What is RTP and how it affects your gaming sessions

What is RTP and how it affects your gaming sessions

The online gambling industry is better than the land-based one in many aspects, including the variety of games available. Each better than the other, the games are different not only when it comes to how they look and what features they have, but also on how frequently or how much you can succeed. This happens because of the RTP rate.

Let’s see what that is and why it is essential for your gaming sessions!

What is RTP and why it is important

What is RTP and why it is important

RTP stands for Return to Player and is a term that casinos use to describe the percentage of all the money players wager over time in a slot machine or a VLT (Video Lottery Terminal) that is paid back to the players.

The simple calculation for this would be that if you make a hundred £1 bets on a game with an RTP of 90%, you will get a generated value of £90.

However, RTP is calculated over the long term, and it is in a strong relationship with the house advantage. This means that if a game has a 10% house advantage, then the average RTP will be 90%. This means that this game will keep 10% of the player’s money over a long period of time.

Considering that the RTP is calculated over a long period, players may not necessarily generate back the specified amount. This means that if you bet £10, you may win £100, while some other time, you may lose the £10 and get nothing in return. Therefore, you cannot expect the RTP to be proven over a 10-minute gaming session.

Rather, the RTP rate is best reflected upon following a statistically relevant number of game rounds. The more rounds you include in your measurements, the closer you get to the true RTP rate.

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? Not at all, since one round cannot give you any information about the real repeatable outcome.

Two rounds

We build up 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 £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 by 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? As the number of games played increases, the percentage will be more exact. 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 that a player has good chances of being ahead in a short time.

However, due to the Long Term Predictability, the overall cumulative results will have them at a loss on 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. 

Our experts recommend using casino UK bonus codes when joining a new platform to test out how the games work.

How is RTP calculated and verified

The formula with which the RTP of a game is calculated is relatively straightforward. It 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.

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

Since many online casino games are very complex, multiple algorithms and extensive testing are required to 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.

According to the UKGC rules, all slot machines must display their RTP figure clearly. 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.

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

Hit Frequency vs RTP

Hit Frequency vs RTP

Though they are different concepts, hit Frequency is often confused 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 make bets on, increasing the number of victorious combinations they can make but also 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 do 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 definitely 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.

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

How RTP works on different game types

RTP differs from one game type to another and from game to game. 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 for a beginner who is still not familiar with the game, it can be a lot lower.

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

RTP in slot machines

RTP in slot machines

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

That is why the better the RTP value is, the more you will be able to play with the same amount of money. This is why players have started paying more attention to this rate in recent years 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

When it comes to slot machines, there are two categories they may fall in –  low variance slots and high variance slots.

  • The low variance slot machines allow you to play for longer with your starting funds because they pay out lots of small prizes, enough to keep you going.
  • High variance slots pay less often, but when they do, the generated value is significantly bigger. You will find progressive jackpot slots in this category, which will come 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 comes with 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 over time. 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, and each one comes 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 go below 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 any other RTP value, over a long period.

Promotions created for Blackjack can help players accustom themselves to the game and the different RTP variations with fewer financial commitments on their part.

Games with the highest RTP

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

These are the top 5 slot machines with the highest RTP that you should try. 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 platforms.

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


Remember that the newer slots usually have better RTP than the classic ones. However, this is not always the case.

If you prefer table games instead, the best choice for you would be to go for the European Roulette instead of the American one and choose the traditional, classic Blackjack variants instead of the new additions. These give you more return on investment and, with a good strategy, you can even be ahead.

In conclusion, the RTP of a game does affect your gaming experience in the long run. However, it should never be applied to short-term situations and never on every single spin.

For some games, such as table games, this rate can vary depending on how well the player knows the game and how good its playing strategy is. However, in slot machines, a reasonable RTP can make the difference, so always check that out before playing!