4 Ways Pokies Are Programmed to Keep You Hooked

4 Ways Pokies Are Programmed to Keep You Hooked
4 Ways Pokies Are Programmed to Keep You Hooked

If you’ve ever been to a casino, you’ve likely noticed that many players sit in front of pokie machines for hours. Their glazed eyes stare at the screen, hoping to strike just the right combination, making them look more like zombies than humans.

The right way to describe the scene above is by saying this hypothetical player has a full-blown addiction. But when you consider all the ways the deck was stacked against them, it’s hardly surprising.

In this article, I’ll review four ways pokie machines are designed to keep you playing for hours and hours.

Related read: Understand the Mechanism Behind Poker Machines

How Are Pokies Programmed?

Pokies, those fun machines where you can win prizes, work with a Random Number Generator (RNG). It’s like a computer brain inside them. In this article, we’ll talk about how pokies are programmed and clarify some common misunderstandings.

  1. The RNG:
    • Pokies use the RNG to make things random. It’s like rolling dice or flipping a coin. You can’t predict what’s going to happen.
    • The RNG keeps shuffling the deck of cards or spinning the reels until you push the button to play.
  2. No Tricks:
    • Some people think pokies are rigged, but that’s not true. There are no secret patterns or cheating involved.
    • The machine uses the RNG to decide what happens next when you play. It’s all fair and square.
  3. House Advantage:
    • Here’s the thing: while pokies are fair, they are also designed so that the casino makes money in the long run.
    • This means that over time, the casino will win more than it gives out. But that doesn’t mean you can’t win, too!
  4. Play Smart:
    • Remember, pokies are about luck. Sometimes you win, and sometimes you don’t.
    • It’s important to play responsibly. Set limits for yourself and know when it’s time to stop. That way, you can enjoy pokies without any worries.

Role of Random Number Generators (RNGs) in Pokie Machines

Random Number Generators (RNGs) are used in pokie machines to determine the outcome of each spin.

The RNG generates a random number, which is then used to determine which symbols appear on the reels.

This ensures that the outcome of each spin is truly random and unpredictable.

RNGs are essential for ensuring the fairness of pokie machines. If the outcome of each spin was not random, then players could predict the results and gain an unfair advantage. RNGs also help to keep players engaged, as they never know what will happen on the next spin.

How Randomness Adds Excitement and Uncertainty?

The element of randomness in pokie machines is what keeps players engaged. Players never know what will happen on the next spin, creating excitement and anticipation. This is what keeps players coming back for more.

The randomness also adds an element of uncertainty to the game. Players don’t know if they will win or lose, which keeps them on the edge of their seats. This uncertainty can be addictive as players try to win the big jackpot.

Of course, the randomness also means that players can lose money. However, the excitement and uncertainty of the game can make it worth the risk for some players.

4 Ways Pokies Are Programmed to Keep You Hooked

1. There’s No Learning Curve

There’s No Learning Curve
There’s No Learning Curve

The appeal of pokies is that there’s barely a learning curve involved for new players. Grab the lever or press the buttons, and the wheels go spinning. Then stop them by pressing another set of buttons and see if you’ve won.

It does not require anything to learn, especially for playing beginner-level games.

Even some easiest games, such as blackjack or roulette, take a few rounds of playing before first-timers feel comfortable. Additionally, the fact that players interact with a machine and not a person means there’s no actual interaction when it’s clear that the player doesn’t know what they’re doing.

The most important factor in players’ addiction to poker machines isn’t some psychological hack or trick played by game designers. It’s just the ease of play.

Besides this, pokies are designed in many sneaky ways to keep you sitting there long after you should have left. But if the game weren’t so easy in the first place, there wouldn’t be as much at stake.

2. The Near Miss Approach

The Near Miss Approach
The Near Miss Approach

If the ease of play is the casino’s way of saying, “Hey beginner, come to play this game,” the near-miss keeps those beginners spinning and hoping to hit a big prize. Let’s find out what the near-miss phenomenon is. This is one of the 4 Ways Pokies are programmed to keep you Hooked.

Our brains are hardwired to want to accomplish something we’ve set out to do. This is a function of evolution, which has contributed to the survival of the human species. Ironically, when this centre of the brain is hacked with a pokie machine design, it can have negative consequences.

