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If you have spent any time on our site then you should know that online bets are best made with an in-depth knowledge of the markets and players or teams involved. But what about other types of gambling? In this article we turn our focus to another product – online slots – to discuss why even fixed-odds betting machines require a degree of knowledge to give you the best chance of winning.
There is more to choosing an online slot game than being wowed by exciting graphics or popular themes. To get the best from your time on the reels you should also look at the likely pattern of wins and the ratio of risk to reward to determine if a game is right for you.
Broadly speaking, this is an area called ‘Slots Payouts’.
In this article we examine the three significant features that go into making up slots payouts – Return to Player (RTP), variance or volatility, and maximum win. And we show you that finding the right balance between the three will help you to find slot machines that you will give you the best winning experience.
Let’s start with RTP, a term that is used to show how much money a game will pay out in prizes over time as a percentage of all the money wagered on it.
Most slot games will have an RTP of around 96% to 96.5%. That means, for every £1 wagered, 96p will be paid back out in prizes. Gambling regulation in the UK ensures that games are audited before they are made available to the public to verify RTP figures. And they are regularly checked by 3rd party test houses to ensure that this remains the case. It’s one of the reasons that you should play only at casinos licensed by the Gambling Commission – which you can find at review portals like All Slot Sites – to ensure that you can trust the games you spin on.
Of course, RTP can be higher than 96% too. It is rare, but RTP can be as high as 97% or more in some games.
For example, Relax Gaming’s Book of 99 slot has a 99% RTP and Big Time Gaming’s White Rabbit has an RTP of 97.72%. Those games are popular because they offer better ‘value’ and give players the feeling that they have a better chance of winning.
And for the record, some online slots have lower than 96% RTP. In fact, some slots providers develop their games with more than one RTP setting and leave it to the operator to choose which setting to run them at.
Play n Go’s famous Book of Dead game has five RTP settings for example, from 84.18% up to 96.21%. If you are loading up a slot from this developer you should check the game information screen to see which setting you are going to play at before spending your cash.
So, with all this in mind, doesn’t it just make sense to pick games with the highest RTP?
Yes, that is partly true, but it’s not the whole picture. You should also check the volatility and maximum win numbers before you decide if a game is right for you.
RTP on its own might tell you how much a game will pay back over time but it won’t tell you the size and frequency of those payouts.
That is determined by a game’s variance. And it’s crucial to establishing risk level. And that is important because we each have different attitudes to risk.
Let’s say a game has an RTP of 96%. We know that on average £96 is paid back in every £100 wagered. But how is that £96 distributed? Is it in one big win of £96? Or in 50 small wins, all of £1.92?
The answer is in the game’s variance. High variance games will pay their prizes out in smaller numbers, but higher in value. Therefore our £96 may be paid out as 1 big win in 100 spins for example. Whereas low variance games will typically pay their prizes out in larger numbers but smaller in value. In that case, our £96 might be distributed over 50 small wins out of 100 spins.
Using those numbers as an example, the odds of a winning spin in the high variance game would be 1 in 100. But in the low variance game, 1 in 2. And of course, the prize values would be very different in each case.
In short, what this means is that high variance games offer high risk for high rewards, with long odds of hitting a win, but bigger prizes when you do. In terms of your experience, this creates unpredictable gameplay with long periods with little or no reward, but also short bursts with high rewards.
You can use this knowledge to decide which kind of slot is right for you. If you are the kind of person who likes to take risks and seeks out the adrenaline rush of a big win, then you should play high variance slots.
But if you like a more even distribution of wins that might make your funds last longer, but without the excitement of a big jackpot payout, then perhaps low variance games are better for you.
There are also ‘medium’ variance games which fall somewhere between the two extremes of high and low. If you are not sure which is for you, then you might want to look for these kind of games instead.
So, as you can see, variance and RTP are critical in determining the behaviour of an online slot. But there is a one more factor that goes into determining slots payouts …
The maximum win is the maximum a game will pay out as a prize on a single spin. It is expressed as a multiple of your stake. For example, a 50,000x maximum win means that for a £1 stake the most you can win is £50,000.
The maximum win in a game can range from just 500x right up to the record of 300,000x which is the maximum in Nolimit City’s infamous Wild West slot, Tombstone RIP.
It is most often the case that high variance slots have higher maximum wins that low or medium variance slots. But that is not always the case. For example, Play n Go’s medium variance slot, Raging Rex 2, has a maximum win of 30,000x, which is greater than many high variance games.
So, before you decide which game is right for you, perhaps you want to also consider how much you can win. But when you do, also keep in mind that your chances of scoring one of these very big wins are very low indeed.
For example, we know information published on Nolimit City’s own website that in testing, the maximum payout of 300,000x was hit just once in 130 million spins!
So, with all this in mind, how should you combine this information about slots payouts to choose your next game?
Probably the most important of all these is variance, because it is directly related to risk and reward, and we all see those things differently. You should start by deciding if you want to chase down the big wins and can be accepting of big losses in the process, or you prefer to keep things on a more even keel.
Once you know which variance type you are, then consider the RTP. Of course, the higher the RTP the better in most cases. And finally, bring in the maximum win, looking for games that satisfy your desire to chase down high one-off payouts if that is your preference.
With all that in mind, here are some recommendations of suitable slots for different player types.
Play this is you like high risk, high maximum win and a good RTP
Nolimit City are specialists in producing high variance slots with big wins and after Tombstone RIP, San Quentin xWays has the next biggest maximum payout at 150,000x. The game has an optimum RTP of 96.03% as well, which is solid for this kind of slot. This is high risk gaming at its best, stacked with crazy features like Splitting Cells, Wilds, Jumping Wilds and Lockdown Free Spins. It is notoriously tough to break down – like escaping San Quentin itself – but the rewards of up to £150,000 for a £1 bet are extraordinary.
Play this is you like low risk with a high RTP value
Thunderkick have a reputation for producing unique and quirky online slots with weird and wonderful themes. This one is based on sea faring in the 15th century with an old-fashioned nautical map as the backdrop and sea monsters and sailing ships on the reels. The game has a low variance so it kicks out regular wins in small values, capped at just 670x. However, it has one of the best RTP rates around at 98.5%! So you can expect to keep earning small wins and enjoying the atmosphere and style of this wonderful game with only small risks on each bet.
Play this is you want a mid-range risk level with high potential rewards
Raging Rex 2 offers something few other slots do. It is a medium variance game with a very high maximum win at 30,000x. That kind of number is normally reserved for the most volatile slots. It’s also a really fun game with 3-d animations of marauding T-Rexs which are sticky walking wilds, and their hatchlings which act as multiplier wilds. Raging Rex 2 has an optimum RTP of 96.2% so it also gives good value in this area. As an all-rounder with a balanced pay distribution AND the chance to aim for a blockbuster jackpot, it is surely your best bet!