According to historians, there is some debate as to when the first one-armed bandit came into existence. Some claim that Charles Fey is the man responsible for the first coin-operated gambling machine, with his 1894 invention, the Liberty Bell. Others say that the Sittman and Pitt machine from 1881 is the true precursor to the modern slot.
In any case, these games have been around for over a century. In 1963, developer Bally created the first fully electromechanical machine, and in 1994, the first slot appeared. Once the latter happened, the industry changed forever. The games began to grow in complexity, evolving both in terms of gameplay and visual presentation. Today, the number of platforms that offer this game genre is immense, as they try to reel people in by giving out free spins to play slots and other promo deals.
If you’ve never enjoyed a reel-spinner before, here are a few things you should know about before pulling that digital lever.
Symbols, Paytables, and Paylines
Though the technology behind slots may have changed over the years, the same principles, more-or-less apply to every title in the genre. As you probably know, a slot machine is a game where reels with symbols spin, and depending on where these symbols land, you may or may not win a prize. Each result is random, and a computer algorithm (random number generator) ensures the fairness of each spin.
Now, not all symbols on the reels have the same value. For this purpose, you need to look at something called a Paytable before playing. It will show you how the symbols divide in terms of worth and how many you need to land on what payline to claim a prize. A payline is a winning line or a combination of symbols that result in a win.
The symbols will separate into groups of low-paying and high-paying ones. There will also be one or more Wild symbols in play, which can substitute any other symbol needed for a win on a payline. A Scatter is a symbol that will allow you entry to a bonus round. These games are often themed as well to cater to different tastes. These “skins” which decorate the game can come in a variety of themes, they can cover popular movies and TV shows, sports or even mythology.
RTP, Volatility, and Max Exposure
If you’ve ever considered entering a casino floor, you’ve likely heard the term house edge. It signifies the mathematical advantage that the casino has over the player. That’s RTP or return-to-player in the slot-verse. It tells you how much the game will pay back over time. So, if you see a slot with an RTP of 96%, that means that the house edge is 4% in the casino’s favor.
Other essential game specifications that you should know about include volatility and max exposure. Volatility indicates how often the game will payout and in what amount. It tells you the risk involved. For example, a low volatility game will provide frequent but small wins, while a high volatility one will yield large rewards rarely. The max exposure figure is there to point out what you stand to win in the best-case scenario.