Before we get into the nitty gritty of it all, we thought that a little history of the slot machine would be in order to help you better understand how we got to where we are today. A great deal of what we see in our online and video slots these days come directly from the predecessors of today’s variants. Sure, many changes have been made and a ton of new features have been added in order to improve the overall playing experience, but at the core of today’s games lies the original groundwork that made this style of gambling so popular in the first place.
From One-Armed Bandit to Online Slots
The term “one-armed bandit” comes from the very first slot machines and is still in use today among many circles. The term refers to land-based slot machines which have a pull-down lever that is used to operate the machine. The facts that there is one “arm” and that players do not always win when playing on these machines create the logic behind the name.
The very first slot machines date back to the late 1800s and some of them were quite different than the ones we have today. The famous Liberty Bell machine that was created by Charles Fey in San Francisco, however, is very similar to modern machines.
There were many machines that were popular in bars and clubs that resembled video poker in a way, and they were very common around the east coast. The machines worked in a similar way to slot machines but the game was based on poker hands and was played with a full deck of cards. These games were too complex for the owners to come up with good methods of paying out for winning hands because there were so many possible hands to be achieved. Although the poker-style slot was extremely popular, a simpler version was much needed.
The simplified slot that filled the need was Charles Fey’s invention, and his version combined all of the aspects of the slot game that people loved with a more manageable format that owners and operators quickly embraced. His version of the game consisted of three reels all containing five symbols and they randomly lined up to form different combinations. Since the possible wins were easier to break down and explain to new players, the machine led to a much more organized payout system, which in turn led to a wider distribution of slot machines.
The increased popularity encouraged many new developments. A lot of companies began to devise their own machines that were based on Fey’s principles and framework and those versions, along with Fey’s, helped the concept of the slot machine become a widespread phenomenon. In fact, if you look at the symbols on slot machines today you will see many reoccurring themes which all connect back to the original machines.
The original machines featured playing cards, fruit, bells, and many other things. Some machines actually gave out fruit-flavoured chewing gum as a prize for winning and others gave out tokens that were then used to buy things like fruit candy. You will see card suits on a huge variety of machines these days, as well as fruit symbols like the famous cherry, lemon, melon, and strawberry symbols. There are also connections between the 7s and the Bar of today’s machines and the very first machines ever used. As you can see, there is much more the slot machine culture than most people realize.
Over the next hundred years, the slot machine went through a lot of changes but it wasn’t until the late 1900s that the concept went digital. With the advent of the internet, a new breed of gaming was born and the slot machines that were so widely used across brick-and-mortar casinos around the world started to get online versions created so that players almost everywhere could play them. Today, the online slot industry is booming and most legal US online casinos have variants for just about every type of player.
Difference Between Slot Machines and Video Slots
With so many types of slot machines out there these days, and with so many different companies creating these games, it can sometimes be a little confusing figuring out the differences between the versions on offer. There are two versions, in particular, that are more mixed up by newcomers than any other, and that is because they look so similar to each other. The standard slot machine and video slots share many similarities but they also come with a fair share of differences as well. We will outline some of the more important features which separate the two slot types in an effort to make your job of choosing between them a little bit easy.
To start things off, we will just say that there are a lot more differences between video slots and normal slot machines than there are similarities. The similarities between them are mainly based on the play style and general concept of play as can be seen by how they operate.
In general, they both feature sets of spinning reels which are full of symbols and when those symbols line up in certain combinations, wins are achieved. The types of combinations possible are different from game to game but winning combinations are usually made up of like symbols lining up on a payline. Both slot machines and video slots can be found in land-based casinos as well as online casinos.
There are many important differences between video slots and their more standard counterparts that every slot player has to know about. For one thing, traditional slot machines have many moving parts which video slots do not. In order for a slot machine to function, the reels on the inside of the machine have to spin around and those reels can only hold as many symbols as the size of the reels themselves allow. The limited space means that there are a finite number of options that the mechanized slot machine can offer.
Video slots, on the other hand, have no moving parts. They have no spinning reels and no restriction of how many symbols can be placed on each “reel”. What that means is that instead of having three to five reels containing five symbols each, it is possible to have the same number of animated reels featuring an unlimited number of symbols since they are computer generated. That leaves room for a long list of new possibilities in terms of win possibilities and combination variants. The inclusion of more symbols also encourages more elements such as bonus games and multiple wilds to keep gameplay interesting and engaging.
The bonus games that video slots offer are impossible on traditional slot machines as they bring their players to another animated game screen that often has nothing to do with spinning reels. Matching games, memory games, and random selection games are among the many different types of bonus games that players enjoy as part of the video slot experience. Video slots actually play more like video games than slot machines and many people really like the added variety that they bring to the table.
Another great thing about video slots is that they have much more room to include higher numbers of paylines. Since they are often working with more symbols than what normal slot machines do, matching becomes more complex. As a result of that complexity, a need for more paylines arises and it is not uncommon to find video slots with more than 200 paylines. What that means for the player is a much more unpredictable experience.
Modern online slots mix all the best features of both types. Most of them look like traditional slot machines, but they have all kinds of exciting features built right in.
Best Strategies for Playing Casino Slots
There are many different strategies that the pros use when playing slots but there are a few that are considered to be among the smartest of all of them.
