Slot machines can be so tempting, even for people who don’t usually gamble. It makes no difference if you’re inside a casino, surrounded by a crowd of cheerful gamblers and flashing lights, or you’ve decided to play online on any of your devices; slot machines are fun and exciting.
It’s not just the machines that are amusing, but also various slot machine facts about how they operate, who invented them and when, about those quirky fruit symbols, and so on.
No matter if you are searching for tried and true tactics to improve your odds of winning at slots or just some interesting bits of information to impress your friends or colleagues at a cocktail party, look no further: Here is some intriguing slot machine trivia you’ll simply adore.
The First Slot Machine
Slot machines are probably older than you think, so we’ll open this list of facts for slot machine lovers with a bit of history.
Before the slot machine we know today, there were several other pioneer versions, and some of them were so different from the modern variant that most people would have a difficult time even recognising them as such.
The first gambling machine that can be considered a forerunner of the modern slot machine was created in Brooklyn in 1891. It had five drums, which contained 50 card faces. The machine’s whole concept was actually based on poker, but with a tad of modern slot machine logic to it.
You had to pull a lever to spin those drums and then, with some luck, expect a poker hand good enough to receive a prize. The prizes varied from one establishment to another but were usually limited to free drinks or cigars.
As you’ve already probably noted, the machine didn’t contain the full deck: Two cards would normally be taken out to lower the players’ odds of winning. Nevertheless, the popularity of these machines skyrocketed, so it got some people thinking about how they could improve the whole system.
At the end of the 19th century, Charles Fey simplified the existing automatic mechanism and got us closer to using slot machines for fun, as we do nowadays. He used only three spinning reels, with five symbols on each: hearts, diamonds, spades, horseshoes, and an additional one – the Liberty Bell, the symbol of American independence. Fey named his cutting-edge machine after it.
Since the number of possible winning combinations was thus vastly reduced, it became easier for the machine to read a win. This allowed Fey to automatise the payout. If you wanted the top prize of 50¢, you had to spin the reels and get three bells. As the machine was in high demand, others started producing copies of it. Soon you could find one in pretty much any cigar store, bowling alley, saloon, or barbershop.
One of the most curious slot machine facts has to do with fruit symbols. Not long after the Liberty Bell machines became commonplace, a man called Herbert Mills created the Operator Bell. He added a gum-vending attachment to the machine. Since the gum was usually fruit-flavoured, they changed the symbols on the reels to cherries, lemons, plums, and oranges.
The puzzling BAR symbol also has something to do with the fruity chewing gums. Supposedly, the machine initially displayed the Bell-Gum Fruit company logo, which in time became the BAR symbol. People seemed extremely fond of these symbols, so many other companies put the same symbols on the slot machines they produced.
Improving Your Odds
There’s only one thing the slot machine algorithm can tell you for certain about increasing your odds of winning: To win a jackpot, you need to play more. Now, this doesn’t mean you’re sure to win if you play more, but your odds do slightly increase the longer you play. Plus, this only applies to the percentage-set slot machines and not the fixed-odds ones.
Simply put, if you play a spin and don’t win anything, you’ll have a faintly higher chance of winning the next one. Some players employ this slot machine strategy because a huge number of these machines in casinos have a fixed payout percentage.
However, we feel obliged to mention that fruit machines are among casino games with the worst odds around, so no matter what strategy you employ, your chances of winning will always remain slender.
The Luckiest Winners
That said, some people are simply incredibly lucky, and two are definitely worth mentioning as the most interesting winners.
Most of us secretly hope to win the jackpot while playing slots. We wonder how to tell if a slot machine is ready to pay or if one machine is luckier than the other, but we don’t actually expect to win most of the time, especially not twice. Still, this is precisely what happened to a man named Elmer Sherwin. This elderly gentleman won $4.6 million on a slot machine in a Las Vegas hotel-casino called the Mirage in 1989, only to win another $21 million 16 years later, again in Las Vegas.
As far as the other winner we’ve mentioned is concerned, we don’t really know who he is. His identity was never revealed, but he became an indispensable part of any list of slot machine facts and myths by winning $39 million in Las Vegas in 2003. What we do know is that he is a young software engineer from LA, and that he was in Las Vegas to visit his family.
Both these men won their jackpots on Megabucks slot machines, famous for their progressive jackpots since 1986.
Old-School and Online Slot Machines
It may not seem that way at first, but real-life casino slots and their digital versions aren’t that different at all. If you’d rather play slot machines online for fun instead of going to a casino, your chances of winning wouldn’t really change. This is because both kinds of fruit machines utilise the same random-number generators, so your odds are the same in online casinos and the traditional ones.
What’s different is the atmosphere and how you’re presented with the results, since the technologies they employ are dissimilar. It comes down to the animation you see on your computer or phone screen, which isn’t what you get in a brick-and-mortar casino.
A related question that many players ask is: Can casinos control slot machines? The truth is that online and traditional slots are alike in this aspect as well. While there are scammers out there who will try to rig their slot machines, this doesn’t happen in most cases. To avoid becoming a fraud victim, it’s best that you always stick to reputable, licensed gambling sites and respectable casinos.
Strategies for “Sure Wins”
Whether they’re at a traditional casino or an online one, most people play in hopes to win the jackpot. But are slot machines random, or is there a way to pick up on how and when you can win?
The answer may seem disappointing, but there are no strategies of this sort that work. Yes, you’ll come across various websites which solemnly promise you that their method works every time.
All you have to do is pay a certain amount of money, and you’re all set. If you believe them, then it’s likely you’ll lose twice – when you give them the money, and then again, when you play and realise that their strategy, in fact, doesn’t do anything.
So, how do you know when a slot machine will hit the jackpot you’re wishing for? You just don’t. That’s all. The random number generator ensures random results, and there’s no strategy that can do anything about it.
Places with the Highest Number of Slot Machines
As far as cities are concerned, there’s no real surprise here. Las Vegas and its casino industry take the top. There are more than 200,000 fruit machines in the Gambling Capital of the World, which translates to one slot per approximately eight people.
One of the unexpected slot machine facts is that, while Las Vegas is famous for its casino slots, the country with the greatest numbers of these machines is actually Japan. The US is thought to have between 800,000 and 900,000 of them, which seems like a huge number until you compare it to the 4 to 5 million slot machines Japan can boast about.
“Hot” and “Cold” Slot Machines
Some players are convinced that slot machines can get either “hot” or “cold” in time. This is just a myth. The truth about slot machines is that they give out results completely randomly. It’s a gambler’s fallacy to think that a machine will keep giving more if it has paid out more than slot machines usually do in a short period because it’s “hot”.
Similarly, a slot machine isn’t “cold” if it hasn’t paid out as much as you think it should. There is absolutely no way of predicting what will happen next or how these machines will behave. And it has nothing to do with the parts of a slot machine either. Whether it’s a real-life one, with a lever, or an online one, where you just press buttons, the random number generator does its job, and you get new and unpredictable results every time you give it a try. The past results of a slot machine don’t affect its future ones in any way whatsoever, so playing slots to earn money is probably a bad idea.
No matter if you’re a passionate slot machine player or you only turn to them occasionally for entertainment, we hope that these facts about slot machines will make your next visit to a casino, virtual or a brick-and-mortar one, more interesting.