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Understanding Slot Machine RTP and Maximizing Returns

RTP of slot machines is the percentage of the money that the gambler has been paying for it, returned but it does not consider the frequency or the amount of winning.

Knowing this kind of information can help players better manage their money when playing slot games, thus reducing losses and increasing winnings.

Payback percentage

Of course, for any slot machine you’re considering selecting, payback percentage should be an important part of the picture. But this isn’t an absolute guarantee that everything you do will turn out well. Pay more attention to the volatility of the payback, however; machines that have high volatility tend to pay out larger sums less frequently, whereas those with lower volatility usually pay out more modest sums more often.

Return-on-investment (RTP) is calculated by these casino developers across a large sample of simulated spins. However, the variance in the way these machines are absorbed into a game, and the sheer number of spins typically played, could mean that actual pay-outs from any machine across different days can be well below its theoretical RTP. Accordingly, it is vital to test any machine you have not played before for at least a few hours, on a ‘null’ or no-stakes basis, and record whether or not you break even or lose money during that test. If you do lose money during the test, move on to another machine. Don’t try to force a return, as it will only lead you astray.

Bonus rounds

Bonus rounds on slot games can increase your overall levels of excitement about the game and they can in fact also increase your chances of winning other kinds of jackpots or prizes on the slots. But, before you start your gameplay, it’s a good idea to first read up on the mechanics of spare games and any rules regarding spins on bonus rounds.

Choosing the slots with the highest RTP (return on investment) is an almost universally important consideration for players both in a land-based casino and an online one and for one very simple reason: by understanding how RTP works, you can better decide how to manage your bankroll and maximise your winnings.

But an RTP could nonetheless be a helpful indicator, although it might not consider how often and by what amount one could possibly get a payout, since machines with a very solid RTP rating might still have long streaks of losses, or lumps of large wins on a single spin. RTP also relates not to house edge, which is the term for how casinos gain a mathematical edge over their players as spins are played and multiplied exponentially in the long term.

Scatter symbols

Slot play is filled with a number of misnomers regarding RTP or how to best achieve it. Some believe that having more scatters on each reel gives you the best chance of success, but, actually, each spin’s outcome is determined by a RNG; while you could have multiple scatters, it’s still possible that you could end up only with a small payday.

But do remember that RTP has nothing to do with either the frequency or the size of your wins, which is why it is often tied to volatility; there are typically openly available figures for an RTP for any walk-up and play video slot game (check the paytable or rules section) – most legitimate online casinos will publish them publicly, though it’s probably fair to say that emailing them directly will yield better results than trying to calculate it from first principles.


These rules differ jurisdiction to jurisdiction, and are dictated by gaming commissions, which makes it nearly impossible for players to calculate the odds of walking away happily with money; some states outlaw slot machines completely; other states require the machine to pay out a minimum amount; it is illegal at casinos to simply pick up the balance of other slot machines – but people do it anyway (I’ve been there; my uncle did it. I’m sure he is not the only one. It’s totally legal to be crazy; it’s illegal to steal. I know which one he got arrested for).

A lot of other factors affect the maximum points that you can win from a slot machine, such as variance and jackpot odds. Here are some simple steps to take while playing slot machines to boost your chances of success, and to make the most of the jackpots they offer. First, by keeping an accurate count of the number of credits that you play and win, and dividing that number by your bankroll, you will be able to know your approximate return rate. Another (possibly more satisfying though less reliable) option is to see what your return rate is: if you ask the attendant, she may well give you the remainder of what is left in the payout of your slot machine after its meter has run down.

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