Slot machines have always been the center of huge number of speculations and theories. There are numerous myths, some of which originate all the way from the era of first slot machines. And many people believe they are true even nowadays.
So, where’s the truth? Is it better to play after somebody else has lost money? Is it better to play when the slot machine is full of money? Is it better to keep playing when the machine is generous? Or is it random and all of those things are irrelevant? Keep reading this article and find out how slot machines really work.
Random Number Generators
If you are already familiar with slot machines or other applications that utilize this technology, you probably know what random number generators (or RNGs) are. Their job is very simple and quite complicated at the same time – they generate random numbers.
That may sound simple, but it’s not that easy to make sure the results really are absolutely random, don’t follow any trends and are not predictable in any way. Slot machines usually use RNGs based on electromagnetic noise.
Casino Guru explains this very well in their article about how slot machines work. They compare the electromagnetic noise to an old television without signal – black and white dots always changing and never staying the same. If you then take a part of the imaginary screen, convert black dots to ones and white dots to zeros, you have a completely random binary number. That’s how these RNGs work in a nutshell.
The slot machine then takes the generated random number and converts it to a result of a spin. This is done by the game’s internal mathematics that determine the results of each spin based on the random number provided by the RNG.
That means the RNG is the only thing that determines the result of a slot machine spin. The random number is generated when you press a button to spin the reels of the slot machine. If you pressed the button just a fraction of a second later or sooner, the result would have been completely different, because the RNG would have generated a different number.
Beware of Pseudo Random Number Generators
It’s important to distinguish the differences between ‘true' RNGs and pseudo random number generators also known as PRNGs. While true RNGs work in the way described above, PRNGs are quite different.
From an outsider’s perspective, the results might be the same, but when you take a look under the hood, you realize there are big and extremely important differences. When a programmer uses a function to generate a random number, the result usually comes from a PRNG, which means the result can’t be considered truly random.
There are quite a few differences between RNG and PRNG, but what’s important from the slot machine perspective is the fact that slots with true RNG can’t be exploited, while the ones with PRNG can. Some slot machine creators have used PRNG in the past and have learnt not to use it in a hard way.
PRNGs generate a sequence of numbers that appear to be random, but they aren’t. It’s not easy to do, but the sequence can be reverse-engineered, which allows resourceful hackers to actually beat slots and make a lot of money. That’s exactly what a guy named Alex from Russia managed to do, as well as a great reason why PRNGs are not used in modern slot machines nowadays.
Slot machine myths
So, what about the questions in the beginning of the article? Let’s address them one by one:
- Is it better to play after somebody else has lost money? No. Previous results don’t influence the result of the next spin in any way, shape or form.
- Is it better to play when the slot machine is ‘full of money'? No. The sum of money that’s currently in the machine has no effect on the results, either. This might have made more sense in the days of standalone slot machines that paid out the player directly, but nowadays the money is paid out independently. And it wasn’t true back then, either.
- Is it better to keep playing when the machine is ‘generous'? It’s true that it often seems that good and bad results come in waves, but it’s just a result of random number behaving the way they do.
To sum it up, slot machines behave randomly. None of the things described above influence the results of individual game rounds. All you can do is play and hope the random numbers are on your side.
The Casino Always Wins In The Long Run
When playing any casino game, it’s important to know that the casino always has an advantage. The games are set up in a specific way, so that the casino always profits in the long run. After all, they are running a business that needs to be profitable.
That being said, it’s also important to keep in mind that not all casino games are the same. European roulette, for example, has a fixed payout ratio of roughly 97.3%. That means that players lose £2.7 out of every £100 wagered.
Slots, on the other hand, are extremely diverse. Their payout ratio usually ranges from 94% to 98%, with the average being somewhere around the 96% mark. This is true for the online slots you can find in most online casinos. Physical slot machines you can play in brick-and-mortar casinos can have significantly lower payout ratios in some countries, depending on the local regulations and other factors.
Whenever you are playing any game of chance, remember to look for one with a payout ratio as high as possible. It’s always good to minimise the casino’s advantage and of course even though you can win in the short run, the casino will be the winner when the statistical deviations cancel out and everything that’s left is the long term payout ratio of the game.