Payout percentage for an online casino game is the long term return a player can expect for ever $100 wagered based on the mathematics of the game. Online players will very often encounter the advice that they should wager on those casino games that offer higher payout percentages. The problem with this advice is that payout percentages are not known for all categories of online casino games.
There are two ways in which payout percentages can be estimated and unfortunately neither works for online slots. The first method is based on precise mathematical calculation. The probability of the outcome needs to be calculated, and then given the payout, the payout percentage can be determined. It is a simple thing to calculate the probability in games like roulette. We know that there are 18 red numbers in the European wheel out of a total of 37 numbers. Hence the probability of getting a red number is 18/37.
But similar information required to compute probabilities in the case of slot games is not available in the public domain. Supposing one of the payouts is getting a symbol on the first rows of the first three reels. The information required is the total number of symbols that can appear on each reel and how many of those are of the given symbol. Since this information is not available the payout percentage cannot be calculated. Even if this information was available the calculation would be complicated by there being many paylines and many winning combinations.
In such complicated cases the payout percentage can be estimated through computer simulation. This is followed in the more common blackjack and video poker variants. Computer programs are written for simulating tens of thousands deals and the program records the total payouts for the total amounts wagered. There is a factor that goes against using this technique for slots games. There must be at most a dozen variants of the standard blackjack and video poker games. However there could be a dozen new slots games every month. Therefore for some external agency to undertake the simulation for every slot game released is an enormous task.
Such a task would not be worth the effort because online gaming software developers generally ensure that the payout percentage for slot games is between 94% and 96%. Therefore the gain from knowing the exact payout percentage is not commensurate with the effort involved. Hence players would be advised to make a choice based on other factors.
Players can try out a simple simulation using the auto play feature. They can set the betting options and run the auto play for the maximum number of spins. They should do this in the ‘play for fun’ mode. From the initial and final balances and the total bet per spin and the number of spins players can calculate the payout percentage. However players should be aware that for only 500 or 1000 spins the results can be very inaccurate. Hence players should do this only to get a feel of the process and not to make choices based on the results.
Players who are fussy should try and obtain the correct payout percentages from the software developers. Software developers do exhaustive simulations before the release of the games. However, generally the payout percentages are not released. If it becomes mandatory for software developers to release this information it could be a big help.