Understanding RTP and Volatility

When people begin playing casino games, especially when they frequent online casinos, there comes a time when they will stumble across something that reflects a “return to player” percentage. This is commonly referred to as ‘RTP %’. The beauty of understanding the meaning and value of such a small descriptive feature is that it can change a player's dynamic, influencing how games are selected and, ultimately, how players achieve satisfaction in choosing games. For a quick breakdown of what RTP means and a chance to change how you choose your games, continue reading this guide. You won't regret it, and neither will your bankroll!

What is Return to Player?
The abbreviation of ‘return to player’ is RTP. The RTP of a casino game is the theoretical pay-out percentage of a game at a casino, either land based or online, that is expected to pay out over some time. Once a game is activated and the reels begin spinning it is expected that the game will eventually pay-out said percentage to the player over an estimated time of active spins. The RTP percentage indicates what the theoretical pay-out will be from the game and has been calculated by gaming software developers. So for example, if a slot game displays an RTP of 97%, it has been estimated by gaming software developers that an eventual pay-out on a play of 100.00 would be 97.00. 

Gaming software providers use formulas that test the games to return the estimated RTP percentage and then only provide this information to players. As we explain further down this article – this isn’t an exact science as volatility, features, jackpots and other factors do some into play that will affect how much you actually get paid out. It’s a rough guide, but it’s not the be-all and end-all of defining a slot.

How Does Return To Player Affect Me?
The idea of choosing a game based solely on the RTP will most likely affect the feeling you get when you win. This is because the RTP and the volatility of a game are two different aspects often mistaken to be one and the same. Often, high volatility games have a lower theoretical RTP as the features are more intricate and the jackpot prizes are larger than that of low volatility games. Though these jackpots are coveted by most, they produce lower RTP percentages considering the features, jackpots and bonuses contribute a larger portion to the RTP and the volatility of a slot game.


What Does Volatility Mean In Slots Gaming?
While the RTP is the percentage amount returned to a player over time, the volatility of the game allows players to choose a game based on their bankroll allowance. Low, medium, and high volatility games are best defined by their variance which is what we look at here, helping players choose games best suited to their bankrolls and gaming appetite.
Lower volatility slots payout more frequently but their payouts are far less substantial than high variance slot games. High variance games are the ones that provide the highest payouts and are usually jackpot slot games.

How Can Slots Have Different Levels of Volatility
Slots have been designed to offer players different features, themes, paylines, and volatility to ensure all gaming tastes are sated. All slots have attractive features and players will soon come to learn that while low variance slots may not pay large sums of cash, even the lowest variance slots can still be attractive.

Low Volatility Slots
A low volatility slot pays out more regularly, allowing players the enjoyment of consistent wins Payouts of low volatility slots aren’t nearly as high as medium or high variance games but they are more frequent and enjoyed by many slot players.

Medium Volatility Slots
Medium volatility slots are rich in features and provide players with access to free games, bonus features, and special symbols. Their payout rate, according to the volatility of medium variance slots, tends to pay out sporadically and winnings are usually larger than low volatility casino games.

High Volatility Slots
These are the best slots for high rollers to play as their cash rewards are the biggest. They also don’t payout frequently and players will need a bigger bankroll to endure the period it takes to land a winning combination.
Does Volatility Affect Return to Player?
In basic terms, yes, the RTP of a game is affected by the volatility, though this is not to say that high volatility slots have high return to player percentages. Some games are high volatility, yet have lower RTP’s. This is a frequent find in high variance slots as their payouts are less frequent - but when they do payout, their winnings are substantial! This is mainly because of the jackpot, since it forms most of the RTP percentage, and winning combinations remain less frequent.


What Is The Right Level Of Volatility For Me?
There's no right answer here; it completely depends on your gaming preferences.

If you have the bankroll, patience and persistence, then playing a high volatility slot game would be ideal, especially if you are chasing a jackpot or bigger payouts.

A medium variance slot is ideal for players that need action to keep them entertained. This is because the bonus features make up for all the fun and can often feel as if there are levels to be unlocked with hidden rewards.

For gamers who enjoy frequent payouts, lack a large bankroll and enjoy the thrill of winning even though the wins may not be substantial, then a lower volatility slot is what you should look for at casinos.

Though the RTP of a game has a theoretical payout percentage and the volatility of a game hypothetically pays out over an amount of time, there is only one thing that can truly define your success playing slots games and that is choosing a theme that will grip you. Change the way you play casino games, educate yourself on RTP’s and volatility - but also always play for entertainment!




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