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Introduction: Understanding the Random Number Generator (RNG)

This is because the RNG is the “brains” of each slot machine. We all know that there is a computer chip working away inside the slots machine, but few of us know what’s actually going on. It’s because there’s so little knowledge out there, that tall tales and myths fill in the details and elevate many misconceptions about slot machines. One of the most common of these is the old myth that every machine has a “cycle” and can somehow let the player know when it’s due to hit the jackpot Yeah, we all know that’s nuts, and yet the myth persists. Anyhow, if you play at the online jackpot sites, you know that won’t happen even if it’s true in other cases.

The RNG Program

So just what is going on inside a slots machine? Well, for a start there’s a microprocessor, just as there’s one in your home PC. But instead of running your home programs, the design of this one is to generate numbers at random based on the symbols on the spinning reels of the slot machine. The random number generator is like a perpetual motion machine in that it’s constantly selecting random numbers each and every millisecond. These are between the value of 0 to 4 billion. And it’s these random numbers that translate to specific sets of numbers on the symbols of the reels. So the outcome of each spin is actually thanks to the random number generator. This is the number that shows whenever you pop in a coin or hit spin.

In order to generate the specific numbers, the random number generator follows instructions which are in the form of an algorithm. Though the actual scope of these numbers is beyond us mere mortals, a computer can check out the RNG’s validity. In fact, before any machine is put on the gaming floor of a casino, it must undergo a rigorous check at the hands of the various gaming commissions or casino control boards. This is done to ensure that the machine really is random in its number selection process. The casino business model would not last very long if we could see that the player is being consistently cheated.

Principles of the Random Number Generator

To help you understand the random number generator and its principles, then let’s have a look at other games and how the RNG affects their gameplay.

Reel Type Slot Machines

Now, when you’re standing in front of a real physical slots machine at the casino, then you’ll notice that the reels contain either symbols or black space. We call these “physical stops”. Most of the older machines could hold up to 20 symbols on each reel. But on modern machines, they all go up to 22 physical stops. It’s sheer computing power of random number generators that allows modern machines to accommodate so many stops across all its reels.

OK…for example, and to keep things simple, let’s imagine that there are a total of 10 stops on each reel. With these ten stops, there are 1,000 different combinations. This is the sum of all the numbers across all the reels of that particular machine. So a three reeled machine would be: (10 x 10 x 10 = 1,000). The actual combinations that can be obtained are what are called cycles. This is where the misused term “cycle” comes from. Many payers confuse it with the idea that the machine has cycles of winning or losing.

Real Probability

So, going back to our example slots machine, we can see that the odds of a three-number combination being picked are 1:1000. So in theory, if you play 1,000 times, there’s a single chance you’ll hit pay dirt. But remember that this is in theory. In reality, the numbers could look very different. That’s because it’s an average, and you’d need to play a million spins to see the real figures that would be closer to the real probability. Just in the same way that when you flip a coin you have a 50:50 chance of either heads or tails, and yet you can land three heads or four tails in a row. The more you flip, the closer you’ll get to the average. And so it is with the random number generator.

random number generator
RNG seems complex but it’s simple

The Daily Pick 3 Lottery

This is a popular draw lottery and can be found everywhere. Essentially there are three glass bowls or drums. Each contains 10 balls and each one of these balls is numbered from 0 to 9. All the balls are mixed up and with the lifting of the lid, up pops a numbered ball. This is repeated until the three numbered draw is complete and you end up with a winning combination. Let’s use this example as if we were talking about a slots machine. Imagine that we replace the numbered balls with slot symbols on reels. In each bowl, there’s a ball with the jackpot written on it. Imagine that two more balls have a bar symbol, three of the balls have cherry symbols and then there are also four balls which are totally blank. Now imagine that the person drawing the balls is the random number generator.

Here is the breakdown of the number of times out of a thousand that the winning combination made.

3 Jackpot 1 (1 x 1 x 1)
Three Bars 8 (2 x 2 x 2)
3 Cherries 27 (3 x 3 x 3)
Total Wins 37

The 963 losing combinations consist of:

3 blanks
2 blanks and a symbol
1 blank and two different symbols
3 mixed symbols

Conclusion: Understanding the Random Number Generator

Now imagine how the random number generator picks those numbers but at thousands of times each second. It’s like a row of blinking lights, but only one bulb can be lit at any one time. The electricity is moving up and down this string of lights. By pushing a button, you’re stopping the current and that particular bulb is the only one to light up. The bulb is like the number that the random number generator stops at. If you had pushed that button and stopped the current at even a milli-second time different from your last button push, then the result would be very different. And that’s why it’s not possible to leave a slot machine after playing for an hour, only to see the very next player sit at the same machine and win the jackpot after just one spin. Of course, if you rather try to win the jackpot online that’s wont happen.

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