How Pokies Work

how pokies work and why you cant win playing pokies

So You Want to Know How Pokies Work – perhaps in the hope that this will somehow reveal some previously unknown secret or playing strategy that will turn the tide in your favour and have you being the first and only punter to ever figure out how to successfully beat the pokies and unlock the secrets of how to win on pokies and slots…? I’m right aren’t I 😉

Unfortunately I am not going to be providing you with any of …that stuff. Instead what I have to share with you is, like a porcupine covered in stale peanut butter-probably going to be a little hard to swallow.

this explains in detail how slot machines and pokies work and what your odds of winning are
this explains in detail how slot machines and pokies work and what your odds of winning are

There are a lot of myths and misinformation when it comes to how pokies work. In this section we show you how they really work. While we are focusing on pokies in this article this is also the way that all video slot machines work so the information applies to any five reel slot machine with a video screen found anywhere in the world.


The Physical Machine – How Pokies Work

how pokies and slot machines work - the physical machineExternal

  • Cabinet – This houses the game and comes in a variety of types
  • Video Screen – This is where the game is displayed
  • Buttons – Found under the screen and used to interact with the game
  • Note & Coin Acceptor – Used to insert coins or notes into the machine
  • Top Box & Belly Panel – Used to display game artwork and pay table
  • Coin Tray – Found at the base of the machine although no longer in use in 95% of cases as machines move to electronic card and payment systems.


  • Motherboard – A computer component that holds parts such as RAM
  • EPROM (Erasable Programmable Read-Only Memory) – The game logic
  • Interface Card – Connects the EPROM and motherboard to the buttons
  • Meters – Record all game data, pay outs, money in, etc.
  • Cables – Connect the screen, motherboard, buttons, etc.
  • Note Validator – Checks all inserted notes for authenticity
  • Lights – Found behind the top box and belly panel art covers
  • Cash Box – Stores all notes inserted into the machine
  • Hopper – Stores all coins in the machine releases wins to the tray
  • Speakers – Play the game sounds such as the win music
  • Door Alarm – A sound to alert staff to a door on the machine being open

How Pokies Work – The Harsh Truth


Before we delve into the inner workings of the not-so-humble slot machine allow me to lay it all out for you in the most transparent and straight forward way possible, because for too long the world of pokies, slot machines and online gambling has been shrouded in misunderstanding and coated with a thick layer of utter BS. – I would advise those with irrational beliefs or limited capacity for logic or truth to click away now because this might hurt a bit

how pokies work and why you cant win playing pokies

It’s important that you see the pokies for what they are – a form of entertainment designed to make money for the owner of said Pokie.

  • Machines don’t ‘remember’ or have a memory of any sort.
    Quite often people will continue to play, even if they are consistently losing, because they feel that a win, or free spins, must be coming.
  • Each and every play/press on the pokies is a separate event and is not affected by previous spins. The machine has no memory of the last spin – or for how long someone has been on it or waiting for free. Let’s explore that process in more detail and indirectly debunk every belief, gambling strategy and pokie myth you’ve ever held to be true…

What Happens When You Press The Hit/Spin Button on the Pokies?


how pokies work - understanding random number generator


Within the computer program that controls the pokie machine is something called a Random Number Generator, effectively an algorithm that controls not only what result comes up with every spin but also keeps the Payout percentage (usually around 90%) in check. It works like this:

  1. The algorithm within the pokie machine is constantly generating 1000’s of random numbers, a process it continuously does every second for the life of the machine.
  2. The moment you press the spin/hit button the random number generator will randomly pick one result from the many thousands of possibilities in a millisecond.
  3. The computer program then translates these random numbers into positions on the reel
  4. The reel spins and the resulting symbols (and any inherent win) is displayed/delivered accordingly


One point to note is that the symbol positions never change and that the casino or pub cannot change the payout percentage. For this to be changed a new EPROM must be installed. Each game type can come in a variety of different payout levels.

How Do Online Pokies Work?

  • Online pokies work in exactly the same way with the only real difference being that instead of an EPROM, the game logic and RNG is on a remote server that your game connects to.
  • When you press spin a message is sent from your computer to this server and the server returns an encrypted set of numbers that resolve to the symbol positions you see on the screen.

Pokie Myths And Strategies We just Busted

how pokies work - busting pokie myths


Having a good understanding of how pokies work is not only interesting (what? it is!) it’s also highly educational and eye-opening because it indirectly destroys nearly every single myth, playing strategy and belief surrounding playing pokies and knowing how to win at slots you’ve ever read or held…. You Ready to bust some myths?

Poker machines cannot think or remember.

The machine accepts any credits bet. It then randomly determines the position of the symbols on the video display to produce an outcome which is completely unrelated to the previous game’s outcome. If the machine determines a win, credits are paid. If not, the machine continues to generate outcomes until the button is pressed again.

No One Can Steal Your Feature. It Was Never Yours To Begin With!

As mentioned, when you press the spin button the algorithm spits out a series of random numbers. Pressing the button a split second later would have generated a completely different set of numbers. This means that feature that guy just got playing the machine you just put $100 through is his fair and square and has no bearing on whether you woud have scored a feature had you kept playing.

Like a Canoe full of Monkeys having a spatula battle, the Pokies are completely random

Each spin on a pokie machine is completely random. The concept of randomness is often misunderstood. A common belief is that if we play long enough we will eventually win.
This is a misconception, which often occurs because we don’t understand that separate events (or spins) in many gambling situations have absolutely no relationship with each other.

There is no such thing as a lucky machine

Poker machines don’t know if you are wearing your lucky shirt, or that they are your lucky machine.

Pokies are designed to take money

Pokie machines are designed to earn revenue for the venue owners, not to provide a win for players.

Pokies are designed to cause addiction

how pokies work and why you cant win playing pokies

Everything from the lights and sounds to the psychology behind small wins and the amount you can bet (as little as 1c a line making it seemingly like you have ‘nothing to lose’
The Pokies have been designed from the ground up to create an exciting environment to encourage continued gambling even if and when the player is losing.

Learn more by watching Ka-Ching (FOLLOW THIS LINK HERE) – the documentary that uncovered the truth about pokies and opened Australia’s eyes to the extent of this issue that negatively impacts 1 in 6 Australians

Alternatively – read the article from THE GUARDIAN covering KA CHING

Next steps

If you think your thoughts about gambling might be affecting your gambling behaviour you can:

Find out more about the odds of winning and losing –

Use the gambling calculator to see how much you are really spending –


Talk to someone online now –

or call 1800 858 858