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Ask the Slot Expert: When does a slot machine determine the result of a spin?30 December 2015
An interesting thought, but if machines worked that way, they'd be violating the primary rule (Should we call it the Prime Directive?) of slot machine programming:
Every outcome will be possible on every spin with the same probability.
You might say there are some exceptions to this rule, such as a machine that lets you choose the volatility you desire. Each volatility option is a separate reel layout. Once you've chosen your volatility level, the reel layout -- and the probabilities -- don't change from spin to spin.
Your sections, by their very nature, violate the unchanging probability part if not also the all outcomes always possible part of the rule.
From our vantage point in the present, we can look back at our history of results on a machine and say it was hot from time A to time B, cold from time C to time D, and choppy from time E to time F. But when we try to look into the future, the only thing we can say is that our chances for any outcome are the same on every spin and we have no idea when and for how long a machine will be hot or cold.
As you -- and I -- said: "It's all random."
The programming in today's machines waits until the very last moment to lock in the result of a spin. It will determine the result of a spin after the player has committed to playing it either by hitting the Bet Max button or the Spin Reels or Repeat Bet button.
The reason that the program waits until the very last moment to lock in the result is because any time a machine is sitting with a locked-in result it is vulnerable to being cheated. For example, early computer-controlled slots determined the result of the next spin at the conclusion of the current spin. And some video poker machines drew all 10 cards that might be needed for a video poker hand on the deal. Cheats found ways to beat both of those machines.
When the program gets the result from the RNG (called "polling the RNG"), it doesn't get a payout amount. It typically gets one number for each reel. The number tells the program where to stop each reel. The program then looks at the symbols on the payline(s) and checks to see if they're a winning combination. If they are, it awards the appropriate number of credits.
Moving on to your last statement, I've had the same experience. It has seemed like I couldn't hit anything on a machine when I was betting the maximum, but I got some good payouts when I was betting the minimum.
I think in my case what happens is that I'm more willing to stick with a machine when I'm betting 30 cents per spin than when I'm betting $3 per spin. I play more spins at the lower bet, so I have more chances of hitting something.
And I think there's some relativity at play, too. A $30 hit is ho-hum on a $3 bet, but a nice return on a 30-cent bet.
How much you bet has no effect on your chances for hitting winning combinations. The chances are the same. As in the answer above, it's all random.
Send your slot and video poker questions to John Robison, Slot Expert™, at email@example.com. Because of the volume of mail I receive, I regret that I can't reply to every question.
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