Slot Machine Odds
Slot machine odds aren’t what they used to be. Back in the days of purely mechanical slot machines, the odds were very easy to calculate. You could just count the number of symbols on each reel and calculate your odds of hitting the jackpot. For example, a slot machine with three reels each with 15 symbols and one play line would have 3375 different possible combinations (15x15x15). Your odds of hitting the jackpot would be 1 in 3375.
Things are much different these days. Nowadays, most slot machines are 100% computerized with the combinations determined by a random number and payback percentages set by the casinos. The number of symbols and reels are no longer the governing factor in the odds equation.
The reels and combinations you see are just a manifestation of the slot machine’s “random number generator”. The random number generator is the computer program that decides what combinations will come up. The program doesn’t have any quota of jackpots to pay in an hour or day or year even. Over the course of the machine’s life it will average a certain preset payback percentage.
Only the casino knows what this percentage is. Because of this, it is not feasible to calculate the odds of any machine unless you somehow know the payback percentage. The percentage has nothing to do with the type of slot machine either. A Wheel of Fortune machine a Harrah’s in Vegas may have a percentage of 92% while the Wheel of Fortune machine next to it may have percentage of 85%.
Published slots machine payout information does give us some slot machine odds guidelines to follow. One of these is that the higher the denomination of the slot machine, the higher the payback percent. This is because the casinos can take a smaller portion of the higher denomination bets to generate the same profit as a cheaper machine.
Bigger casinos also tend to offer higher return percentages, because of the higher volume of players they have. Las Vegas is generally considered to have the best slots paybacks due to the extreme competition between casinos. Also, slots with higher jackpots, especially progressive slots, tend to have lower payback percentages than lower jackpot machines.
No matter what slot machine you’re playing your odds will always be less than 100%. There are some slot machines that have a payback of 99% and some that have a payback of 70%. One of the best ways to find a higher payback machine is to try different machines until you find one that pays out in regular intervals. Even then, only stick with this machine until it stops paying. Don’t expect it to always return to its generous behavior.
In general, the odds of hitting the jackpot on most land based casinos is somewhere between 500,000 to 1 and 1,000,000 to 1. Consider yourself very lucky if you happen to hit one of these.