Playing Slots: Luck Versus Skill

Online gambling is one of the fastest-growing sectors in the world. Having experienced an exponential increase in earnings in recent years, it continues to go from strength to strength. This is best illustrated by the figures, including its current market value, which sits at an incredible $59 billion.

In itself, this is something to boast of, but what’s perhaps more impressive is the industry’s capacity for continued growth. For example, by 2023, Statista predicts that this number will have risen to a phenomenal $93 billion, almost doubling in three years.

One of the most popular types of play is slot games. Asking the player to dice with fate and spin the machine, these seem – at least on the surface – to be the ultimate test of luck. Yet some claim there is also a degree of skill involved. We take a look at this assertion and how true it really is.

The ultimate test of luck

Slots games take many different shapes. Some are simple fruit machines, with little knowledge or ability required to play; others have more to them, requiring a degree of concentration to get to grips with the rules.

No matter their intricacy, however, one would assume their eventual outcome is determined by fickle fortune. Some titles are built around this very concept, including the slot game Rainbow Riches. Featuring a leprechaun as its central character, its primary theme revolves around the famed ‘luck of the Irish’. Certainly, there’s a real degree of this involved when playing; if luck isn’t on your side and the symbols don’t line up, there’s no way to manipulate this outcome and transmute it into a win.

But does this mean you’re entirely at the mercy of fortune? While the simple answer is ‘yes’, the more accurate response is that there’s more to it than just the luck of the Irish.

Skill-based slots, RTPs, and volatility

Perhaps the most obvious example of skill having a part to play is skill-based slots. These are, as you’ve likely surmised, games where the player’s abilities are instrumental in delivering either a loss or a win. Most of the offerings you’ll find online utilise a more traditional format. Even in these instances, though, there are ways for players to tip the odds in their favour.

Primarily, this comes down to understanding RTP. The RTP is the pay-out percentage of a particular title. In most instances, this hovers at around 95 per cent, meaning that for every £100 the player bets, they’re likely to win back around £95.

So how can you use this figure to increase the odds of success? By looking for games with higher RTPs. The higher this percentage is, the more money you’ll have returned to you, meaning you’re more likely to end up in the black once you’re done playing. You’ll want to have a look at volatility too i.e., how many times you’ll usually win in a set number of spins.

The higher this figure, the more likely you’ll walk away with a prize. While this may only be modest, such slots nonetheless carry a much lower risk than their low-volatility counterparts.

So, luck, skill, or a bit of both? The reality is that slots are very much a game of chance, but that with enough knowledge behind you, you can nonetheless manage your risk and increase your chances of winning.


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