How Much Stock Should We Put in Variance and RTP?

When it comes to playing slots online, we can effectively break players down into two categories: Those who treat the games as blind luck, something akin to playing the lottery; and, those who believe that strategizing can help the turn a profit. You can understand the approach of the former, as it can help psychologically to temper expectations and shrug off any losses. For the latter, however, there is a lot of thought put into two main areas – variance and RTP. Some players swear by this strategy, and they will target games based on these factors.

How Much Stock Should We Put in Variance and RTP?

But just how important are these factors? It is a difficult question to answer succinctly, and in the end may depend on personal tastes and perceptions. Looking first at variance, which is sometimes described as volatility. This is effectively a measure of how frequently a game will pay out, and the frequency of large and small wins. There isn’t an official measure of it in the same manner as RTP (see below), but, over time, players have reported back and collated the feedback, so we know which slots are high, low and medium variance.

High variance can have high rewards

For example, one of our favourite slots is Great Blue – play it a if you have not experienced it before. Great Blue is often cited as an example of a high variance slot. This means that the small wins don’t appear so frequently, but that it has potential to throw up some massive wins on occasion. Great Blue’s secret weapon, so to speak, is a brilliant free games feature, which can apply huge win multipliers to every spin. On the other hand, games like Starburst, Castle Builder and Jack Hammer are considered to be low variance: smaller wins more frequently, rather than huge payoffs on occasion.

Which, then is the best option? Arguably, it has to fit in with your goals. If you are reaching for the stars in the hope of a big payday, then a high variance game like Great Blue might be your best option. If you simply hope to wager through a bonus or make a small profit, then perhaps play a low variance slot.

RTP should always be put in context

As for RTP (Return to Player), this is also often cited as important. The concept is simple: The RTP figure is the percentage that a game will pay out over time. A typical slot will have an RTP of around 95%, but some can be as high as 97% and some as low as 90%. Obviously the higher the RTP, the more money that will be paid out by the game. It seems normal, then, that you should add RTP to your slots strategy, but is it really that important? Those figures refer to long periods of time – millions of spins – and a large slice of the percentage could be covered by a handful of big wins.

How Much Stock Should We Put in Variance and RTP?

In short, RTP doesn’t give us much information about a single gaming session, because we don’t know how and when this money is paid back to the players. The only way we can get an inking of how and when it pays out is through variance. Thus, you should combine research on both these factors if you are going to develop a slots strategy.

To be fair, the algorithms behind slots are complicated, so it is not east to develop a winning strategy. Yet RTP and, to a lesser degree, variance, are based on data, and some players really believe in those numbers. The best rule of thumb is to get yourself into the same frame of mind as the ‘blind luck’ players; use the facts and figure but be prepared to lose – that makes those big wins all the sweeter.

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