Where did slot machines come from? And how have they achieved the remarkable popularity we see today.
Although the first slot machines were manufactured on the East Coast of the U.S., they didn’t start to gain acceptance until they had migrated all the way across the country to San Francisco around the end of the last century. In the saloons and brothels of the notorious Barbary Coast and the Tenderloin districts, customers won a cigar or a free drink when they played a nickel in the primitive slot machines, which used playing cards as winning symbols. Few of the players understood the math in use on the reels of those devices, so the proprietors raked in enormous profits.
There were many slot manufacturers in those days, one is credited with creating the ‘modern’ slot machine that included spinning reels and cash payouts. Charles Fey, a German immigrant invented the ‘Liberty Bell’ slot machine in 1899 that is the template for every machine built since then.
The three-reel design was copied by many other manufacturers, and by 1905, thousands of slot machines could be found in the U.S., in cigar stores, barber shops, saloons, and bowling alleys.
The Liberty Bell was a simple machine to explain. Each reel operated independently of each other, and stopped one after another. Each reel had ten symbols or ‘stops.’ As a result, there were 1,000 different combinations (10 x 10 x 10 = 1,000). Three specific symbols must be lined up in order to win the jackpot, but there was only one way to do that out of the 1,000 possibilities. Since slot machines are all basic mathematics, and this is still the basic principle behind modern slot machines, that will be the last of the mathematics of slots we’ll discuss in this book.
The early machines were often rigged to prevent that big ligaz888 jackpots from hitting, but it didn’t prevent the growing popularity of the aptly named ‘one-armed bandits.’
The San Francisco earthquake of 1906 destroyed the factories of every slot manufacturer, but, along with the rest of the city, the slot builders returned even stronger. But when preachers and holy-rollers blamed the calamity on God’s wrath over the sins of the city, slots were outlawed in San Francisco in 1909, followed quickly by bans in all of California and Nevada.
To skirt the law, slot manufacturers disguised their machines as ‘gum’ machines that would dispense packs of gum for jackpots. To further camouflage the machines, the playing card symbols were replaced by fruit-cherries, lemons, oranges, peaches, etc.-and labels of the brands of gum dispense that evolved into the ‘bars’ on today’s machines.
The imposition of Prohibition in 1918 ushered in the return of illegal slots and the lure of banned liquor and gambling caused an explosion of slots during the Roaring ’20s. The ‘Golden Age’ of the slot machine ended quickly when Prohibition was repealed in 1934. Except for Nevada, where gambling of all sorts was legalized in 1931, slot machines were illegal and not tolerated all across the country.
A slot mini-revival of slot machines was enjoyed after World War II, but when Congress passed the Johnson Act, which banned slot machines in all states without legalized gambling.
It is possible for a roulette wheel to be “biased” in such a manner that the observant player can obtain an advantage over the casino in the long run. These biases are caused by mechanical defects in the roulette wheel. But finding a wheel that is so defective as to actually overcome the built-in house advantage is extremely rare.
Most biased roulette wheels are not balanced correctly, and the spin of the wheel causes the ball to fall in one section of the wheel statistically more than in any other section. To make a valid observation, however, the player must be prepared to “clock” the wheel for an extended amount of time. The minimum amount of spins you want to observe is 500, because anything less would be considered short-term, and not statistically valid. You also must find a group of numbers that reoccurs at least five percent more frequently than would be considered normal in order to overcome the house advantage.