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The Slot Machine Secret: The RNG

Have you ever wondered what goes on inside a slot machine? What is the slot machine secret that creates those seemingly random combinations? The slot machine secret, claimed by some to be in their possession, lies instead with the random number generator (RNG) found inside every modern slot machine. And you might be surprised to learn that there is no real randomness at all. So how does it work?

There are two ways that computers can generate random numbers: by using a device that monitors a completely random natural event and sends its results to the computer, or by using a formula that generates a pseudo-random number. This formula produces a string of numbers that would look random to anyone who did not know what the formula is, but in reality, it is, in fact, predictable. The slot machine, of course, uses the latter method in combination with the random element added by a human's pull of a lever or push of a button. You might be getting excited at this point, thinking something like "But if it's not random, there must be some sort of formula to increase my odds of hitting the jackpot!". If you are thinking something like this, however, you would be terribly, terribly wrong. The RNG does generate numbers based on a formula - one that creates winning combinations a certain percentage of the time - but you could never possibly know what that formula is, and even if you did, it is unlikely you could use it to your advantage. And then, even if you could figure out the workings of the formula, you could never possibly pull the lever at the exact right millisecond needed to create a winning combination. So, in reality, there is no slot machine secret.

All pseudo-random number formulas depend on a “seed value” to start the sequence. To create a random and unpredictable sequence, the seed must be a truly random number. To get this truly random number for the seed, most programs use the current date and time, converted to an integer value. Since this is a different number every time you start the program, it makes a good seed. Whether or not slot machines use this method is not known. There is very little accurate information available from the gambling industry as to how slot machine RNGs work. Despite this, or indeed, because of this, there have been a plethora of myths perpetuated in how-to books, by word of mouth, and through the Internet claiming to reveal some aspect of the slot machine secret. Perhaps this website will help put a few of those myths to rest. If you'd like to learn more about these myths, check out our Myths section here. Then you'll really be able to put the poor misinformed souls in their place who claim that they know the real slot machine secret.

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