Game machines and programmer tricks
Since the display of a modern slot machine is controlled by a computer program, it is possible to make the slot machine often show combinations that are close to winning. For example, if the jackpot combination is “7-7-7”, the slot machine can be programmed to frequently display “7-7-x” combinations, where x is a digit other than seven. This technique can mislead the player, forcing him to imagine that he “almost won”, and provoking him to play more often.
The practice of more frequent than it should happen randomly, showing combinations that are similar to the winning, is illegal in the states of Nevada and New Jersey. The Nevada Gaming Commission checked a number of slot machines programmed in this way and prohibited their use.
There is another phenomenon of a similar nature. The probability of a winning combination appearing on the pay line corresponds to the percentage of winnings for which the slot machine is programmed. However, combinations appearing above and below the payline are randomly distributed approximately the same. This means that the likelihood of a “winning combination” appearing above or below the payline is much higher than its appearance on the pay line.
This problem has also been carefully studied by the Nevada Gaming Commission, which has ruled that this is completely legal, unless the appearance of a “winning combination” above or below the pay line is programmed in a special way. In other words, this can happen with the same probability as the appearance of any other combination, and the slot machine cannot be specially programmed to show “winning combinations” above or below the payline more often than other combinations.
In reality, the calculations are much more complicated than described above, because the stops of the drums are not “programmed” in the sense that their result is the result of a special calculation. In fact, programming is carried out in such a way that the machine pays out wins in accordance with the estimated percentage of wins. The likelihood of combinations appearing on the slot machine is no longer related to the number of images of each symbol on each reel: in terms of their “insides” they are very far from the first slot machine created in 1891 by Sittman and Pete based on poker.