There are No Random Numbers in Online Roulette (Mostly)

With all games of chance, both online and in the physical world – one of the greatest challenges is coming up with random numbers.  Generating random numbers doesn’t sound that taxing but it’s actually much easier said than done.  In fact it’s one of the most studied areas in computer science classes across the planet.  Many seemingly random systems which have been created for computers have often turned out to be completely predictable.

One of the main reasons that computers are pretty rubbish at producing random numbers is that mostly people are hopeless at producing random patterns too.  These are the people who are also programming the computers too.  For instance if you were asked to suggest a random distribution of 50 coin tosses, most people would probably suggest something similar to 25 tails and 25 heads as the answer.  It sounds reasonable but in reality this would only be expected to occur about 10% of the time.

This highlights one of the major problems with our creation of random sequences – people tend to try and produce over-random results.   They typically try and produce what they expect from random, meaning that they’ll stray away from excessive streaks and odd looking sequences that would be found in most genuine random results.  It’s also the reason why the Martingale strategy looks much more appealing in our ‘made up random’ world, rather than the real world which consists of bank roll busting identical sequences.

So how do computers that control our favorite sites that allow us to play roulette online, manage to simulate random numbers?  The simple answer is that they don’t, computers are deterministic devices that do exactly what

Random Numbers in Roulette

we tell them to.  The very best we can hope for from a computer is a pseudo-random generator which decides on which slot that electronic ball should land.  It can look pretty random of course, but right back at the beginning of the code sits a computer programmer armed with his own expectation of ‘what constitutes a random number generator and what it should produce.”

In fact computers try and emulate a roulette wheel in virtually all situations where randomness is required.  The fact is that although it is quite simple to use a roulette wheel is a very good way of creating a random number.  The reason is that when the ball is released into the wheel where it lands is dependent on many factors.  For instance the ‘exact distance’ that the balls travels helps determine where the ball lands, even the slightest change will result in a completely different number.  The starting point, the speed of the wheel, the speed of the ball, the way the ball is put into the wheel and a host of other less significant factors are all capable of affecting where the ball lands.

Recreating this randomness by giving  a computer a set of instructions to follow was never going to be simple.

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