# Slots: What you should know before you play

#### nikantw

##### Closed Account
In this thread I will try to present, in the form of short to-the-point lessons, some of the most important things I have learned about playing slots. Things I learned from playing, from reading and mostly from the CM community.

It is a thread meant to help new players mostly. So that they can make an informative decision to play, manage their expectations and have more fun.

Lesson 1: Why RTP is the most important thing

What is RTP.

RTP stands for Return To Player. It means how much of the money you are betting you get back as a win. If you make one bet of \$100 and you win \$90, that \$90 is what the slot “returned to you”. The RTP is calculated as (money returned)/(money in) x 100 % so for our example it will be \$90/\$100 x 100 % = 90%.

When I want to calculate the RTP from a season, I simply add all bets and all wins before I use the formula: (money returned) = (sum of all wins) and (money in) = (sum of all bets).

For example, if I make 50 bets of \$1 and 25 bets of \$2, then (money in) = (sum of all bets) = (50x\$1 + 25x\$2) = \$100. If from those 50+25=75 spins I had 50 spins pay \$0, 20 spins pay \$2 each and 5 spins pay \$10 each, then (money returned) = (sum of all wins) = (20x\$2 + 5x\$10) = \$90. And the RTP from that season of 75 spins would be (money returned)/(money in) x 100 % = \$90/\$100 x 100 % = 90%.

What is TRTP

It means Theoretical RTP. It is the RTP you will find in the info pages of slots and casinos. It is called “theoretical” because it is calculated over billions of spins, it is part of the slots design and it is the RTP you are guaranteed to get if you play long enough (billions of spins).

What RTP means for the player.

It has nothing to do with what you deposit and what you cashout. RTP 96% doesn’t mean I deposit \$100 and I cashout \$96. Because when we play we constantly bet what we win, again and again and again. It is more about wagering. RTP 96% simply means that if we wager \$100 our balance will decrease \$4.

If you play long enough your balance will drop down to \$0, no matter if you have RTP 96%, 90% or 85%. What changes is the wagering, or how long you will play. In other words, your playing experience, how much fun you will have.

And the effect higher RTP has in your play time or wagering is huge. Some numbers of RTP and wagering if you deposit \$100 and play until bust:

RTP Wagering
60% \$250
80% \$500
90% \$1000
96% \$2500
98% \$5000

Now you see what your chance to clear a bonus wagering is.
Just a 2% drop from 98% to 96% RTP cuts your playing experience in half.
Down to 90% and you lose 80% of your playtime.

Getting enough playtime is very important. It keeps the game fun and gives you time to better manage your spending. That is why RTP is so important.

What RTP means for casinos and governments

For casinos it means how long you need to play for them to earn (X) x (your average bet size). It’s how they make revenue predictions and decide viability of a project on a market.
For governments RTP is something that needs to drop down a lot to have more room for taxes.

End of first lesson. I hope it is easy to understand and helpful.
Until the next one have fun and gamble responsibly.

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Good post. I actually a few years back posted a scale of exact spin amounts you could expect based on 96% and then a 92% model with 100 deposit at 1 a spin. If I remember rightly you get about 55% of the spin amounts on average at 92% than you would expect at 96%.

One vital point I think you should mention is that playtime, assuming you're concentrating on online games where RTP is mostly 94-97%, in the short term (i.e. one particular session) is more dependent on base-game RTP than overall RTP.

Your example is possibly more appropriate for 3-reel basic slots without features. Where features and bonus rounds are involved the single-session expectations can change significantly. For example you see a 94% game with 20% allocated to features you would likely over your session have significantly more playtime than you would on a 97% slot with 30% RTP feature allocation.

This is why I think Videoslots' varying wager contribution is flawed, the system Chopley explained in a recent video. If the slot is say 93.95% then IIRC Videoslots have it as 175% contribution. If you had the 'testing' software which pulls hundreds of thousands of results from the server and established that a 93.95% RTP slot was allocating say 75% to base-game pays then because your bonus wagering is only a few thousand spins at most, you could gain a great advantage by using it for bonuses!

How RTP is distributed on feature slots can be more important than the overall figure, especially short term. Despite claims I doubt many players here have ever put more than 250k spins through any given slot at any particular casino, the only exceptions being those that bang away at one or two games for years like I have with Rhino and Bonanza and some have with Dead On Arrival.

