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An essential thing to take into consideration when deciding which online slots to play is the Return to Player or Payout Percentage that the game you're considering offers as, statistically speaking, this factor ultimately determines what you can expect to make (or lose) on the bets you make over time.
The Payout percentage of a casino games provides you with a theoretical estimation of the win/loss ration you can expect over the long term, assuming of course that you don't get lucky and win a huge jackpot. Emphasis does need to be placed on the fact that this is a theoretical estimation, so it will not always be 100% accurate due to the fact that it is also affected by random wins or losses, like hitting a jackpot or enduring an ongoing losing streak. On average however, over longer periods of time and with larger numbers of wagers, these percentages do hold true.
As a player, knowing the return that a particular casino game or online slot offers will help you to select your games more strategically while also assisting you in reducing the house edge as far as possible, which, as we all know, is the only way to really gain any advantage over the casinos. In addition, all casino games are way more enjoyable when you know how they work.
Let's take a look at exactly what the Return to Player is and how to determine which are the best games to play. Here are a few elements that play an important role in this:
The Payout Table
Each slot machine has its own paytable, in fact, this forms the foundation of the slot's entire operation and includes the matrix of the payouts that each game will offer. It is generally listed on the machine at land based casinos and in a special screen accessible via a button on the game console at online casinos.
The paytable lists every possible winning combination of symbols that can appear on the reels, along with the relevant payout that you receive for hitting these combinations. Slots paytables have been precisely calculated by the machines software manufacturer to factor in a house advantage. Obviously a great deal of complex mathematics goes into devising these tables, and the product of these calculations gives us the Return to Player for each machine.
When it comes to understanding the statistics of casino games, it is important to always keep in mind that these are based on many thousands of events or occurrences, and when it comes to slots, these "events" are the spins on the reels, which are aggregated to produce the projected outcomes. They are however susceptible to chance, thanks to the Random Number Generators which govern them, which means that the myth that slots work in cycles is simply that ‐ a myth. It is just as likely that a slot will pay out at regular intervals as it will 3 or even 5 times or more in a row. This is due to the fact that the machine is not animate and does not "remember" or "know" that it has just produced a large win, so each spin is independent and a payout may occur at any time, even after a large jackpot has been hit. This means that your chance of winning is exactly the same every time you spin the reels.
As previously discussed, slots payout tables have been carefully calculated to ensure that the house gains the advantage on average, over the long term. This advantage can be expressed as the payout percentage, which as you now know is the percentage that the slot has been programmed to pay out relative to the sum total of wagers over the long term.
This is a deliberately programmed feature. It does not means that the slot is rigged to "cheat players" in any way. Reputable online casinos are subject to strict auditing processes of their Random Number Generators by independent bodies on an ongoing basis, so games cannot be rigged. They are simply designed in order to give players the opportunity to gain value from the wagers they make, while ensuring that the casino simultaneously makes a profit for offering this service.
You may be wondering what the point of playing slots is if the casino already has a pre-programmed profit gain built into each game. The answer to that is entertainment value and the thrill of knowing that at any second you could win a large sum of money and be the exception to the paytable's rule.
In all games, payout percentage is expressed as the percentage of the player's wager that he/she can expect to win back over time. Each game has its own unique payout percentage which may vary from 75% to 98% depending on which slots and where you play. Let's take a look at how these percentages translate into real game play using a real money example:
Let's suppose you spend 3 hours playing a particular slots and you make wagers to the value of $500 and during that time you don't lose any significant amounts or win any large amounts either, so you win a few and lose a few and at the end of your game play you're not hugely up or down. If the slot that you were playing has a 95% payout rate, theoretically you would have won back 95% of the money you played, which equates to $475, which means that you will have lost $25. Or for every dollar you bet you could expect 95 cents back in winnings which is also known as the Return to Player.
From the above example it is quite evident why the payout rate is so important to players as it represents how much you can expect to win or lose over when playing a particular game over the long term. It should also be obvious why selecting a game with the highest possible payout percentage is vital, as it helps you to lose the least possible amount of money over the long term, which equates to a more sustainable player bankroll and extended game play time at the casinos.
Applying Return to Player knowledge wisely
For the most part, it is not possible for players to calculate the Return to Player on their own as they do not have access to the internal mathematical programming that went in to a specific online slot. This means that one ultimately relies on the casino's published payout percentages for each game. While some casinos openly do this or are compelled to by law, for others it's entirely at their own discretion. It is therefore important to always play at casinos that publish their payout percentages.
Secondly, keep in mind that casino games usually offer better returns to players than slots in bars or airports, with online slots offering the highest payout rates of all. So if making the maximum returns is something you're concerned about, only play at online casinos.
When selecting a slot, bear in mind that when it comes to slots, games with higher denominations generally have higher payout percentages and therefore higher returns to players. This means that games with higher wagering limits that allow for larger betting amounts usually give your better returns than their cheaper counterparts, so always play the highest denomination games that you can afford.
Finally, remember that while you don't always have to bet the maximum on all slots, in order to maximize the benefits of hitting a jackpot if you get lucky it is generally advisable.