Random Number Generator and Return to Player explained
When we asked Captain Rizk to explain how the Random Number Generator (RNG) in online casino slots work, he started drawing mathematical formulas on a black board and say things like discontinuous linear equations. Then there was something about modulo arithmetic with storage-bit truncation and atmospheric noise. Basically, a Random Number Generator is based on a Da Vinci Code too difficult to crack even for Tom Hanks.
So what? You don’t have to crack a code to understand a few things about it and how it works. Remember when your maths teacher tried to explain how algorithms work and how later in life you would totally benefit from knowing this? Your teacher was wrong. Unless your job is to create Random Number Generators.
There are basically two things you need to know when it comes to random number generators and online casino slots: can you as a player crack the code, and are we as a casino rigging this code in our favour? The short answer to both of these questions is “no.” And if you keep reading you’ll learn why not. But first you need to understand how random number generators are connected to that 90+ percentage number that every online casino slot has, the Return to Player or RTP for short.
Random Number Generator and Return to Player
Of course, it’s easy to understand that mixing words like Random Number Generator and Return to Player in the same sentence seems very strange. How can it be random if the RTP is an exact percentage? It’s like this:
- RNG is how the outcome of a single spin is determined
- RTP is the outcome of playing tens of millions of spins
You see, the only reason RTP is expressed as such an accurate number is because it’s been tested over tens of millions of spins. Let’s say you’re playing a game with an RTP of 95.4%. Please don’t expect that you will have 95.4% of your money left after 10 spins or 100 spins or even 1,000 spins. This is not how it works and now you know why. It takes tens of millions of spins.
On the other hand, you could double or triple your money or win a multi-million euro jackpot in just a few spins. What would be the point of playing a game if you can’t win, right? Because Rizk Casino is licensed and operate in regulated markets, we’re obliged to inform our players about the RTP percentage on each and every game we offer. We also want to be transparent about what these things are and lay all cards on the table.
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A brief history of slot machines
It’s important to know a little bit about the history of slot machines before we get back to modern RNG technology. We’ll get to that in a moment. First… Believe it or not, but the first coin-operated slot machine was invented in 1894 in San Francisco by Bavarian-born American inventor Charles August Fey. A few years later he had refined the machine and created the first ever slot machine that could pay out cash winnings. It was called Card Bell and a handle set the reels in motion when it was pushed down.
It was this lever that eventually earned slot machines the nickname One Armed Bandits. Fey’s next slot machine was the Liberty Bell and it hit the saloons in 1899. This machine used the same playing card symbols as the Card Bell, but it also added horseshoes and bells.
Ten years later a rivalling company called Industry Novelty Company introduced the famous fruit symbols, at this time coin-operated slot machines were banned and the fruit symbols were added to represent flavours of different chewing gums.
Anyway, now that you know a little bit about the history of these machines we’re going to dive into what makes them tick. The Random Number Generator.
Are Random Number Generators really random?
Yes. Yes they are. Random Number Generators are actually completely random. Again, this is just the short answer. Are you ready for the long one? This is where we have to get back to the old machines invented by Fey in the late 1890s.
These machines displayed a set of three reels. Because they were physical you could smash the machine to bits and take them out. Now imagine these reels are movies and each symbol represents a frame from the film. You’d quickly realise that each strip of film would be limited to a set number of frames (symbols on the slot reel). This limitation would of course also limit the amount of combinations to display.
This physical limitation doesn’t exist on an online casino slot since these “machines” are essentially video games, potentially very lucrative video games. Like, progressive jackpot lucrative. You know, when you win enough to buy a mansion, a sports car, a yacht with a helipad… right, right, right. RNG!
Remember how the old machines had that handle you had to pull down to start the machine? The outcome of the spin was determined mechanically when you pulled the handle. This is literally the opposite of what happens when you play an online casino slot.
When you fire up an online slot and it has finished loading, the Random Number Generator goes to work immediately and the only way to stop it is by pressing the play button. You see, online casino slots work in reverse. Pressing play stops the Random Number Generator and you will see the result it landed on. This is where the super complicated maths come into play. But we’re going to make it simple yet super scientific.
Picture a pond with an infinite amount of leaves. Add one bright red frog on one of the leaves. Now you have to surround that pond with a huge wall. It will probably be a wall so big that even Donald Trump would be jealous. Now, you can’t see the pond or the frog, because of the wall, but you know they’re there.
The frog starts jumping from leaf to leaf and it can jump all the way across the pond. Each leaf represents an outcome. When you shout “stop” the leaf the frog is on is turned over to reveal the result. We should perhaps also add that the frog jumps hundreds of times per second.
Just to be clear. Online casino slots don’t have infinite ponds with a red frog inside them. It’s just a metaphor to explain roughly how it works. And to add to this. When you’re outside the wall shouting “stop,” we’re also there right next to you. In other words, we also don’t know where the frog is. Only the frog knows. What we do is providing the frog, the pond and the wall around it all.
Are bonus rounds also governed by Random Number Generators
Yes. Every possible outcome is determined by the Random Number Generator, including bonus rounds. Imagine that you yelled “stop” (pressing the play button) and the leaf the frog landed on said “Free Spins, win €25.”
Again, online casino slots are not physically connected to ponds and frogs. We’re just trying to be super scientific with our metaphor. Knowing what you know now about ponds and frogs and Random Number Generators, there’s an obvious question to ask: what’s the point of all the graphics and sound effects if the outcome is determined when I press play? None. None whatsoever.
But would it be fun to play an online casino slot that only displayed the outcome without any suspense? Of course not. How interesting would it be to play the bonus game on Mega Moolah without seeing the big wheel in action; how exciting would the free spins round be on Jack and the Beanstalk without crossing your fingers for getting to the expanded wilds?
Playing online casino slots based on Random Number Generator technology is all about having a great relationship with Lady Luck. Sorry, but we can’t help you there. From what we hear it’s something to do with horseshoes, four-leaf clovers and rabbits’ feet. Crossing your fingers might also help.