- Every Spin Is Different
The most important thing to remember when playing slots, either online or in a land-based casino, is that each spin is independent of all others. What that means is that decisions that you make should not be dependent on any other spin. This is very different from card games in this way because whatever chances you have on one spin will be exactly the same every time you spin after that. When playing cards, once a card is dealt it is gone so card counting and other strategies can be put into practice. With slots, it is therefore critical to stick with whatever approach you decide to begin with as you will be less likely to be swayed by emotion in that way.
- Keep the Playing Fun
One of the most important things to remember is not to take the game too seriously. The house has an obvious edge and there is no guarantee that you will ever win any considerable amount of money. People do win, and they win big regularly, but it is almost impossible to guess who the next winner will be. The pros know that whatever money they play with can likely go away and they play for the enjoyment of the game. The trick here is to set yourself up so that you can play a fun game for as long as possible.
- Watch Your Bankroll
In order to get the most out of your playing experience, most players use a money management system to control their bankrolls. There are several things that players can do to extend the life of their game and these include playing on machines that match your budget, taking it slow, and using spending strategies.
- Be Aware of RTP
Most machines have a wide range of possible buy-ins, but some are definitely more expensive than others. In fact, there are several slots games which give extra bonus features and higher RTPs when placing max bets, but that is not for everyone as these bets can get very expensive, very quickly. The smart move is to do the math and decide how long you want to play and how much you want to spend. Generally, the longer you can make your bankroll last, the better.
- Use a System
Spending strategies are a tempting approach but they must be considered widely before putting them into practice. There are some popular betting systems where you change your bet depending on a win or a loss in order to win back all the money that you lost on your way to that win, but with slots, many of those do not work as planned. The fact that each spin is independent, and that each win can result in wildly different payouts means that most spending strategies don’t turn out the way you think that they will.
Good Slots – Bad Slots
No matter what kind of strategy you employ, playing on the right slot is paramount. Each one is different from the next and not all strategies will work on every machine, but even more important is that not every slot machine is created equal. There are some that are great and there are others that are not worth your time, no matter what kinds of strategies you plan on using.
Making the decision on what constitutes a “good” or a “bad” slots machine is not always as easy as one may think. There are a lot of variables to consider and different ones are more or less important to different types of players. The key to finding the right one is to know what you are looking for before sitting down to play.
Some machines focus on a series of small wins that hit on almost every spin, while others focus on huge jackpots which come rarely. What a player finds more exciting is largely a personal preference and making sure you know why you are playing is very important.
Other aspects of slot machines that can either be taken positively or negatively are the simplicity or complexity offered by the game. Some people really like the straightforward play of the original three-reel machines that don’t offer anything in the way of flashy graphics of extra game modes, and others prefer games that have scenes from concerts or movies, bonus games that are separate from the reel-spinning action normally found in these types of games.
Generally speaking, to get the best play experience and to find the slot machine that is a good fit for your personality and play style, but a very common criterion that affects every player is the RTP (return to player). The higher the RTP, the better your theoretical chances of winning money are.
If it is millions that you are after, progressive jackpot slots are where you should be putting your money. Because of a pooled jackpot system, these types of slots offer a much higher jackpot than any other kind of slot machine. Wins happen less often on these types of games but when they do happen, they change people’s lives.
The way progressive slots work is that several machines are connected to one jackpot. In traditional casinos, this means that for every coin dropped into one of the connected machines, a percentage of the house profit goes towards the progressive jackpot. Since several machines are all working towards one big jackpot, the jackpot tends to rise to very large amounts very quickly. These impressive figures are the driving force behind the popularity of these types of slot machines.
When you consider the concept behind the progressive jackpot which was always found in casinos with twenty or thirty machines at most, in relation to internet gaming, what you get is an enormous jackpot pool. There are hundreds of games building the pool at all hours of the night and day, and it is very common to see these types of jackpots in the millions.
If you are one to like the higher payouts and lower odds that these jackpot games offer, you will find plenty of excitement playing these types of slots.
Avoid These Common Mistakes
No matter how long you have been playing slots, there are a few things that you need to keep in mind if you want to have a successful and fun game. There are a few mistakes that both newbies and seasoned pros make from time to time and being mindful of them when you play is very important. One of the most important things to remember when you are playing on slot machines is that when you let your emotions guide your decisions it almost always ends badly. Keep a cool head, create a plan, and stick with what you decide to do in the beginning no matter what happens.
Another thing that you want to watch out for is also connected to your self-control. Many people start out with a bankroll and then convince themselves to start gambling away their rent money when their budget has been depleted. This behaviour is very dangerous because there is an increased feeling of excitement and anxiety involved when playing with “forbidden” money and that thrill is sometimes enough to keep people going.
It is always smarter to know when it is time to say goodnight to the machines and cut your losses before they cut you. Besides, when you play responsibly, you are guaranteed another day at the slots much sooner than you would be if you dug yourself into a hole.
The take home from this article should be mainly a new perspective on slot machines and how to play them. They are called “one-armed bandits” for a reason, but if you are smart about how you play you will have a wonderful experience playing on them. There are a huge variety of slot machines to choose from and each has been made with a different demographic in mind. What that means is that no matter what kind of gambler you are, there is a slot machine that is sure to interest you.
All you need to do is figure out what you want from the experience and how to get what you want. After that, you manage your emotions and bankroll to play for many exciting hours, and hopefully, you can take home one of those big prizes that we always hear about.