Fruit Machine Slots
Fruit Machine Slots
Fruit machine slots (aka “fruities” or “one-armed bandits” for the physical, single-lever variant) are just one of the many variations of slot machines, a popular game of chance. Like all slots, fruit machines operate with the pull of a lever or the push of a button, which causes three or more reels on the machine to spin.
The reels feature different icons. When they’ve spun and returned to rest, various alignments and matches of the icons on the reels make the player either a winner or a loser. Players must deposit credit to spin, the “slot” in slot machines referring to the coin slot into which players deposit their coins or tokens before spinning the reels.
Especially popular in the UK, fruit machines are different from other slot machines in several ways. First of all (and most obviously) most of the icons are various forms of fruit—cherries, melons, apples, strawberries, etc. Each reel usually features the same 16-to-24 fruit symbols. Then, these fruit icons are interspersed with other slot icons, like “Bars,” “Liberty Bells,” and “Lucky 7s.”
Second of all, fruit machines feature several gameplay options allowing the player to control the outcome of the spin, more so than with other slot machines. These features include the “nudge,” the “hold,” and “repeats.”
There is no reason why these features can’t exist on other kinds of slot machines, nor is there a rule that machines with these features must use fruit icons. However, the fruit theme has proved both durable and popular. As machines have progressed from levers to buttons, mechanical to digital or cloud-based, the old-style fruit images have remained the traditional icons players love to see.
Even digital fruit slot machines tend to forgo the splashy animations of other slot machines, in favor of a more sparse, traditional display of spinning reels and aligned icons.
Most fruit machines feature three reels and only one “payline” (winning alignment of icons). However, some fruit machines feature multi-payline and multi-reel interfaces, including four or five reels and three or more paylines.
A Brief History of Fruit Machine Slots
Slot machines emerged in the United States in the late 1800s, featuring card faces to harken back to card gambling. The inventor, Charles Augustus Fey, filed no patent on the design, opening the door for other companies to copy his concept.
The first machines were installed in bars, and their five drums could be spun for the payment of a nickel, with automatic payouts. The most popular machines were the “Liberty Bell” machines, displaying the four card suits (“Hearts,” “Spades,” “Diamonds,” “Clubs”) and the Liberty Bell for a winning alignment.
Slot machines were officially banned in the US in 1902, but production continued on the Liberty Bell machine. Instead of card suits which carried the stigma of gambling, innocuous fruit icons were used. Innovatively, instead of paying out money, these machines paid out candy and gum to match the flavor of the aligned fruit icons.
Fruit machines proliferated in arcades, bars, clubs, and pubs. They still remain a popular slot theme in both land-based and online casinos throughout the world.
How to Play Fruit Machine Slots Online and Offline
Fruit machine slots can be played offline by depositing money, chips, or other forms of credit into the physical fruit machine wherever it is found, be it a casino, club, bar, etc. The reels are spun with the pull of a lever or (more commonly) the touch of a button.
To play online fruit machines, download or navigate to your online casino or mobile gaming app of choice. Create an account and deposit funds using a credit card, mobile wallet, ACH or wire transfer, or place a cash deposit at locations like casino cages or bill-pay venues.
Bear in mind the laws pertaining to online gambling in the applicable state or country. These regulate the age and location of players.
For example, players of New Jersey online casinos must be 21 years of age or older (confirmed by Social Security Number) and physically located in the state of New Jersey (confirmed by GPS locating).
Note that licensed online casinos are subject to municipal, state, or national scrutiny of fair-gaming practices. Unregulated online casinos are more likely to be “rigged” or to publish inaccurate odds.
Digital slot machines such as fruit machines, whether online or land-based, operate based on a computer program called a “random number generator.” The animated spinning reels are just for effect.
To effectively play fruit machines, it helps to understand the different kinds of slot gameplay:
Most fruit machines are single-line slot machines. Featuring three reels, they pay out if all three reels align to form a single payline.
Some fruit machines are multi-line slots. These machines feature up to five reels and a number of possible winning outcomes. A player may bet on certain outcomes for certain reels, a certain number of reels, a certain payline, etc.
Multi-line slots typically carry a higher jackpot, but the odds tilt more heavily toward the house.
The jackpot of progressive slots increases with each wager placed on it. They are known for massive payouts to lucky players. Even in the event of a large jackpot win, the house keeps a portion of the deposits as its “house edge.”
Unique Fruit Machine Features
Several features of gameplay make fruit machines different from other slot machines. Look for the following options as you play:
The “nudge” feature enables a player to move any of the reels one symbol further after the spin is over, in an attempt to create a payline.
The “hold” feature allows players to hold one reel in place while spinning the others, in an attempt to create a payline.
A player may have the option to “repeat” their last hold or nudge, giving them one more chance to achieve a winning alignment.
The bonus trail is a ring of squares that surround the reel or appear when activated. Triggered at random, the squares on the bonus trail (or “bonus board”) light up in rapid sequence. The player must press a “Stop” button to stop the light on a particular square.
Whichever square the light lands on triggers a certain bonus. It may offer double winnings or better, offer the player a set amount of extra cash credits, or send the player over to the Cash Ladder. It might also offer more nudges or repeats, or the chance to cash out with what you have won so far.
