Play Like a Pro: Understanding Variance, RTP and House Edge

Online gambling is a fun pass time that has much to offer players in the way of wins and gambling entertainment, which included exciting offers and a wide spread of casino game titles.

Along with the market comes a bit of jargon, just like you’d find in any industry. We have noticed that three terms in the online casino business are consistently misunderstood – or not understood at all. At Vegas Casino we want to ensure that your gaming experience has the best outcomes and that you enjoy all we have to offer so we’re here to clarify those terms for you.

We’ll cover the meanings, and importance, behind the following terms: Game Variance, RTP, and House Edge.


The size of payouts along with the frequency of pays can differ quite a bit from game to game. Once you understand what to expect front each title, you can then plan how much time and money you intend to spend on a specific game – as you know setting a time frame and budget is an important part of gambling smart!


Also known as ‘volatility’, this term refers to the temperament of a game. Some games are geared to pay you out BIG prizes but with a lower frequency of wins, while others have a great frequency, but very rarely pay you out over 20x your bet.  Variance is basically the pattern for payouts in the game. It measures the arch, or swing between wins. Some games have bigger gaps between payouts, while others have very short gaps between the wins.

In the past, games were either highly volatile, or had low variance. Modern slot games and other games with random number generators have recently added a third ‘medium’ variance criteria, which has formed a middle ground for those who would prefer the best of both worlds.

High Variance Games: High variance refers to large gaps between payouts. The player wanting to take home BIG WINS – 100x stake and more – these types of titles are the ‘go to’ games. These online slots appeal more to veteran players, VIPS and High Rollers, who might get a bit aggravated with the smaller pays from other machines. Of course, all things good come to those who wait. If you want bigger wins, you may have to wait a little longer for them. Triggering free spins and other bonus features in highly volatile slots may take a fair run of spins, but when triggered, will usually reward handsomely.

Low Variance Games: This is the flipside of the coin of High Variance Games. Here, you will witness wins very frequently. Of course, the wins rarely top 20x stake, but oftentimes a winning recipe can be formulated by consistency. If you are wanting an offering that keeps your bank account flush on a consistent basis, then this sort of game is the one for you. See low variance games as a stepping stone for big success later on. They are suitably designed for players still learning their way around online gambling or simply a new casino game.

Medium Variance Games: Medium variance is where the high and low worlds meet together to provide a happy middle ground. Wins come around with fair regularity. Smaller wins will be more consistently distributed throughout the course of the game, but BIG WINS are not out of the question either, and will pop up every now and then.


RTP stands for ‘Return to Player’. This is the fixed odd that players can expect the machine to pay out over the course of its lifetime. If a slot game offers a 96% RTP, it means that 96% of the funds put into the machine will be paid back to players over time. It stands to reason then that games with higher RTP’s are more likely to payout than those with lower ones. Bear in mind though, that often the wins from games with lower RTPs are more considerable than higher RTPs. For instance, a progressive jackpot slot game generally offers a lower RTP of around 92% to 94%, but the jackpot prizes run into the millions, in dollar terms. Neither RTP is bad, it just depends on how you would like to play.


House edge is the amount calculated when you take the RTP percentage away from 100%. This small fraction of the total is the average amount of money that a casino makes per bet placed at the casino. This flip from 96% to discussing 4% house edge often confuses people, when in fact all it is is a change of perspective. When discussing payouts from a player perspective it’s called RTP and focuses on how much the machines payout. When discussing payouts from a casinos perspective it’s called the House Edge (or Hold) and focuses on the percentage income the casino makes over time.


At Vegas Casino we value your success, and as such, hope that you will take the information in this article and use it to pair the best variances and RTPs together to suit your needs and winning expectations.

Our games have been carefully selected from the top game makers to provide a balanced spread of titles across the various volatility ranges. This means that all players will find a title to suit their personality and skill level. May the odds be in your favour!