Return to Player (RTP) and Volatility: An In-Depth Guide

If you have been playing at online casinos, then you must have heard the terms Return To Player (RTP) and Volatility being mentioned several times. Even if you are not aware of what this means, it is clear that RTP and Volatility are an important factor for online casinos. In this article, we will explain to you what you need to know about these concepts and how they influence your decision about what games to play or avoid.

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What is RTP?

Return to Player (RTP) refers to the amount of cash a slot gives back to the punters over a huge number of spins. This amount is usually expressed as a percentage. For instance, a slot with an RTP of 97% gives back $97 for ever $100 that is wagered. Basically, this info explains how much you can expect to lose/win when playing a particular game.

The RTP is calculated based on a high number of spins, usually millions. So, there is pretty much anything that can happen within a few hundred or thousand spins, a concept that makes slots exciting.

Who Sets RTP?

RTP settings depend on the game’s developer. Most of the time, RTP is set in collaboration between publishers, the online casino, and the software developing company. You will also find out that some of the large casinos have their own software providers who own the process. With that in mind, it is important that you play games from reputable companies.

How is RTP Calculated?

The formula for calculating RTP is relatively straightforward: You divide the amount returned to players by the total amount gambled. When it comes to RTP on slots, it can be misleading as it doesn’t show how often you can win.

When it comes to other games like Blackjack, it easy for you to predict your chances of winning. In Blackjack, you win half the bets placed, but in slots, things are different. Slots often have huge jackpots and can pay less often but much higher amounts. However, in the end, the result will be the same, an RTP that is slightly less than the turnover.

Is RTP the Same as Hit Frequency?

You will often hear the term hit frequency being mentioned together with RTP. However, this should not cause any confusion, as the two terms have different meanings.

Hit frequency is the term used in the casino to explain the rate at which a slot machine will land on a winning combo. The frequency is represented as a percentage. For instance, a casino with a hit frequency of 8% means that it falls on a winning combo 8% of the time.

Basically, the hit frequency describes how often a punter can win a game. While it sounds closer in meaning to RTP, the two are not the same. RTP represents a percentage of how much you can expect to get back and not how often you can win at a particular game.


Volatility, often referred to as variance, is a term used to describe how much a game is risky to play. When used in regards to slots, it relates to how much the games payout and how big the payout will be.

Volatility has two sides to it, one of which will be fully determined by the player. The casino has less control over how much a punter wishes to wager. How little or much you want to bet is entirely on you giving you control over volatility. This can sometimes be referred to as money management.

The other side is the difference in results over time. Over a playing session, the game will naturally swing to its results. Sometimes, it can be against the player and other times be in their favor. That point within the game when you find out whether you have won or lost your bet is what controls the second phase of volatility. Volatility can either be high, low, or medium. Let’s look at each below.

High Volatility

Slot machines with high volatility pose the highest risk. The machine often has few payouts, but when it happens, it tends to be big. Progressive jackpots present the best example of high volatility slots. Progressives are not a game for the faint-hearted. This is because they require a huge bankroll and a lot of patience before you can hit the jackpot. However, high volatile games have some thrill to them; they often have large prizes!

Low Volatility

Low volatility games are ideal for players on the go. They offer you the chance to land a few wins while on the road. They are completely opposite of the high volatility slots. This type of slot provides players with frequent but low wins. Low volatile games allow you to manage your bankroll but rarely come with large jackpots.

Return to Player (RTP) and Volatility: An In-Depth Guide

Medium Volatility

Medium variance games are ideal for players who want slightly higher chances of winning and have low wagering limits. These are popular among players who want the best of both worlds.
These slots offer low and high payouts and are quite an entertainment. The payouts are regular, and the jackpots mid-sized. They have higher payout lines making it easy to trigger bonus features and place larger bets.

Compared to the low and high medium variance slots, the medium variance slots are the most popular. This is because they come with a variety of exciting themes, fun bonus features, moderate wins, and lots of excitement.