Guide to Random Number Generators (RNGs)

Guide to Random Number Generators (RNGs)

An introduction to RNGs

Oh Lady Luck, your form is so fleeting, yet haunting… all your lovely green zeros and ones that churn through the machine… Wait, what? Oh yes, my friends, Lady Luck is no ethereal being who blesses your game with a peck on your cheek and a benevolent, but mischievous smile. No, she is the Matrix, numbers churning through the ether, randomly landing on that one… special… combination.

While gamblers of old may have relied on Lady Luck’s good graces to bestow riches upon them, the modern online casino gambler is more likely to experience a binary form of the Lady: computer code. With everything from slots to video poker and even including some live dealer games functioning on the back of some serious technological architecture, the Random Number Generator rules this sphere of Luck’s elusive realm.

RNG stands for random number generator. Simple, right? But what does it mean in gaming terms? Each online casino game, whether it is Wazdan’s Great Book of Magic, Red Tiger’s Lord of the Wilds, or NetEnt’s Baccarat Pro, is, essentially, a complex computer program. The program’s structure includes an RNG, which is responsible for ‘deciding’ how the reels will spin and stop, or, in the case of live roulette, for example, where on the wheel the ball will land.

While many people believe RNGs are exclusive to slots, this is not the case. They are present in all online and live casino games whose outcome hinges on electronics. Live dealer games like Wheel of Fortune, roulette, and even some card games no longer use traditional game pieces but instead use electronic wheels, cards, and other components. In these cases, an RNG is sure to be part of the action.

The RNG is a continuous program that generates thousands, even millions, of random number sequences every second. During the game’s design phase, certain selected strings of numbers will be applied to different symbols, reels, paylines, and other active parts of the game.

While you are playing the game, this RNG is working constantly in the background. In the microsecond that you click Spin, Play or whatever indicator starts the game, the number that is simultaneously generated by the RNG is fixed and determines the outcome of that round.

Actually, it isn’t just online casinos. Many games in brick and mortar casinos also use RNGs, like slot machines, for example. Any game that determines the outcome electronically has an RNG.

RNGs are really the simplest and most foolproof way to keep casino games, both online and inhouse, secure and impervious to cheating. They remove the human element, as well as any other factors that could potentially influence the game’s outcome, and make it the purest form of chance possible. This serves multiple purposes:

  • The chance of a game being hacked or otherwise manipulated by dishonest players is minimised or even eliminated
  • The game is totally unbiased towards players, with the RNG ensuring anyone, at any time, regardless of their play style or duration, can win
  • It reduces the amount of things that can go wrong with more mechanical machines, like wear and tear, components that break, etc
  • It improves the game’s reliability and makes it easier to set a consistent volatility and variance, so that players know what they’re getting

Of course, the primary purpose of RNGs is to ensure security and fairness.

If you want to play a non-RNG slot, you’re going to have a bit of trouble tracking down an old-school one-armed bandit from before RNGs started being used in brick-and-mortar casino slot machines. However, even in the online casino space, there are some games that don’t use an RNG.

Many live dealer games online do still use physical cards for games like poker, blackjack, or baccarat, for example. Some online casinos may even use a traditional wheel and ball for roulette. This is also more usually the case when you visit a casino; many of the table games are still run using traditional accessories.

However, unless you’re a devoted cards-only, live table game player, you’ll be hard-pressed to steer totally clear of RNGs. And why would you want to? They make the games clearer, more predictable, and fairer for everyone!

Online casino games are varied and unique, so there isn’t really any single strategy for beating the system. However, it pays to check out reviews of the game you want to play, as well as the game’s guide, to find out things like the variance and volatility, tips for playing, and how to play.

These games are available in just about every single online casino that offers video-based games… in other words, most of them. If you’re looking for a specific game to play, why not head over to our game reviews. Or you can peruse our in-depth online casino reviews in the hunt for your new favourite play platform.

Random number generators are a good thing. They make online gaming safer, more secure, and, as a result, considerably more legitimate. This is an industry sometimes plagued by unscrupulous, illegal operators trying to scam you, and RNGs are just one way that legitimate operators can keep both their business and their customers safe. We hope you get lucky with an RNG before too long!