Slots Expected Value Explained: A Beginner's Guide

Slots Expected Value
Slots Expected Value

Whether you play slots in online casinos or in a live gambling hub such as Las Vegas, you’ll often see the term “ slots expected value” being used. This term goes hand in hand with the house edge as it tells about your expected loss or win on slots , in theoretical terms. That’s a very simplistic answer to the concept that has other important nuances.

With that being said, this guide will explain how the term refers to the average payback of a game. We’ll also explain why expected value numbers don’t always determine whether you’ll win more money or less money in any given game. So, if you’re ready to grasp all the information, scroll down for more.

What Is the 'Expected Value' in Slot Machines?

88 Fortunes Slot

The term “expected value” is used by statisticians, mathematicians and economists to describe the average outcome of a large number of events. It’s also used by people who play games such as video poker, roulette, and slots. Even though expected value isn’t something mathematicians will talk about very often, the term is quite important for games you’ll play in casinos around the world.

The expected value is expressed as a numerical value. It doesn’t matter if you’re playing slots, video poker, roulette or other games available at your favorite casino, there will always be a numerical value. For example, the expected value for a game of deuces wild video poker might be 95%. A penny slots’ expected value could be 98%.

Expected Value as an Average Probability

The slots expected value is the average outcome of a game that tells you how much you can expect to win or lose over a large number of bets or spins (usually 100,000 or more).

Thus, we can say the expected value is based on the slot machine probability. It’s an indicator of what could happen when you’re playing casino games. It doesn’t determine the exact amount that you’ll win or lose on any game or session, but based on the odds, the expected value gives you an approximate idea.

What Is the Expected Value of a $1 Pull on the Slots?

Astronomical Magic Slot

Let's discuss how expected value is calculated over the course of multiple bets with an example. Suppose you’re playing a slot with an RTP of 95% for 1,000 spins at $1 per spin, your expected loss would be 5%. That means that out of every $10 wagered, you would expect to lose $0.50 on average over the long run.

However, this does not mean that you will win exactly 95% back each time you play. You may win or lose more than that amount. While the outcome may vary each time you play depending on luck or variance, the results should tend towards the expected value over time. Let's understand the relation between RTP, house edge and the expected value in more detail.

How to Calculate the Expected Value of Casino Games

You can calculate the expected value of casino games by using this formula:

(probability to win)*(profit) + (probability to win)*(profit) - (probability to lose)*(bet amount)

Bet Amount

That may look like an imposing equation if you’re not a mathematician. However, the main points to consider here are -

  • your chances of winning/losing
  • your potential profit/loss
  • the amount you wager

The result of this equation tells you the amount you stand to win/lose, on average, each time you spin.

Therefore, it is safe to say that the expected value of a slot machine is the expected return on each spin. Again, it’s important to note that this is an average figure based on multiple spins.

Another formula to calculate the expected value is:

Expected Value (EV) = Bonus - ( Wagering Amount x (100- RTP))

For example, let's say the PartyCasino has an offer for the new players - deposit $10 and get $50 bonus (with a wagering requirement of x 20 the bonus amount).

Bonus: 50

Wagering amount: 1000

Now if you choose a slot with 93.88% RTP, this is what you can expect to lose/win:

EV = 50 - (1000 x 6.12%) = 50-61.2 = - 11.2

But if you look for games with RTP above 95%, you can get a positive EV. However, high RTP and positive EV don't ensure any profits as these values are calculated over the long term.

Examples of Expected Value When You Play Slots

Egyptian slot

The expected value does not only vary from game to game but also between casinos. For example, the best FanDuel slots might have different expected value scores as compared to BetMGM. In the same way, the average house edge for slots is 10%, while video poker is usually around 1%.

Please note the expected value or house edge of casino games are the same thing. For example, if your EV calculation is -0.05, your house edge will be 5%. Simply multiply the expected value by 100 to get the house edge.

Or 100 - RTP = House Edge

The expected values of most of the casino games are shown negative as players are expected to lose over the long run or in other words players are expected to walk out of the casino with less amount than what they have betted at the games.

However, what you need to remember here is that expected value is an average outcome and in a single session, you could win more while playing slots than blackjack, as there are thousands of reels combinations with better awards and rewards.

The house edge isn’t that low in slot games, but the amount of money slots pay is better than roulette and other table games.

Finally, it’s worth noting that some slots have decent odds. In fact, you can give yourself the best chance of winning when you play by choosing slots with good odds. Doing this requires you to assess a game’s line bet, the amount of money you can win from a jackpot, the game rules, and, of course, the expected return. You can find games that score well in all categories from Egyptian and Chinese slots to retro fruit machines, there are top spinners to suit everyone’s tastes.

Some of the high RTP slots to look out for in online casinos are:

Starburst slot
  • Quick Hit Ultra Pays Eagles Peak
  • Starburst XXXtreme
  • Fruit Blaze
  • Gonzo's Gold
  • Dazzle Me: Megaways

What Does It Tell Us?

Expected value is a great way of determining how much of an advantage (i.e., an edge) a casino has. This tells you how much you can expect to lose/win over a long period of time in a game, which means you could win 100 bets in a given session, even if the expected value of a game suggests you should only win 30.

Expected value helps in judging a game’s potential and average return, but it shouldn’t be the only thing you focus on. So, when it comes to formulating your own online slots strategy, consider other factors, such as theme, minimum and maximum bets, and jackpots too.
BioA passionate writer who likes to play games at casinos online and live. While I have worked for the last four years in FinTech, EdTech and Digital Marketing industries, I wrote many high-quality reviews for games on various websites, which also gave me the idea to work in this industry and explore more.
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