Regaining Control

How Pokies Work

Have a 'lucky' machine or a special way of choosing a machine to play? Find out more about how pokies really work and why luck has nothing to do with it.

Machines don't 'remember'

Machines do not have a memory. 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.

Many people will stay with the same machine for a long period of time, sure that the machine must be due to pay out soon or that they deserve to win.

The fact is that each play on a pokie machine 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.

How the pokies work

Each machine has an inbuilt computer program to randomly generate 1000s of possible outcomes every second.  When you press the button:

  • The machine will randomly pick one result from the many thousands of possibilities in a millisecond.
  • The next second it will generate thousands more. 
  • It does this continuously every second all day and night. 
  • 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.

Pokies are 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.

The structure and design of poker machines can also trick you into thinking that you are not betting much money and therefore have 'nothing to lose'.

One cent pokies are a good example. They disrupt financial judgment about how much is actually being lost, by making it appear like only a small amount of money is involved.

The lights and noise also create an exciting environment to encourage continued gambling even if you are losing. 

Next steps

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