Good post. I actually a few years back posted a scale of exact spin amounts you could expect based on 96% and then a 92% model with 100 deposit at 1 a spin. If I remember rightly you get about 55% of the spin amounts on average at 92% than you would expect at 96%.

One vital point I think you should mention is that playtime, assuming you're concentrating on online games where RTP is mostly 94-97%, in the short term (i.e. one particular session) is more dependent on base-game RTP than overall RTP.

Your example is possibly more appropriate for 3-reel basic slots without features. Where features and bonus rounds are involved the single-session expectations can change significantly. For example you see a 94% game with 20% allocated to features you would likely over your session have significantly more playtime than you would on a 97% slot with 30% RTP feature allocation.

This is why I think Videoslots' varying wager contribution is flawed, the system Chopley explained in a recent video. If the slot is say 93.95% then IIRC Videoslots have it as 175% contribution. If you had the 'testing' software which pulls hundreds of thousands of results from the server and established that a 93.95% RTP slot was allocating say 75% to base-game pays then because your bonus wagering is only a few thousand spins at most, you could gain a great advantage by using it for bonuses!

How RTP is distributed on feature slots can be more important than the overall figure, especially short term. Despite claims I doubt many players here have ever put more than 250k spins through any given slot at any particular casino, the only exceptions being those that bang away at one or two games for years like I have with Rhino and Bonanza and some have with Dead On Arrival.

All good points that are planed for the next lessons.

Lesson 2: Hope for the best, prepare for the worst.

This lesson has to do with what people mean when they say “RTP doesn’t matter”. It obviously does (as explained in lesson 1), but what they really mean is the difference between the TRTP in the info files of the game and the RTP one may have on a season.

It is important to understand that difference so that you better manage your expectations and your balance/cashouts/deposits.

The difference

TRTP is theoretical RTP. It is the guaranteed RTP you will get after billions of spins. Key word: billions. You read that a slot has RTP 96%, but that is the TRTP, the RTP you will get after billions of spins. In any given season your RTP could be 300% or more, but most times it will be less than 70%, 50% or even 20%.

We all start a season expecting big wins, that is fine and part of the fun. But you must always be prepared for long “cold” seasons without any wins.

Don’t forget, a slot is fair and random (if properly licensed) but it is far more complex than the simple coin toss we have in mind when we think “random”. It doesn’t mean it is “rigged”. Coin toss has only 2 possible, evenly weighted outcomes. Slots are designed to have millions of possible outcomes, some weighted more than others.

For example, a slot with a bonus feature and a jackpot that has TRTP 96%. Some of that 96% has to go for the jackpot. Some other part has to go for the bonus feature. The TRTP left for the base game could be 70% or less! What that means is that your average season, without any big bonus or jackpot wins, will have pretty bad RTP.

What to do then? Be prepared for many “cold” seasons, many “dead” spins, that is all. When you see it "cold", stop or change game.
And when a good one comes, make sure you make a cashout because…. “winter is coming”!

End of second lesson. I hope it is easy to understand and helpful.
Until the next one have fun and gamble responsibly.

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Lesson 3: Make sure you can cashout.

Imagine getting a life changing win, only to find out that you can’t withdraw any of it! So this is what you do before you press the spin button:

Secure environment.
Choose a licensed accredited casino to play. Secure your pc, wifi, house.

Supply any docs needed to get your account verified before you start playing.

Before you even register you should read all the rules. Before you take any bonus you should read all the rules. Make sure you always follow them, no funny business.
There is no use of a big win that is going to be confiscated. Usual bonus terms to watch out are bet limits, game exclusions, country exclusions, wagering requirements, cashout limits and more.

Better safe than sorry. If you have a question ask support (or CM rep).

Payout times/limits
Watch out for payout times and limits. You should know that in advance and be prepared.

RG options
Look for all Responsible Gambling options you can use to better manage your spending.
Those can be deposit limit, loss limit, bet limit, lock cashout, flush cashout and more.

End of third lesson. I hope it is easy to understand and helpful.
Until the next one have fun and gamble responsibly.

Lesson 4: Make a cashout.

Cashout as much as possible. Never forget to do it, never reverse a pending withdrawal.

As previously mentioned, a slot doesn’t behave like a coin toss. If all seasons were average, there wouldn’t be a reason (or a way) to cashout.