In today’s world, where we no longer have to hunt for our food to bring home to the tribe, the near-miss is manipulated by casinos to keep players coming back again and again for more. A near miss on a pokie machine doesn’t mean anything, but the human brain has difficulty recognizing this fact.

When you spin the wheel on the pokies machine and end up with one symbol short of the jackpot, you win as much money as if you had no matching symbols. The “near-miss” phenomenon makes you feel like you’re almost there, but it doesn’t mean anything about how close you are to hitting the jackpot.

Casinos know that the near-miss keeps players coming back for more. For this reason, they often focus on computerized versions of pokie machines with messages like, “So close!” or “Just one more spin!” This is just one example of the many ways gambling taps into a part of our evolutionary psychology and uses it against us.

Find here: What Are The Odds Of Winning On The Pokies?

3. Small Payouts

Small Payouts
Small Payouts

One of the more nefarious ways pokie machine designers and engineers keep people hooked is by intentionally programming these machines to give you a small reward when you’re on a losing streak.

Here’s how it works. Remember, this practice was identified by gaming authorities and considered illegal, but it persists in casinos everywhere. Machines are programmed with a special code that triggers when a player loses several spins in a row. When the threshold of losses is reached, the machine automatically gives the player a win and a small amount of money.

Here’s the ridiculous part of this setup: These small wins aren’t even wins. The game is programmed to deposit a small percentage of your losses into a “bank”, which serves as the reserve for your losing streak payout. For instance, if the game says you lose $0.50 every time you fail, it will deposit 0.02 cents and save it for later.

But the fact is, not all pokie machines are designed this way. It’s not legal, but it does still show up from time to time. This is probably the most egregious example of programmers hacking the minds of players to keep them spinning for hours on end.

See also: Are Online Casinos Legal In New Zealand?

4. They Accept Credits Instead of Cash

They Accept Credits Instead of Cash
They Accept Credits Instead of Cash

Most casinos nowadays utilize programmable gaming cards instead of cash. In the early days, you would have to put your dollar bills into the pokie machine; today, you swipe your card.

Casinos might tell you that the card aims to make things easier. How else could they give you comps so fast? They’re just putting a barrier between you and your money, making spending much easier.

The casino membership card that is the standard nowadays has practical applications. However, if the card led to less spending by players, you can bet that cash would still be used in most gambling casinos.

It’s not necessarily wrong for casinos to use cards instead of cash. Rather, players must understand that each time they reload that card, their bank account is taking a hit—all the more reason to create a full-fledged bankroll before your gambling trip.

Editor’s suggested topic: What is the Responsible Gaming Policy in New Zealand for Playing Pokies at Casinos?


Are pokies programmed to make players lose?

No, pokies are not designed to make players lose consistently. They use Random Number Generators (RNGs) to ensure randomness in outcomes. While casinos have a house edge, each spin or game is independent, and players can win.

Are pokies designed to make you keep playing?

Yes, pokies are intentionally designed to be engaging and keep players interested. They use various strategies to create an entertaining experience.

What is a Random Number Generator (RNG), and why is it important in pokies?

An RNG is like a digital dice roller inside pokies. It ensures that every spin’s outcome is random and unpredictable, making the game fair.

How do visual and auditory elements keep players engaged?

Vibrant graphics, animations, and sound effects create an immersive experience, making gameplay more exciting and enjoyable. These elements enhance the overall entertainment value.

What is the “near-miss” phenomenon, and how does it work?

The near-miss phenomenon is when the game stops short of a winning combination. It’s designed to keep players engaged by giving them the feeling that they are very close to winning, encouraging them to play more.

What’s the difference between online pokies and physical machines?

Online pokies are digital versions you can play on your computer or mobile, while physical machines are found in land-based casinos. Both use RNGs, but online pokies often offer more variety and convenience.


It is not about criticizing pokie machines. Like every other vice, they have a time and a place where they’re appropriate and even a little bit fun.

You need to recognize when you’re falling into a trance-like state while playing pokies and understand that they’re designed to make you feel that way.

If you’re able to identify the addictive nature of pokies, there’s a good chance you can avoid any negative consequences that will lead to you draining your bankroll quickly.

Mamta Sharma

Mamta is a spirited writer hailing from Wellington, bringing a youthful zest to the world of digital content. Merging her love for narrative with an eye for detail, Ella crafts stories that resonate and engage the modern reader.