How Do Online Video Slots Work?

If you’ve ever played a video slot game at an online casino, or one on the ones in a real Vegas casino, you may have wondered how the games work, and what decides your chances of winning. Like all fixed odds casino games, slots are games of chance and you cannot affect the outcome to your advantage. Winning or losing is a matter of luck.

However, by understanding a bit about the mechanics of the games you can make better choices about which ones you choose to spend your money on. 

Here we give you an induction into the world of online slots. If you want to learn more you can read about all the games mentioned in this article, and where to play them, at The Slot Buzz gaming news site.

There are three important features to look out for in a slot game. Understanding these will give you a better gaming experience. 

Theoretical Return To Player or RTP 

One of the most useful figures to know when playing an online video slot is the Theoretical Return To Player (RTP) of the game. This number is the reverse of the house edge and refers to the average amount of money wagered on the game that will be paid back out as winnings. Most video slots have an RTP of between 95% and 97%. If the RTP is 95% then on average, for every £100 wagered on the game, £95 will be paid out in cash prizes. 

Of course, you should remember that the RTP is just a Theoretical, or average number. The experience will not be the same for all players. Each slot will have been audited and tested over millions of spins to record its RTP, but for you as a player, you may experience payouts much below, or much above the published RTP.

To find out the RTP of an online video slot, check the Information screen in the game. In an offline casino, the RTP can usually be found printed to the left or right of the reels. One of the slots with the highest RTP is Bloodsuckers by NetEnt, a game with a 98% RTP!

Slot Variance

The other aspect of a video slot to be aware of is its variance, or volatility. This is usually expressed as low, medium, or high. Variance refers to the likely variation from the published RTP that a player can expect to experience whilst playing the game. So, when playing a slot with a low variance, during each session a gambler will typically see payouts that closely match the RTP of the game – spend £100, and you’ll more than likely get close to £95 back.

These games are seen as less risky than high volatility games, where the opposite is the case. In high variance slots, the experience can and will vary greatly from the published RTP. This means that for long periods a gambler may see little or no return on their wagering, where the actual RTP is significantly lower than the published one. But then, for short bursts there will be big payouts which greatly exceed the expected RTP. 

For this reason, high variance slot games are risky to play. More often than not a gambler will spend a lot of money on ‘dry’ spins with no return before they hit a run of big payouts. Should you choose to play one of these games then it is always recommended that you start with a low stake so that you don’t burn through your balance too quickly whilst chasing down that big win.

A good example of a high variance slot is Book of Dead by the game developer, Play n Go. A classic low variance slot would be Starburst, by NetEnt.

Top Potential Payout

One other feature of a slot to be aware of is its Top Potential Payout. This figure is not always made easily available but you can find it in many online slots directories. It refers to the maximum that a slot game will pay out on any one spin. It will usually be referred to as a multiple of the stake value. So a top potential payout of 1,000x means a game will pay out a maximum per spin of 1,000 multiplied by the stake (e.g. £1,000 for a stake of £1).

Most games will have a top potential payout of between 500x and 2,000x. However, recently game developers such as Big Time Gaming have been creating games with payouts much in excess of that figure, with examples of over 20,000x or even 30,000x.

If you’re looking for a slot game with a high potential payout, we recommend Red Tiger Gaming’s Laser Fruit

Understanding RTP, Variance and Top Potential Payouts is key to knowing how a video slot works and what your chances of winning are. Of course, always remember that these are games of luck, not skill, so you cannot affect the outcome with your actions. If you choose to gamble, always play responsibly and have fun!

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