How Random Are Slot Machines, Really? (How Slots Work in 2022)

Have you ever had this thought: how random are slot machines, really?

And if slot machines are random, can this help you win?

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Here’s the problem:

It’s not simple to determine if slot machines are really random.

And it’s not easy to explain how randomness in slot machines works.

But that’s what I do in this post.

Read this post. Then you’ll know if slot machines are really random. You’ll also know how random number generators work in slot machines.

How Random Are Slot Machines? What Does Random Mean?

Antique Slot Machine - How Random Are Slot Machines?

It can be hard to explain what random means. How does a random event work? Some things that people think are random aren’t really random. And some things that people think they can control are actually random.

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An Example of Randomness Using a Die

One example of randomness that most people are familiar with is a die with six sides. If you roll a die, you know it’s going to land on one of the six sides. When the die is perfectly designed, there’s no way to predict which of the six sides the die is going to land on.

Every time you roll the die, you get a random result, even though there are only six possible outcomes.  But even with a die or dice, people often believe they can predict the outcome.

For example, if you rolled a die 12 times and a six hasn’t come up, what are the odds of six appearing on the next roll?

Some believe the odds are better that a six will be rolled soon. And others believe the odds are less that a six will be rolled next.

But neither group of people is correct. The odds of six coming up on any die roll are exactly one out of six. Previous die rolls don’t have anything to do with what happens on future die rolls.

Winning or Losing on Each Spin at Slot Machines

When you play slots, you either lose or win on each spin. When you lose, the result is clear, but when you win, you can win different amounts. Your results might appear to be random when you play slot machines. But your results aren’t really random.

To understand how randomness works in slot machines, you need to learn how random number generators work in slots games. And you need to understand what that means in the short and long-term for your results.

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How a Random Number Generator Works

Modern slot machines all use a random number generator (RNG). Old slot machines didn’t use an RNG. But once manufacturers started computerizing slot machine mechanics, random number generators became integral parts of each slots game.

An RNG is a simple program that uses a set of possible outcomes. It runs through the outcomes and stops on one randomly when called on by the programming of the computer.

An Example of a Random Number Generator in Action

For example, if you designed a random number generator to work with 100 numbers, the numbers used would go from 0 to 99. The program would continuously run through all 100 numbers at high speed. And every time you needed a number, the program would stop on the current number and display that number.

The program might run through the numbers 1,000 times every second. So, you couldn’t time your request. You couldn’t clock the numbers to make the outcome come out the way you want. Remember that this is a simple example. And it’s not the only way to generate random numbers. You can design a computer program to do an even better job randomizing a set of numbers than this.

Every Possible Outcome on a Slot Machine Is Just a Number

Every possible outcome you can get when you spin the reels on a slot machine is assigned to one or more numbers. When the RNG produces a number, the result assigned to that number is then displayed on the screen. And it determines if you lose or how much you win.

A slot machine might have 500 possible outcomes, or 1,000, or more. The manufacturer of each slot machine starts with the amount or percentage of money the slot machine is going to make as a profit and then assigns the results to the numbers running through the random number generator to create the correct percentage.

A slot machine might only have one program, but a slot machine can also have more than one program. When a slot machine has more than one program, the casino can choose which program they want to use to change the amount of profit each machine generates.

You will learn more about these numbers in the final section of this post. And you’ll learn more about why these numbers are more important than worrying about whether a slot machine is random or not.

Does a RNG Mean Slots Are Really Random?

Here’s one of the reasons why some people get confused about whether or not slot machines are really random:

It’s because random number generators ARE random.

But the way slot machine manufacturers use RNGs doesn’t create random results.

Random number generators are tools used by slot machines to determine what you see on the screen. Modern slot machines don’t really have reels that spin. The RNG determines the result of each spin and then shows a video representation of the reels on the screen to create the result determined by the RNG.

When the result of the RNG is a loss, the reels displayed show one of many different programmed representations that don’t create a winning combination. And when the RNG determines a win, the screen shows one of the combinations stored in the machine showing the correct line to win the correct amount.

But all the possible results are assigned to the RNG to create a specific profit for the casino from the slot machine. While the individual results come from the RNG, the overall results are set by using the RNG as a tool. I explain why the long-term RNG results aren’t really random in the next section.

Long-Term and Short Term Randomness

In a short period, the results you get when you play slots looks like they’re random. But slot machines are programmed to provide a specific set of results over a long time. And each program works exactly like it’s supposed to work.

Even if a slot machine has 1,000’s of numbers or slots in the RNG, over a long period of time, each result will come up on spins an equal number of times. The reason your short term results look random is that you’re only playing a short amount of time compared to the life of the machine.

Here’s the important thing to understand:

Because of the long-term nature of an RNG, the results aren’t random.

Can You Use Strategy with RNG Slot Machines?

Most slot machines are designed and programmed in a way that makes strategy useless. You can’t time the RNG running the results because it runs far faster than you can predict.

While you can find people who claim they have a winning slots system, I have never found a system that actually works.

However, there is a slot machine strategy you can use to get better results. But it doesn’t have anything to do with how a RNG works. I’m going to share the only slot machine strategy that works with you in the next section.

What’s More Important Than the RNG in Slot Machines?

Here’s what you know now:

You can’t use a strategy based on random numbers. And you know that slot machines aren’t really random. And there’s nothing you can do to change your results.

The numbers programmed into each slot machine dictate the house edge percentage and the return to player percentage. A slot machine with a higher return to player percentage gives you a better chance to win and costs less to play on average.

The house edge is directly linked to the return to player percentage. The house edge added to the return to player percentage always equals 100%. So a slot machine with a 7.5% house edge has a return to player percentage of 92.5%.

It’s more important to play on slot machines with a low house edge and a high return to player percentage than to worry about randomness. The best slots strategy available is identifying the machines with the highest returns and only playing on these machines.

Conclusion

In the short term, slot machines are somewhat random. But in the long-term, slot machines aren’t really random. It’s true that modern slot machines use random number generators, but the programming dictates the long-term results.

Here’s my best advice:

Stop worrying about how random slot machines really are. Instead, focus on finding slot machines with the highest return to player percentages. Random number generators all work basically the same way. But the programming for each slot machine sets the return percentages, so the RNG isn’t important.

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