Many people remember fondly playing the old-style one-armed bandits. The seafront arcades full of these machines were a feature of many childhood holidays, and allowed visitors to idle away many an hour feeding their pennies into the slots.
While the range of themes adopted by the manufacturers became ever wider, the basic mechanics of these old machines remained much the same for generations. While most of them had three reels, designs were evolved which meant that some slot machines had four, five or even six reels in play. Images of these became synonymous with UK casinos.
There’s no doubt that their popularity was due in no small measure to the hypnotic effect of the spinning wheels – and this is why this formula is still one of the most popular forms of gambling today, among both punters and the machine companies. Many people mourn the passing of the old one-armed bandits, and their enduring popularity is shown in the fact that many old machines can fetch large sums on auction websites, and they are increasingly sought-after as collector’s pieces.
The fact that the machines also involved some physical effort on the part of the player also added to their appeal. There was a sense that the player had to work to get their money, reflecting the general view of the time that the harder someone worked, the more they were rewarded. Eventually, the mechanised machines gave way to their push button electronic successors. Not only did this bring about a revolution in the sense that the effort involved in playing them was greatly reduced, it also meant that far more permutations could be incorporated, adding to their appeal for players.
Now, of course, slot machines often have multiple game options which draw players in with extra ways of scooping that elusive jackpot. But one thing has remained almost constant down the years – the machines’ payout percentages. Experienced players often look out for those with the highest payout figures, and as the amount paid out compared to how much it takes in can vary from about 75 per cent to a figure in the high 90s, it is worth seeking out these more ‘generous’ machines.
While in theory, this means that a machine pays out a high proportion of the money it takes in, this is calculated over a very long period of often hundreds of thousands of spins. So, as seasoned UK casino players know, catching a machine in a generous mood is purely a question of lucky timing. But it doesn’t stop them keeping coming back for more.
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By Paul Davies
Jamie Francis is an experienced author having worked in various fields including gaming for many years.