Slot Machine Algorithms Explained – In-depth & Expert Guide

August 4, 2023
Slot Machine Algorithms

The vast majority of online casino games are slots, and with good reason. They’re fast, fun, easy to understand and there are literally 1000s of variations.

If you are a dedicated slot lover like one of our team members, you probably can’t help but wonder about slot machine algorithms and how they work in the first place. Well, you’ve come to the right place as our team of experts will lead you through the essence of how slot algorithms work and we’ll also try to answer some of the most common related questions asked by players, so hang on for the ride.

What You’ll Learn In This Guide

  • How online slot algorithms work
  • Possibility of hacking the slot code
  • How to pick the best sites with tested and fair slot software
  • Whether online casinos can feature rigged slot software and trick players

What’s A Slot Algorithm?

To put it simply, a slot algorithm is a program code on which all the online slot games you most likely enjoy playing operate. However, that’s really just an understatement, and the more we dig into the matter, the more you’ll begin to realize how complex the program is. There are more ways than one in which a program can control the outcome of every slot round, and there are several related concepts you are probably familiar with.

These include the Random Number Generator (RNG) technology or the Return to Player (RTP) system, but all these components together with other concepts combined make a slot algorithm.

The only way to help you understand how online slots work is by explaining each of these concepts separately so here’s a list of the most important ones:

  • RNG
  • PRNG
  • RTP
  • Slot volatility

So, a slot algorithm is a program based on all these components, and you could say that the random number generator is a crucial one. It’s mostly a record of all the possible outcomes in a slot game. For instance, this includes the probability of the maximum win payout occurring and all the different line hits that could emerge in a game, as well as the frequency of triggering a bonus or free spins round.

On the other hand, the PRNG is a bit different since it’s a Pseudo-Random Number Generator technology and it’s used in quite a few modern-day new slots. The PRNG involves generating quite a lot of possible outcomes at all points, so when a player presses the play button, one that was most recently generated will display on slot reels.

It means that there’s no precise program that generates a specific flow of slot outcomes, but the result of each round is rather picked from thousands of potentially generated outcomes in a second. These two concepts will become even more substantial later on as we discuss hacking or altering the slot algorithm, but let’s talk about the RTP first.

About Slots RTP

Besides generating random slot hand outcomes, the algorithm used in these machines also relies on a few other factors. Naturally, the RTP ratio stands out since every online slot out there has one. It can range anywhere from around 94% all the way up to 99%. What this number means is that a player can count on getting back 94 or 99 hand values back in a long run out of each 100 slot spins.

Of course, this doesn’t mean that if you sit back and spin the reels of your favorite slot 100 times you’ll lose at least 1 or more hand values since that would make it impossible to win, right? Well, think of it this way – brick-and-mortar casinos feature an RTP ratio that refers to a certain time frame of playing.

So, this basically means that a slot will pay out a specified RTP amount (let’s say 96 out of 100 for a 96% RTP slot) of player bets during a day. It can also be another period or a weekly RTP rate, so the house always wins, but a few lucky players get to hit some impressive wins along the way while others may lose.

The Meaning Behind Slot Volatility

Slot volatility is also closely connected since it refers to the ratio between the payout potential of the game and the frequency of its payouts. Our team for one enjoys playing highly-volatile slots since they often feature a higher win potential that could go upwards of x5000, x10,000, or even x50,000 of your bet value for online games.

To make things fair, such games rarely display those immense win amounts, so you are more likely to lose quite a bit before you can hit such a stellar win if you aren’t that lucky. To make a parallel with the RTP, these games often come with lower RTP, having in mind how much you can win if you get lucky.

On the other hand, low-volatility slots can pay out less, mostly up to x1000 of your bet value, but you can expect a lot smaller wins along the way and a higher overall RTP. So, slot volatility reflects two things – how much you can win and how difficult it is to achieve that win. Players willing to take on higher risk often enjoy highly-volatile games, while those that play it safe for lower profit usually settle with low-volatility games.

So, How Does a Casino Use These Algorithms?

Now that you know a bit more about the terms related to slot machine algorithms, you’ll probably want to know more about how a casino can use these in its online slots. While land-based casinos rely on the services of slot machine manufacturers and their licenses to set up a slot and its algorithm, online gambling sites use integrated algorithms produced by casino software providers.

These days we have a lot of these and they now count in hundreds, but some of the most famous ones are Microgaming, NetEnt, Pragmatic Play, Playson, Hacksaw Gaming, NoLimitCity, and others. These providers are approved by casino regulation agencies that have to approve of the software and its fairness before the brand’s games reach a casino.

