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How to play Slots

Slot machines were invented sometime during the 1880's by a man named Charles Fey. He created the first machine in the basement of his home. The machines didn’t become popular until years later when they were installed in Bugsy Siegel's infamous Flamingo Hilton hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada. Fey's first machine was not any more bulky or any cruder than modern day examples. Nor did its reels carry the fruit symbols common today. The standard playing card imagery was what we are all used to - hearts, diamonds, spades, bells, horseshoes and stars. The first slot machine was actually called the Liberty Bell, and can still be seen today in a collection at the Liberty Belle Saloon and Restaurant in Reno, Nevada.

The San Francisco Chronicle described Fey's machine: "A machine featuring 3 reels mostly hidden with Horseshoes, Spades, Diamonds, Hearts, Bells symbols on reels. The device is operated by depositing a nickel in a slot to release the handle, when the right combination of symbols stop in the window the player is awarded coins ranging from 2, on 2 Horseshoes to 20 for 3 bells. Most of those present agreed the machine should be a great success.”

The mania over slot machines reached it's peak in the late 1980s and continues in casinos around the world today, making slots second only to video poker in popularity. They are so popular, in fact, that they generate nearly two-thirds of a casino's revenue. The reason? Slots are simple to play, they can be played at a leisurely pace, they can be fun, and most important, they offer the chance of winning big.New Wheel of Fortune Video Slots have stereo sound, 9 pay-off lines and 45 coin capacity

Laughlin Nevada casinos offer all the latest slot machines available. If you have questions, find a "change person" or look for the "carousel attendants." They will help. You might even ask them which machine they think is ready to hit. A quick dollar tip might get you a lucky machine.

Imagine three wheels of fortune, each with 17 stops on it. Set them all in motion and hope each lands on the same prize at the same time. If there's only one jackpot per wheel, the odds are 17 X 17 X 17, or 4912 to 1, of hitting it simultaneously. That's how the original slot machines worked.

Modern slot machines work on the same principle but are much more sophisticated. Gone are the mechanical reels that spun until they ran out of inertia. Today's slots are computer driven so everything -- the jackpots, sound effects and even the reels themselves -- are controlled by microprocessors. Computer chips also heralded greater combinations of symbols, higher odds and therefore larger jackpots. Most recently, some of the newest slot machines have eliminated wheels altogether, and instead give players a video version of spinning wheels on a TV screen! More about this when we examine Multi-Game Machines.

Because slot machines are pure games of chance, there is no "strategy" to learn. But before you play there are a few things you should know about the one arm bandits.

Most slot machines come in nickel, quarter and dollar denominations. There are a few penny, dime and 50˘ slots around town, and for those with plenty of pull, there are machines that take tokens as large as $500. Choose a machine that will allow you to play for awhile; if you have only $10 to spend play a nickel or quarter machine -- your bankroll may not last long on a $1 machine.

In addition to coins, many machines accept paper currency, from $1 bills up to $100. By using paper money players needn't continually shove coins into a machine. Instead they play off "credits," which are explained below.

This is the amount money you've accumulated in the machine, expressed as number of coins. For example, if you insert a $20 bill into a $1 slot machine, it will register 20 credits. If you put the same $20 into a 5˘ machine, it will register 400 credits ($20 is 400 nickels). On some machines, winnings are accumulated as credits; on others the winnings are dumped into the coin tray. When you leave a machine, make sure you collect your accumulated credits by pushing the "cash out" or "collecting winnings" button. Hundreds of bucks have been literally given to the casinos from people who don't know how to play. They insert all their coins and when nothing falls in the money tray they simply walk off leaving their winnings behind, still in the machine. Geez!

It's always important to know what you are playing for and what it takes to win. Study the machine's pay chart, which tells you what the various payoffs are, and how many coins you must play in order to hit big jackpot payoff. When playing a multiple coin machine, always play the maximum number of coins. Also check to see what the reel symbols mean. Some machines have "wild" symbols that substitute for every other symbol, while others have "double" or "triple" symbols that multiply the payoff when combined with winning symbols.

Often times slots are linked to a common "progressive" jackpot that increases with the amount of play until it hits, then reverts to a starting amount and begins its cycle again. A "carousel" is a group of slot machines that share a progressive jackpot.Double Diamond

Certain machines have become popular with players -- Double Diamonds, Wild Cherry and Red, White & Blue, to name a few. But you should decide whether you like the look and sounds of a machine, the method of play and the frequency of jackpots. Machines are such, that even though a machine may have just paid out a big jackpot, the chances on the next play are exactly the same as the jackpot play that preceded.. In any case, the key to winning is quitting while you're ahead. Even though a slot machine seems to be paying off, the longer you play the better chance it will take your money -- it is programmed to do so. Remember, if you can leave with more money that you started with, even if it's only 25 percent more, you've won

In 1994 a totally new machine, Game Maker, was introduced into casinos. Although it looked like a video poker machine, it was much more -- the machine contained a variety of games, including video poker, video keno, joker poker, 3-reel and 5-reel slot games and blackjack. Moreover, you could access games, make bets and play cards by simply touching the screen with your fingertips.

