Slot machines, also known in certain parts of the world as fruit machines, poker machines or pokies, or simply slots, are far and away the most popular form of casino gambling, both at land based casinos and at online ones. The simplicity of slots, combined with the near instant gratification they provide, as well as the potential for some very big payouts, is a combination that the majority of casino players find irresistible.
While casino games generally involve at least some knowledge of how to play the game, it doesn’t get any easier than playing a slot machine. You just put your money in, pull the lever or push a button, and you just blast off.
There is just enough of a delay between activating a spin and its outcome to make things interesting and exciting, no more than a few seconds, as you watch the outcome unfurl before your eyes. Add in some visuals as well as sound effects, along with some well timed wins to keep things consistently interesting and you now have an experience that players wish to keep repeating over and over again.
While players do tend to watch the outcome of spins pretty closely to spot payouts, this isn’t even necessary, as players merely have to sit back and see how many credits they have earned with a spin, if any. Should the win be anything more than a nominal one, the machine will take its time racking up the credits so that the player’s enjoyment of the win will be extended to maximum effect.
Slot makers know exactly why people play slots, and that’s to become entertained, and they design their machines to provide the most entertainment they can within their payout schedule, keeping players wanting to continue on for as long as possible to get more and more of the delightful experience.
A Brief History of Slot Machines
The slot machine got its name from the slot in the machine used to insert coins. The first machine resembling a slot machine first appeared on the scene in the United States in 1891. It consisted of 50 cards, with two left out to make it less likely for players to get a royal flush. It made its debut at several bars in New York City, where players would redeem their winnings for things like drinks and cigars.
The first actual slot machine, with automatic payouts for various combinations, appeared on the scene only a few years later. This three reel machine only used 5 symbols, one of which was a Liberty Bell, which the machine became known as. It cost 5c to play, not a meaningless sum in the late 19th century by any means, and the biggest payout was 50c.
The demand for this machine became so great that the company couldn’t keep up with the orders for it, and other companies began making similar machines.
The slot machine idea was also taken up by companies looking to stimulate interest in their wares by way of the “trade stimulator” machine, which was essentially a slot machine with prizes like candy, cigarettes, or other goods. They looked and worked identically to a slot machine and got around anti gambling laws by paying out non monetary prizes.
So this is where the popular fruit symbols in slot machines came from, this used to win you different flavors of chewing gum, and the popular bar that went along with them was the logo of the Bell Fruit Gum company. These symbols persisted long after the machines were used to sell gum.
Up until 1963, slot machines were purely mechanical devices, until Bally devised the first electric one. 1976 brought the first video slot, which really transformed slots and they have been evolving ever since, into more and more sophisticated and immersive devices.
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Slot Machines Today
In addition to the modern day rich sight and sound experience, today’s slots are particularly well crafted to keep players in their seats or in front of their monitors or mobile devices with online versions. While they do differ in payout frequencies, catering to particular tastes that way, with some paying more smaller prizes and others less but with more opportunities for the bigger scores, all are set up well to both capture and retain the interest of players.
The payout lines have also come a long way from the one payout line of the old time machines, with 5 reels instead of 3 being the norm now, and with up to 243 payout lines available, the experience has become much more magnified and condensed, as well as more exciting and appealing.
The real beauty of slot machines though has remained unchanged through the years, which is the sheer ease and speed of placing and resolving bets, and no other form of gaming even comes close in this regard.
Other games may offer more of a cerebral experience, a little anyway, but slots have none of that, there is no real strategy or even thinking involved really, other than the strategies of how much you want to play for, and of course, the strategy of wanting to pack in as much fun as you can into your gambling experiences.