When a slot machine receives a signal — anything from a button being pushed to the handle being pulled — it begins to spin. When the reels stop, the random-number generator (RNG) algorithm sets a number that corresponds to a position on the virtual reel displayed to the player. That number determines whether a particular symbol will land or miss, how much the machine pays for a winning combination, and so on.
The RNG also weights specific symbols, meaning that a high-paying symbol is more likely to appear on the first reel than a lower-paying one. This can create the illusion that a machine is “due” to hit, and it’s why casinos often place hot machines at the ends of aisles so they attract the most players.
Despite all this, it’s still possible to win at slots. The key is to play a smart game, know your odds and limits in advance and stick to them. Most importantly, don’t be fooled into thinking that you can influence the outcome of a spin through skill. The RNG is always making a thousand mathematical calculations per second, so your results will be different from anyone else’s.
Another way to help yourself win is to decide in advance when you’re going to walk away. Many players set this point at the time they double their money, or when they’re ahead by a reasonable margin. Using this strategy will prevent you from spending more than you’re able to afford to lose.