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How the randomness of slots works

Today’s blog post was written by guest blogger, JJ Garcia (Vice President and General Manager, Colorado Operations, The Lodge Casino), an expert in slot machine technology:

If you’ve ever heard slot enthusiasts talking about slot machines, it won’t be too long until you hear one of them bring up the ‘RNG,’ and how it affects their win odds. But what exactly is an RNG? How does it work? And what role does it play in whether you win or lose at slots?

In a nutshell, the RNG is the Random Number Generator, and it’s the brains behind every slot machine. Inside each machine is a microprocessor, very similar to the one on your laptop or home computer. This processor is in constant motion, even when the slot machine is not being played. The RNG uses a formula or algorithm that has been vetted and approved by the jurisdiction’s control agency prior to being allowed for play. Each slot machine, whether physical reel or video reel, operates the same way.

Depending on the program, each reel has a number of stops. The old Blazing 7s slot machines were a 3-reel / 32-stop program. For this game, the total number of combinations is 32,768 (which is just 32 x 32 x 32). This is known as the cycle of a game. Theoretically, if you played this game through its entire cycle, you would expect to hit every one of the combinations. However, with the RNG, that is not the case. This is sometimes confusing to the player thinking the machine is “ready to hit.” The odds to hit the top award are 1 in 32,768 on every spin. So even if you just hit the top award, the next spin has the same probability to hit the top award as the last. Similar to flipping a coin, the odds of landing on heads or tails is 50%. However, if you flip the coin twice, you could land on heads twice in a row. The more times you flip the coin, the closer to 50% you will get.

Since the RNG is in constant motion, the outcome of the game is decided the moment you hit the spin button, and is not determined by the amount of money that you wager. A familiar gambler’s tale is getting up from a cold machine, and the next person who sat down spun the reels twice and won a jackpot. The truth is, unless you hit the spin button at the exact millisecond as that guest, the outcome would be different.

Hopefully, this helps you understand the technology of slot machines a little bit better, so the next time you win (or lose), you’ll know that it was, in fact, completely random.

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