Understanding RTP and Why It Matters at an Online Casino

By | October 23, 2023


If you’ve spent even a minute playing slots at an online casino, you’ve undoubtedly come across something called RTP, which stands for Return to Player. This is almost always shown as a percentage, and it’s important for you to know exactly what it means. If you value your money and your time, you’d do well to read this quick article that explains what RTP is, breaks down slot volatility and shows how you should consider RTP when playing slots at an online casino.

What Is RTP?

The meaning of RTP is right there in the words themselves—return to player. RTP simply denotes how much of their money, on average, a player can expect returned to them given enough time. The idea of RTP and its meaning has been discussed by industry experts, such as Paygamble author Kevin Flynn, but this article is here to help if you are still having trouble understanding RTP. Take the following for example, a slot with an RTP of 97% means that if you bet $100, on average, you will get $97 back.

Now, that’s not to say that every spin will return less money than you wagered. Remember, this is on average. You can still hit the jackpot and win big, walking away with more than you put in and beating the RTP. Once you know that RTP is measured over ten or even a hundred thousand plays, you’ll realize that short-term play won’t always reflect a game’s RTP. RTP is the reason why the iGaming industry sees stunning revenue year after year, and knowing what it is can help you take a chunk of that back.

Looking at Volatility

While on the topic of RTP, you should also know how to identify slots with high and low volatility. Volatility refers to how often a slot machine pays out. Typically, a slot machine with lots of lines and different ways to win has low volatility. Your chances of winning are bigger, but the payouts are often smaller. On the other hand, slots with higher volatility tend to have fewer reels and fewer lines. You won’t win often, but when you do, the payout will be bigger than on a 5-reel slot with thousands of ways to win.

Considering RTP When Looking at Slots and Other Casino Games

RTP isn’t just found on slots; just about every casino game uses RTP as a metric, and it can often be found directly on the site itself or the site of the software provider. While RTP should be the main thing you consider, don’t forget volatility. A combination of volatility and RTP can give you greater insight into whether or not a game is worth playing.

  • Low Volatility High RTP – Slots with multiple reels, progressives, minigames and more ways to win often have a higher RTP since players are winning more often.
  • High Volatility Low RTP – You’ll find that traditional slots tend to have higher volatility but a lower RTP since players are winning less often. With fewer lines and reels, there are fewer ways to win.
  • The Best Combination – A slot with low volatility and high RTP is ideal, as this means that you will be winning more often and losing less money in the long run compared to alternative games.

Most online casinos don’t have games with an RTP lower than 90%, but not every casino or software provider publishes their RTP statistics. You may want to avoid those casinos and games, as you will have no idea what to expect from the game and what the average return should be. Likewise, you’ll quickly find that the games included in bonuses for free spins tend to have high volatility and low RTP. This can easily change your opinion on what would have otherwise seemed like a great bonus.

House Edge vs. RTP

You may have heard the term ‘house edge‘ at casinos too, but you shouldn’t confuse it with RTP. Whereas RTP is the percentage of money returned to a player on average over time, the house edge is the odds of a game ending in the casino’s favor. When you hear house edge, you should think about games like roulette, blackjack, baccarat and sic bo. These games are all in favor of the house, with blackjack having the smallest advantage, making it a popular game for players.

With perfect strategy, you’ll win about 49.5% of the time on average in blackjack. This edge can vary from online casino to online casino, as the rules may be different. Some casinos add a triple zero to roulette, further increasing the odds of players losing. Always double-check what the house edge is and make sure that it is in line with your expectations.

Wrap Up

In short, understanding RTP is the key to succeeding in a house where the cards are stacked against you. By knowing how much is returned on average and looking at volatility, you can avoid games that are almost scams and keep more money in your wallet. Just remember that RTP is based on an average, so you aren’t technically going to walk away from every session with less money than you put in. There is always the chance that you can get lucky and hit the progressive or line up high-paying symbols. Whichever game you decide to play, do it responsibly and have fun.

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