There’s a great deal of misunderstanding as to the way in which pokies function – most of which is the result of misinformed chatter and the kinds of rumours that spread like wildfire. So in order to help you get a better grasp of the phenomenon, here’s a quick guide that breaks down the pokies we all know and love to make them all a bit easier to understand.
And while the primary focus is the pokie, the same principles apply to all video slots of all types found anywhere the world over today.
A pokie is a pretty complex machine and depends on a variety of components to function. There are both internal and external parts that have to come together to get the things working – here’s a quick look at the main components.
Cabinet – This is the external casing that plays host to all the internal goodies that allow play. The cabinet is technically the pokie you see in the gaming hall or pub.
Video Screen – On the front you’ll find the video screen which is used to display the game you’re playing.
Gameplay Buttons – Usually to the bottom of the screen you will find a panel of buttons used to choose your actions and actually play the game.
Money Inserts – Most often toward the top-right of the machine will be the money acceptor, which will accept notes and/or coins depending on the machine.
Front Panels – These usually display the name of the game, the brand it came from and the rest of the bright and colourful artwork. This is also where you’ll usually find some or all of the instructions.
Coin Tray – The tray in which your money will be deposited into if you’re luck y enough to hit a win.
Motherboard – Like would be found in a home computer, the motherboard is the main internal board that holds the machine’s processor, memory and so on.
EPROM – This stands for Erasable Programmable Read-Only Memory and is technically the brain of the machine.
Interface Card – Allows the motherboard and EPROM to be controlled by the gaming buttons.
Meters – These keep track of vital data like how much money has been paid in, how many spins have been made and how many wins etc.
Cables – Used to connect all internal parts.
Cash Authenticator – Used to make sure that only valid currency is accepted for gameplay.
Lights – Usually all over the place to light the machine up.
Note Box – Used to store the banknotes inserted by gamers.
Coin Hopper – Stores coins inserted and also pays out in the case of wins.
Speakers – Used to play music and sound effects during gameplay.
Security Alarm – Triggers when the door is opened or when the machine is subjected to any force not befitting regular gameplay.
How a Spin Works
Each of the reels in play on the machine you are using will present a series of symbols with different values. As there are far more low-value symbols than those that pay the bigger wins, you will see more of these on-screen and are more likely to hit them at any time.
When you press the button to spin the wheels, it isn’t actually the reels in front of you that stop randomly to determine the outcome. Instead, the EPROM inside the machine instantly decides a random outcome in accordance with the machine’s odds – this is then displayed to you on the reels in front of you.
Contrary to popular belief, not only do the positions of the symbols on each reel never change but the pub or casino you are playing the pokies in cannot change the odds of winning either. They are set in stone on the EPROM and in order for any changes to be made, the machine needs a new brain from the manufacturer.
In accordance with Australian law, every pokie you play must have an 87% payout percentage as a minimum. In practice though, you will more often than not find that payout rates are more around the 93% mark and there are very few that hover around the 87% minimum. In any and all cases you probably won’t notice the difference though as unless you live and breathe pokies all day every day, these 5% differences don’t add up to much.
What the payout percentage means is how much the machine has to pay back over the long-term. As such, a 93% payout percentage would see the machine returning $93 for every $100 inserted.
Be warned however that there is sadly no such thing as a 100% payout percentage when it comes to pokies. As such, it’s a plain and simple fact that the more you play, the more you lose as the odds are never in your favor.
Pokie Myths and Misinformation
Despite the fact that pokies have been around for decades, the industry as a whole is still peppered with myths and falsehoods. Probably the biggest of all is that a machine can be “primed for a payout” after a period of not hitting a win for hours on end. In reality, every single spin is set at exactly the same odds which means that no matter how long it has been since the machine paid out, you’re never any more or less likely to win on it.
What’s more, you can toss out all the guides, manuals, and secret recipes in the world when it comes to increasing your odds of a win – it can’t be done. Millions of gamers assume that certain techniques, combinations of button-presses or other tactics can lead to better chances of winning when in practice the odds are the odds and you’ve no say in the matter.
You just have to keep control of your own gaming habit and never fall victim to thinking the machine is on your side.