It was in the late 1890s that Sittman and Pitt developed the precursor for what we now all know as the modern day slot machine. Made in Brooklyn, this machine held five metal drums which had a grand total of fifty playing cards. The mechanics of the game were based on the card game of poker. The machine proved to be a hit with the locals in New York, and it was not long before almost every bar, saloon and club in the city had one available for their patrons to play.

In order to play these slot games, patrons would put a nickel or dime into the machine and pull the lever. The drums would then spin and stop randomly on a set of cards. These sets of cards made poker hands. Depending on the hand that was dealt, the player either won nothing or sometimes they won cigarettes, cigars or alcohol. There was no way of making money directly from the machines for patrons. They were always playing for some type of prize. In order to keep the odds stacked in favour of the establishment instead of the players, the bars would often remove a certain card or cards from the deck. For instance, they could remove the jack of hearts and the ten of spades. This severely reduced the chance that the player was ever going to spin a royal flush. There were other ways they reduced the player’s chances of winning that involved making small adjustments to the metal drums themselves.

If one takes into account the number of possible winning combinations in poker, with high card, two of a kind, three of a kind, straight, flush, royal flush, full house and four of a kind, one can see that it would have been nearly impossible to work out machine that paid certain amounts on every different win. This is why the poker system was a flawed system.

Slot Popularity Increases

Around 1895 a gentleman by the name of Charles Fey developed a must more simplified machine. Instead of having every card including two, three, four, five, six, seven eight, nine, ten, jack, queen, king and ace in these slot games, Fey instead used only five symbols. These symbols were a spade, a heart, a liberty bell, a horseshoe, and a diamond. Also, instead of using five drums for the reels on these slot games, he only used three drums. This simplified the game even further. It was because of this that he was able to devise a way of making the machine automatically pay out for certain combinations of symbols. This particular machine had a jackpot, the largest payout, which was a total of fifty cents. The player would win the jackpot by getting three of the liberty bells in a row. It was from the success of this device that slot games gained mainstream popularity.

Slot Machines Today

The first video slot was made in the mid-1970s by a Vegas based company called Fortune Coin Co. With this came the introduction of the second screen for bonus rounds.  In recent years, the advent of the internet has seen the popularity of increasing as online casino sites offer players the slot experience from the comfort of their computer desk.