We look at the hugely popular Bandits gambling machine and how knowledge can give you a vital edge that could increase your chances of being a winner on the One Arm Bandit.

Bandits

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Welcome to Bandits.co.uk. If your interests lie in the moustachioed caricatures of western lore, look elsewhere - because here we're going to be talking about the one-armed variety, beloved of punters all over the world. In Scotland they're known as 'puggies', in Australia they're called 'pokies' (a derivative of 'poker machine') and pretty much everywhere else they're referred to as either 'fruit machines', 'one-armed bandits' or simply 'the slots'.

Almost everyone who likes the occasional flutter has a bet on a bandit from time to time, but how much do you know about the way slots work and, more importantly, can insider-knowledge give you a vital edge that could increase your chances of being a winner? Read on and find out.

At Bandits.co.uk we love gaming machines, whether it's video poker, roulette, blackjack or even the good old-fashioned penny falls. But what's the story behind these mechanical marvels that have been a part of everyone's life since as far back as they can remember?

To find out, you have to go back to the turn of the nineteenth century, when an enterprising chap by the name of Charles Fey was experimenting with various kinds of mechanisms, his ultimate goal being the creation of a coin-operated machine that could play poker.

Whilst the huge permutations of winning hands that the game of poker can throw up ultimately thwarted this goal, Fey was undeterred. Instead, he focused on a simpler concept, where a machine would present a series of different but instantly-recognisable images on a set of reels which would be operated by a hand crank.

The physical appearance of these slot machines (and their predilection for taking unlucky gamblers' money) led to the term 'one-armed bandit' quickly taking on currency. The graphics that he used to adorn the machine's individual reels also became iconic in their own right: virtually anyone in any country around the globe (gamers and non-gamers alike) today recognises the classic fruit, bell, bar and dollar signs first utilised by Fey's machine.

The machines that visitors to Bandits.co.uk will know today have retained much of the functionality of the original prototype, even if the underlying mechanics have changed drastically. The first fruit machines used a series of gears and a device known as a 'kicker' to halt the reels one after the other, thus building up a sense of anticipation as they click in to place sequentially.

Whether the player of the bandit would win the jackpot or not was determined by an interaction between the kicker and a device known as the 'cam plate', as it lined up the reels. The amount of winnings a lucky player could expect to see was usually listed on a colourful marquee that adorned the top or side of the fruit machine cabinet, with three matched symbols usually indicating a big payout.

Nowadays, the hand crank (if one is present at all) is invariably used for decoration – a legacy from the original design – with the reels and kicker moved by electrical motors. The term 'one-armed bandit' still lingers, however. Other technical innovations such as photoelectric cells, solenoids and microprocessor-controlled random number generators have all replaced the innards of Fey's somewhat Heath-Robinson contraption.

At this point it would be entirely understandable if a visitor to Bandits.co.uk were to ask whether the rather pejorative term 'bandit' is not, perhaps, a bit unfair? It's true that many people have been made immeasurably rich from big money jackpots on the slots, but bear in mind that for every winner there have to be losers.

'Surely', the same visitor would ask, 'there must be some kind of system that can help me win the jackpot on my favourite one-armed bandits'? Despite the local 'expert' - who will swear on all that he holds dear that the fruit machine in the corner has a special 'clunk' when the coin hopper overflows into the drop box, thus heralding an imminent payout - the answer appears, sadly, to be 'no'.

Modern slot machines are digitally-controlled, incorporating random number generators into the mechanics that spin the reels, whilst advanced 'tilt' mechanisms and internal sensors prevent physical interference with the slot machine itself. All of these technological marvels (and probably some that the casinos don't make public) make the prospect of a winning system to beat a modern bandit unlikely. Despite what your mate Dave says.

This means that contemporary slots are pre-programmed to payout a certain percentage per roll, within rigid parameters. Whilst the amount of money in a single jackpot can vary from casino to casino and machine to machine, punters rarely receive odds in excess of ninety-five percent and sometimes less than seventy-five.

But rather than focus on the negative, here at Bandits.co.uk we like to think of all the benefits that technology has brought to the modern punter. In the old days, jackpots on bandits were limited to winning lines on a single machine, where the biggest payout a lucky winner could ever hope for was the total amount of coins in the machine's hopper.

In a modern casino, especially on the gaming floors of Las Vegas and Atlantic City, fruit machines are a multi-billion dollar enterprise, making a fortune for the casinos and some very lucky players as well. In order to increase the potential for really big one-armed bandit jackpots, casinos have introduced fruit machines that are linked to one another across different casinos, sometimes even in different parts of the country.

We hope that you've found your visit to Bandits.co.uk useful – even if you're disappointed to learn that the ultimate system for breaking the bank doesn't exist.