The Cash Ladder
The Cash Ladder is a stack of bonus values that light up in sequence. The player must hit the “Stop” button, most likely trying to time the “Stop” hit for the highest possible bonus (higher up the ladder).
Collect or Continue?
At certain points, you may be offered the option to “Collect or Continue.”
“Collect” means you take out your winnings within the bonus trail as cash. “Continue” means you leave them in, where you could win even more on future spins … or lose it all if your luck runs out.
Cash parts are a progressive feature of fruit machine slots. The pot gets bigger and bigger the more money the player wins along the bonus trail.
By choosing to “gamble” your bonus trail winnings, you can double them … or lose them all. The gamble may be an opportunity to pick the color or suit of a random card draw.
Best Winning Strategies for Fruit Machine Slots
Slots are notoriously one of the most unpredictable games of chance. You can never be assured of a win. Land-based “fruities” are set to pay out as little as 70% of the money put into them. Online fruities may pay out closer to 90% or 95%, but no fruit machine pays out more than 100%, or the casino is losing money.
That said, some players swear by strategies to slug the odds in their favor. Here are some aspects of fruit machine play to consider:
Whether fact or fiction, the myth of “hot” and “cold” machines persists. A “cold” machine is one that is not paying out. However, a “cold” machine may be one programmed to pay big after a long series of losing spins. Thus, the longer a machine is cold, the more likely it is to heat up in a big way.
Players may sink their entire bankroll chasing that big payout, so it’s important to have a strategy to abandon a “cold” machine and stick to it.
How to Identify and Abandon a Cold Machine
Strategies you might put in place to abandon a cold machine include ...
You could set a number of “naked pulls”—that is, losing plays—you will accept before abandoning a machine. Between 7 and 14 pulls with no wins is common.
You might consider wagering no more than a certain portion of your bankroll—say, 40%—on a particular machine before abandoning it. By setting this rule and following it, players can guard against sinking every penny they have into a cold machine.
“Hot” machines, on the other hand, pay out often, though the payouts may be small. Another way to define a hot machine could be a long-cold machine that may be ready to pay out big.
How to Spot a Hot Machine
If you are able to spend a lot of time in the casino, watch for machines that players have made many pulls on without winning. Consider giving that machine a try when the player gives up.
An online or digital fruit machine may display a “Jackpot Thermometer,” which indicates if this game has made small payouts routinely, or paid out nothing in a long time and therefore may be primed for a jackpot win very soon.
“Forcing” a Payout
Digital fruit machines—like all slot machines—are programmed to pay out a certain amount. “Forcing a payout” means playing a slot machine to lose repeatedly in an attempt to force the machine’s payout percentage so low that its programming triggers a big win or a series of wins to correct it.
This will only work on a machine that has been cold for a long time, so watch what machines other players abandon in disgust, or the ones that have cold “Jackpot Thermometers.”
One of the best ways to win money at fruit machines is to forget about the payline and focus on hidden features which may be unlocked by certain alignments like “bar codes” (sequences of the “Bar” symbol).
Slot enthusiasts have evolved numerous betting strategies to minimize losses while maximizing wins. These strategies can get very complicated—so complicated, in fact—that they almost seem superstitious. Here are a few simple ones you might try:
Bet the middle amount available on a machine (2 coins for a 3-coin machine, 3 coins for a 5-coin machine). If you win, change your bet to the maximum bet. If you lose, switch to the minimum bet. As your plays progress, step up the bet one coin after each win; step down after each loss.
Up the Steps
Bet the minimum on the first spin, stepping it up one coin after each win until you reach the maximum bet. If you lose after a win or series of wins, step down a coin. This conservative strategy affords players with a limited bankroll the maximum number of pulls.
Same as “Up the Steps,” but switch to the maximum bet immediately after a win, and to the minimum immediately after a loss. It’s a more aggressive betting strategy than Up the Steps.
Bet the Max
If you want to exhaust the machine’s RTP and force a win, betting the max will speed that up. Be careful—this aggressive strategy could easily burn through your whole bankroll, so pick your machine wisely.
Nudge and Hold Early
Specific to fruit slots. If a machine is warm and making small payouts, use your nudges and holds early to maximize the hot streak.
Save Nudges and Holds
If a machine is cold, save your nudges and holds for later spins when the return-to-player percentage makes it more likely to pay out.
A plan to play multiple machines. Set a strict percentage of your bankroll to play on one machine. When you hit that number, run like a chicken to another machine, whether you are winning or losing.
If you achieve a hot streak during a chicken slots betting session, take out your initial investment and half your winnings so you come out ahead no matter what. Then play the remaining winnings until you are ready to quit.
While chance plays a major role in every slot spin, fruit machine slots offer players an intriguing level of control with the “Nudge,” “Hold,” and “Repeat” features, as well as a classic interface on both mechanical or digital, land-based or online machines.
Lacking the showy graphics and animations of other branded slot machines, fruit machine slots nevertheless offer an appealing range of gameplay options, including hidden features and bonus games like Cash Pots, Bonus Trails, Cash Ladders, and Gambles.
Before you play, consider your desired outcome. Are you trying to win big? Or achieve a series of smaller, steady wins? Then cater your betting strategy to that desired outcome.
As always, never bet anything you aren’t willing to lose. Casino games are best enjoyed for the thrill of taking a chance! If you win money, that’s just the icing on the cake.
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