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A Complete Guide to RTP and Why it Matters

Shane C

Apr 20, 2023

What is RTP

If you ever set foot inside a brick-and-mortar casino, you know that no matter which game you decide to play against the house, you’ll always have the feeling that the casino has a built-in advantage. Well, breaking news, you are not wrong. In short, the magic of a casino’s business model relies on this phenomenon which is called the house edge

If we’re not taking into account all the other services a Las Vegas casino might have on its venue, at the end of the day, this so-called advantage that the casino has over the players is what makes them money. This edge only applies to the games where the players actually play against the casino, meaning that in games like Poker, where the players are betting against each other, this factor doesn’t exist.

For the other games such as slot machines, Blackjack, Roulette, or even Craps, over the long run considering a high number of placed bets in any of these games, on average the house will win a certain percentage of these bets. For example, on average, the house edge for an American Roulette game is around 5%. This means that, for every $100 bet a player makes, the house expects to profit $5.

RTP for Casino Games And what about the players? Is there a way for them to measure the probability of success? In fact, there is, and that metric is called RTP which means Return to Player. This guide will help you understand everything you need to know about this unit of measure that applies to both brick-and-mortar and online casinos.

What is RTP (Return to Player)?

This metric may be seen as the inverse of the casino’s house edge. In a straightforward manner, the Return to Player (RTP) is the percentage of payout a game pays back to the player over a large number of bets. This can also somewhat be seen as the ratio of winning bets to overall bets.

Let’s take the example of a slot machine. You’re comfortably sitting on your sofa at home, hoping for a bit of relaxing gaming. You log into your favourite online casino and you come across NetEnt’s classic Mega Joker slot. When you’re reading the game’s description you see that it says this is the slot with the highest RTP of 99%. This means that if you were to bet $10 on this game, you would expect to get $9.9 back.

Online Slots RTP
Take into account that this metric tends to be accurate over the long run, meaning that this may not be the case if you only play about 10 or 15 spins. In the short term, everything is extremely unpredictable and you may either win them all or lose them all. This statistical measure makes the most sense when thinking about a really high number of bets made.

Although it is not a perfect metric, it is certainly the best compass you have to understand your chances to win. It is one crucial ratio that all players need to take into account so that they can effectively understand the risks and chances of winning behind each game they play. Now that you know what it is, it is important for you to understand how it is calculated.

How to Calculate RTP

Calculating the RTP rate is not exactly rocket science so you don’t need to be a maths genius to understand how it is calculated. You simply take the total amount of winnings, divide it by the total betting amount and multiply it by 100 to get the payout percentage for a certain time period. Meaning that if players, in a certain month, bet a total amount of $1,000,000 in a progressive jackpot slot machine and it paid out $970,000 in winnings, this means that it had an actual RTP of 97% for that specific month. 

This actual RTP may differ from the theoretical RTP of a certain game, and that is due to the game’s volatility. A slot with a high RTP and low volatility tends to be preferred by players. In online casinos, the games’ designers define the theoretical RTPs for each game and use a Random Number Generator (RNG) to provide complete randomness to the outcomes of the games. These RNGs are crucial to ensure that after a huge number of plays, the actual RTP comes very close to or equal to the theoretical RTP.

Once the game developer sets the RTP for a certain game, neither the players nor the operator is able to change this theoretical payout ratio. In some cases, which are not that common, the developer may actually design the metric for it to take variable settings but that doesn’t affect the way it is calculated.

Why is it Important?

If you want to stay ahead of the curve, you really should be paying attention to this metric. The higher the RTP, the higher the chances a player has of winning. Knowing a game’s RTP will help you make an informed decision when choosing which games to play. 

Blackjack RTP and why it is importantFor example, on average, a good RTP for slots is anything above or equal to 96%. For Roulette, it may depend on the variant but American Roulette usually has an RTP of 94.74% and the European Roulette 98.37%. On the other hand, Blackjack, depending on the player’s strategy, may offer an RTP as high as 99.6%. This enables players to make an informed decision on whether to play a certain game that has a lower RTP than the average of its type.

RTP is also very relevant when it comes to making the most out of your online casino’s bonus features. Imagine your favourite online casino presented you with 100 free spins for you to enjoy. It is important to try managing them wisely and in order to do so, finding the eligible slot machine with the highest RTP will surely increase your chances of winning and turning this bonus into real money. 

When it comes to gambling, being able to effectively manage your money in the bank is of utmost importance. Knowing RTPs will also help you understand the risk involved in a certain game and decrease the risk of reckless gambling and consequently better manage your stake, allowing you to bet your money wisely.

Make it Your Best Friend

Ultimately, the RTP is a massively important tool that all players, beginners or advanced, should use when they’re playing. Making good use of this metric may be what differentiates a successful player from one that isn’t able to produce consistent results, both in slots and table games. 

Now that you understand everything you need to know about RTP, you can see why it is extremely important to always take it into account before you start your adventures in online casino games. Make it your best friend when you’re playing your favourite online casino and start winning more!