The Science of Slot Machines: RNG and How It Works

All slot machines in land-based and online casinos use a random number generator (RNG). You may already know of this term and wonder how a RNG works with slot machines. A slots RNG is a complex computer program that seems difficult to understand at first. But you can quickly learn how slot machines RNG programs work and why they're so important through the following sections.

What Is a Slots RNG?

A random number generator is a program that randomizes events and creates unpredictability. In slots terms, the RNG ensures that each spin is completely independent of the last. It guarantees that slot machines are truly random games and completely unpredictable. RNGs apply to much more than just slots and have real-world applications (e.g., cryptography, computer simulations), but they're synonymous with slot machines inside the casino.

How Does a Slots RNG Work?

A RNG cycles through thousands or even millions of number sequences in a short amount of time. It selects one of these number sequences during a spin, which determines your result. For example, the RNG might randomly choose sequences that deliver two losses, followed by a 50x (your stake) win during a three-round sample. This algorithm is constantly working in the background and ready to pick a number sequence whenever you push the spin option.

RNG Applies to Other Casino Games

Again, many gamblers first think of land-based and online slots when hearing the term random number generator. However, a RNG is vital to any electronic-based game like video poker, video blackjack, and so forth. Machine-based games don't have physical cards, dice, or a roulette wheel to randomize results. Therefore, they need a computer algorithm to carry out the task. All online casino games use RNGs because, like land-based machines, they determine wins electronically.

Slots RNG vs RTP

A random number generator and return to player (RTP) work hand in hand to determine your overall winnings, but they're not the same thing. As we've covered, the RNG creates random results through a complex algorithm. RTP, on the other hand, is the percentage that a slot will pay over time. If the RTP is 95%, for example, the game will theoretically pay back 95% of the money gambled. As for working hand in hand, a RNG selects more winning sequences at each payout level when the RTP is higher. In contrast, it selects fewer winning number strings when the RTP is lower. A generator might be able to pick 10 jackpot number combinations out of 1 million results at 97%, for example, but it can only choose 9 jackpot number combos at 94% RTP.

Why Casinos Use RNGs

A casino would lose serious money if somebody figured out how slot machines and other electronic games determine results. Gamblers might be able to time spins if slots paid in a predictable manner. In fact, some players still think that they can time up spins to win more money. Here's where RNGs come in and thwart any plans to discover slot machine patterns. They create such random results that no player can figure out how electronic casino games pay.

Can You Beat the RNG in Slot Machines?

Realistically speaking, you cannot beat a slots RNG. These programs cycle through number sequences so quickly that you have no chance of figuring out any discernible pattern. Perhaps you could beat the RNG if you had access to a slots developer's insider information on their algorithms and software. Even then, you'd need to be extremely knowledgeable about the gaming industry and how your insider info correlates to winning patterns. Long story short, you cannot outsmart RNGs without in-depth knowledge, and you probably still couldn't win guaranteed profits with it.

Will Strategy Help You Win with RNGs?

As covered above, you're highly unlikely to beat a random number generator through any means. Therefore, simple slots strategy won't propel you to guaranteed winnings either. But you can at least choose slots with high RTP to improve your long-term winnings. Online slots with 96% RTP or higher provide a fair chance to win. Check the info screen to see the available payout percentage for a given game. Also, check the volatility rating (if available) to see how often a slot machine pays short term. Lower volatility increases the frequency at which you'll get paid and sustain your bankroll.

How Do You Know that a RNG Program is Legitimate?

Land-based casinos and licensed online casinos undergo third-party testing. This testing evaluates RNGs and payout percentages to ensure that everything works as claimed. A RNG needs to produce random wins and losses, which testers look at to confirm. In summary, check if a casino is licensed to get an idea on if they undergo game testing. You could go even further by looking at the casino's licensing requirements (i.e., is third-party game testing required). This isn't to say that casinos without third-party testing can't offer fair games too, but tests provide extra assurance. Assuming you're dealing with a fair RNG, then you can have a safe, fun, and random gaming experience.