Understanding the Odds with Online Slots

If you’re the kind of gamer who plays online slots purely for fun and on an infrequent basis, return to player (RTP) percentages probably don’t mean a great deal to you. Instead, you might make your decisions based on how a slot looks, whether it has a theme that resonates with one of your interests or simply how enjoyable it is for a few spins.

However, if you approach slots more with payouts in mind, it’s important to first get to know exactly how slots work. There’s really very little you can do when it comes to the odds of winning with any given slot. However, you and you alone have full control over which slots you choose to play with in the first place. Our friends at Freebies Slots are good if you are looking to find the best paying online slots on the market, a good place to start is getting familiar with payout percentages.

What Are Payout Percentages?
If you haven’t already come across the term before, payout percentage basically refers to how much money is returned to the customer by way of a percentage. It’s also known as the return to player, or RTP. In the United Kingdom, there is an official regulation which insists that casinos absolutely must keep their payout percentages at a minimum of 80% or higher. Not only this, but every casino both online and in the real world must clearly advertise its payout percentage and have it independently verified. More often than not however, online casinos keep their return to player percentages in the region of 95% or higher.

Contrary to popular belief, it is perfectly normal for online casinos to offer considerably higher payout percentages than their real life counterparts. The odds may always be fixed when it comes to things like blackjack and roulette, but to play online slots online is to generally benefit from much higher payout percentages. In fact, it’s even possible to come across slots with payout percentages as high as 99%. Which in turn means that if you are looking to minimise losses and maximise the likelihood of taking home any payout whatsoever, you have a much better chance of doing so online.

What’s the catch? There isn’t one really – it all comes down to the way in which online casinos don’t have nearly the same expenses and overheads as their real life counterparts. They save a small fortune in operational costs, meaning they can win punters over with outstanding special offers and better payout rates.

Do Payout Percentages Really Matter?
In a word, yes. Or at least, they do if the financial element of playing online slots is of any interest to you.

To put it all into a working example, if you signed up with an online casino and decided to play any given slot with a payout percentage of 85%, this basically means that for every £100 the machine takes in, it holds on to £15 and pays the other £85 back out. However, if you were to choose a slot with a 99% payout percentage, this would mean that for every £100 put into the machine, it would keep just £1 in profit. Generally speaking, the best paying online slots are generally those from NetEnt and Thunderkick, with two slots from Barcrest at the top of the list that pay that elusive 99% in super bet mode.

Nevertheless, it’s important to remember that while the above figures are accurate and relevant, this doesn’t necessarily mean that if you yourself put exactly £100 into the machine, you can expect to get its respective payout percentage back out. Instead, the payout percentage applies as an average across tens or even hundreds of thousands of gameplays. Which is precisely why you may put in £3,000 and never win a penny, while the next player may well put in a penny and win £3,000.

In any case, return to player percentages are extremely important and are generally considered better when higher.

Payout Percentage Vs Bonuses
One of the most prevalent and on-going debates when it comes to payout percentages is that of where exactly they rank when compared and contrasted with casino welcome bonuses. After all, a payout percentage of say 92% isn’t quite as good as 98%, but if the former of the two casinos is offering a massive introductory bonus, surely it makes the better choice…right?

Not exactly, and for the simple reason that the overwhelming majority of sizeable casino bonuses are in fact not what they appear to be. After you’ve checked out the terms and conditions, there’s a pretty strong chance you will come away with nothing…or next to nothing, at best. When weighing up percentage payouts against bonuses, it is of the utmost importance to read the terms and conditions in full, before making your final decision.

How Are Payout Percentages Calculated?
If you’re really interested in exactly how payout percentages are calculated, you really can get incredibly detailed with the mathematics. The reason being that while payout percentages are technically relatively simple to grasp, actually working out your respective odds of winning anything whatsoever when it comes to online slots can be spectacularly complicated. You need to consider the number of reels, pay-lines, prize values and so on – not to mention all those lovely bonus rounds which themselves usually feature plenty of mini-games with their own unique odds.

All of which is precisely why the vast majority of people simply take the word of the casinos or slots providers themselves as gospel. Which for the most part won’t necessarily steer you in the wrong direction, but it is still a good idea to look for independent verification. If the casino you are playing with is in any way worth spending a penny with, they will clearly display every single game and its respective payout percentage in an easy to understand table. More often than not, this will also feature any relevant details with regard to verification.

If there is no such information to be found, this is absolutely not a casino you should be even thinking about going near.

Payout Percentage Myths
As it’s the case with everything else to do with online casinos and gambling in general, there are plenty of myths and untruths surrounding the subjects of payout percentages. To read into any such myths is to find yourself in a position where you are much more likely to make the wrong decision, subsequently having a negative impact on your gaming experience.

So if you have ever bought into any of the following, it might be time for an adjustment:

  1. Contrary to popular belief, the overwhelming majority of casinos do not in fact lie about their payout percentages for the sake of duping customers. It’s the kind of thing you really cannot get away with these days and isn’t something any self-respecting casino would even consider doing anyway. Once again, seek evidence and verification if unsure.
  2. There’s a longstanding myth which says if you continue playing hard and fast enough, the random number generator behind any given online slot may fall behind and your chances of winning increase accordingly. In reality however, the only reason faster players tend to win more is because they are throwing in far more money far more quickly than slower, more casual gamers.
  3. You know that theory about machines being ‘primed’ to payout after not paying out a dime for hours, days or even weeks? Unfortunately, it’s completely and totally bogus. In reality, if you have a machine where you are effectively looking at 1000/1 odds of hitting any given prize, these are the same odds that apply to absolutely every spin without exception. Technically speaking therefore, it would be just as likely to pay out the jackpot immediately after already having paid out its jackpot as it would after an enormous dry spell.
  4. As already mentioned, to fall into the assumption that you are technically better off playing real life slot than online due to a lower chance of winning online is completely off the mark. In reality, payout percentages are almost always somewhat higher when playing with quality online casinos.

Hit Frequency
If you ever hear any gamer talking about hit frequency, this is basically the term used by casinos to state how frequently or otherwise to expect winning combinations on their slots. Say for example there is an online slot which has a hit frequency of 12%, this means that on approximately 12 out of every hundred spins you can expect to hit the winning line. Depending on the slots you choose to play with, you could be looking at hit frequencies well below 5% or even as high as 45% in the case of video poker.

However, one thing to bear in mind when it comes to hit frequency is the fact that when it comes to the vast majority of hits, you may well only be looking at winning back the money you put in – not actually making a profit. It’s natural to look at games with low hit frequencies less appealing than those with much higher hit frequencies, but as a general rule of thumb there is indirect correlation between hit frequency and jackpot size.

The lower the hit frequency, the higher the potential jackpot…even though the odds of winning it may be extremely low.

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