How Online Slots Work – For Beginners


There are so many gambling games that you can play online now it’s crazy. Most of them started out as physical machines that you actually had to play on. One of the best examples of this change is online slots. They started out as slot machines that you’d see in all sorts of adult only venues and have now migrated over to the online gaming industry. But if you’re new to them digitally, you might be wondering how they work and if the odds are actually stacked against you. If so, keep reading and discover just how online slots really work.

How to use online slots

Typically, you play online slots in a very similar way to a slot machine. You’ll be presented with a slot machine looking screen and you’ll have to tap a button or lever on it to make them spin. They’ll then land on the symbols, and you’ll be able to see if you’ve won anything or not. You’ll have to make the payment upfront in order to pay, and any winnings will be put into your online account. Different casinos may have different rules about how you withdraw your winnings from online slots though. Some may only let you withdraw once it’s above a certain number, so it’s worth checking this rule out beforehand.

Random Number Generators (RNG)

An RNG is the way that online gambling sites make sure that the slots are fair and don’t work against the player. What happens is an algorithm is created by a computer, and it will then make the results of each spin completely random. This means that the results can’t be predicted or tampered with to give a desired outcome. This is the same for online poker and how we know poker isn’t rigged.

There are two different types of RNG: Hardware Random Number Generators (HRNG) and Pseudo Random Number Generators (PRNG). A HRNG generates the slot results using random numbers. These are received from the algorithm, which means they can’t be repeated or guessed beforehand. A PRNG generates numbers that may look random, but actually aren’t. This is where a sequence can be spotted, and you can reproduce your desired results once you figure it out. Not many online slots use these as it gives way to cheating (of sorts) and it can cause detriment to their livelihood.

It’s worth noting that while the numbers are random, each slot symbol does hold a different weight. This means that a lower prized slot is more likely to be chosen as it holds more weight. So, while the choice may be random, there could be more probability of you landing on low value symbols. However, all reputable online casinos always get their RNGs audited by an independent third party so that they can ensure that it’s working as it should.

Return to player value (RTP)

There is another factor that plays into how online slots work, and that’s the RTP value. This is a calculation that shows the casino how much you’ve won on the slots over a certain period of time. It’s usually displayed as a percentage. It can be used to show how much money the casino stands to make as well. For example, if you place a $100 wager consistently and the slots allow you to win $96 back for every $100 you spend, that’s a RTP value of 96%. This also means that the casino is typically going to make $4 for every $100 you spend too. Although your RTP value is a good indicator of how much you’re winning, it doesn’t give you any hints about when you’ll win or how much buy. The RNG still powers the whole system, meaning your RTP value could change at any given time.

Winning and Losing

If you find that you’ve been playing the online slots for a while and you’ve not won, you might start to think its a scam. However, this isn’t the case at all. Every single spin is completely random, as discussed in the RNG section above. The odds of you winning are just the same as if you were to win 5 times in a row or lose 5 times in a row. They’re always random and different to the one before, so you never know what’s going to happen. This makes the online slots a game of pure and simple luck. So, don’t despair if you’ve not had a lucky streak in a while, it could be just around the corner!

Online slot machines can offer you the chance to play on your favourite machine from the comfort of your own home. You’ll be able to hear that familiar tinkly music that they play and the recognisable faces of the beloved slot machine symbols too. So, if you want to start playing the online slot machines, check out the most reputable online casinos online. As always, gamble responsible though!

Narciso Baldo is the Director and Head Coach of Texas Hold'em Questions. He has been playing poker for over 16 years. After spending many years as a professional, he now runs UK poker training site Texas Hold'em Questions. Narciso regularly writes poker articles sharing tips, strategy, news and experience with gambling enthusiasts. Narciso also writes for reputable gambling portal Casino City Times, (bio here). Contact: