I am quite ashamed to admit that through all the years that I’ve been playing online slot machines, I have never been curious enough to know how they actually work. I’ve won a fair bit of money on slots but it never occurred to me how they replicate the results of a real slot machine. A friend once mentioned that it is governed by a random number generator, RNG, but that too is a term I never really understood, or care to understand…until now. So in order to satisfy my curiosity, I’m going to find out how online slots work and share it with you.
I’ll try my best to make the information palatable to laymen and limit my use of jargons.
The Inner Workings of an Online Slot Machine
As my friend shared, slot machines operate using a random number generator. This is essentially a computer program that provides a random sequence of number every time the spin button is clicked. The RNG is not only used in slot machines, even online card games like blackjack also use this technology to provide random cards during a game.
How It Works
A lot of people have this notion that slot machines have an internal memory that records if you’ve won or lost. It’s important to mention that these machines do not have memory storage and so are unable to remember if you’ve recently won the jackpot or if you’ve lost all day.
The game relies purely on luck through a random number generator. When you click the spin button on a slot, the RNG starts producing whole numbers very quickly. What symbol the reel will land on is determined during the split second that you click your mouse. When you play on a three-reel slot game, there are three numbers that are recorded from the RNG, one for each reel.
The problem with RNG is its predictability, although the development of quantum algorithms may change this in the future. Computer programmers have spent time and effort into making the RNG harder to predict but a dedicated computer programmer would still be able to crack its code. The good news is that the RNG is housed in a figurative black box; players have no access to it so there’s no chance of any person predicting the outcome in every spin.
The RNG only dictates that random results a slot throws out but it needs an interface for players to interact with it. This involves certain controls to operate the virtual machine.
This could be certain keys on a keyboard or with a click of a mouse button. In most cases, the spacebar is the most common way to start a spin and the arrow keys to change the wager. Most machines are programmed to react to inputs made by the player and it is also programmed to show visual effects, such as that of a spinning reel, visual effects during a win, and any animation that serves as an advertisement for the machine itself, even slots on mobiles.