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How Vegas Slot Machines Work

Here's a way of understanding how a modern Vegas slot machine works. Understanding the machine gives us some idea of our winning odds with it.

To what can we compare a slots winning combination? Let's say we have a bag and inside are 3 ballsóred, green, and blue. Our chance of getting the blue ball in a single try without looking in is one in three. It may even be one in 5 or ten. But to come close to how a Vegas slot machine works, we fill the bag with the same ball colors but different ball number of pieces. Say, we have 40 reds, 20 greens, and one blue. There are still 3 kinds of balls inside, but now, we cannot say that our odds in getting the blue ball are still one in three.

When we try to grope for the blue ball inside the bag we have to try more than 3 tries. And much of the time we'd likely end up with a red ball because there's more of them, and then a green ball. The chance of hitting a jackpot in the slots is somewhat the same. Sure, there is indeed a blue ball, and we can chance upon getting it any time. But the likelihood is small. With slots, there are other factors to consider.

Reels are designed with different weights. This is a hint that we could have more hit chances with our first and second reel tries. But often, we miss the hit on our third try. The difference in weights has a lot to do with this. We must bear in mind that the Random Number Generation, or RNG, process always goes on, even when nobody is using the machine. It generates numerous 3-digit combinations each second. So when we use the machine, at the precise moment we press the button or pull the lever the number generation stops at a number combination.

It may happen that right after we use a machine another uses it and hit the jackpot. We might think that had we played a bit longer we could have hit the jackpot ourselves. But the truth is, even if we had continued playing the number generation would have been differently generated. There's always a time difference between our play and other people's play. A mere millisecond difference makes the machine generate thousands of numbers differently.

And thus a Vegas slot machine works. The more modern it becomes the more challenging it is to win.

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