When you’re playing casino games, one of the factors that you often take for granted is fairness. We all know that house edge exists, whether we’re playing poker, one of the many blackjack variations, or on a slot machine. It’s a small percentage of profit that the house is likely to make. However, we don’t generally think about how the house edge is measured, implemented, and verified, particularly in games such as slot machines, which seem so random. Interestingly enough, the key to a slot machine’s fairness is its randomness and ensuring that randomness is what we’re going to talk about today.

What is a Random Number Generator?

A random number generator, also known as RNG, is a mathematical algorithm. It is designed to generate a sequence of random numbers that have no discernible connection to one another. This is achieved by inputting what is known as a seed number. The seed number must be random and is often generated by mouse movements or other unpredictable factors. The RNG takes the seed as an input, runs it through the algorithm, and generates the numbers. In true RNGs, the seed number has to be totally random, such as the coordinates of lightning strikes, whereas in pseudo RNGs the number can come from semi-random events, as long as they aren’t possible to replicate exactly. PRNGs are used in slot machines as the computing power that is required is much less and they are still more than random enough to provide a fair and unbiased game for both player and provider.

How Are RNGs Used in Slot Machines?

When you press the spin button, pull the lever, or interact with the user interface on an slot gacor machine, this ‘fires up’ the RNG. It begins to generate a sequence of random numbers which are used to determine where the reels will stop spinning. In modern slot machines, RNGs are computer-based, meaning that they can be tested and tweaked to ensure that they can adhere to rigorous standards. In incredibly old slot machines, it was sometimes possible to predict patterns, leading to some people believing that they could outsmart the machine. Whilst you would certainly need a lot of time on your hands, and plenty of coins, this could theoretically be possible in mechanical slot machines. Nowadays, it’s simply not the case, even the most skilled mathematician could not predict where the reels of a slot machine would land.

The Concept of Virtual Reels

The aspect that makes it impossible to predict where the reels will land is the idea of virtual reels. If the numbers generated by the RNG decided where the actual reels would land, then theoretically, a computer could work out with some degree of accuracy where the reels would stop. To do this, it would have to work out the algorithm that was being used and figure out how the seed number was being generated, but with that information, it could have a good guess at reel landings. However, instead of using the RNG numbers directly, slot machines nowadays use these numbers for virtual reels, which correspond to the physical ones. This means that the actual reels and the virtual reels are mapped to one another, giving a whole extra level of randomness to an already almost indecipherable code.

How This Benefits the Customer

Without the use of RNGs, the slot machine could easily be rigged. Generally speaking, slot machines have a house edge of between 5 and 10% meaning that the return to player percentage is between 90 and 95%. This percentage is set and verified independently and it’s the RNG that makes it possible. Online slots will be tested thousands of times and the results of these tests are what determines the return to player percentage or RTP. If you play online slots often then you might recall seeing RTP percentages listed in the information about slot machines. These numbers are useful because they can help you to plan how you’ll use your bankroll. In short, if you want to keep your bankroll going for longer, then choose a machine with a high RTP.

The RNG ensures that each and every time the slot machine is played, the current spin is as fair as the last. Whilst in your experience you might put $100 into the slot machine and only receive $84 back, when the RTP is ranked as 92%, it’s important to remember that this number is worked out over the course of thousands of spins. As with any casino game, some people will win a little more and others will lose a little more. If you are interested in RTPs then looking into high and low-volatility slots could be an interesting avenue to go down. Whilst all slots use RNGs to ensure fairness, those with high volatility will swing for big wins less frequently, whilst those with low volatility will give out smaller wins more often. It’s another fascinating mathematical element to the slot machine game. 

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