Americans call them slots, Scotts call them puggies, and the English call them fruit machines. That’s why when an Aussie or Kiwi invites a foreigner for a game of pokies, what people usually think is that they’re about to play poker. So they immediately start explaining how they’ve never played a game of Poker in their lives. That’s when a long explanation on how pokies are not poker machines is due.
Here’s a little table to clear up the various names for slots:
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The Long History of Pokies
Slots have a long history; Charles Augustus Fey invented the first one in the year 1887. People named the machine Liberty Bell for a couple of reasons — Charles put five cards into the machine and removed numbers from them — he only left the symbols. One of those symbols was the liberty bell, while the others were hearts, diamonds, spades, and horseshoes. If players managed to get three bells, they would get an automatic payout, and one of the most popular gambling games was born. This basic principle forms the basis of all slot games around the world to this day. So, whether you’re playing slots, Australian pokies, Scottish puggies, or English fruit machines, you can thank Charles Augustus Frey.
In case you were wondering why are slots referred to as fruit machines in mother England, you only need to turn to history. In 1902, Liberty Bell machines were banned because gambling was forbidden as well. And that is when people came to an idea — the prize didn’t have to be money — it could be chewing gums or chocolate treats. Since all the cafés, saloons, and pubs wanted these games in their establishment, the name liberty bell had to go. They started calling them fruit machines, and the name continued to exist in most of the UK.
The Electronic Gambling Revolution
Starting from 1964, these gambling games would never be the same again. They remained mechanical for half a century, and as such, they were too easy to cheat. The company Fortune Coin produced the first electromechanical slot. Although it functioned entirely electronically, through a video screen, these games still had a lever. That’s what the players were familiar with, and the company didn’t want to make things too complicated and break the habit. The casinos needed to make sure that players continued to play.
The Modern Era of Games
Fast forward to today, and pokies can be found in most online and land casinos. Not only that; the Internet revolution helped pokies become a real online gambling sensation. In 1996, the first video slot to include a bonus round and free spins appeared. The popularity of pokies in Australia, as well as the rest of the world, brings 70% of the overall income to both land and online casinos.
Nowadays, pokies can be found in all corners of the Internet and all the online casinos. The 21st century is a fantastic time to live in — you can do almost anything without leaving the comfort of your living room. Many online casinos even offer cryptocurrency options for online slots. But how do online pokies even work?
The RNG – The Soul of a Pokie
Online pokies function with the help of an algorithm called the RNG (Random Number Generator). It generates random numbers behind the screen to ensure fair play on virtual slots. This generator is a simple mathematical formula that looks something like ‘1010100110.’ Either way, by creating it, the developers made sure modern online pokies cannot be hacked or disrupted. Many people have tried to hack their way into the system of the famed online pokie, rather unsuccessfully. These security measures made online pokies one of the safest and most reliable online gambling games.
Can I Cheat the Pokies?
No — But there was a time when you could. Players had a couple of incredible tactics and tools — the most popular was the Monkey’s Paw. Tommy Glenn Carmichael was a famous American cheater who invented this tool (and many others). Monkey’s Paw had a hook on one end, so once a player would slide this into the coin chute, it would hold the coin release door until all the coins would pop out. The worst thing is that the Monkey’s Paw wasn’t something only Tommy could create. It was so easy to make that any regular player could build one in a workshop, and this was a game-changer at the time. It didn’t take too long for the casinos to realise that their pokies were more often empty than not. And once they learnt of this tool, they made sure to equip the games with a defensive mechanism that would block out the hook.
However, Tommy wasn’t the only cheater in the history who got creative with the slots. A lot of other players had their witty ideas on how to fool the slots. For example, they invented something they liked to call a ‘shaved coin.’ Players realised that if they shaved off the edges of the coin, it would go straight through the opening and right back at them. This would still trigger the pokie, and the player would get to play for free. This meant you could have potentially earned a lot of money without investing a single dime.
Additionally, there existed a method that you’re probably familiar with already — a coin on a string. A player could attach a string to a coin, put it into the coin slot, and then pull it out. This would also trigger the pokie and grant a free round to a player. And considering how this was the easiest method to trick a pokie with and how players weren’t so inconspicuous, the casinos quickly learnt of it and came up with security measures.
New-Age Slot Games
Believe it or not, people managed to cheat even the modern slots — although, only once. If you’re thinking of armed bandits who crashed through the doors and emptied the slots, I’m going to stop you right there. It wasn’t anything like that — They did this in a subtle, barely noticeable way.
In 2009, the Russian president Vladimir Putin decided to ban gambling in his country entirely. As a result, a hysterical sale of slots ensued. A group of friends from St. Petersburg purchased a couple and disassembled all of them. This helped them find a bug in a slot called Aristocrat Mark VI.
The group developed an application by which they were able to access the slot’s screen through the smartphones inside the players’ pockets. And each time they put a cent inside the slot, the smartphone would immediately transmit the screen information to a team in Russia in real time. The players would only bet on a couple of cents before their phone would start to vibrate. The vibration was a signal for the player to bet $100, and win $1000 as a result. The players did try their best to remain invisible to the security personnel by winning only small amounts. But all in all, this was a naive tactic for one reason — the security personnel is always aware just how much money gets stolen each month. That’s why they invest a lot of money in hiring professional personnel that can quickly catch the cheaters.
Pokies Are the Best
Because they are impossible to hack and because there’s so many of them, pokies remain one of the most popular gambling games today. Over 30% of young gamblers prefer playing pokies to win real money exclusively, hence why these games take up to 70% of space in modern casinos. Since their popularity is continuously growing, the software makers keep producing online slots of all kinds. Today, they have different themes and graphics. Some are still traditional with symbols of fruits, some have card symbols, and others have characters.
There are even Marvel-themed online slots, and players seriously love them. A young software company called Rival Gaming even invented an iSlot — It is an online slot with a storyline, which gave a new dimension to gambling games. Pokies are probably a game that evolved the most. It started as a mechanical version of poker and ended up as an online game on our laptops and phones.
With all of this in mind, it’s no wonder us Aussies grew to love the game so much. We were always the kind with the excitement for something new after all.
FAQ about pokies:
What are pokies in Australia?
Basically, pokies is just Aussie slang for slots. Since our friends from Down Under love to abbreviate things, why would this be any different? Pokies is short for Poker Machines — why slots are called poker machines is a bit of a mystery. One theory states that when the first slots came to Australia, they were situated near the poker machines, and they just called the new arrivals the same name even though they’re different games.
Are pokies rigged?
It depends on your definition of rigged. Slots have the biggest house edge of all gambling games. However, they were designed to, so they don’t actually do anything to secretly undermine the player — you just have a very low chance of winning any money. And when you think about it, all games are set up so that the house wins over a longer period of time; slots are no different in that regard.
How do pokies work?
Since the vast majority of today’s pokies are digital, everything is based on the RNG (random number generator) program. The RNG has a few steps it goes through to determine the outcome.
- The RNG randomly picks one outcome from the many thousands that are possible.
- You pull the lever, or click the screen/button, and it locks in one of those random combinations.
- It doesn’t remember or save the combination that was determined.
- The next second, thousands more outcomes are generated; the RNG does this every second, all day, and all night.
This process assures that every time you pull that lever, it’s a new event, completely unrelated to the previous one.
Why are pokies called pokies?
Basically, due to the tendency of Australians to shorten words. It comes from poker machine. Now, we know that poker machines are not the same as pokies. However, when the first slots arrived in Australia in the early 20th century, they were placed right next to the poker machines. Therefore, due to their proximity, people just started using the same term for both.