Myths vs. Reality

Stopping the Slot Reels, Revisited: Busting the Myth

Aristocrat pay table rules
Written by Joshua

While the goal of Know Your Slots is to share accurate information about how slots work, some people simply don’t want to believe it.

Recently I got a comment about one of my earliest Myth vs. Reality posts, where I confirm that stopping the reels has no impact on the outcome of a spin. The commenter was very brief, saying my article was “complete BS.”

This is one of those fallacies that many people want to believe – they have control over the slot because they’re hitting the button. “I stopped the spin on a bonus so I was responsible for that” is probably one of the statements I heard most often even before starting my site, that I knew simply wasn’t true.

Aristocrat pay table rules

How did I know this? Slot games are built based on math. A set number of outcomes can occur on a game, designed mathematically in a way that over a period of time they will make money for a casino.

There’ll be ups and downs, but over some number of spins they’ll approach the expected outcome that they’re designed to achieve. The Random Number Generator helps ensure that any individual outcome is possible.

Slots aren’t as a rule a skill game – the games on the casino floor that are skill games clearly advertise themselves as such. And now, notices are beginning to appear in the pay tables about stopping the reels not influencing a game.

IGT pay table rules

I’ve seen this most frequently so far with Aristocrat – many of their newest games reference this. But they’re not the only ones where I’ve seen this. I’ve seen examples of this on IGT and Konami games for sure, and there’s probably games where I missed it.

In the IGT example above, you can see it also talks about near misses and how they don’t impact your chances of winning or losing if you keep playing.

Does this mean earlier games that don’t have this notice in the pay table can be skill stopped? No – just because games are more explicit in their rules today doesn’t mean that something changed in game design that led to this addition. In fact, the same language is popping up where online options exist (in states where it’s legal, that is), and on older games too.

What has changed is video slots have a lot more room for pay table information, so they’re using that extra space to get increasingly more explicit about how slots work. Perhaps in the process it’ll help to finally kill a longstanding myth about slots, but unfortunately I doubt it, as the “complete BS” comment I received underscores.

So when is the outcome determined then? When you hit spin, you place your wager, the reels start spinning – it’s determined at the time of the wager, when the reels start spinning. Traditionally the RNG is hit once per reel, which determines which reel stop for each reel the game will come to a stop upon.

Some games, designed as a prize first structure, only hits the RNG once and shows a result that matches the prize selected by the RNG at the time you hit spin.

Hitting the spin button a second time simply accelerates displaying the outcome of a spin – it already knows where it’s going to stop by the time you stop the reels.

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.

4 Comments

  • When it comes to stopping the slot now what about games like mystical unicorn when it I can touch the screen and pull down the bonus if I didn’t touch the screen it wouldn’t have pulled down the bonus I would have got screwed what’s your view on that

    • I’m sorry Levi, I don’t follow what you mean by “pull down the bonus” but no slot out there in the traditional form has a skill component where if you take a certain action you can get a bonus or improve your chances – otherwise it would have to specify about that somewhere in the pay tables or on screen.

  • “I stopped the spin on a bonus so I was responsible for that”

    If they want to take credit for that they can. In a way they did “stop the spin” on the bonus. They just did it with the first hit of the “spin” button, not the second. The RNG is choosing numbers every microsecond or so. Basically this is the “spinning”.

    This is one of those myths that I don’t see much of an issue with people believing. Yeah, it’s wrong but it doesn’t really affect them in any way. It’s not dangerous like other myths such as “I’m due for a win”.

    Also, as food for thought, stopping the reels early does change when you would hit spin for your next game. So, you are affecting the outcome of the next game to some degree.

    • Hi Jeremy! You raise some fair points. I ultimately think it’s harmless in some ways as well (as are many of the myths on the site), but the fervor in which some people believe they have control over a slot can be dangerous too, because they keep playing a slot they think they can improve their odds somehow with their magical technique, when the house edge is ever present. They did stop the spin on a bonus, but purely by chance, because of when the spin started, not stopped.

      As far as changing the timing of that next spin, you don’t know if it ended up better or worse (or the same), so while changing the timing is certainly happening, it doesn’t have any practical impact. It’s not unlike when someone makes a mistake, intentionally or not, playing Blackjack. Sometimes it improves the next player’s hand, sometimes it hurts it, but over time it’ll more or less average out.

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