Myths vs. Reality

Does Stopping the Reels Effect the Outcome of a Slot Spin?

Repeat Bet button on WMS machine
Written by Joshua

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Here’s one for the popular urban legends pile: If you stop the reels at juuuuust the right time, you can get a bonus or a big line hit.

That’d be a myth, Bob.

Status: Mega-myth

It’s always curious how these come about, but for some reason there’s a lot of people who think they have some control over the outcome of a slot machine. The reality is that when it comes to slots, with the exception of the new wave of skill-based slots and games that are starting to appear in casinos, a standard, Vegas style or even Bingo-based or other Class II slot machine, the outcome is already decided the moment you hit that spin button.

Let’s dive a bit into the why’s and how’s to better understand why stopping the reels doesn’t do anything but speed up your spin

Understanding Vegas-style (Class III) Slots

The most common type of slot machine many are familiar with are known as Vegas-style slots, and under governmental regulations for Native American casinos is called Class III. Under these types of slots, a random number generator (RNG) is constantly running inside the game. The moment you hit spin, it grabs the number at that exact instant that’s running through the random number generator, looks up the outcome of the game, and then displays the outcome through a pleasant animation of reels.

If for some reason you choose to stop the reels early, it speeds up the animation. However, since the outcome was decided the moment you started the reels spinning, your stopping it has nothing to do with the outcome – you’re just learning the results a tiny bit faster. What you are doing instead is speeding up when you start the reels again, so a different random number will be used instead of if you let the reels spin their way out.

Does that have any material impact? No – you wouldn’t know the outcome had you gone the other way.

If you see a bonus symbol peeking out the edge, you can take solace that you didn’t cause that – it was going to tease you regardless of whether you stopped the reels or not.

Understanding Other Gaming Machine Types

Many states don’t allow Vegas-style slots. In other situations, Native American tribes are allowed to have gaming, but only games like Bingo, which are Class II machines under the same regulations. Over time, clever slot manufacturers have figured out how to produce gaming machines that not only use Bingo as the determining factor of an outcome, but for instance historical horse racing, or even a scratch-off like system with the results displayed in Video Lottery Terminals (VLTs). Despite how winners are determined, they still look like a slot machine or video poker game.

We’ll get into the various gaming machine types and how they work in future articles, but for now the main thing the non-Vegas-style slots have in common is their outcome is not determined by an RNG, and in fact their outcome is not determined within the machine at all – it phones home to a server that’s governing the outcomes through some sort of system, and then sending back the result to the machine, which again renders a pleasant slot machine animation or reel spin and outcome.

Stopping the reels doesn’t change what the machine was given to work with in this case either.

Is There Any Reason to Stop the Reels?

There’s no reason that would impact the outcome of your game. In fact, by not stopping the reels and letting a spin (or free games, or whatever animation is going on) do its thing, you’re avoiding hitting the bet button as quickly, so you’re putting less money at risk. If you are on a budget, or play slots for entertainment value, there’s a definite advantage to just letting things see themselves through.

But some do like to rapid fire a game at a low bet or for other reasons that can be fun in its own way. But if you’re trying to improve your chances of winning or stop the reels for a win, all you’re doing is seeing the outcome a bit faster. So there’s no real advantage.

Watch and Learn

If you wanted any further reason to be encouraged to avoid stopping the reels, check out this recent video from Amercian Casino Guide’s Steve Bourie and Matt Bourie discussing how “Speed Kills” when it comes to gambling, and not just slots either (hint – it’s the house edge that does it to you):

About the author

Joshua

My name is Joshua, and I’m a 30-something who works in tech as a marketer by day, and dabbles in casinos periodically during off-times. Know Your Slots will reflect my interests in understanding the various ways you can play slots, games that give you a potential edge, casino promotions and systems and how you can get the most out of it.

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