Q&A: Can a Slot Machine’s Reel Speed effect the Game?

A slot machine’s reels are its most prominent features. They spin gloriously to their individual stops, telling us if we’ve won – anything from a massive jackpot, to a small chunk of change, to nothing at all. The reel speed – or speed at which the reels spin – has no effect on the outcome. However, the same can’t be said of a player’s experience.

Slot Machines Reel SpeedI overheard a conversation the other day at my local casino in which two ladies – friends I assume, as they were seated side by side playing the slots – were questioning the reel speed of their machines. One slot machine’s reels were spinning noticeably faster than the other.

They questioned whether that might have any effect on the game play, or more importantly, if it could effect their chances of winning on each game.

Can Reel Speed Effect Payouts?

The truth is, the outcome, or payout percentage, is not effected by the reel speed. The way these machine’s are programmed, each result is determined by a random number generator (RNG) that triggers the moment the Spin button is pressed – not as the reels are coming to a stop. No matter how fast they spin, the end result will be the same.

A lot of the older slot machines, which can still be found in casinos around the world, actually give players the option to choose the speed they want the reels to spin at. There aren’t too many of these left, comparatively speaking, but they do exist.

In fact, the ladies mentioned above didn’t realize this, but one of the machine’s did have a reel speed selection feature (which is why is what spinning a bit slower), while the other (the one that was spinning faster) did not. I was inclined to point that out to them before I moved on my way, not wanting to seem like a creep who listens in on old ladies’ conversations at the casino.

Does Reel Speed Matter?

If you happen to find yourself playing a slot machine with the option to change the reel speed, I highly recommend choosing the lowest setting. Not because it will increase your odds of winning, but it will decrease your odds of losing your entire bankroll.

You see, every slot machine has a ‘Hold‘ percentage – the amount of money it keeps from players, on average, over a period of time. Players who get lucky enough can win money, but those who don’t – which is, unfortunately, the majority – will inevitably lose.

If you have a $100 bankroll, and are spinning slower reels at 5 times every minute for $0.25 per spin, you could theoretically lose your entire bankroll in 1 hour and 20 minutes. That would necessitate losing every single spin, though. That should never happen, and if it did, I would hope you would choose a new slot machine after no more than a few minutes of play.

Today’s faster slot machines, especially those known as ‘rapid fire‘ slots, can have players spinning up to 20 times per minute. That’s once every 3 seconds! At that rate, your $100 bankroll could be wiped out in as little as 20 minutes.

As every responsible gambler knows, slot machines should be enjoyed as an entertainment opportunity. We don’t play them expecting to win money. We play them because it’s fun, and affords a chance to win money. Thus extending your entertainment dollar to cover as much time as possible is crucial having a great game experience, win or lose.

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