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Slot Machine Basics

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Everything you ever wanted to know
about slots and slot machines.

Fruit Machines

A fruit machine is essentially a traditional style British game which is often found in pubs and arcades all over the UK. They are extremely popular as they are highly entertaining and great fun to play.

Fruit machines are more skill based than other types of slots games and they have unique features that as a general rule, distinguish them from other types of slots games.

a diagram of a fruit machine

Above is a picture of an online fruit machine and you can see buttons marked “nudge” and this is integral to the way in which a fruit machine should be played.

During the course of a game a player is randomly awarded a nudge or a hold. If they are awarded a hold this will allow the player to hold 1, 2 or 3 of the reels and keep them still during a spin. If a player is awarded a nudge they will be able to move or “nudge" 1, 2 or 3 of the reels to help complete a winning combination.

Why are Fruit Machines Different to Other Slot Machines?

The fruit machine is no stranger to the average British person who has been down the pub, gone to the fish n chip shop or has visited an amusement arcade. However, this type of slot is not so common in other parts of the world.

There is a real element of skill involved in playing a fruit machine and it means that potentially there are greater chances to create winning combinations, however, there is also greater room for error but this is what makes fruit machines so exciting!

Many fruit machines also have a gamble feature and players are given the chance to gamble their winnings and this usually takes the form of a higher or lower type guess.

Finally, another reason why fruit machines are so popular is the cash ladder and the bonus board. This involves stopping on a flashing light and being given the chance to determine the next move or to gamble by guessing higher or lower. A player can make their move by pressing either the start or collect button. Although the features can look different depending on the fruit machine in question this is only cosmetic, because generally the rules will remain the same or very similar.

Although fruit machines are usually 3 reel games that only have the 1 payline they are very different from classic slot machines, in fact there are a number of features that are unique to fruit machines and if you know what they are you will always be able to distinguish a fruit machine from other types of slots.

Features of a fruit machine

To help you better understand the features that you can expect to find in your average fruit machines we will go through each feature step by step so that by the time you have finished reading this page you will be a fruit machine expert. If you come across a slot machine that has all of the following features present you will know that you have found yourself a fruit machine.

Hold Feature

diagram of the hold button on a hold feature

All fruit machines have a "Hold" feature and if a slot machine does not have a Hold feature you will know that it is not a fruit machine.

In the diagram above is the hold button and a player can press this to hold one or more of the reels on their next spin. Some fruit machines award a certain number of holds to a player and this may be a random number. A player may even be able to hold more than one reel for a multiple amount of spins.

This means that you can hold some of the symbols that may appear on the 3 reels of the fruit machine so that the next time you spin you have a better chance of making a winning combination of a higher value. Usually there is an option to hold 1, 2 or 3 reels, but this can vary from game to game, also the amount of holds can vary. However, the hold feature is always a constant.

Nudge Feature

diagram of the nudge button on a fruit machine

All fruit machines also have a "Nudge" feature and this allows a player to nudge either one or more of the 3 reels on their next spin. Like the Hold feature; some fruit machines award a certain number of nudges to a player and this may be a random number. A player may even be able to nudge more than one reel for a multiple amount of spins.

Players are also awarded with nudges during the Bonus Trail Feature and up to 4 nudges can be won when travelling around the bonus trail, however, the number of nudges can vary between fruit machines. Nudges will be shown on the fruit machines payline and they are a good way of improving your chances of making a winning combination.

Bonus Trail or Bonus Board Feature

diagram of the bonus board on a slot machine

Another feature that can be found on all fruit machines is the Bonus Trail or Bonus Board and it is quite normal for a this feature to be activated at random intervals during the game. Depending on the fruit machine a player may be able to progress in a set amount of places around a board or the board may flash and when the player presses the stop button, the illuminated square determines where the player stops.

The Bonus trail is made up of a number of squares, circles, stars or other shapes and each shape or place will have a prize or feature on them. The action of you pressing the spin button determines a random number which causes the places will light up as you move along the trail.

Each place has a bonus attached to it, so you may find that winnings are multiplied and there may be various multiplier amounts as illustrated in the diagram above. You may also be awarded some nudges or you may get the chance to move to the Cash Ladder.

When the light stops flashing you will be awarded with the feature that is on that particular square. However, sometimes there are options to lose on the Bonus Board, so it is not all good, however, this adds to the excitement.

Common Bonus Board Features

Some of the common features you can expect to find on the Bonus Board are as follows:

Free Nudges - which as the name suggests award you with nudges you can use back in the main game.

Collect or Continue - this lets you decide whether to collect your winnings or to continue with the chance to win even more at the risk of losing if there is a lose place onth ebonus board.

