Before getting to the heart of the explanation on what the volatility of a slot is, some premises are necessary: first let’s talk about RTP and how to use it to increase the chances of bonus winnings on slot machines.
In the world of online gaming (and gambling in general) there are many acronyms in English. This obviously has historical roots (gambling had an incredible boost in the Anglo-Saxon-speaking states especially in the 18th and 19th centuries) but above all of “business”. To date, the largest numbers in sports betting and casinos are made in high latitudes.
In particular, the acronym RTP stands for “Return to Player” and is a theoretical metric that describes the expected payback percentage of a given game. In a nutshell, a game with a higher RTP percentage will give you a better chance of winning in the long run than a game with a lower RTP because a large percentage of what you bet will “get back” to you.
In general, when it comes to casino games, “house edge” is another commonly used term. For example, classic French roulette is said to have a house edge of 1.35%. This means that the casino expects to win that percentage of your bet every time you stake money on the table, in the long run. Basically this is the commission (the profit) that the casino charges for providing its services and getting you to play. At a poker table this fee is called “rake”.
This is in general terms what there is to know about RTP. But when it comes to slot games, it becomes extremely important. The RTP is in fact the metric commonly used to describe the payment of our beloved online slots, and it is exactly the opposite of the concept of “house edge (or advantage)” mentioned earlier, that is, the expected winnings from casinos to long term.
The “long term” is an equally important concept when it comes to bonus slot machines, because we really mean a considerable number of “SPINS”, that is, spins of the reels of the slot, in the millions and millions. Consequently, the statistics become the primary source of income of the casino, because they can also afford to have losses in the short term, but they are compensated in the long term: the casino is always there waiting for you 😁 !!
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If we take for example one of the most famous and played bonus slot machines in Italy as “Gonzo’s Quest”, the latter has an RTP of 95.97%, which means you can expect to be paid 95.07 Euros for every 100 € you bet ( in the long run). The house edge to the casino here is 100% – 95.97% = 4.03%.
As mentioned above, the RTP will tell you how much you expect to be repaid in the long term. However, the manufacturers of the games insert other parameters in the mathematical formulas that govern the payments. They are therefore able to decide a priori HOW to pay the refund of the money you bet.
This means that one game may pay larger amounts (high variance) but less often (low hit rate) while other games pay smaller amounts (low variance) more often (high hit rate or hit).
Progressive slots are a separate case: in these games a part of the money wagered on each spin by all the players of that slot is set aside and put into a tank (the so-called Jackpot) that grows continuously. But at some point there will be a lucky player who will take a large part of the total refund amount in the form of the jackpot.
Hit Rate is a value that describes how often a player will hit a winning combination.
If a slot machine has a hit rate of 5%, it means that 5% of the spins will trigger any kind of win (in the long run).
This metric is usually used in game product cards and is also displayed online by pressing the famous “i” button of the information found on any slot.
As you can easily guess, due to the unpredictability in the game due to the RNG (Random Numbers Generator) algorithm, the result could differ greatly from this theoretical metric IN THE SHORT TERM. We can therefore find ourselves faced with two diametrically opposed cases.
If we refer to the numbers in the example above on Gonzo’s Quest, in the first case you start 1000 spins and trigger winning combinations 70% of the time instead of the expected 5%, while in the second case you start 1000 spins without any combination winning instead of the expected 5%.
And here’s where the profits are generated. In statistics this value is called Variance, better known as volatility. In general, slot machines with bonuses (but all games of chance in general) are classified as low, medium, high volatility.
Low volatility games will pay smaller wins more often while high variance games will pay larger wins less frequently.
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