Slot machines don’t involve much strategy. Instead, you’re mainly relying on luck to win. However, slots do feature some small measure of strategy. One of the most important concepts in this regard is hit frequency (a.k.a. win frequency).
If you’re puzzled on hit frequency, then you’ll definitely want to learn more about it. After all, it’s a critical factor in terms of helping you sustain your slots bankroll.
What Is Hit Frequency?
Hit frequency refers to how often you can expect to win a prize on each spin. If a certain game offers you a payout on one out of every five spins, then it has a 15% win frequency.
However, this is just a simple explanation of the concept. You also want to factor paylines into the equation.
Therefore, you want to consider the number of paylines involved when it comes to hit frequency. After all, you might be paying more to earn the same quantity of wins as with another slot that has fewer lines.
What Do Slots Players Value the Most?
Most slots players don’t think about hit frequency or even know what it means. Instead, they only consider return to player (RTP).
RTP refers to how much money a slot machine pays back on average. For example, a game with 95% RTP will offer $0.95 back for every dollar wagered.
RTP is definitely important, because it determines the house edge for a given game. In the example above, you’re facing a 5% house advantage, which is about average for an online slot.
Why Is Hit Frequency More Important than RTP?
Win frequency doesn’t have a bearing on the house edge. Meanwhile, RTP more directly relates to your long-term chances of winning.
Therefore, payback seems like the more important concept here. However, you should definitely consider hit frequency if you’re concerned about your short-term chances of winning.
Win frequency relates more to the present. The more times you can win per round, the more money you’ll have coming back to your bankroll in the short run.
Again, hit frequency doesn’t determine the house edge or your long-term odds. Instead, it only covers how often you can expect to win right now.
But you should also realize that payback is based on hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of spins. The chances of you producing results anywhere near the stated RTP for a given session, or even ten sessions, are extremely low.
Hit frequency will be felt much sooner than payback. That said, you definitely want to think about this concept before playing an online slot machine.
Different Ways to Judge Hit Frequency
I’ve established that win frequency is definitely important. The problem, though, is that most slot machines don’t offer a concrete indication on their hit frequency.
Going into the matter blind, you won’t know if you’re playing a game with high or low win frequency until you’re spinning the reels thousands of times. That said, you should definitely consider the following factors to help determine how often you can expect to win.
A big jackpot indicates a game that has low hit frequency. The developers have to seed a large jackpot with lots of money, which means they program a game to pay less often to make up for this.
You should pay attention to how much a jackpot is seeded with, not the current value, to determine hit frequency. After all, this is the money the developers need to get back through lowered payout frequency.
See the example below.
- You’re playing a game with a $1.5 million progressive jackpot.
- You read the “help” screen.
- The info section notes that the top prize is seeded at $250k.
- $250k is quite high for an initial jackpot.
Generally speaking, a slot with a jackpot seeded at $100,000 or more will offer fewer payouts on average. Of course, you may play these games while dreaming of getting rich. But you can’t expect to earn many short-term winnings with such slots.
Number of Large Payouts vs. Small Payouts
The jackpot isn’t the only payout that has an impact on hit frequency. You also need to consider how the other prizes look in relation to the average game.
Are you dealing with a slot that offers multiple non-jackpot payouts worth between 1,000 coins and 10,000 coins? If so, then the slot machine likely has low win frequency.
On the other hand, a game with a top non-jackpot payout of 1,000 coins or less will probably have a high hit frequency. You may not get rich with this slot, but you can at least expect more payouts.
Number of Bonuses
Bonuses may seem like harmless features that ramp up the entertainment value of a slot machine. But they also play a role in how often a game pays.
For example, a slot with free spins, a pick’em round, second-screen bonus, and scatter payouts could very well have low win frequency. This is especially true if one or more of these bonuses has the potential to award big payouts.
Meanwhile, a slot that only has free spins and a smaller jackpot will probably pay quite often. After all, you don’t have many extra options to hit large prizes in such a game.
Under the best circumstances, you’ll be playing a slot that actually provides a volatility rating. This is essentially interchangeable with hit frequency, because it refers to the volatility of payouts.
A really volatile game will reward bigger prizes, but also pay less frequently. Meanwhile, a game with little volatility has smaller payouts and fewer bonuses, but also awards prizes more often.
Most developers don’t offer these ratings. However, Pragmatic Play is one slots provider I know of that does this.
Always Keep Bankroll Management in Mind
Understanding hit frequency is only one piece of the puzzle when managing your slots bankroll. You also want to keep simple concepts in mind that’ll help you stick to a budget when spinning the reels.
First of all, you need to understand that slot machines are among the most volatile forms of gambling in any space. You may lose anywhere from 200-300 bets per hour on average.
You can also make up these losses at any point by hitting a large prize. However, you want to go into every session with the mindset that you’ll continue losing just to be safe.
Here’s an example on setting up your bankroll under this manner:
- You have a $1,000 bankroll and bet $0.25 per spin.
- 1,000 / 0.25 = 4,000 betting units
- 250 lost bets per hour.
- 4,000 / 250 = 16
- Your bankroll should theoretically last for 16 hours.
You can come up with your own method for slots bankroll management. But the key is that you put some thought into the matter.
With a good bankroll management plan, you’ll be less likely to risk money you can’t afford to lose. Furthermore, you’ll have a good idea on how long you reasonably last when playing slot machines.
You may also want to set a stop-loss limit. These limits refer to a predefined point where you’ll quit playing after racking up a certain amount of losses.
For instance, you could set a stop loss of $300. Assuming you have a bankroll worth $1,200, then you’d be able to stretch your funds for at least four sessions.
Win frequency is one of the most overlooked topics in the slots world. Instead, RTP takes center stage, because it relates more directly to long-term odds of winning.
But hit frequency is just as, if not more, important than RTP. It determines how often you can expect to win in the short run.
You’re probably dealing with a slot that has low hit frequency if you just can’t seem to win anything. Meanwhile, you can look forward to all sorts of prizes on a game with high win frequency.
The main aspects to consider when judging hit frequency include:
- Jackpot size
- Number of small payouts
- Number of large payouts
- Bonus features
- Volatility rating
The latter is perfect, because it provides a clear indication of a game’s win frequency. Unfortunately, most slot machines don’t feature a volatility rating.
Therefore, you need to consider the other aspects to make this determination. As a general rule of thumb, any slot that can deliver huge prizes won’t pay very often.
You may still like the idea of playing such slot machines. After all, you can hit a big prize through the jackpot or bonus.
But if you’re looking to win as much as possible, then slot machines with high hit frequency are the answer!