What is RTP? | Complete Guide to Become an Expert

What is RTP and how it affects your gaming sessions

RTP, or “Return To Player”, defines the theoretical percentage of wagered money a casino game pays back to players over time. Discover how you can use the RTP to your advantage with our expert guide.

Learn what is a good RTP percentage and how to choose the best games for your next session!

What Does RTP Mean & Why It’s Important?

What is RTP and why it is important

The Return to Player (RTP) is a phrase used by casinos to define the proportion of player wagers that are eventually returned to them from slot machines or VLTs (Video Lottery Terminals). A straightforward calculation would show that a game with a 90% RTP would produce £90 from 100 £1 bets.

But RTP is a long-term metric that has a close link to the house edge. With a 10% house edge, the average return to player percentage will be 90%. This indicates that the game will retain 10% of the player’s funds for an extended time.

Since the RTP is computed over a lengthy period, players may not always win back the stated sum. So, sometimes you may win £100 on a £10 wager, and other times, you might lose £10 with no return. So, a 10-minute gaming session will not be enough to verify the RTP.

Based on statistical relevance, reflecting the RTP rate after a reasonable number of game rounds is more accurate. The closer you get to the RTP rate, the more rounds you include in your measurements.

An Example: RTP Across Multiple Game Rounds

One round only

You pay £10 and only get back £2. The supposed RTP rate should be 20%.

Is this accurate? No, one round cannot inform you about the actual repeatable outcome.

Two rounds

We build on the previous outcome, but now you play another round with another £10. You receive £5.

The emergent “RTP rate” for these two rounds is based on the £7 you made from a total of £20 you wagered. 7 is 35% of 20. Does this value tell us more?

Yes. It does not give us the correct RTP percentage, but it does show two things: the real value may be higher than the initial result and the value certainly is different.

One hundred rounds

Following the same rationale, you play one hundred £ 10 rounds. The emergent and more trustable RTP rate comes out as 96.5%.

Can you trust this value? You can certainly give it more credence than previous values. However, there is more to be checked.

One thousand rounds

After playing a staggering one thousand rounds, you have recalculated the RTP rate to be 96.49…95%. The value is not the same as before, but it only deviates by an infinitesimal amount. 

What conclusion should you draw? The percentage will be more exact as the number of games played increases. You can expect a credible answer to be around 96.5%, subject to approximation.

Volatility and Predictability

Aside from the RTP value, all players should consider two central concepts: short-term volatility and long-term predictability. The short-term volatility means a player has a good chance of being ahead quickly.

However, due to the long-term predictability, the overall cumulative results will have them at a loss for a more extended time.

To put this in perspective, after 1 to 100 spins on a slot machine, many players can be ahead and finish their gaming session with extra money. However, only 1 in 5 players will still succeed after 1000 spins. When the gaming session extends to 10,000 spins, not even one in 100 players is still ahead. 

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How Is the RTP Calculated and Verified

Now, all games are created equal, and the RTP is a great reflection of it. The RTP is the total amount that is returned to players divided by the total amount gambled by them. However, this is not the same for each casino game.

According to the UKGC rules, all slot machines must display their RTP figure. The Commission states that the average RTP rate is measured over 10,000 to 100,000 games or even more, depending on the game category. There is also no statutory minimum RTP a game should have.

It may sometimes be misleading for slot machines and does not genuinely indicate how often you can expect a successful spin.

Since many online casino games are complex, multiple algorithms and extensive testing must confirm that the promoted RTP is correct. For licensed and regulated online casinos these must be verified and certified and regularly tested by third parties to receive and keep their license issued by the United Kingdom Gambling Commission.

You have already seen an example of calculating the RTP rate in our analysis of the relevance of few-round-based “RTP” percentages. The more in-depth process is similar.

What’s the Difference Between Frequency & RTP?

Hit Frequency vs RTP

Though they are different concepts, the hit frequency often gets mixed up for RTP. Hit Frequency describes how often a machine will stop on a successful combination.

Many slot machines and VLTs have multiple pay lines that the player can bet on, increasing the number of victorious combinations they can make and the number of losing combinations. This may make players feel like they are prevailing more often.

However, over a more extended period, the number of losing combinations will, without a doubt, be greater than the number of successful combinations.

Game Type and Hit Frequency

This is also different from one game type to another. Some slot machines have a 3% hit frequency, which is a very low rate. What still makes these attractive to players is that, despite the rare victories, they offer the chance to acquire more significant amounts and even jackpots.

In comparison, games such as Video Poker can have a hit frequency of 45%, which sounds more appealing than the 3% offered by slots.

However, for almost half of the Video Poker hits, the player only receives their original bet back, which does not help them get ahead.

