Slot machines have become the foundation of modern casino gaming during the last few decades, but the game has been played for more than a century. A purely American invention, the slot machine became a staple of bars and nightclubs during the 1890s, giving anybody with a nickel in their pocket a chance to place a bet.
While two different originators from either coast laid claim to the title of inventor, Charles Augustus Fey improved the basic design and created the popular three-reel, single-line format. From there, slot machines quickly became a staple of every casino in the world, along with roadside cafes, bars, and other establishments catering to an adult crowd. More information on the historical roots of the slot machine can be found on our history of slots page.
Playing the slots has become a colloquialism in American culture over the last 100 years, as millions of recreational gamblers take their shot at a jackpot on an annual basis. The reasons for the game’s widespread appeal are easy to see. The game requires no knowledge, skills, or strategy, making it the perfect entry point for casino visitors who may not be comfortable doubling down in blackjack or moving all in on a hand of poker.
To play a slot machine you need only a few coins and a little luck on your side. From there, players simply pull the lever or push the play button, before watching the reels spin and stop to decide their fate. You can learn more on our how to play slots page.
The rules dictating slot machine action are as basic as possible. Players pay to spin the reels, and if they randomly align to form combinations or matches, payouts are awarded according to a predetermined table. Everyone’s seen the classic image of three 7s lining up after spin, appearing one after another before the player begins shrieking in joy.
This game is known as the “three-reel, single-line” version of slots because three reels are used to display the symbols and only one combination is used to determine winners. Over the years gaming companies have added the five-reel, 25-line and up versions of slots. These games simply ramp up the action. With more reels presenting more symbols, and 25 different combinations in play on every spin, players can win many times on a single spin. To learn more about slot machine rules head our slots rules page.
One aspect of slot machines that seems to captivate the general public is the concept of anticipation. Nobody knows when a slot’s reels will finally line up to produce that big jackpot, so part of the fun for many players is trying to predict the outcome.
Unfortunately, the machines rely on randomization to ensure every single spin is unique and independent, so predicting jackpots is actually impossible. Nonetheless, slot fanatics swear by the idea of patterns in the symbols, or machines being “due” to hit after long periods without a jackpot.
While these superstitions are harmless in and of themselves, knowing how the game truly operates is the best way to enjoy slots, because your expectations will always remain grounded in reality. A more in-depth explanation of slot machine myths to avoid, and actual strategies to employ, can be found on our slot machines strategy page.
Playing the slots can be a relaxing, enjoyable experience for anybody, which is why the game has withstood the test of time. Players who specialize in skill games like to blow off steam in between sessions, while casino rookies prefer slots because of their personal, one-on-one nature. With the possibility of turning your pocket change into a huge jackpot, it’s easy to see why slots remain such a popular gaming option.