The anatomy of Slots

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No other casino game enjoys the same amount of popularity as online slots do. Although the game has basically stayed the same after it was created in the end of the 19th century it is still a gamblers true favourite.

Tha game itself is extremely simple: you pick your bet size, make the bet and spin the reels. If the reels end up in a winnings combinations after they have stopped you win. The size of the win depends on the amount you made your bet and how unlikely it was to achieve the combination you ended up on the reelks.

In the early days the reels were mechanical but by now all these machines have been replaced by computers and a random number generator (RNG) is used. Every game provider who operates in regulated markets have accepted the rules of randomness and abide its rules correctly. If you are someone who like playing slots then learning how the RNG works will be a smart thing to do.

In order to display the results of a spin slots still use reels. There are usually either 3 or 5 wheels in a slot game. The fact that the results are generated randomly by computers haven`t changed that. The same thing applies for the math. Although the basics are the same, modern online slot games do have a lot more features, bonuses and mond blowing graphics. Something the machine versions could never have had.

Random Number Generator or the RNG is one thing that all fair slots have in common. This is what makes the reels stop in a random position and decides if and how much you win during a spin. Basically it guarantees that a certain game will always give the same result with the same number.

How does RNG make it random?

  1. At first in generates a random number
  2. After that the slots algorithm calculates at which point the reels should stop
  3. The reels stop and the games mathematical algorithm calculates the winning based on the reels positions
  4. The results are shown to the player

When it comes to slots, everyhting is determined by pure luck. The result of one spin does not take into account the previous one and is 100% independent. It`s as flipping a coin – you can`t alter the results no matter what you do.

By now you are probably wondering how do these RNG-s work. Well let`s make it clear then. They are hardware devices. Basically like computers but their only job is to generate random numbers. How do they do that? Well they use electromagnetic noise. It can be easily explained by using an old television set as an example. Just take a picture of an old tv that does not have a signal. What do you get? A series of dots painted black and white. The black means 0 and the white means 1. Count them and you get your random number.

If you didn`t undetstand the above then don`t worry. You are not in an any position of disadvantage if you don`t know how RNG-s work. The only thing you should understand is the fact that RNG-s make online slots fair.

How do online casinos make a profit?

The fact that slot games are fair doesn`t mean that casinos don`t make money off of them. Of course they do. It is written into the algorith of slots that they pay out less than people put into them. In the long term. This doesn`t mean that you can`t win in slots. Of course you can. But if you play thousands of spins then you will probably lose. Even if you don`t then someone else will and casinos still show a profit.

Online slots have designed so that Theoretical Return to Player or the RTP is smaller than what you put in. Let`s imagine that you have 100€ in your casino wallet and you decide to make 100 spins with it in a popular slot game. Before you start grinding you check out the slot games information tab where it shows that the RTP of this particular slot is 98,5%. Cool, so what you ask? Well this means that in the long run when you make 100 spins of 1€, you will end up with 98,5€. This is how casinos make their profit.

Myths about Slots

This is our favourite topic. There is nothing more entertaining than different myths of gambling.

“Slots don`t pay out after a big hit and they pay more when they there hasn`t been a big win a long time”.

As we explained above, each and every spin is totally random. It does not care if a jackpot was hit during the last one or not. It is just as likely to hit that jackpot as what when it fell during the last spinn. Just the jackpot itself will probably be a lot smaller ;).

“Online slots have programmed to have hot and cold streaks”.

Well…NO, they are not. You see how the main theme aligns with the previous ones. The superstions of gamblers are all related to some kind of a higher power that does not let them win. And many of them come from a previous experience of an individual spreaded among gamblers as long as they become myths.

“You can`t do anything to increase your chances of winning in slots”.

Wrong! Pick a slot with a higher RTP and you will lose less in the long term. Thus have a greater chance of winning.

How does a spin of a slot game take place?

The casino usually don`t make their own slot games. The games are developed by game providers who are totally different companies. These companies sell the rights of their games to operators who can them add these games to their portfolio. That is why you can play your favourite slot in many casinos.

If you like slots you have probably heard of Starburst. The famous slot game was developed by Netent and has become a household name for slot lovers. Why? Well no one really knows. The game itself is rather simple and doesn`t have a lot of special features but there is something that players love. Many have tried to copy it but with little success.

The way a slot game operates is as follows:

  1. After the game is launched by a player a gaming session is started by the casino
  2. Your internet browser then starts interacting with game servers, not with the online casino you are playing in
  3. The RNG is also provided by the developer company
  4. The only thing the casino does is confriming your bets and collecting dat aabout your results from the provider

So what should we take from all of this information?

Well the most important thing is that if you end up losing a lot then the casino nor the provider is never the one responsible. It is just bad luck because games like Starburst which are developed by respected can never be tweaked or hacked. If it is fair you want then with these games it is basically guaranteed. Whether or not a casino pays you out is another thing. 

Theoretical Return to Player (RTP) and volatilty or varience are the 2 most important characteristics of an online slot game. These mathematical numbers show you how much you get paid and how often.

Theoretical Return to Player

RTP means how much money you will get back in the long term. What does it mean? Well it means that if you made 100 spins with a bet of 1€ and the RTP of a slot game is 98% then you get back 98€ after the spins have been completed. Of course this applies in theory. In practice you might be having a hot streak and win with your 100 spins. In order for the long run to play out one must make millions of spins and only then the RTP will show its real results.


Volatility shows you how often you win. Games with higher volatility have higher variance. So in these games you will hit winning combinations in fewer times but when you do hit then the win is bigger.

Leaving lottery aside, slots are the most volatile gambling types there are. That is why their jackpots are also the biggest. If you like playing high volatile games then there are a couple of tricks you could use in order to increase the variance of slot games.

  1. You can change the paylines to minimum. That will set your bet for a single payline to maximum so the wins will be bigger but happen less freaquently.
  2. If a slot game allows then you can use the double up button after the win. This does not alter the games RTP but will raise the variance.

We hope this article was enough for you to learn the basics of online slots. If you wish to dig any further then please read our slots strategy articles.