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Mechanical Reels and the RNG, a Comparison

We all know that random number generators get to choose the combinations we see on the screen when we play slots, keno, video poker, or any gaming machine we find in a casino. But understanding how an RNG does this is sometimes hard to comprehend for our average layman. Let's look at a simple (and not that technical) comparative analysis of how RNG's work contrasting it with the reels of a slot machine.

We'll not go on into the really messy details of the programming behind an RNG. We'll only work through things that we can easily relate to so we can grasp the mechanics of an RNG. A comparison with the reels of a slot machine will do nicely to accommodate our comparisons since that is one thing we've seen spinning in decades.

Our original slot machines had reels on them. Each reel has stops on it marked by symbols that we can see. In order to win, all we have to do is to make the reels spin around and match the spaces with certain winning combinations on the slot machine's pay table. Life with the old slot machines was easy back then. The only problem came about when we wanted variety in the game. We wanted more slots or stops on the machine's reels.

We were then able to come up to as much as 20 plus stops per reel on our slot machine. But these are mechanical stops or slots and we are thus limited by the physical size of a machine. It came to a point when it was just physically impossible to add more stops on a reel. Adding more reels didn't click with the general public so we stuck with adding stops on a reel.

An RNG replaces all those reels in today's slot machines. The RNG generates numbers to billions and then divides them using a mathematical formula and a set of logical instructions called an algorithm. The result of such mathematical process will be equivalent to the number of reels (i.e. virtual reels) a machine will have. So we're no longer limited by the machine's physical size. The RNG also generates the combination of symbols we see on the screen.

The RNG just keeps generating these numbers even if the machine is idle with no one playing. An RNG keeps generating those numbers to be used to display the symbols on a slot machine. The exact millisecond someone puts money into the machine and presses the spin button, the very set of numbers on the RNG at that precise moment will be used to generate the combination you see on the screen.

By using an RNG we are no longer limited to the physical size of a machine to add more stops on a reel. We also have that same random effect on the spin of these reels by using a random number generator.