Why Can’t We Fool Slot Machines Anymore?


Why Can’t We Fool Slot Machines Anymore?

Slot machines are a common picture in casinos. Many establishments offer hundreds of them on their casino floors. The slots are usually grouped together, neatly side by side and are very attractive; they always have a bright attract mode with sound effects. Each slot machine is equipped with a special mechanism which makes complex calculations for each player within the time interval of one second. We can hear older gamblers sharing their golden rules of cheating those machines, but why are they not up to date anymore?

The oldest fruit machines and their way of work

They were invented in the year 1898 by a certain Charles Fey, in his mechanic warehouse in San Francisco. He created the first slot machine which utilized three drums and five symbols: horseshoe, BAR, bell, lemon and orange. The design that he used was originally meant to entertain customers waiting for their cars to be fixed by Fey. They become so popular that another person, Herbert Mills, built them in front of stores (during those times). Fey couldn’t patent his invention since gambling was illegal at that time.

Those machines were pretty simple in their construction. They were just a box where numbers or symbols were painted on small panels. Symbols would be chosen randomly and the machine was activated by pulling a lever that in turn caused the reels to spin, left or right. Theoretically someone with enough time (and luck) could figure out which symbol was coming next but eventually Mills started adding more symbols so this became more difficult to predict. 

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Simple fruit machines did not have any complicated systems like modern slots do.  Reels were activated by hand and symbols were chosen randomly, but numbers became automatically regulated. The machine was designed in such a way that it counted how many times specific symbol has appeared on the panel; if there is a certain number of outcomes or more for one symbol then other symbols take its place (for example “cherries” come as less likely than other symbols, but their payline give higher amount of payout).

The most stubborn gamblers could sit for hours in the pub or in the casino with such a slot machine and count how often it pays out. Then they play only the sessions they predict to be a winning one. 

Modern slots and the way they work

But with all the modern technology, slot machines became more and more complicated. Nowadays it’s impossible to use mathematical methods for prediction of patterns as slots are made of electronic devices not depending on the handcraft. With the development of computer science there were new algorithms installed into the machines. 

First of all, randomness is provided by new technology. They are completely random. Inside modern slot machines or those video slots in an online casino  have software with random number generators which give absolutely unpredictable numbers. 

However, they need to maintain a certain house edge to be profitable for an operator, but also pay you back a particular amount of money during the session. This payback is sometimes regulated by law, for example it differs in each state in the USA. This means you can’t lose all your money during one session.

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Online slots games software remembers every loss and each win, so it knows your current session bankroll. After you have won a certain amount of money, the machine is programmed by the online casino operator to let it go and give a big win. This way you can play longer without losing all your money and spent even more with hope for a fortune

Slot machines in casinos only look similar to those old ones, but they are packed with electronics and programming and they have different paybacks for each machine. This way casinos can build a high profit slot in which paying back 95% of player’s bets or even higher is possible. They are more and more complicated and engaging compared to those simple ones with mechanical reels.

Almost all modern slots no longer have moving reels. They are displayed on the screen instead. There might be a lever to keep the atmosphere of playing a real slot game. The modern slots are called “video slot machines” since it is a video screen that shows you the reels.

Not many people know that popular crane games work on a similar basis. The mechanical hand catching toys or other prizes squeeze them with proper strength only when the winning spot is reached. Random number generator points out which session might be the winning one if the player catches the prize.


In the past we might have had the chance to fool slot machines and earn on them instead of losing, but modern machines do not let us do so anymore. They are based on a random number generator, so it is no longer possible to win against them with counting the winning sessions. Their randomness may be perfect if not for the law that forbids slot machines to strip you from all of your money during longer sessions so they need to be regulated at some point.