Slot machines are increasingly popular, largely thanks to the emergence of online casinos where playing a huge variety of modern games is easier and more accessible than ever before.
As with any mainstream interactive hobby, slot players often seek to subvert the rules and requirements of their games of choice in order to manipulate the odds in their favor. This has led to claims that slot machines, both physical and virtual, can be hacked or otherwise exploited to increase the chances of achieving a payout.
So when it comes to the question of how to manipulate a slot machine, do the hacks suggested in some quarters actually work, or is this a dead-end?
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Addressing the legal issue
First and foremost, it’s important to point out that if you are playing any kind of slot game in a region where doing so is allowed by law, then any attempt to ‘hack’ it will be illegal in its own right.
Areas of the country and the world which allow gambling have strict regulations governing how both casino operators and players are expected to behave towards one another and illicit subversions of mechanical or digital systems involved in slot machines will be punishable by fines and even imprisonment in some cases.
So in short, you should never proactively seek to manipulate a slot machine in a way that contravenes legislation. However, that does not mean you should go in blindly and play games without really understanding the factors that influence the outcome of each spin.
Recognizing the hacks
The digitization of slot machines has made it much trickier to tamper with them, to the point that it is effectively impossible for online slots to be hacked, although some have succeeded.
Older land-based machines could be tricked by interfering with the currency used for play, and the old ‘coin on a string’ trick is a historic example of this, although again modern technologies and design changes have all but eradicated these approaches.
While you could theoretically unpick the inner workings of the algorithms which determine the random outcomes of contemporary slots if you were given access to them, and were a mathematical genius to boot, in practice it is just not practical to even attempt to hack slot machines in their current form.
As mentioned, while slot machine hacks are realistically off the table for the vast majority of players, it is still sensible to familiarize yourself with the way that the underlying systems operate so that you know which games are best to play.
For example, you should ignore anyone who claims that slots will pay out after a certain amount of time, or a certain number of spins, as this is simply not the way they are designed, and is indeed entirely illegal. Instead the chance of a win being achieved is identical on every single spin, as this is necessary for compliance with most gambling regulations worldwide.
This is both good and bad news for players, as it means that while the playing field is level each time you spin the reels, the actual chances of hitting the jackpot never improve.
Thankfully you can still have a degree of control over your chances of winning by looking out for machines that have both a decent RTP (return to player) rate, as well as a low overall volatility.
RTP is important because the higher it is, the more money a machine will pay out on average, leaving the operator with a smaller cut. It still means that the house will win in the end, clawing back a few percentage points of profit from the machine, but gives lucky players a more consistent opportunity to get back some of the money they pump into the game.
Volatility, on the other hand, is more about how frequently a machine pays out, and how much is available for each win. While high volatility machines may have bigger jackpots, the likelihood of a payout occurring regularly will be much lower. Meanwhile lower volatility machines will have smaller winning pots available, but will hit pay-out symbol combos more often.
Ultimately it is important for slot machine players to empower themselves with the knowledge of how games function, and to avoid falling into the common trap of assuming that it is either possible to win through trickery, or somehow influence the outcome through sheer willpower or appealing to outside forces. Keep this in mind and you can have fun playing slots in moderation.