There’s a sea of slots from which to pick, and plenty of different criteria when selecting what to spin. If you’re wondering what RTP and volatility mean, read on to learn all you need to know.
What do RTP and Volatility Mean?
There’s an ever-increasing number of places to play and slots to spin from dozens of software developer studios. Players with a fondness for RTG casinos have plenty of games from this game developer to peruse, and, as with all software firms, there’s a range of volatility and RTP options for players.
There are lots of reasons why players opt for particular slots games from the thousands available to play at online casinos. Sometimes it’s down to a cool art style, interesting new gameplay mechanics and bonus features, or it might just be the size of the jackpot. But there’s another factor to consider: the raw numbers of RTP and the approximate volatility of a game. Just as cryptocurrency is more volatile than traditional currency, so some slots have a greater degree of variance than others.
We’ll go into more detail below, but the basic definition of RTP (return to player) is very simple: it’s the average return a player can expect from a game. Think of it this way: if you bet $100 on various spins with a slot of 96% RTP then the average sum you’ll have left at the end is $96. Note, this means the average result is a loss (perhaps obviously, as without a profit margin betting establishments couldn’t function financially). You will not find a slot with a 100% RTP, but the rates can vary quite a bit. They aren’t the only factor to consider, however.
In addition to RTP we have volatility, which is usually described in a fuzzier way (from low to medium to high) rather than the precise stat given for RTP. Volatility, sometimes described as variance, describes to what extent a slot might vary from the mean average.
What is Average RTP and how is it Calculated?
Some table games are better than others and the same is true of slots (as an aside, if you want a general tip for table games choose old card games with the most basic rules. Rule variations tend to increase the house edge).
RTP for slots cover a broad range, dipping down into the 80s and as high as 98% or (rarely) 99%. Most slots fall within the 94-96% range. Often, slots with worse RTPs have larger jackpots, the trade being that there’s the prospect of a huge sum if everything lines up right, but a lower chance of finishing any gaming session in profit than with a high RTP slot that lacks a six or seven figure prize.
RTP isn’t strictly perfect and may vary slightly to be higher or lower than indicated. This depends on the level of confidence that the testers aspire to when working out the figure. Just as psychometric tests with a p value of 0.95 (95%) are deemed to be legitimate, a 95% confidence interval for RTP calculation means that one out of 20 (5%) tests will have the slot perform outside one standard deviation. A higher confidence interval decreases this even more.
Is Lower or Higher Volatility Better?
Volatility is a factor in financial matters from foreign exchange rates to the price of gold, and online slots are no exception.
The standard deviation is the expected deviation from the center average of the slot (the return to player value). If you play a 96% RTP slot in numerous $10 gaming sessions you will not uniformly have $9.60 at the end of each session. Instead you’ll lose more sometimes and finish ahead on other occasions. The vast majority of profit and loss margins from these sessions will be covered by one standard deviation.
Volatility measures how big that standard deviation is. The greater the volatility, the bigger the standard deviations, and the more often a player can expect results substantially distant from the RTP. In short, higher volatility means both more big winning streaks and more dry spells. Low volatility means results from gaming sessions will be closer to the average.
The Right Slots for Bonuses or Your Own Money
All else being equal, a higher RTP slot is simply better. After all, who doesn’t want a better chance of finishing ahead and turning a profit? Volatility, however, is a little trickier to consider.
Both more frequent wins and prolonged losing streaks are on the table with higher volatility slots. This can mean you pump in plenty of cash only to end up with no wins whatsoever, or you could win multiple significant prizes within a single gaming session. A lot depends on your own playstyle, but if you try your hand at a high volatility slot and win big, do not expect this to be repeated all the time. If you’re a cautious player then low volatility will be more to your liking.
If you’re playing with free spins or using no deposit mobile bonus cash such as $20 for free
or if you have a smaller bankroll, you may well prefer lower variance slots (with high RTP) as these maximize your chances of a modest return. For promos, chasing large jackpots is pointless as withdrawal caps will mean you only stand to make around a couple of hundred dollars even if all goes well.
That just about covers what you need to know about looking at the RTP and volatility of online slots. Always remember to pace yourself, and only bet what you can afford to lose.