We all know there is a huge element of chance when playing online slots, but is there any way you can make hitting a bigger payout more likely? What should you look out for and how should you play? There are hundreds of articles purporting to have some sort of insider knowledge that can start you on a winning streak, however, most are just clickbait. To understand your true chances, and whether there are any ways of tipping the scales in your favour, we must look at how online slots work.
They are basically a virtual slot machine
Some people think online slots are carefully monitored to defraud poor players out their hard-earned money. They’re not: they’re designed to run in the same way as a manual slot machine. Virtual wheels use mathematics to calculate a symbol’s positioning and frequency, which is usually regulated by the value of the symbol. This makes lower value symbols occur more often, while the bigger paying symbols are less frequent. For example, in the top-rated, Bob Marley-inspired ‘Bob’s Coffeeshop’, the bong symbol isn’t as valuable as the lion’s head, therefore appears more frequently. Just like Bob’s Coffeeshop, many online slots have their own unique symbols and awards to learn, so the experience is very similar to that of those playing regular physical slots.
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The virtual wheels also need all of the rules and code running in the background to make the game work correctly. To achieve this online slots manufacturers use an odds-and-probabilities table to ensure there is a house edge. This house edge is how the casinos make their money. A virtual random number generator and a control system are used to run the machine for players. Just like other forms of gambling, online casinos are strictly regulated by the gambling authorities, to protect players.
Are there mathematical patterns?
A random number generator is impossible for a player to predict. There may well be long-term patterns or an element of predictability to them if you have a vast amount of programming and specialist knowledge, but for the average player, they are impenetrable. Decades of research and experimentation have gone into making the algorithms and software behind this as random and fair as possible.
‘3D Lissajous figures’ – TANAKA Juuyoh via Flickr (CC0 1.0)
The random number generator is complex and used for more than the reels: it could also be running several progressive jackpots and bonus games, or even the animations and sounds designed to entertain you. The combinations and variables that random number generators work with means any patterns they produce are so huge they are virtually imperceivable by us.
Can you boost your chances?
Some slot machines are designed to pay out losing wins more often. This is when a machine pays out a lower amount than your initial stake. While this is hardly favourable, the cumulative wins can help your money to stretch a little further while you’re trying your luck and hoping for a bigger win. To increase the chances of this, when you’re playing a game like Arcane Elements – which has 50 lines – you are better off playing more lines for a smaller amount than fewer lines for a larger amount. This maximises your chances of getting a winning combination.
In truth, an online slot’s profitability has nothing to do with it being online and everything to do with odds-versus-probabilities mathematics – which always tilt slightly in the casinos’ favour. It means there’s plenty of money for the punters to get their hands on but that, ultimately, the house always wins.