The Nerd Side Of Life

Algorithms and Operation Principles of Online Slots

When playing online slots, many people ask: how do they work? The peculiarities of the functioning of virtual slot machines are accompanied by many myths, so only a few know the answer. Some players are sure that the working principle of online slots is based on the time spent on playing. So, the longer a person plays slot machines, the higher his chances of winning. But this is far from the case. Let’s see how one-armed bandits really work.

How did online slots appear?

Previously, slot machines were electromechanical and bulky devices that required some space to install them. Such units were equipped with a braking system and sensors that “read” the combinations falling out. To start the drums, the player had to pull the lever on the body of the devices, for which they were called “one-armed bandits”.

In the second stage of development, slot machines became electric. Their structure was already based on an electric motor, although the combination recognition system remained the same. Modern slot machines such as Starburst Slot are computer software. The combinations that appear on the reels are determined by a random number generator (RNG). Online slots work according to the same principle. 

How does the random number generator work?

RNG is a special program with a specific algorithm of work. It forms the combinations that appear on the screen. Moreover, this happens by chance, so no one can predict the appearance of winning combos: neither the player, nor the casino employees, nor the slot developers themselves.

The random number generator is a constant component of modern slot machines. There is no more efficient way of combining symbols in them randomly. The only changes made to the operation of the generator relate to its winning combinations and constantly improving the software. It was developed by mathematicians, programmers, and psychologists. All this made it possible to create a program with a reliable algorithm, the quality of which has been tested for decades.

The modern RNG, which is used in most online casinos, is the 128-bit md5 algorithm. Its developer was a professor from the University of Massachusetts. The application of such an invention is not limited to slot machines. It is widely used in automated security systems.

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How reliable are RNGs?

Bypassing the RNG and learning how to identify winning combinations is the dream of every player. This is what many scammers are guided by, offering to download programs that are supposedly able to calculate the order of the dropped-out symbols and numbers. But, having downloaded such an app, the player can catch a virus on his PC and open access to his data to scammers.

The software of modern online slots is regularly tested by independent auditors. In particular, such authorities such as iTech Labs, eCOGRA, GLI, and NMi do this job perfectly. A serious approach to business eliminates the risk of any manipulation of the RNG, making the game as fair and transparent as possible for online slots users.

How does the RNG make combinations?

The random number generator is a program without memory. It does not take into account the duration of the player’s game, does not record his wins and losses. Mathematical algorithms are used to form combinations. There is no logic in the operation of the RNG, so it is impossible to calculate which combinations will appear on the screen right now, in a minute, or an hour. The number of possible combinations is simply enormous. Therefore, if the player manages to hit the jackpot, the repeated win can take place either in a minute or after a couple of days of continuous play. Each combination consists of 32 hexadecimal characters. Therefore, it is unambiguously unrealistic to predict the outcome of the game.

When the online slot is launched, the RNG generates 100 random numbers every minute. These numbers determine the combinations that appear on the screen. It is not known which numbers will appear at the moment of pressing the button. Such a system is relevant not only during the main gameplay but also in bonus modes.


The random number generator eliminates the possibility of predicting the outcome of the game. The casino cannot influence the outcome of the game, set its own rules for the winning combinations, or choose the winner in advance. Meanwhile, scammers cannot hack the slot and beat an honest player. The chances of winning depend only on the luck of the player himself. So, if you are a gambling geek, do not waste your time calculating the combinations, but enjoy the game!

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