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By Dale Shelabarger, Updated:
Given the completely random nature of online slot games, you might be forgiving for assuming that you’ve got next to no chance of improving your chances of winning. But this isn’t necessarily the case. While it’s impossible to defy one of the most fundamental laws of mathematics, it’s perfectly possible to give yourself a fighting chance of landing some tidy pay-outs without decimated your bankroll. What follows is a collection of guidelines that most seasoned slot players follow to the letter.
A slot game’s RTP should be the first thing you look at before shelling out the cash. Expressed as a percentage, it basically refers to the amount of money a game will pay out over a set period. Thus, if you deposit £100 on a slot with an RTP of 95.67%, you’ll receive back (theoretically) £95.67. To improve your chances of winning and protecting your bankroll then, stick with games featuring high RTPs.
As a general rule of thumb, anything above 96% is considered a medium to high RTP slot. Some games include return to player rates north of 98%. Unsurprisingly though, these are pretty few and far between. Playtech has released a few over the years such as Goblin’s Cave (99.32%) and Mega Joker (99%). So too has NetEnt and Thunderkick with Blood Suckers (98%) and 1429 Unchartered Seas (98.5%), respectively.
But the vast majority of online slots fall into the 95% to 97%. Anything below 95% is probably best avoided, unless you’re bent on losing your money.
Nonetheless, keep in mind that RTP, although a useful metric, is a long-term calculation. You may find that your returns after a sustained gaming session have little or no resemblance to a slot’s stated return rate. It also doesn’t offer any clues about the size or frequency of the actual pay-out. This is where variance comes in.
Variance, also known as volatility, indicates what a player can expect to win over the shorter term. Slots with a low variance tend to pay-out frequent, smaller prizes. Because of this, they’re better suited to gamers with tighter budgets who are looking for the buzz of regular wins.
Conversely, high volatility slots feature more lucrative but less frequent payouts. For the most part, these can only be won by triggering the bonus rounds, which often require sustained reel-spinning. This is why they’re often more suitable for players with larger bankrolls.
The upshot is that if you’ve got money to burn, you may want to focus on high volatility titles. If your cash flow is limited, low variance games are probably a better shout.
Even though you’ll be able to find specific information about a slot’s RTP and variance, it’s a good idea to demo the game first in order to see these metrics in action. You’ll also get a handle on the game without having to commit any funds. This can prove pretty important with many of the latest online slots, given their elaborate and often confusing game-play. Happily, the UK Gambling Commission requires demo versions to play exactly like their real-money counterparts. So take full advantage!
If you’ve got your heart set on playing online jackpot slots, it’s important to keep your expectations at ground-level. Progressive variants, although extremely tantalising, are probably not going to reward you with a life-changing prize. Sorry, let’s be clearer here. You haven’t got a hope in hell of bagging the big one. But all is not lost. Many casinos feature local jackpot games. Sure, the pay-outs are smaller, but your chances of winning are going to be better – something to keep in mind if you find yourself drifting into delusion.
OK, what myths? First up, forget about the notion of ‘hot’ and ‘cold’ online slot and other such nonsense (when it comes to licensed games anyway). The use of random number generators and the stringent testing performed by eCogra, utterly precludes this financially ruinous fallacy. Also, don’t assume that a progressive jackpot is ‘about to drop’. Again, the use of RNGs means that all gamers, irrespective of when they play, have exactly the same odds of landing the jackpot as those who spun the reels before and after them. Remember too that stake size has no bearing on your chances of winning a progressive prize. Your chances are going to be microscopically small, regardless of how much you bet.