Understanding the Odds when Playing Slots

Slot Machines are one of the most popular games at online and mobile casinos alike. How they work may seem like somewhat of a mystery to most, despite the fact that casinos often publish their overall payout percentages and brag about how much their slots have paid out to players at any given time.

Here we’ll take a look at how online and mobile slots really work, basic slot machine odds, frequency, returns and overall payouts, so that understand how it all works and what to look for in a slot the next time you play.

The basics of Slot Machine Odds

In the past, standard 3 reel slots with 10 symbols on each reel afforded players the opportunity to calculate the specific odds of hitting the given jackpot with some simple mathematics. To figure out your odds on these types of games, all you had to do was divide the total number of symbols by one. If a 3 reel slot had 10 symbols on each reel, the odds of a specific symbol appearing were therefore one in nine. To calculate the odds of hitting three symbols for a jackpot win, all you would need to do is multiply your chance of landing on a single symbol three times by itself – so if you had a one in 10 chance of hitting a specific symbol on a reel, the odds of achieving the three combination would be one in a thousand, or 999:1.

Nowadays however, it is impossible to calculate the exact odds of winning thanks so the complex nature and design of these games, as well as the fact that slots are governed by Random Number Generators.

Modern slots now contain so many different reels, symbols, features and possible winning combinations that the mathematical approach you would need to employ in calculating odds is well out of most of our scope of mathematical acumen.

For example, on a modern slot, a certain symbol may appear once in twenty spins, while another may appear once in ten and another still only every fifty spins. There is no way for us to ascertain the particular settings of a machine without knowing the specifications programmed into the Random Number Generator.

This is why it is important for you to under a slot’s hit frequency and payout percentage, while these concepts won’t enable you to calculate the exact odds, they will give you an idea of what to expect from a particular machine.

Slots Hit Frequency

When it comes to slots, the hit frequency is the ratio of losses to wins on a particular game. The slot’s hit frequency is said to increase as the number of wins increases. Due to the sheer number of ways to win when playing online slots, ascertaining a slots hit frequency is not an exact science, but rather an educated guess that works with mathematical averages.

In order to best estimate a slot’s hit frequency, it’s advisable to play 100 spins and track your results during these. If you’re on a budget, the most cost effective way of doing this is to play machines with the smallest possible coin denomination and record every win and loss during the hundred spins.

The definition of a good hit frequency will depend on the amount you’re looking to win as well as the type of slot you’re playing, but most slots players consider any slot that pays out less than 10% of the time a bad option.

To get an even better idea of the hit frequency and the game’s overall odds and performance you can consider factoring in the amount of winnings you earn while playing it. Some slots are designed to pay out small amounts frequently, so a 50% hit frequency may seem outstanding, but if you’re only earning very small returns each time, you may want to consider giving up on a particular slot and finding another option. On the flip side, if a slot only pays out at nine or ten times per 100 spins, but you are earning substantial amounts, you should consider continuing to play and aiming for the big jackpot.

Returns on Slots

When it comes to returns on a slot, this is the percentage of the cash paid out in comparison to what the player has invested. Slots tournament players generally keep track of this type of thing in order to formulate game play strategies.

In order to calculate the return, you need basic maths only – for example if you spent $100 playing and won $90 in the process, you will have a 90% return. This is because the casino retained $10 of the money you lost, which can be considered a loss or the price of the entertainment you enjoyed…depending on your point of view.

Slots Payout Percentages

Online casinos don’t publish each slots payout percentage, they generally just give an overall figure of what their combined portfolio pays out and this is usually just for marketing purposes.

It is important not to get too side tracked by a slots payout percentage, because this is actually just theoretical and developed from infinite numbers of spins. So if a casino advertises a specific slot as offering a 98% payout rate, this just means that over an infinite amount of time, the slot will payout 98 cents for every dollar that players have put into it. It doesn’t mean that you will always get 98% back – sometimes you will win and walk away with more, sometimes you will lose and walk away with considerably less.

All in all, it’s difficult to ascertain the exact odds that a slot offers, you can only do your best to ascertain the hit rate and average return and make your selections from there. If you are looking for games with more concrete odds, then skill based online casino games like blackjack and video poker are your best bets.