You’re in Las Vegas, and you’re ready to hit the slots. Music imbues the atmosphere, bells and sirens go off announcing payouts, and bursts of groans and cheers fill you with anticipation. Nothing like the energy that exists within these halls feels quite the same.
Row after row of these colorful, flashy devices host players looking to pass some time pushing buttons, watching the “spinners” come up with their combinations, all hoping for the big payout of hitting the jackpot. It’s incredibly entertaining, and it makes you the center of attention when you win.
But what are the real odds of hitting casino jackpot wins at the slots? It’s not like you can count on a strategy as you might with certain table games. And unlike the case with making some wagers on the sports booking side of things, there aren’t stats on players to lean on. However, that doesn’t mean that there isn’t anything to learn about slot machines in Las Vegas and how they work – and how to put that knowledge to your advantage!
Back in the old days, Vegas slot machines were fully mechanical devices with moving parts that worked with a little more predictability. For example, a three-reel machine might have 10 symbols per reel (e.g., cherries, 7’s, “Bar,” etc.) so you could do some simple math to figure out your chances of winning: one chance in 10, times one in 10, times one in 10 (or, 1/10 x 1/10 x 1/10).
There you would come up with a .01% chance of winning, or one in a thousand. That doesn’t sound like a lot, but when you literally have hundreds of people a day trying their luck, slot jackpots in Vegas could hit multiple times a day. Consequently, payouts had to be lower. Combining that with the fact that these mechanical devices with loads of moving parts needed lots of maintenance, things changed once the high-tech age arrived at the casinos.
While you might still find some of the old-fashioned lever-pulling, spinner-spinning slot machines in Las Vegas, the vast majority are modern devices using computer software to determine the outcome of your “pull.” Basically, a microchip inside the brassy box with all those bells and whistles chooses an outcome randomly. There’s no simple math equation to do this time: This is in the digital sphere, and you can’t measure your odds reliably.
Now, that doesn’t mean there aren’t other ways to increase your chances of winning (more on that later). But understanding how these machines work is the first step into becoming a more seasoned slot jockey! You see, the “virtual reels” aren’t limited by size constraints – there could be hundreds per reel, in fact.
So, if you were to play odds that way, now you’d be looking at that equation looking more like 1/300 x 1/300 x 1/300, with sets of reels swelling to five or more, leaving you with one chance in millions upon millions.
Are you missing those far easier 1-1,000 odds yet? Well, don’t worry! The way these digital machines work is totally different from the old-school ones, and you don’t have to be impossibly lucky to score a win.
Las Vegas casinos understand that it would simply be no fun at all to play at something that’s almost impossible to win. Because of those ridiculous odds, they added features you couldn’t see in the old days to keep things more interesting. For example, you could have multiple low-level payouts based on any number of symbol combinations. Yes, hitting the really huge jackpot is still unlikely, but you could come out ahead through smaller payouts. That makes it more worth playing because, really, enjoying the gameplay is part of the deal.
As to what the percentages are for winning both large prizes and smaller payouts, there isn’t a real way to know. Those probabilities are baked into the computer programs. One slot machine may pay something out, say, 95% of the time, while the next one will only pay out 90%. Of course, the house always has the edge, and they’re not going to tell which machines have what percentages. But there are a few rules of thumb to go by.
For one thing, you can rest assured that those crazy million-dollar prizes are one in several million chances to win. Those $5 payouts that you may need to spend $4 to hit will probably be more in that 95% range. In general, the higher denomination you are playing, the better the odds and the higher the payouts.
Now, some professional casino guides out there have studied payouts in real-time at specific machines and inferred which machines come in at what percentage. But those can change quickly, so you’d really have to stay on top of it. One more thing: Stick to casino slot machines. The ones that you find in airports and bars are almost certainly programmed for far fewer payouts.
No matter how you slice it, hitting the jackpot in slot machines is a totally random deal. As we have seen, there are ways to increase your chances of winning. But for the most part, this information isn’t about walking out of the casino a millionaire, but how to keep things fun and entertaining without falling behind. The thrill of slots is unmatched: The sights and sounds coming out of those machines are just incredibly fun! So take what we’ve learned here to help you watch your budget, measure your expectations, and enjoy the ride at Las Vegas’ slot machine scene.
The next time you’re in Vegas, try your hand at the slot machines and try to hit the jackpot! It’s a fun and easy way to take your chances, and any level of bettor can do it. Stop by the D Las Vegas Casino to play slots, table games, Keno, and more for an exciting Vegas betting experience.