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RTP, RNG, & Variance in Slots: How Do they Relate?

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RTP stands for Return to Player and the number is always represented by a seemingly high percentage. However, that does not really explain what RTP means and very few players have an actual conception of what that percentage represents. Then there’s the random number generator, aka the RNG system, which holds more importance in case of slot games than any of the other online gambling terms we are going to discuss here. On that note, let’s get started with a proper definition of the term RNG first.

Can You Trust the RNG in Online Casinos?

The fair play factor of online casinos is largely dependent on the random number generator (RNG) system. Unless an online casino is using a regulated and legitimate RNG system, they can of course be manipulated to boost the house edge unfairly. On the other hand, fixing the RNG is not possible if the online casinos in question are regulated, registered, and licensed by legitimate gambling commissions.

If you are a Brit, never play on an online casino that isn’t registered with the United Kingdom Gambling Commission (UKGC). If finding them feels confusing and time consuming, then that’s only because it is! There are so many online casinos to choose from and almost every one of them looks legitimate. Avoid the confusion by visiting Online Casinos and going through their latest list of the best online casinos (sites and apps) of 2021. All listed sites on Online Casinos are UK licensed and frequently checked for compliance by independent regulatory establishments.

Return To Player: Understanding RTP

Keeping the mathematics and the language concise, RTP rates can be defined as the percentage of the money which a particular slot game returns to its players in the form of winnings over an uncertain period of time. For example, if a slot has an RTP of 95%, it signifies that £95 from every £100 spent on that slot game will eventually be given back to players as winnings. The uncertainty or randomness is an essential component that preserves a slot game’s integrity. We cannot call it a genuine game of chance if the return period is predetermined.

So, does it pay to play at a high RTP slot? Are we more likely to win in slots with a high RTP, as compared to one with a lower RTP? The answer is not as simple, because this is where the variance factor comes in. It would be much easier to answer such questions if we already knew which slot game we were discussing, but there are no universally applicable generalised answers here. Thankfully, an approximation of the answer can be determined if we also knew about certain other stats related to the specific slot game. Variance being one of the biggest determinants here, let us get to understand what it means next.

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Variance: Understanding Volatility

Variance, aka volatility, is a term used to describe the manner in which a slot machine pays out its due RTP over an indeterminant period of time. Depending on the slot game in question, one of the following rates of variance are usually attribute to it:

  • Low volatility: Players are likely to win more frequently, but their winnings are likely to be meagre as well
  • Medium volatility: Players are likely to win comparatively bigger (moderate) amounts, but less frequently
  • High volatility: Players are not likely to win frequently at all, but when someone does manage to land a win, the payout is likely to be huge
  • Low – Medium volatility: Varies between low and medium variance based on chance
  • Medium – High volatility: Varies between medium and high variance based on chance

Do High RTP Slots Pay Better or More?

As should be clear by now, RTP has very little to do with a player’s chances of winning while playing a slot game in their favourite online casinos. What the RTP percentage represents is how much of the money put into it by players will be returned by the game over a random period of time. For example, if someone hits a progressive jackpot for £955,000, it can be estimated that the slot had a RTP rate of 95.5% and at least £1 million had accumulated in it as unreturned money, i.e., the money put into that particular progressive slot by players since the last time it had paid out.

Do High Variance Slots Pay Better or More?

Slots with low volatility and high RTP rates are preferred by regular players, as it creates the mathematically high probability for us to win more frequently than we would which playing in any other slot with a different rate of variance + RTP combo. At the same time, the biggest wins come from progressive jackpot slots with high variance. The RTP rate can be held in such instances as one of the several variables which determines how long it will take before paying out.

For example, if the high variance of a progressive slot game with 88% RTP is determined to pay out only after the total payable amount reaches £8 million, then the total amount spent on the progressive jackpot slot by all players must at first reach approximately £9.1 million. At the same time, the £8 million jackpot would be paid out much faster if the slot has an RTP if 97% instead, since the total necessary spendings will need to reach a comparatively smaller amount of £8.25 million.

However, you will find that in order to keep the house edge significant enough for online casinos to remain profitable, high RTP slots will usually sport low-medium variance. Finally, take note of the fact that there is a difference between hit frequency and variance, although they are closely related. Hit frequency can be defined as the numerical approximation of variance or volatility.

For example, a slot game with a 20% hit frequency indicates that it is highly probable for players to land a win at least once out of every five spins. However, this is not as simple as hitting the jackpot once after every five spins because just like how it is with RTP rates, the number of spins it will take for the slot game to round off and maintain its 20% hit frequency is not predetermined.

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