The difference between hit frequency and RTP is that the former represents how often the player will get a successful combination. The latter shows what percentage of all the money wagered to that machine returns to the player in the long term.

Do RTP Rates Vary Between Game Types?

RTP rates can vary significantly between game types and even individual game titles. In very broad approximations, slot machines usually have an RTP of 93% to 99%, European Roulette has around 97.3%, while American Roulette offers 94.7%. As we mentioned, this may vary from one game to another, but this applies to the vast majority.

However there are many other casino games, but it is a lot more difficult to calculate their RTP, as they depend on the strategy you choose when you play.

For example, for Craps, you can make many different bets, and with each one, the RTP can increase or decrease. The same goes for Blackjack, in which, with an excellent strategy, the RTP can go even over 99%, but it can be a lot lower for a beginner still unfamiliar with the game.

Given the correct rules, when played optimally with the basic strategy, the RTP percentage in blackjack can go up from 99.5% to 99.67%.

RTP in Slot Machines

RTP in slot machines

Slot machines are some of the most popular games players enjoy in land-based casinos or online. RTP is more critical than other games because it only involves chance, so you may lose your money quicker than on other games.

That is why the better the RTP value is, the more you can play with the same amount of money. This is why players have started paying more attention to this rate recently and even choose their preferred slot machines based on it.

Nowadays, slot machines have very high RTP rates, especially the ones in online casinos. However, slot machines with 95-96% RTP are frequently excluded from the wagering requirements of promotions destined for new players.

Low vs High Variance Slots

Regarding slot machines, they may fall into two categories: low-variance slots and high variance slots.

  1. The low variance slot machines allow you to play for longer with your starting funds because they pay out many small prizes, enough to keep you going.
  1. High-variance slots pay less often, but the generated value is significantly more significant when they do. In this category, you will find progressive jackpot slots with a higher RTP deficit in return.

RTP in Roulette Games

There is a considerable difference between the RTP of American Roulette and that of European Roulette due to the extra zero slot the American Roulette has. Roulette casinos include all the relevant variances sought after by players.

Both types feature even-money shots like red/blacks and odds/evens and bets main layout bets on numbers in a slit, row, straight-up, corner, and street fashion. 2/1 shots like dozens and rows bets bring little turnover.

The American Roulette only has 94.7% RTP, while the European offers 97.3%. The 2.6% difference may not sound like a lot, but it strongly affects your gameplay. A zero will land twice as often for the American version, and in the case of even-money bets, the player will suffer a loss twice as often.

RTP in Blackjack

Blackjack is a casino game involving chance and experience, attention, and a good strategy. There are many variations of Blackjack in online casinos, each with its own RTP. The original Blackjack game has a higher RTP than variations such as Pontoon Blackjack, Switch, Super Fun 21, Hi-Lo, 21 Blackjack, and others.

Premium Blackjack has a theoretical RTP of 99.67%, while Classic Blackjack stands at 99.4% when played with a perfect strategy. However, the other variants rarely exceed 95%, which means they are still good choices.

As we mentioned before, the return to player rate in Blackjack can vary depending on the player’s choices during the game. Therefore, the theoretical RTP rate for each game is achievable with a perfect strategy and, as with any other RTP value, over a long period.

Blackjack bonus promotions can help players accustom themselves to the game and the different RTP variations with fewer financial commitments on their part. Check the best Blackjack casinos in the UK and find your best offer. 

What Are the Games with the Best RTPs in UK?

Game RTP Software Provider Year Launched
Ugga Bugga 99.07% Playtech 2006
Mega Joker 99% NetEnt 2013
Ooh Aah Dracula 99% Barcrest 2015
1429 Uncharted Seas 98.6% Thunderkick 2014
Blood Suckers II 98% NetEnt 2017

Gain an advantage by spinning these 5 reel-spinning machines with leading return-to-player rates. They not only come with the highest Return-to-player rates, but they also have very appealing visual designs and fun features. All these games are usually included in the best slot sites.

However, remember that the Return to Player rate should not be the only one you consider when picking a good slot machine. The game’s variance is also significant and will shape your gaming session and winning chances in the long run.

King’s Verdict: How Does RTP Impact Your Games?

Remember that old slots might still have better rewards, even while modern slots have higher RTP rates.

Bet on European Roulette instead of American Roulette, and play vintage blackjack instead of the newer versions if you’re a table game fan. These allow you to get a better return on investment and, with the right approach, even come out on top.

To sum up, the return to player percentage impacts how entertaining a game is over time. Nevertheless, it is not a solution for everyday problems or circumstances with a short time horizon.

The rate at which this occurs might change for games like table games based on the player’s level of expertise and strategy. Nevertheless, it is crucial to carefully verify the RTP before playing slot machines since it might determine the outcome.