RTP and Volatility Explained

RTP and Volatility Explained

Online slot games are a popular choice made by millions of players around the world who play at online casinos. They offer a mix of entertainment, chance, and potential financial rewards for relatively low bets.

Two critical factors that significantly influence the gameplay experience and outcomes in these games are Return to Player (RTP) and volatility. This article delves into the intricacies of RTP and volatility, providing an understanding of how they affect not only online slot games, but any slot machine found at real-world casinos.

Return to Player (RTP)

RTP is a term used to describe the percentage of all the wagered money a slot machine will pay back to players over time. It is a theoretical calculation that gives players an idea of how much they can expect to win back from their bets. For instance, a slot game with an RTP of 96% implies that for every R100 wagered, the game returns R96 to players in winnings, on average. The remaining 4% represents the house edge, which is the casino’s profit margin.

RTP is calculated based on millions of spins or rounds, making it a long-term average rather than a guarantee for individual sessions. High RTP slots are generally more appealing to players as they offer a better chance of winning over time. However, it’s essential to remember that RTP is a theoretical measure and does not guarantee specific outcomes in the short term.


Volatility, also known as variance, refers to the risk associated with playing a slot game. It indicates how often and how much you can expect to win during your gaming sessions. Slot games are typically categorized into three levels of volatility: low, medium, and high.

  • Low Volatility Slots: These games offer frequent but smaller wins, making them suitable for players with smaller bankrolls or those who prefer steady gameplay. Low volatility slots are less risky, but usually offer lower maximum payouts.
  • Medium Volatility Slots: Offering a balance between risk and reward, medium volatility slots provide moderately frequent wins of moderate value. They cater to players looking for a balanced experience with a mix of small and large payouts.
  • High Volatility Slots: High volatility slots are known for their infrequent but large wins. They are ideal for players willing to take higher risks for the chance of significant payouts. These games can lead to longer losing streaks but also offer the potential for substantial rewards.
Slot player dancing after a win.

The Interplay Between RTP and Volatility

While RTP provides an insight into the long-term expected payouts of a slot game, volatility sheds light on the game’s short-term behaviour. A high RTP slot with low volatility is designed for players seeking frequent wins, albeit smaller.

Conversely, a high RTP slot with high volatility may offer larger wins but less frequently. The choice between different RTP and volatility combinations depends on individual player preferences, risk tolerance, and gameplay strategy.


RTP and volatility are crucial factors that define the gaming experience on online slot machines. Understanding these concepts allows players to make informed decisions when selecting slot games, aligning their choices with their gameplay preferences and risk appetite.

While high RTP games offer a better theoretical return over time, volatility determines the risk and reward balance during play. By considering both RTP and volatility, players can enhance their online slot gaming experience, managing expectations and strategizing for potential wins.