A year later IGT introduced its own version of the multi-game machine, Game King, which quickly found its way into Las Vegas casinos, as well as video lottery venues throughout the country. Game King offers many of the features found on Game Maker, as well as additions such as a player speed control so you can adjust the speed of the game; keno games with 10-coin bet capability; and slot games with animation and bonus options.

The most advanced of the multi-game machines to be introduced so far is the Odyssey from Silicon Gaming. At first glance, the machine seems more like a high-tech video monitor than a slot machine. And with its sleek lines and seamless surfaces, it looks like it belongs in the console of a Lear jet, rather than a casino.

But you don't realize how different the Odyssey is from other gaming machines until you touch the screen for information and get TV-quality animation, voice-over instructions, and a menu of six games. Touch one of the game icons and you'll see video animation that Walt Disney would love, and you'll hear stereo sound effects unlike anything outside of a Warner Brothers movie. 

Introduced in early 1997, Odyssey is a multi-game machine with a tall, 27-inch touch-screen monitor. But it is unlike other multi-game slots in that it talks to the player, has full-motion characters, and entertains you with trivia games while you wait for an attendant to pay off a jackpot.

The machine has two keno games: Star Spangled Keno, with fireworks, stars and stripes and marching band; and Krazy Keno, a whimsical game that has small objects flying above the keno board before landing on the 20 keno spots.

Odyssey's most intriguing game is Phantom Belle video poker. The poker game is dealt by ghostly disembodied gloved hands, which handle the cards with uncanny realism, then toss chips in your direction when you win. The playing cards are of the 19th century variety, and the table scene is from a riverboat paddlewheel.

There's also Dazzling Diamonds, a video rendition of the popular Double Diamonds slot machine, and the Win-o-Matic, a faithful reproduction of an old-time mechanical slot, complete with goose-neck coin acceptor, nostalgic reel symbols, and video effects of jackpots pouring out of old-style coin tubes. Just like the old mechanical machines these space-age wonders have replaced.


You've probably seen this one. After playing for a long while the player finally and grudgingly gives up on the machine and leaves. In a very short time, another player steps up, slips three coins into the machine and pulls the handle...JACKPOT.....Now if that guy had only played one more time he would have won the jackpot. Not so. RNG's Random Number Generators are always in motion in the modern slot machine and timing is the only thing that determines a payoff. Had the original player stayed at the machine he would have had to engage the reels at the precise moment the new player did, a very improbable proposition.

Warm Coins are a sign that the machine is due to pay off soon. Many players believe this to be true, the truth is, it only means that the lights inside the machine have thrown a little heat on the coins and warmed them up. It means nothing more than this.

After putting a lot of money into a machine it just has to pay off. Not necessarily so. Payoffs are not calculated in that manner, they are calculated on a percentage pay out over an indefinite period of time. This means that over time a slot machine will payback whatever percentage it has been set for, it has no idea how long you have been playing and what's more it doesn't care.

The higher coin denomination the higher the payoff. The percentage pay out does not vary all that much on higher end machines although it is true that nickel machines pay back less than quarter and dollar machines do. A recent survey showed nickel machines paying from a low of 85.2% to a high of 92.8% Quarter machines from a low of 91.1% to a high of 95.2% in downtown Las Vegas. Fifty cent machines from a low of 90.1% to a high of 95.4%, Dollar slots from low of 90.0% to a high of 96.5% and five dollar slots from a low of 91.9% to a high of 97.3% at Lake Tahoe. The spread from quarter machines to five dollar machines, at the high end, is 2.1% hardly significant.

Players should "prime" a machine before beginning serious play. This practice will get you exactly nothing. Machines don't know they are being "primed" and will treat the priming coins the same as any other coins played. This popular myth is just that.

Casinos control the payoff from a central location. Perhaps our technology has advanced to where this might be possible but it just isn't the case. There is such a thing as the Casino Gaming Board which prohibits Casinos from tinkering with their machines. Skeptics will continue to believe what best suits their mind set but this one ain't so.

Casino floor employees can tell you where the "hot" slot machines are located. If they are real astute they may be able to tell you that a certain machine has not paid off for quite a while but that is no guarantee that it is ready to pay off. When a player does win on this tip it's almost impossible to persuade him that it was pure luck.

Maintenance mechanics will reset your machine if it's winning to make sure it stops winning. Another strange idea held by some slot players. The maintenance mechanics job is to see that the machine is working properly, the pay out schedule is not set by maintenance.

Play the machines near the door and or aisleways. There are a lot of machines taking up this part of any casino and perhaps there is "some" credibility to this belief but I wouldn't spend all my time in Vegas, or anywhere else, looking for that elusive "loose" slot.

To play maximum coins or less than maximum coins. Like most questions on slots this has no absolute answer. There are those who believe you should always play maximum coins and those who believe otherwise. My take suggests that it's up to the player, cautious players will play fewer than maximum and aggressive players will always play the maximum. Playing the maximum can run your bankroll down pretty quick but then a good jackpot will bring it up again. My style of play is less than maximum if the payoff is the same percentage wise, 3 to 1, 6 to 2, 9 to 3. On progressive jackpot machines, I will always play the max..

Pulling the handle in a certain way will determine the outcome of the spin. Not so. People who practice this technique will win no more or less than those who are more conventional in pulling the handle. Technique has nothing to do with the outcome. You'll save energy if you press the buttons.



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