When playing slots or any other RNG game online, you will come across several terms and abbreviations that you need to know the meaning of, if you want to understand the games and make money. 

In this article we are going to take a closer look at these terms and abbreviations, with focus on RTP and variance. Those are two important factors for anyone playing slots online, so let’s get started. 

What does RTP mean?

RTP is an abbreviation of “Return To Player” and tells you how big a percentage of the total turnover one single slot will pay back to the players. 

If a slot has an RTP of 96.5%, it means that out of every 1,000 euros/dollars the slot turns over, 965 euros/dollars will be paid out in winnings to the players. The remaining 35 euros/dollars is the profit for the casino and slot developer. 

House edge: The casino’s profit is often referred to as the “house’s edge” and you will see this being used all over the internet to explain all games such as roulette, slots, video poker and so on. 

What is the average RTP of a slot machine? 

It’s important to understand that there is no industry standard for how much RTP a slot has to offer the players, but as a rule of thumb the RTP will be between 96% and 96,5%. 

RTP a “long run” calculation 

Now that you understand the basics of RTP, it’s important that we explain that the RTP is calculated for the slot machines expected lifetime online. In other words, the RTP % is not what you should expect to win every time you play. 

A slot machine may be online for 20+ years and the RTP indicates that over this period of time it should pay out 96,5% in winnings. 

How is RTP decided and can I trust it? 

Whenever a slot developer like NetEnt, Play’n GO og Pragmatic Play are done developing a new slot, the slot machine will undergo thorough testing by the developer themselves, and often a third party auditing laboratory like eCOGRA, iTech Labs or TST. 

They will run thousands, if not millions, of spins in a short time period to calculate the Return To Players. Most developers are more than happy to let the likes of eCOGRA, iTech Labs and TST test their slots, and in many regions the licensing regulators, like Malta Gaming Authority and UK Gambling Commision, will demand that the slots machines are tested by independent third party auditors. 

So yes, you can trust that the RTP is correct when you play slots from reputable developers and licensed casinos. 

Same slot – different RTP

Some slot developers include the option for the casinos to adjust the RTP of a slot machine. Normally the adjustment is minor, but in some regions it can be quite bad. Swedish developer Play’n GO is one slot developer that allows casinos to adjust the RTP. Take the slot “Leprechaun Goes Wild” as an example. 

The slot has a default RTP of 96,2%, but it can be as low as 84,2% in some parts of the world. 

It’s important that we state that Play’n GO’s default RTP is usually fine and an RTP this low is uncommon. To make sure you get the default RTP, you should play at casinos licensed by Malta Gaming Authority or UK Gambling Commision, as neither of them allow casinos to offer an RTP that low. 

How to check a slot machine’s RTP

The RTP should always be easy to find out and in most cases you will find it by clicking the “i” on a slot machine. This will take you to the “About” section and tell you how to play the slot, how much each symbol is worth and the RTP. 

If you can’t find it, just read our review of the slot. We always check the RTP of all slots we review. 

Variable RTP

Sometimes you will come across a slot with a variable RTP, for example. between 95,5% and 96,7%. This simply means that the slot offers a better RTP during the bonus game or free spins, than in the main game The variable RTP is quite common on slots with offering a “Buy Feature” where you can pay for the bonus runde to start. 

What is slot variance / volatility

Now that we have covered RTP, it’s time to take a closer look at Variance and volatility. First of all, it’s important that you understand that the two are the same. When we speak about variance, we speak about volatility, and vica versa.

Both are mathematical formulas that are used to see how individual numbers relate to each other within a set of data. In layman terms, it tells you how often you can expect to win on a slot. 

The volatility of a slot depends on a three main factors:

  • What is the maximum “times your bet” you can win? (Higher times the bet = higher variance)
  • How often does the slot give you a winning spin? (More often = lower variance)
  • What is the average amount you win on a winning spin? (Higher amount = higher variance)

Simply put, a slot machine with low variance/volatility will give you more winning spins with lower payouts, whilst a slot with high variance volatility will give you fewer winning spins, but bigger payouts. 

If you’re not sure if a slot has high or low variance/volatility, the max win will often give you a hint. I.e. if the slot offers 5,000 x wager, it most likely has medium/high variance/volatility. 

Examples of well-known low variance/volatility slots: 

  • Starburst – NetEnt – Max Payout: 500 x
  • Thunderstruck II – Microgaming – Max Payout: 8,100 x
  • Guns N’ Roses – NetEnt – Max Payout: 1,250 x
  • Esqueleto Explosivo – Thunderkick – Max Payout: 700 x
  • Well of Wonder – Thunderkick – Max Payout: – 2,280 x

Examples of well-known high variance/volatility slots: 

  • Book of Dead – Play’n GO – Max Payout: 5,000 x
  • Game of Thrones 243 – Microgaming – Max Payout: 20,166 x
  • 300 Shields – NextGen Gaming – Max Payout: 10,000 x
  • Immortal Romance – Microgaming – Max Payout: 12,150 x
  • Bonanza Megaways – Big Time Gaming – Max Payout: 10,000 x.

Why play low variance/volatility slots? 

If you’re new to the wonderful world of slots, or you’re simply looking for a good time, low volatility slots are probably the best choice. You will not win the biggest payouts, but you can have hours of fun without spending too much money.

Why play high variance/volatility slots? 

Go Big or Go Home! It’s as simple as that. If you’re looking for the biggest payouts and the massive jackpots that can change your life forever, you need to go for the high variance/volatility slots.

Yes, the risk is bigger, but as they say: No risk, no reward!