When you play slots you are going to have a bad season many many times. If you don’t make up for that your hobby will get too expensive. You need to get back your money when the slot gives it back to you. The only way to make up for all the bad seasons is to make a cashout when you have a good one.

You can’t just leave it in there. Remember, the casino is not a bank, it is not your wallet. The numbers you see in your game balance are just “coins”. It is not real money until you make a cashout and get it in your hand, only then it becomes real (Matthew McConaughey, The Wolf of Wall Street).

You have to get that money in your hand. You have already paid for your entertainment, the rest is yours.

So you need to set goals and limits that you have to cashout when reached. Use any RG option available to do that and to make sure that cash is in your hands ASAP.

For example, you decide that you will cashout whenever you get your balance over \$100. Or when you double your balance. Whatever works best for you. Decide, set your rule and never break it.

End of forth lesson. I hope it is easy to understand and helpful.
Until the next one have fun and gamble responsibly.

Lesson 5: Volatility/Variance.

Volatility or Variance in slots has to do with how the payouts are set. If all payouts (all RTP) are evenly shared in small and medium size wins, then you have low volatility. If you have a slot that big part of the payouts (big part of the RTP) is in big wins, then you have high volatility.

A simple way to see it is this:

The lowest possible volatility slot would be one with 100% hit rate that every spin pays 96% of your bet! If we change it by adding some 2x, 5x and 10x wins then we increase the volatility. If we add more and bigger wins then we increase the volatility even more.

Each new win we add has to take part of the payouts, part of the RTP. But that is currently all at the smaller wins. So in effect, each time we increase the volatility we at the same time decrease the hit rate.

What all that means for our playing experience is the simple “all or nothing” or “play it safe”. Wait for the big one, or get something back now. Frequent smaller wins or just one big.

The more volatile the slot is, the more extreme behavior it is going to have. More cold seasons and bigger excitement when the win comes. The slots with low volatility will be “safer” with not so many cold seasons but also no chance for something big.

But remember, there is no such thing as safety when it comes to gambling. Thinking a low volatility slot is safe is a big mistake. Thinking you will win big in a high volatility slot is also a big mistake.

Besides, to truly know the volatility you should know “the math”, all of it (not happening). Some providers say “this is low”, others say “win up to xxxx”. Both statements mean very little for the player, a low volatility slot can have many big cold periods and the big win can have a hit frequency of 1/ 700 billions.

So what to do? Look the paytable, play the slot, decide if you like it. That (and the RTP) is all you need to know.

End of fifth lesson. I hope it is easy to understand and helpful.
Until the next one have fun and gamble responsibly.

Lesson 6: How much does it cost you.

Gambling is entertainment and should only be viewed as entertainment by everybody.

But how much does this entertainment cost?

It is obviously how much money we lose in any given time period. And since that depends on the season, we will take the average loss in an hour of play. To calculate that we need average bet size, time it takes for a spin and average RTP.

For example: RTP 96%, bet size \$1, time per spin 5 sec. Cost: \$28.80/hour.

An hour has 60 min, in 1 min we do 60/5 = 12 spins, so that means 60x12= 720 spins per hour. With bet size \$1 that’s \$720 wagered. RTP 96% means losing 4%, 4% of \$720 = \$28.80.

That is more than you make in a day’s work in most countries. But you can make it 10 times smaller with \$0.10 bets or 5 times bigger quick-spinning. Those are things you can control.

You can’t control RTP. Remember, just 2% drop of the RTP will cost you double your playtime, effectively doubling the cost of your season! When looking for the RTP of a slot, keep in mind that high volatility ones, or jackpot ones, have part of the RTP in the jackpot (or super big wins), in other words part of the RTP is in wins you will never get.

And you can’t control the taxes. Most countries want to tax the wagering because they think they can get more money that way. You may have 2x - 10x bigger cost for your season, just because of the taxes.
You simply can't gamble responsibly with such a big cost.

End of sixth lesson. I hope it is easy to understand and helpful.
Until the next one have fun and gamble responsibly.

Lesson 7: Play Responsibly.

Play Responsibly - Casinomeister

I just want to add a couple of thoughts of my own.

You really need to be very careful. It is very easy to lose control. Very very easy. It doesn’t mean you have a problem, that is something wrong with your brain or something. It happens to everybody and it is a dangerous path if you say “not me, I am better than most”.

