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Online Slot Game Terminology: RTP vs Volatility vs Variance


Whether you`re new to online slot games or are looking to brush up on your terminology, let`s take a look at a few key indicators you`ll find in game descriptions - RTP, volatility, and variance.

What is RTP?

RTP stands for Return to Player, and is stylised as a percentage rate. This percentage is essentially the value players can expect to get back from winning on that specific game. It is calculated by dividing win values by bet values, and multiplying by 100. The values used to calculate this are gathered over hundreds of games or rounds to take a representative average.

Players will typically see slot games with RTPs ranging from 90% to 96%. The higher the RTP, the higher the potential value of return on the game. With this in mind, some of the best slots to play have a higher RTP than average, such as White Rabbit (97.39%), Golden Catch (96.71%), Millionaire Rush (96.44%), and Gold Megaways (96.42%). On these games, the RTP indicates that players could get a return of 96-97p for every £1 bet.

Though the examples above are all real money slot games, RTPs are also important for social casinos, too. Instead, with social gaming, RTPs indicate the value of credits that players might expect to be returned during that specific game. This means that in a game like White Rabbit, players have an estimated return of roughly 97p per £1 bet in real money casinos, or 0.97 credits or tokens per 1.00 credit bet on social platforms.

The Importance of Volatility

On the other hand, volatility essentially indicates how volatile the game is - in other words, the potential size and frequency of wins (dependant completely on luck). With this in mind, volatility shows the relative chance of landing winning combinations on any spin of the reels. Slot games can either have a high, medium, or low volatility. The data gathered to calculate this is typically gathered over a shorter time frame.

Put simply, a slot game with high volatility is more likely to have bigger wins, but these wins are achieved less often. Conversely, a slot game with low volatility is more likely to have regular wins, but the wins will likely have a smaller value. As you`ve probably guessed, medium volatility slots are somewhere in the middle, with medium risk and medium win amounts.

Remember to Consider Variance

The variance of slot games highlights the extent that wins vary during the game, and so can indicate the long term chances of wins (again, down to chance). Like volatility, the variance of slot games has the indicators of high, medium, and low. However, in-house, the slot game variance will potentially be quantified. A specific formula is used to calculate the deviation of the game. This is then simplified for players as high, medium, or low variance.

Put simply, slot games with a high variance have a higher risk over a longer period of play, whereas slots with a low variance may have more consistency in its wins. Again, medium variance slot games have medium risk, with medium long-term win frequency and medium win values.

When choosing a slot game, RTP, volatility, and variance should be considered alongside one another. Though players might be tempted to choose a game with a high RTP, volatility, and variance, though potential wins may be greater, they also come with more risk - results are completely determined by luck, after all. In weighing up these indicators, along with game mechanics, this can help players decide on a game that suits their playing style.

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