Ever wondered what makes your favourite pokies tick, how they trigger big wins, bonus features and jackpots, how they decide whether you win or lose and if they are fair? Well, we aim to answer those questions and more in this article, as we take a look at how online pokies work.
Pokies jackpots: How they work
In the old days, a poker machine paid out a jackpot based on a randomized mechanical action. Essentially, these slots were based on a system of gears and levers, and when one of those levers “slotted” into place, then the jackpot was triggered. This is where we get the name from, but those machines are obsolete, and because the jackpots were fairly common, they weren’t very big.
These days, pokies are entirely computerized, which allows them to create bigger jackpots, ones that pay out with similar frequency to lotteries, offering players a similar chance of success and often a similar amount of money if they are successful.
They can do this because of something known as a random number generator (RNG) which is built into all slot machines and is what guarantees the game is fair.
What is a random number generator
An RNG is a complex calculation that determines where the slot machine will stop, what it will land on and whether or not the jackpot will be triggered.
The RNG is constantly in action, churning out numbers at a rate of several hundred per second, and with a range from 0 to several million. As soon as you press “Spin”, the machine grabs the numbers available at that time, runs a calculation (usually dividing the number by a set amount) and arrives at a random value.
This is what determines the course of action for each individual reel, and it ensures that the pokies game is safe and fair.
It also guarantees that the slot machine can not be manipulated by players or by the casino, which is essential in an industry where trusting your money to the fairness of others is the name of the game.
This sort of randomness is unique to online pokies and while something similar is now used in offline slots, that wasn’t always the case. So, if you have ever put your trust in mechanical or electronic slots, then you should definitely be trusting of online slots, which are much fairer, and much more random.
Progressive Jackpot slots explained
This is a genre of slot machine that works a little differently. Progressive slots still use Random Number Generators. This determine the positions of the reels and they also trigger a jackpot win. However, the jackpot itself is not entirely provided by the casino and is instead created by the players.
You will notice the jackpot amount is constantly increasing, and this is because you are adding to it with your stake. Each spin you take adds a small amount to the progressive jackpot, which will eventually be paid out to one lucky winner. When that happens, then the jackpot returns to what is known as a “Seed Amount”. This is an amount that the casino adds to the pot, and it differs greatly from slot to slot.
For instance, on many Realtime Gaming slots, the seed amounts are very small, and most of the money you win has been provided by players. But on Microgaming, and on the Mega Moolah slot in particular, the seed amount is $1 million. This is why Mega Moolah currently holds the record for the biggest online pokie win, a record which it has set and broken many times over.
Of course, the casino loses a lot of money paying out these jackpots. Not only do they pay the seed amount out of their own pocket, but they also lose a fraction of your stake that would otherwise be added to their profits. To offset this, progressive slots usually have slightly lower return to player rates (RTP), and they also serve as great promotional tools for the casinos.
What are the the best Australian online slots?
Unfortunately Australians can no longer access many of the best pokies games because of local law, which effectively forced software companies like Microgaming and Net Entertainment out of the market.
This doesn’t mean Aussies can’t play online pokies, it just means playing different software companies like RealTimeGaming and Betsoft, much like the USA market.
If you are outside Australia and able to play Microgaming slots, they feature some of the best progressive pokies, then there is no better developer. Microgaming is home to Mega Moolah, Cash Splash and other big money progressives, and you will also find popular titles such as Jurassic Park, Game of Thrones, Avalon, Tomb raider and Thunderstruck.
As for the best Microgaming casino, there are a number of respectable ones to choose from, but the one that often gets our vote is Royal Vegas. This casino is part of the Fortune Lounge brand and has a great loyalty scheme.