Player (RTP) figure, which is a means of showing how much of their stake they can expect to win back over the long term. For example, a 96% figure would mean players get back $96 for every $100 they spend on average.

Whether playing a 3-reel game with a single line or 5-reel with 25 lines, the outcome is determined by a random number generator so each virtual pull or button press will have an equal shot of hitting the jackpot. The odds of hitting a particular symbol depend entirely on the setup of the virtual reel. For a typical three slot slot machine the highest paying jackpot image is equal to one virtual stop so the chances of hitting the image would be 1-in-64 for one reel with the odds increasing further for all three reels. The simpler the game is, the better the odds for the user.

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