We look at the One Armed Bandit. It is the classic, simplest and most straightforward form of gambling to use.

One Armed Bandit

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Welcome to OneArmedBandit.com – the site that celebrates one of the most-established forms of gaming entertainment in the western world.

Whether you call it a 'flutter', a 'piece of the action' or just honest-to-goodness 'gambling', almost everyone, at some time or another has been tempted to try their luck in a game of chance. And what form of gaming could be simpler and more straightforward to use than the classic 'One Armed Bandits'?

If most people who visit OneArmedBandit.com are being honest with themselves, who could deny at least the smallest frisson of excitement when walking past one of these iconic, imposing cabinets? With their winking, blinking lights and watchful silence waiting to erupt into a cacophony of noise at the drop of a single coin, slot machines such as the classic one-armed bandit have lured punters seeking a quick thrill for well over a century.

Depending on which country you've accessed OneArmedBandit.com from, you might better know the One Armed Bandits by one of its various regional appellations such as 'fruit machine', 'poker machine', 'puggie' or simply 'the slots'. Whatever the nomenclature, the basic operation will be familiar to anyone who has ever entered a casino, betting shop, pub or arcade.

Conceived initially in the late 1800's, the fundamental presentation and mechanics of the one-armed bandit remained pretty much consistent over the first eighty years of their existence. Introduced to the boardwalks and penny arcades of San Francisco, the one-armed bandit quickly became ubiquitous in the bars and soda fountains of Main Street, USA.

During the 1920's, an increasingly-vocal section of American society and legislature led to the era of prohibition, and the humble One Armed Bandits was filed in the same category as prostitution and alcoholism. During this period, many one-armed bandit manufacturers attempted to get around local statutes by offering goods instead of cash jackpots, to varying degrees of success.

This taint of vice has never completely left the association some countries have regarding slot machines, with disparate degrees of restriction placed on their positioning and use to this day.

Thankfully for visitors to OneArmedBandit.com, most modern countries have a more mature understanding of gaming machines such as the one-armed bandit and responsible adults are allowed to engage in a wager if they so wish.

The 'classic' One Armed Bandits will be a familiar sight for most visitors to OneArmedBandit.com – after all, why else would you be here? It may surprise you however, just how little the machine you know and enjoy has changed over the years since its invention. The familiar reels with their iconic graphics - including fruit (hence the British term 'fruit machine'), bells, gold bars and dollar signs – were all in evidence on the first 'slot machine' to bear the name.

Likewise, the mechanical principles under which a one-armed bandit operates have changed little in more than a century, although the underlying technology used in the cabinet has changed beyond all recognition (on which more later).

It's a fair bet (pardon the pun) that most visitors to OneArmedBandit.com will have used one of these traditional slot machines before. Some may even claim to be 'experts' at getting big-money payouts. But how many have ever wondered about what makes the machines, literally, tick?

The original fruit machine was a masterpiece of Victorian-era mechanical design. The lever that gave rise to the nick-name 'one-arm bandit' (an inspired choice, we say!) operates a complex system of levers and gears, causing the reels – three on original machines, often five in more modern apparatus – to stop in sequence, building suspense as they clunk into place.

Most visitors to OneArmedBandit.com will have felt the tension rise as the reels fall into order, producing tantalizing and conflicting emotions as the prospect of the big-money payout they've so patiently fed the machine to accomplish materializes or dissipates. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, but the temptation is always there that the next time will be the winner.

Whether the machine pays out or not depends on the sequence with which the reels stop. The usual conditions for a payout is when three matching symbols on the reels halt on the center line, with varying jackpots determined by the 'worth' of each kind of symbol. The relative value of these three-in-a-line pictographs is normally displayed on a marquee next to the reels themselves.

From the 1980's onwards, the humble one-armed bandit began to incorporate microchip technology into its mechanical workings, leading to ever-more elaborate slot machines. In a modern amusement arcade or casino, the bewildering array of slots that line the gaming hall can resemble video games as much as gaming machines.

Likewise, the payout that can be won from a typical one-armed bandit has increased exponentially over the last twenty years, to the point where many casinos in the major resorts such as Las Vegas or Reno, Nevada offer multi-million payouts or even jackpots that include houses as part of the prize fund!