Most gambling sites also rely on a specific white-label solution company like SoftSwiss to provide a complete solution including the site’s gaming interface, games, and loyalty systems. So, you could say that a casino has the least to say about the slot algorithm, but each operator is free to select the type of games and slot algorithm that they will feature on their site.

That’s why if you play the same slot on two sites, you’ll have the same theoretical return on these games, but due to multiple accounts, the RNG won’t behave exactly the same and you may win on one site while losing on the other. The bottom line is – a casino operator can’t affect the slot algorithm for most modern slot games.

Can You Beat Slot Algorithms?

Yes, we are now finally reaching the question that you’ve probably been waiting for from the beginning of this guide. We hate to disappoint you with this, but the answer is – no, you can’t beat slot algorithms. That is unless you are able to pull off a one-in-a-million software hack which is highly unlikely due to the thousands of possibilities generated by the algorithm each second.

There have been a few attempts at tricking the algorithm before, but we probably don’t even need to tell you it would be against the law to try and tamper with the software. In terms of beating the algorithm legally, we’ve heard a lot of stories of players observing the previous sessions of a certain land-based slot machine during the day before sitting down.

This theoretically gives you the advantage if you’ve noticed that the machine wasn’t paying out before that day, so it could as well be your turn to win. Even so, you can never know the time frame upon which the RNG is operating, so that theory is also unlikely. In the online casino world, you can’t do this at all since your account is related to the RTP and RNG of the slot you’ve been playing alone, as well as other games played through your account.

Can You Hack Slot Machine Algorithms?

In the eyes of our team members, online gambling should be a fun activity to spend some time in excitement, and you shouldn’t be gambling for profit alone. However, a lot of players have wondered about tricking or hacking into slot software over the years, so let’s break down this topic once and for all.

You can’t hack slot software in today’s online games, but it might be possible to hack into the software provider’s game algorithms in progress before they are uploaded to casino sites. We’ve seen a few attempts of this over the years so prominent software providers utilize all the firewalls and methods of prevention to lower the chances of cyber attacks.

Plus, all the people that tried stealing casino software for profit or selling it to another company or casinos in another country with slim regulations have been prosecuted, so we don’t encourage anyone to even try tampering with the way online slots work.

Are Online Slot Algorithms Rigged?

This one is yet another common question we’ve heard over the years and this time we can confirm that slot algorithms can be rigged. That’s why our team of Dappcasino experts is always on the look for shady sites that we put on our blacklist, and is dedicated to bringing you only proven and tested sites that we consider fair.

The thing is – certain blacklisted sites can’t change the slot algorithm given by the provider and turn the odds in their favor even more. These sites often deal with rigged games in terms of featuring unapproved and shady slot software, and if the site features in-house games and comes without a proper gambling license, we advise you to steer away from such sites due to possibly rigged software.

There are several companies that are independently checking online slot fairness including eCOGRA or iTechLabs, so you should always look for sites with their approval to avoid rigged software.

How Do Slot Machine Algorithms Choose Each Wheel Value?

Wheel value is mostly related to old-school single-line slot machines found in land-based casinos, but a similar method is used for each slot reel and determining the symbols showing up on each during a game round. We already talked about the RNG and thousands of combinations being generated every minute.

So, based on the payout percentage of a game (including slot volatility and RTP) and the generated outcome, the reels may stop on a certain symbol depending on how much the round is intended to pay out based on the algorithm.

Slot Machines & Algorithms – Summary

Slot machines are seemingly simple for most players and we completely get that perspective – there are just so many symbols and winning combinations that could be formed in every spin. However, it turns out to be a pretty demanding task to even grasp the point of slot algorithms and how these games work today, so we hope that our guide will suffice in helping you with that.

While we can’t tell you how to win at slots based on the algorithm they use, we can tell you how to avoid scam sites that use unapproved slot software to make their players lose more often. Make sure to follow up on our list of the best provably fair casinos as we work tirelessly on bringing you only provably fair and legit casino sites.

Author Benjamin

Benjamin is the brains behind the casino review process and an iGaming content writer with 10+ years of experience in the niche. His “outside the box” point of view on online gambling gives him a unique perspective on every piece of iGaming content that he writes. Having been a player himself for years, he’s especially interested in giving true value to players with an objective approach to reviews and properly testing each site with real-money play beforehand. That’s why we trust him to deliver all the essential details to you regarding what he believes is the future of online gaming - crypto and decentralized casinos. Besides testing out new sites and casino games himself, Benjamin is also a free-time BBQ expert (that’s what he believes at least) with a tendency to enjoy a hot summer day sitting behind the grill with an ice-cold beer in his hand.