Since their introduction in the 1990s, online slots have quickly become the go-to gambling game for many newcomers to the industry. Naturally, their popularity has prompted game developers to create more and more slots, resulting in thousands of different games.
The most important factors when choosing an online slot game are the volatility, return to the player, and how they pair. There are very few things that affect the outcome of a game more than these two. But what is an RTP? And what does volatility mean? And most importantly, how do they affect the quick hits casino slot games that are so popular in 2023.
First, let us begin with return to player, and what it is. In simple terms, an RTP is just another word for expected value. Mathematicians will already be familiar with what expected value means. But for those who don’t know, it refers to the amount of money a player should expect to get when they win.
The simplest way to describe it is that the return to player is based on calculating the probability of winning the prize. However, it is also important to remember that an RTP is a long-term calculation. In the short term, an online slot (as well as a land-based machine) might pay out nothing at all, or several jackpots (though the latter is highly unlikely).
When gambling, you are looking for high-RTP slots. Examples of this would include games like Lucky Catch (97% RTP), Sea Treasures (96.10%), which take heavy inspiration from sub-nautical environments and imagery. As you can see, anything over 95% counts as “high RTP.”
The RTP plays an integral role in a player’s chances. More importantly, the higher an RTP is, the better the slot’s payout. However, remember that the RTP is not a short-term guarantee.
Regarding online slots, volatility refers to the variability of payouts and amounts. Commonly called variance, the simplest way to understand volatility is to find out how it works. Low volatility means that the online slot will pay out frequently. However, the payout amount will be pretty small.
On the other hand, high volatility means that the payouts are less frequent. However, once you win, the sum is significant. Most slots don’t go to extremes, though. Instead, casinos will list their machines’ volatility as “Medium,” meaning it tethers on the edge of high and low, offering decent payouts at relatively frequent intervals.
What is RTP and why does it matter when choosing slots?
The return to player is the expected value of a slot, and determines the payout the game offers.
What is volatility and how does it affect gameplay?
Volatility is the frequency at which a slot hits a winning payline.
Is it better to play high RTP or high volatility slots?
It is definitely better to play high RTP slots, as high volatility means less frequent payouts.
Can I still win big with low RTP or low volatility slots?
Yes. As the payouts will be a lot more frequent, you will eventually accumulate a hefty sum.
Balancing RTP and Volatility
Sometimes, it is only possible to gather how good an online slot is by looking at RTP or volatility. Instead, learning how the two pair and balance each other out is important. The ideal slot would be one with a high RTP and low volatility. In that situation, the gambler would get frequent low payouts, eventually accumulating into a hefty sum.
However, the gambling world is far from ideal. So, in this section of the article, we would like to examine how to best balance an RTP with volatility. One thing to remember is that casinos constantly improve their games. So, as developers release new games, it will undoubtedly become easier to balance RTP and volatility.
However, for now, some guidelines are still necessary. As we said, the ideal is high RTP and low volatility. So, conversely, the worst possible option would be high volatility and a low RTP. A low RTP means that the slot is heavily weighted in the casino’s favor, whereas a high volatility means the payouts are infrequent. It is best to avoid slots like these.
However, at the end of the day, your choice depends on more than just the numbers. We all have our playstyles. Some gamblers prefer taking risks, so they would go for high volatility-high RTP games. Others just want to have some fun. So, when balancing the two, keep your personal preferences in mind.
Choosing the Right Slots
Now that you are aware of how to best balance RTP and volatility, let us examine how to use your knowledge in practice. In this section, we will provide a thorough step-by-step analysis on how to choose slots using RTP and volatility.
- Find a slot you are interested in: Just like with video games, you can’t just play any slot. First, you must find a slot that strikes your fancy and appeals to you, personally. Once you do so, we move on to step two.
- Ensure a licensed developer made the game: Licensing is a big part of online gambling. If you want to have a safe and secure experience, you must ensure that a licensed developer created the game you will play. The safest licenses usually come from European countries like the UK, Malta, or Cyprus.
- Look at the RTP rate: You’ve found the slot you want to play and you’ve ensured the game is safe. Next, it is time to check out the RTP. An RTP can range between 75% and 98%. However, the industry standard when it comes to online slots is around 95% and 96%. Anything below that is low. If the RTP drops below 90%, then it is best to avoid the game.
- Look at the volatility: Few slots measure volatility in percentages. Usually, they divide it in “Low,” “Medium,” or “High.” If you aren’t certain which is best, you can’t go wrong with medium volatility. It is always a safe choice.
- Play the game: Finally, you’ve done all you can to ensure a safe and positive experience. You can then play the game you’ve spent all this time looking for.