What randomness really means in poker machines

gambling-602976_1280You have all probably heard about poker machines operating randomly, though what exactly does that mean? In gambling, random means that we are unable to accurately control or predict the outcomes that will occur next. Randomness also means that each outcome is independent of one another. That is, the outcome of each spin on a poker machine is not related to the outcomes from its previous spins.

While we may have all had the feeling of knowing what will happen next, we do not actually know for certain. We may have even come up with strategies that we use for making future predictions, but the truth is, no strategy is 100% accurate or fool proof. Why? Because outcomes are produced randomly in poker machines. In fact, a specialised computer chip within each poker machine, referred to as a random number generator (RNG), ensures that the outcomes are random. To demonstrate how the RNG works, go to http://www.random.org/sequences. Sequences from this website are generated randomly, or according to no rules.

The job of the RNG in a machine is to continuously cycle through approximately 3000 unique sequences per second. What you may not have known is that the RNG will continue to fire as long as the machine is plugged into a wall socket, even when no one is playing on the machine, or when you are having a chat with your friend next to the machine. The RNG therefore does not allow for you to advance towards a predetermined sequence, and makes it impossible for anyone to know what the next outcome will be.

For more information on how gaming machines work, watch ‘Gaming Machines: Facts and Myths’, featuring Jay Laga’aia.

If you think you may have a problem with poker machines or any other form of gambling, help is available. Call Gambling Help on 1800 858 858 to speak with a gambling counsellor. Free individual sessions are available to anybody who might be concerned their gambling has gotten out of hand.

The Gambling Help website has a range of free resources and self-help tools available to download or order, as well as new community support forums where you can share your experiences and hear from others who are in similar situations. Visit www.gamblinghelp.nsw.gov.au/forum to join the conversation.

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