How Pokies Work? Understand the Mechanism Behind Poker Machines

How Pokies Work in NZ Understand the Mechanism Behind Poker Machines
How Pokies Work in NZ Understand the Mechanism Behind Poker Machines

Pokies are gambling machines you can find at land casinos, pubs, clubs, and online casinos. In New Zealand, more than NZ$200 million is returned annually to the community from the proceeds of pokie machines in pubs and hotels.  

Pokie machines are one-armed bandits. The Department of Internal Affairs is responsible for regulating the gambling sector in New Zealand.

The poker machines hosted in pubs, hotels, and clubs come under class four gambling in NZ. The class four gambling functions on a not-for-profit basis, with the overwhelming objective of generating revenue to return to communities via contestable grant processes.

Check also: Common Tricks To Cheat Pokie Machines.

A proportion of the money punters lose on pokie machines in pubs and bars is distributed to community groups by corporate societies.

Four Classes of Gambling

There are four classes of gambling in NZ: casino gambling, sport and race betting, private gambling, and Lotto, which are legal types of gambling under the Gambling Act 2003.

In New Zealand there is one pokie machine for every 211 people and on average each machine will take $125 out of its players pockets every day of the year. 

So this shows playing pokies excessively can make you lose more and win less, and still, if you wish to play pokies, it’s better to understand and know how pokies work in NZ.

Understand the mechanism of a pokie or gaming machine

Understand the mechanism of a pokie or gaming machine
Understand the mechanism of a pokie or gaming machine

Earlier pokie machines were a lot of mechanical means you had to operate manually. The old mechanical pokies used springs and tension to determine where the reels would stop. The new electronic machines use a much more sophisticated electronic method to decide the outcome of your Spin.

The heart of the poker machine is the Random Number Generator (RNG). The RNG starts working as soon as the pokie machine starts, and spits out random numbers, usually between 0 and several million, at a rate of 300-500 per second. The RNG never stops working, and is not influenced by any outside factors, so the numbers are always totally random.

Modern poker machines at casinos and online both work in the same way. When you place your bet and press the “Spin” button, the pokie machine takes the following values from the RNG and processes them through a complex computer program to determine the values the reels should have.

Every Spin has an equal chance of winning the Jackpot

Even though this computation only takes a short time, the games are not pre-programmed to pay out at any set time. This means every Spin has the same chance of winning nothing as the Jackpot.

Suppose you play on a standard 5-line pokies machine. When you press the “Spin” button, the pokies machine will grab the following 5 numbers from the RNG and store them in memory.

The pokies machine uses the first number to determine the first reel’s position. The second number determines the second reel’s position, and so on.

How pokies work in NZ
How Pokies Work in NZ

The computer divides the random number by a set value to determine the position. This is usually a standard computer value of 16, 32, 64, etc.

This works because of the way that computers mainly work in powers of 2, and this makes it easier for the computer to work out a value. As an example of how this works, say our random value is 3,486,421, and the computer divides by 128.

When you divide the random number by 128, you have a remainder of 81. The machine has set values of where to stop the reel for every value from 0 to 127 because these are the numbers that will be left over after dividing the random number by 128. This tells the machine to stop the reel at that position.

As there are usually more numbers to decide from than positions on the reels, each position has more than one number assigned.

This means that the machines can be changed by changing the numbers assigned to each position on the reel. This is the only way operators can control how the machines work.

How Do Poker Machines Work?

How Online Pokies Work
How Pokies Work in NZ

Poker machines, or pokies, are popular gambling machines found in casinos, pubs, and other establishments around the world. Understanding how these machines work is essential for any player looking to enjoy the game and potentially win big.

A typical poker machine has several internal components, including a CPU, RNG, and payout system. The CPU runs the game software and controls the machine’s operations, while the RNG generates random numbers to determine the outcome of each game. The payout system, on the other hand, dispenses coins or tokens when a player wins a game.

When a player initiates a game, the machine’s RNG selects a random combination of symbols on the reels. The machine then checks the paytable to determine if the combination of symbols wins. If it is, the machine pays out the corresponding amount of winnings.

It’s important to remember that poker machines are designed to be random and unpredictable. No one can predict or control the outcome of each game. Therefore, playing responsibly and within your limits is essential for an enjoyable gambling experience.

Random Number Generation

Controlled by Random Number Generators
Random Number Generators

Random number generation (RNG) is crucial to many modern gambling machines, including poker machines. The RNG is responsible for generating a sequence of numbers or symbols that determine the outcome of each game.

The RNG uses a complex algorithm to generate a sequence of numbers or symbols that are entirely random and unpredictable. This ensures that the game’s outcome is based on chance and cannot be manipulated by anyone, including the player and the casino.

The role of the RNG is to ensure the fairness and randomness of outcomes. Each reel spin is entirely independent of the previous one, and the RNG ensures that the results are unpredictable and statistically random. This means that no one can predict the outcome of a game, and each player has an equal chance of winning or losing.

Unlike classic pokies, online pokies are controlled by random number generators. This software deploys mathematical algorithms to determine random numbers, which define the line-up of symbols on the reels after you spin.

Random number generators are the backbone of online pokies. They are incredibly fair as gambling firms must go through governmental licensing and third-party certification to earn the credibility of pokies on the market.

These methods ensure that the numbers generated are random and the game has no unfair house edge.

Design & Features of Poker Machines

design of poker machines
Design & Features of Poker Machines

The variations in the design of poker machines determine how the games are played, how pokies work in NZ and how payouts are made. These features include the number of reels, paylines, and bonus features.

The number of reels on a poker machine affects the possible winning combinations, while the paylines determine where these combinations can occur. Bonus features can also help increase a player’s chances of winning or provide extra entertainment value.

Understanding the design features of poker machines is essential for players looking to maximize their winnings and have a fun gambling experience.

Whether you’re a seasoned player or new to the game, taking the time to understand the inner workings of poker machines can help you make informed decisions and increase your chances of winning.

Regulation and Social Impact

Regulations govern the operation of poker machines in New Zealand, with strict guidelines in place to ensure fair play and responsible gambling practices. The Gambling Act of 2003 regulates the industry, with licensing and compliance requirements for operators.

Despite regulations, poker machines have a significant social impact, with addiction and financial hardship being common issues. The lure of big payouts can lead to compulsive gambling, and the ease of access to poker machines exacerbates the problem.

This has led to calls for stricter regulation and controls to mitigate the social impact of poker machines.

Some argue that poker machines have positive economic impacts, generating revenue for the government and creating jobs in the industry. However, the negative social impact cannot be ignored.

Education campaigns and support services are in place to help those affected by problem gambling. Still, prevention through regulation remains a crucial element in mitigating the social impact of poker machines.

Psychology Behind Poker Machines

How Pokies work in NZ
Pokies in NZ

When it comes to playing poker machines in NZ, the psychology behind it is worth examining. The first question is why people get so addicted to playing pokies.

Pokies are appealing for their considerable win potential and social aspect, but they also carry a risk of addiction due to their exciting nature.

Another aspect of the psychology of pokies is the challenge of controlling emotions while using a machine. This can be difficult for some, but it is possible with the right strategies and decisions.

Setting a budget and taking breaks can help to avoid becoming overwhelmed by emotions while playing. Poker machines use bright colours and flashing lights to keep players engaged, so you must be aware of your emotions when playing.

The operator cannot modify the pokies machine.

Operator cannot modify pokies machine
An operator cannot modify the pokies machine.

Also, a pokies machine cannot be modified by the entity that owns or operates it. All the modifications to the pokies can only be carried out by the representatives of the manufacturers of the machines.

Also, if the casino owners or operators need to modify them, they have to do it under the supervision of the Gaming Commission representative.

It is good to remember that a random number generator system determines what symbols the reels land on. It is this same system that, if you are lucky, will create a combination of winning numbers on any given spin.

The software operates on a random base and, thus, has no guarantee that the following combination will be a winning combination. Therefore, always play wisely after knowing how online pokies work.

False winning features of poker machines

Many features of Pokies Machine
Many features of Pokie Machine

Pokie machines will also give you false winning indications. The machine will have lights and sounds that make it seem like you’ve won when you’ve still lost money.

Machines will also celebrate any win regardless of how much you’ve gambled over the session. More often than not, the total amount spent will be more than you win, so on the whole, you lose.

Finally, you can pump money into these machines after knowing how the pokies work in NZ. Note that no matter what you do to a pokie machine, you cannot change what it is programmed to do as it is a computer-designed electronic device.

It is to take in more money than it pays out, and there is no skill to win them.


Understanding how online pokies works in NZ is essential for punters to make informed decisions when gambling online. Players can improve their chances of winning while having a punt by understanding game mechanics, betting and payout systems, bonuses and features, and random number generation.

Click here to learn how the pokies system works in NZ


Yes, online pokies in NZ are legal as long as the operator is based outside New Zealand and holds a valid license.

Q. How can I ensure the fairness of online pokies in NZ?

Online pokies in NZ are subject to strict regulations to ensure fairness and randomness. Look for online casinos that are licensed and audited by third-party testing agencies.

Q. What is the role of RNGs in online pokies in NZ?

RNGs (Random Number Generators) are used in online pokies in NZ to ensure that the outcomes of each game are completely random and fair.

Q. How do you play pokies?

Put money into the poker machine and choose your wager size to start playing pokies. When you hit the spin button, the reels will begin to spin.

If you land a winning combo, you will be paid by the payout table. Some gaming devices also have extra functions that can be activated while playing.

Q. How do online pokies work?

Online pokies work the same as land-based pokies, but the only difference is that these are played online using any website or Online Casino Applications.

When the player spins the reels with their chosen wager, successful combinations are paid out by the payout table. Random number generators are used to determine the outcomes of online pokies, guaranteeing fairness and impartial gameplay.

Q. How are pokie machines programmed?

Pokie Machines are programmed using computer technology based on a Random number generator (RNG), which doesn’t rely on memory to decide when to create a number. It is random, and no one can depict winnings before the results.

Q. What is a pay line on a pokie machine?

A winning combination is created when matching symbols fall on a pay line, a line that crosses the reels in a pokie machine. Most pokie machines have multiple pay lines, and players can decide how many of those pay lines to wager on each Spin.

Read more on Factors that Cause Pokie Machines to Stop Paying.

The player’s odds of landing a winning combination increase with the number of paylines they wager on.

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.