RTP vs Volatility


It is high time to stop telling fortunes in a teacup and to start taking mathematical approach in slots seriously. In this blog, we shall learn such proper casino terms as an RTP rating and volatility of a slot. You will figure out, which slots are worth playing, and which ones are just a waste of your time and money. Let us start with the RTP.

What is RTP?

You have probably heard the term “RTP” many times if you’ve been playing slots or watching casino streamers. Even if you play at online casinos and have no clue about slots’ RTP, it is understood that this is one of the most important parts of online gambling. Any gambler has to know about an RTP and how these 3 letters influence the wins.

“Return To Player” (RTP) is the term that is usually used to describe the percentage of all the wagered money a slot machine will pay back to players after a long-term casino session.

RTP rate

Ok, let us explain it in simple terms. Exemplify this, RTP (return to player) of a slot is 95%. In other words, it can be explained like this: the benefit of a casino is 5%. Both definitions mean the same thing, and vice versa. In the first case, that means, during a long-term casino session RTP of the game is 95% from all the bets that were made. In the second case, it is said that a casino earns 5% from your bets on the same long-term gambling session.

Thus, for each coin placed (dollar, euro, pound, etc.), a slot is to give you back 0,95 of the coin. Let us imagine, you bet $1 and win $1,90; thus, you take not only your 95 guaranteed cents (because RTP is 95%), but also 95 cents of another player (who has also bet $1, but won nothing). That is why it may be concluded that a casino earns 5 cents from every dollar wagered in slot machines.

Of course, if it were as simple as our example is, it would not be a game of chance. It would look more like if you have to pay a 5% fee for each spin you make. That is why a provider’s RTP rating shows a real rate only at a “long-distance” session of millions of spins. A few hundred or even a few thousand sessions are considered a short-term activity, which makes playing slots so exciting, because everything may happen. You can ruin your bankroll and go away ungifted, or you can win a massive jackpot. A slot that would pay exactly €95 back after a 100-spin session with a €1 stake would hardly be entertaining to play.

The higher RTP – the better


Having thought of it, it would not be difficult to understand that it is better to play slots with higher RTP. In general, all slots with RTP of 95% and higher are good to play and make money in. RTP of 96-98% is even much better; and the slots with an RTP of 90% and below are not worth your attention.

However, it is not perfect for all use cases.

Higher RTP does not mean that you constantly win money.

Equally, the important marker is a slot volatility. Playing a low-volatile slot with an RTP of 97%, you will get low-value wins quite often. At the same time, a highly volatile title with an RTP of 94%, may award you with insane wins. Now, let’s get down to what volatility is.

What is volatility?

volatility image

Volatility and RTP rating are two similar, but different things. RTP is often peg as volatility by mistake (and vice-versa). Stick in memory: these two terms are closely related, but they are not the same thing.

Volatility is a slot characteristic that expresses the probability of a big win.

For example, low-volatile slots payout small, but more frequent wins; such slots are not too much deviated from a provider’s RTP. In their turn, highly volatile titles offer a big difference between the minimum and maximum possible wins. It is obvious, that low-volatile slots generate more frequent wins than highly volatile ones. In the first case, the winnings will be much lower than in the second one, for sure. The risks in high-volatile slots are much bigger. Here you are caught between losing everything and winning big.

Not many casino software providers give access to such information. Sometimes it can be available, but in many cases, it is hidden more often. Tastes differ and different gamblers choose different games to play. There is no right answer, which slot to pick; Most often, you have to click the SPIN button many times to understand if you like it or not.

Are low-volatile slots worth playing?

You can afford to play low-volatile slots only to entertain yourself. Playing a low-volatile game, you will never get your life-changing 1,000x win. Here are some “reasonable causes” to play low-volatile slots:

  • You are just having fun;
  • You have a small bankroll;
  • A long-term casino session;
  • Evasion of big losses (while playing a little bit of time);
  • If a slot is entertaining one (a lot of bonus games and features).

It goes without saying that, not all low-volatile titles always pay little to a player. There are slots with progressive jackpots, for instance, where you can hit big. Low-volatile slots are low-risk ones, due to the fact that your bankroll will be saved for a very long time, but you will leave having a maximum of 20% profit.

It is time for highly volatile titles

Highly volatile slots mean huge winnings. I am sure, you know this super feeling when you catch a wild-line, a full screen or a huge multiplier, also free spins with sticky wilds and the screen explodes with the words BIG WIN! MEGA BIG WIN! Got it? But you have to be careful because these slots are fraught with great danger. Here are some reasons to play highly volatile slots:

  • You have a huge bankroll;
  • Either a big win 500x + or nothing;
  • You’re not addicted;
  • You are ready for a long-term session, losing more and more money while waiting for a bonus game.

There is no doubt that highly variance games can ruin your bankroll and you will leave with empty pockets, or multiply your initial balance many-fold. The only possible strategy here is to keep the bets from 150 to 300 euros. That means, if you play “Gonzo’s Quest” with a 300-euro balance, your bet should be 1-1,5 euro max. per spin.

How to figure out a slot’s volatility rating?


Most of the casino providers indicate the level of volatility on their official websites. But, there is also one trick to figure out the real volatility rating of a slot. This is not a 100%-way, but it may help to estimate the level of volatility of any particular slot. It’s worth noting, it depends on a slot icon (the number of them), the number of lines, reels, and rows. A progressive jackpot is also a very important indicator.

Firstly, you should look at the payout table. The max win is needed to pay your careful attention to:

The higher the maximum win is, the higher is the volatility, and you will have to stay patient and make a bigger deposit.

The second step, which is necessary, is to look at the payout difference between 4 and 5 icons that form a winning line. If the difference is 3-5 times, most likely it is a low-variance game; if the difference is 10-15 times – this is definitely a highly volatile slot machine.

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