Understanding RTP and Volatility in Slots: Everything You Need to Know

The iGaming industry has grown massively in the last two decades. Enhanced by the rise of smartphones, and further augmented by the rapid advancement of digital technology, online gambling is fast becoming more popular than physical casinos. With every type of card, table, and slot game available to players, it’s easy to understand the allure. 

Just as it is with physical casinos, slots are proving to be among the most popular games at most online casinos too. The majority of players are happy to just find random ones that perhaps have a cool theme or graphics. However, more savvy players know that things like a slot game’s RTP and volatility are factors that can help develop a playing strategy to give yourself a higher chance of winning. If you’re curious, here’s everything you need to know about how they both work. 

What Exactly is RTP?

If most players understood how RTP worked, they’d likely make it their go-to method of choosing which slots to play. In fact, in the pursuit of searching for slots that have higher-than-average payouts, many knowledgeable players look out for those outlets identified as highest RTP slots to play. The reason is that RTP simply stands for “Return to Player” and is an indicator of the percentage a slot machine pays out in comparison to the amount a player wages. 

For example, if a slot game’s RTP percentage is 90%, that means it pays out $90 for every $100 wagered by players over time. Slot games, whether in an online or physical casino, all feature a built-in RTP percentage. The great part about it is that if a player knows its RTP score, they can discern which slot games will give them a greater chance of a payout. 

RTP scores for slot games typically range between 80% and 95%. However, there are also many slot games that feature RTP percentages that exceed 95%. Once most players realize this feature of slot machines, it becomes difficult for them to ever go back to simply playing or choosing slot games completely by fate. 

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How to Check the RTP of a Slot Game?

Once a player is actually aware of RTP, it’s natural for their next question to be how to check for it in a game. Fortunately, since RTP isn’t some great secret that casinos try to keep from their customers, checking it is relatively simple. This is because most games simply display the information or freely provide it for players to see. 

Even if the particular slot game you’re playing doesn’t display the information you’re looking for, a quick google search can probably do it for you. For example, if you google “Cleopatra slot game RTP”, the results will let you know that it has an RTP of just over 95%. If you have to rely on Google for a result, try to check multiple sources to ensure you can trust the results. If you can’t find any online information, fortunately there is another way you can figure out the RTP of a game.

How Do You Calculate RTP?

RTP may sound too good to be true, but it actually really is as simplistic as it sounds. Lucky players have famously had huge wins at slots, making the pursuit of things like slots with high RTPs a constant endeavor for some. In order to calculate a slot game’s RTP for yourself, all you need to do is to keep track of your wagerings and winnings. Once you know them, simply divide your total winnings by the total you staked. 

That simply means if you won $50 from betting a $100, the slot game’s RTP is 50%. The higher the RTP level, the more frequently you can expect it to provide payouts. Despite RTP working as a great indicator of a game’s likelihood of paying out, there is no guarantee of a win since there are, of course, other factors that must also be taken into account. 

While RTP is a relatively easy concept to understand, it’s only one factor to consider when trying to understand which slot game can give you the highest edge. The reason for that is because slot games also rely on another indicator known as volatility.

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What is Volatility? 

Another relatively simple concept to understand, slot volatility refers to how often and how much a slot machine pays out. Ever been to a casino with an older person and seen them become almost obsessive about wanting to wait to play a particular slot machine, even if that one is busy and there are tons of other ones available to use? 

You might have even heard them say something like they’re waiting for the machine to “warm up”. While it may have all seemed like weird gambling superstitions, chances are that person actually understood the concept of volatility in slot machines and wanted to take over a certain slot machine after another player because that may have statistically actually given them a higher chance of winning something. 

A slot game’s volatility can range from high to low. The rule of thumb is that the higher the volatility, the less frequent the payouts. However, while all this may seem like a hack to help give players an edge over the casino or game developer, keep in mind that volatility isn’t just some huge loophole overlooked by them to their detriment. Far from it, it is actually a carefully thought-out and curated feature that helps ensure players have a fair chance to win, while the casinos and developers of online slots can still maintain a profitable endeavor with them. 

Understanding the Volatility Spectrum

The volatility of a slot game is generally designed to fit into a five-part spectrum. That spectrum provides for slot volatility that ranges between the following: 

  • Low Volatility
  • Medium-Low Volatility
  • Medium Volatility
  • Medium-High Volatility
  • High Volatility 

Most people will want to go for slots that feature low volatility. The reason is because these slot games pay out the most often. However, there is a caveat to all this since low volatility slots may pay out more often, but usually pay out in smaller amounts. 

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In contrast, high volatility slots pay out very rarely but when they do, they usually pay out large amounts that can be very lucrative to lucky players. Between these differences in volatility, and RTP thrown in, slots still remain extremely difficult to develop a foolproof strategy for winning with them. However, knowing how they both work does still help a player glean a statistically greater chance of a payout.

Can RTP and Volatility Help You Win at Slots 

Knowing about the concepts of RTP and volatility can definitely help you give yourself a statistically better chance of winning at a particular slot game. However, there are other variables that all go together at any given time, so there’s never a guarantee of a win. One of those is the fact that licensed and lawful slot game operators, whether online casinos or physical ones, must ensure fairness. 

To do this, slot games are designed using Random Number Generator technology (RNG). This basically ensures that every player has a fair shot at winning. It does so by ensuring randomness in the way the game generates the results of every spin. Since it’s the player who ultimately decides the value of the bet, and things like how many lines to play, every spin is unique. 

Factors like these, plus how long a player plays for, how much they wager in total, and how they choose to split that total wager into smaller individual bets, all have an impact on a player’s chances. In the end, despite the RTP and volatility of a slot game being things that are nice to know about, a plethora of other factors ultimately always work together to ensure slots mostly remain a game of chance. 

It is still possible, and advisable, to have a betting strategy when playing slots. However, this is mostly to ensure responsible playing and to safeguard a player against spending more than they intended to. At the end of the day, betting strategies can prolong a player’s game, but ultimately, like RTP and volatility, can never account for a guaranteed win.