Only if you accept that, you will be able to truly be safe by using all the advices here and all the RG tools offered by the casinos.

Gambling doesn’t have to become addiction in order to cause big problems, life changing ones. I am talking about financial problems. Like it or not money rules the world, without it we can’t survive and most people live under or close the poverty line. If the gambling cost gets too high it will start a domino effect that will destroy your life even before you get addicted.

Higher gambling cost is a path to Irresponsible Gambling, it is that simple.

So mind the cost. And the first thing you should do to keep it down, is look at the TRTP, look at the taxes you have to pay. You see a crazy tax, you see TRTP 60%, just say NO! Never play at such a horrible environment, quit gambling if you must or go to another country!

Gamblers are not criminals that should go to hell and have all their money confiscated. But unfortunately many see us that way.

Personally I wouldn’t touch anything below 96% on a regular basis, others wouldn’t mind a bit lower RTP in exchange for more and better services (like in a land based casino). But generally speaking, if you see a place with lower TRTP, don’t play there!

I think that is all.
Until something new comes up, have fun and always gamble responsibly.

Nice thread, thanks for it! I’m sorry if you plan to discuss this topic in future but I want to add one important thing – LDWs. Or «losses disguised as wins». This strategy regularly used in slots from nearly all providers. Long story short, LDWs convince players that they won when they actually lost. For instance, a series of wagers that is finished with a win (don’t mean that you really won). 100 bets per \$1 each is \$100. And winning pool might be \$75 or \$99. In this case, casino won but slot makers want to force player gamble more. They pack their products with stunning graphics and sounds, congratulation messages, and so on. A lot of players easily trust slots and believe that they won. But they didn’t. It’s essential to remember about LDWs when you gamble and stop at the right moment.

Nice thread, thanks for it! I’m sorry if you plan to discuss this topic in future but I want to add one important thing – LDWs. Or «losses disguised as wins». This strategy regularly used in slots from nearly all providers. Long story short, LDWs convince players that they won when they actually lost. For instance, a series of wagers that is finished with a win (don’t mean that you really won). 100 bets per \$1 each is \$100. And winning pool might be \$75 or \$99. In this case, casino won but slot makers want to force player gamble more. They pack their products with stunning graphics and sounds, congratulation messages, and so on. A lot of players easily trust slots and believe that they won. But they didn’t. It’s essential to remember about LDWs when you gamble and stop at the right moment.

Thanks

You mean the "wins" < 1x bet?
Nobody forces anybody to play. What they do is try to "change your perception of reality".

To counteract this I try to keep an eye on my balance as much as possible. I also like to play for a few days in fun mode before I try a new slot with real money.
That way I know what to expect and there are no unpleasant surprises.

About those taxes... if you cashout to an e-wallet and use a debit card at the ATM, no tax authority will find out. Besides, it falls outside the jurisdiction I am living in. Unless those payment services would in the future be obligated by law to disclose user information and their funds to the tax authorities.

About those taxes... if you cashout to an e-wallet and use a debit card at the ATM, no tax authority will find out. Besides, it falls outside the jurisdiction I am living in. Unless those payment services would in the future be obligated by law to disclose user information and their funds to the tax authorities.

A casino may be forced to pay for a license. This can be huge sometimes, like 1x their net profits for a 3-year license.
They may also be forced to pay 35% of their gross profits, when their net profit is usually less than that. Only way to do that is to lower RTP.
And they may also be forced to pay your tax. Keep a 10%-20% from every winning season you have (no matter if you cashout or not) and pay it as your tax.

This is not a figure of speech, it is not a hypothetical example. This is actually happening right now in a certain jurisdiction and something like it in some more.
Some more are thinking of doing it. Sometimes on purpose to drive all good operators away. Other times for the huge tax revenue they think they can get.

UK and Malta (and a few more) are close to perfection in regards to reasonable taxation.

Ah, okay. I was thinking about the player's responsibility to pay taxes.

*snip*

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Too busy to read this thread right now but I will come back to it.

With some recent cases of casinos voiding winnings, I remembered something else. I guess it should go under "Make sure you can cashout".
It's a good practice to use a screen recorder to record all your play. Well, at least all big wins. You never know when you may need it. It could make the difference between getting paid or not.

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