Alex was working as a freelance programmer and hacker when a Russian casino hired him to manipulate the RTP of some Novomatic slot machines. To do the job, Alex had to learn in detail about how these machines work internally. He also learned about PRNG (Pseudo Random Number Generators), how they work and how they are used in slot machines. The breakthrough happened when he had spotted that slot machines were using an insecure PRNG algorithm that might be predictable.
The true RNG uses electromagnetic noise to generate completely random and completely unpredictable values. The PRNG works in a different way. It starts with a predefined value and then mashes it with some other inputs to generate an infinite series of values. The output values of PRNG seem completely random and impossible to predict at first glance. However, if the PRNG uses a weak algorithm and you know exactly which one, then you may be able to predict the next random number.
Over the next few years, Alex was able to lay the foundations of what would become a very sophisticated operation:
Alex estimates that during that time he and his team managed to make millions of dollars. The system he used, however, would not work in today's casinos and online games, as they use true RNG systems to generate truly random results.
- He reverse-engineered several popular slot games.
- He developed an algorithm that calculated the current PRNG parameters and predicted the results of future rotations based on two dozen rotations of a slot.
- He developed an iPhone application which used the predicted outcomes to tell the player when exactly to press the spin button to win.
- He hired tens of on-floor agents, who were tasked with milking casinos around the world for the following 6-7 years.