Repeats - you get the chance to repeat actions such as nudges or holds.

Gamble - you get to choose to gamble any current winnings or to simply continue with the game. You do this with the Hi Lo feature which is selected by pressing the button and you have to guess whether it will land on Hi or Lo.

Cash Ladder

The Diagram of the flashing stars below shows what a typical fruit machine cash ladder may look like, read on to learn more about this interesting feature!

diagram of a cash ladder on a fruit machine
Another feature that must be present for a slot machine to be classed as a fruit machine is the cash ladder. The ladder can flash up and down and a player needs to aim to hit stop when the cash ladder is lit up as close to the top as possible. The aim is to bag the highest win possible on the cash ladder.

Another way the cash ladder could work is to light up slowly one place at a time. As the player wins, each place on the cash ladder lights up incrementally. If the cash ladder feature operates in this way it means that the more you play, the more you can win. Sometimes the wrong move on the bonus trail could bring it right down to zero, however, it is also possible to get the cash ladder right up to the top and win on the bonus trail.

It is worth mentioning here that in the UK there are laws governing the maximum amount that can be won on a fruit machine.

Fruit Machine Law

Under UK law all fruit machines that give cash prizes must have a maximum stake or bet of 30p and the maximum prize money for a machine is £25.  This is the case for machines that you will commonly find in pubs, fish and chip shops and some amusement arcades.  However, the owner of a venue is able to apply for a club gaming or club venue permit. This means that if they have fruit machines on their premises the jackpots value for fruit machines could be up to £250.

In the UK Gambling Act 2005 the law stipulates age restrictions for players, betting limits and jackpot limits.  These can vary depending on the location of the fruit machine.  If the owner of any business wishes to put a fruit machine on their premises they must first obtain a license.

The payout rate or payout percentage is also governed by the Gambling Act 2005 and the payout percentage is a minimum of 70%.  Online fruit machines will have a higher payout rate, usually between 95% and 98%.

The information we have given concerning the UK legal stance on fruit machines is an overview of current UK legislation governing fruit machines. However, UK laws are being updated all the time so if you are in any doubt it is wise to contact your local council or the Gambling Commission.

Gamble Feature

A diagram of a gamble featureon a fruit machine

The diagram above shows a typical Hi Lo style gamble feature that would be found on a fruit machine.

This feature is also present in every fruit machine and it can usually be played after every win. Although other types of slots may have a gamble feature, the gamble feature on a fruit machine works in a specific way.

It means that a player can gamble their winnings after every win. It is common for the gamble feature to offer the choice of a higher bet or a lower bet. However, what makes for nail biting excitement is the fact that the correct guess will double winnings while an incorrect guess means that you will lose everything.

Sometimes the gamble feature takes the form of a guess a card style gamble feature with the player being offered the choice to select a card; the choice is usually in the form of the player picking a red or black card or guessing the correct suit. If the colour of the card is guessed correctly the winnings are usually doubled. If the suit is guessed correctly the winnings are usually quadrupled. However, an incorrect guess will result in the winnings being lost.

If the gamble feature takes the form of a Hi Low feature then the players will be given a chance to make a spin, but first they must pick a number between 1 and 12. This is where it is possible to work out if the odds are in your favour, if the number is for example 8, 9 or 10 it is probable that the number will be lower, the odds will be good.

There may even be an option to exchange this feature, if you win the gamble feature you could be given the option to exchange the feature for another, you usually need to have a few wins under your belt to be offered this chance.

Cash Pot

A diagram of a cash pot

In the diagram above you can see what a typical fruit machines cash pot would look like.

Not all fruit machines have a cash pot. As a player plays on and wagers more the cash pot will rise steadily and many players wait until the cash pot is high before taking full advantage of this feature.

This feature is shown during the bonus trail and enables you to see what winnings you have accumulated over the course of the game. The maximum amount allowed in the cash pot is also determined by UK Laws alongside the amount shown in the cash pot and how quickly this rises; it is not allowed to be misleading to players. It is possible to win larger prizes by playing fruit machines online.

Repeat Feature

A diagram of a repeat feature on a fruit machine

Another feature that is unique to fruit machines is the repeat feature shown in the diagram above. You need lightning fast reflexes to play this feature as it consists of the words “Yes” and “No” flashing quickly on and off. You need to hit the stop button at the exact moment that the word “Yes” is lit up.  If you are skilful enough to manage this you get to repeat the winning feature.

You will know that this feature is activated when the words “Yes” and “No” are rapidly flashing on and off.  You will then get to re-play or repeat certain wins and features.  If you are able to play this feature to repeat wins it is wise to take advantage of it, if your reflexes are fast, your money could soon mount up.