Slot machines are among the most popular and profitable casino games, whether in land-based establishments or online. But how do they really work? What are the secrets behind these machines that spin the reels and determine the winnings of players?

What is an algorithm? 

An algorithm is a sequence of rules and instructions that allow solving a problem or performing a task. In computer science, an algorithm is a program that uses a programming language to execute operations on data. For example, an algorithm can calculate the sum of two numbers, sort a list of elements, or generate a random password.

The operation of classic slot machines Classic slot machines are mechanical or electromechanical devices that use reels, symbols, and levers to create random combinations. Each reel contains a certain number of symbols, which can be fruits, bells, numbers, or letters. When the player pulls the lever, the reels start spinning and stop after a few seconds. If the symbols aligned on the payline match a winning combination, the player wins a prize according to the displayed paytable on the machine.

The operation of classic slot machines relies on physics and mechanics. The reels are driven by an electric motor or a spring and are stopped by a sensor system that detects the position of the symbols. Therefore, chance is linked to the moment when the player activates the lever and the rotation speed of the reels. The same principle applies to online casino slot machines.

How do modern slot machines work? 

Modern slot machines are electronic or computerized devices that use a screen, buttons, and software to create random combinations. The screen displays virtual symbols, which can be images, animations, or videos. The player can choose the number of paylines, the amount of their bet, and initiate the reels by pressing a button. If the symbols aligned on one or more paylines correspond to a winning combination, the player wins a prize according to the displayed paytable on the screen.

The operation of modern slot machines is based on mathematics and computer science. Combinations are determined by software that uses a Random Number Generator (RNG) to generate numerical values. These values are then converted into symbols using a specific algorithm. Therefore, chance is linked to the moment when the player presses the button and the software’s code.

What is a Random Number Generator (RNG)?

A Random Number Generator (RNG) is a program that produces numbers without any apparent rule or logic. There are different types of RNGs, which can be based on physical phenomena (such as thermal noise or cosmic radiation), mathematical algorithms (such as the Fibonacci sequence or the md5 function), or external sources (such as the system clock or mouse movement).

The RNG used in slot machines is an algorithmic RNG, which follows a mathematical formula to generate pseudo-random numbers. These numbers are called pseudo-random because they are not truly unpredictable but depend on the initial value (or seed) of the generator. However, it is impossible to predict or reproduce the generated numbers because the formula is very complex, and the seed is constantly changing.

The RNG ensures the fairness and transparency of slot machines because it ensures that each combination is independent of previous and subsequent ones and has the same probability of occurring. The RNG is also monitored and certified by independent organizations that verify its proper operation and compliance with security standards.