What Is Return to Player (%RTP) Slots and Casino?

Return to Player, or RTP, is arguably the single most important factor you should look at when considering a slot machine. If you’re looking to maximize your value there are a few things you should know about RTP.
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All slot machines online and in physical casinos have a unique number associated with them called Return to Player percentage, or RTP, which is a long-term average of how much money wagered will be won back by the player.

It’s quite literally a game’s pay rate.

RTP can help you evaluate whether a game is worth playing or not. It’s fairly easy to understand and can put you in the best position possible to have a winning day on the slots.

What Is a Good RTP for Slots?

Advantages for players are tough to come by. Slots are notorious for being among the casino games with the greatest house edge. Understanding Return to Player can help close that gap, if only just a bit. In order for it to be a valuable decision-making factor, it’s important to know what is a good RTP for slots.

Since it’s a percentage, RTP ranges from 0-100%. The higher a game’s RTP, the better your chances of getting the highest possible payback so you want to find games with an RTP as close to 100% as possible.

There is a general line of demarcation between what is a good RTP for slots and what’s not. In general, look for games that offer 96% RTP or greater.

How is RTP Calculated?

As a warning for those who need it, we’re about to talk about math. Before you break out in a sweat, actually doing the math is the casino’s job so leave your abacus at home. We’re just trying to grasp a basic understanding of the factors that combine to produce RTP.

Most often, RTP can be found in the info panel of games, and the formula used to determine it looks like this:

(money returned / money wagered) x 100 = % RTP

Return to Player is calculated by first dividing the total amount won by the total amount wagered, then multiplying that quotient by 100. For example, if a game’s RTP is 98%, it means the player would get $98 back for every $100 wagered.

Using the formula above, the example would look like this:

($98 won / $100 wagered) x 100 = 98% RTP

But how do you find out how much has been paid back vs. what’s been wagered if you haven’t taken a single spin? The short answer is: you can’t. Since the casino does these calculations and sets the RTP, each game already knows how much to pay back.

If you’re thinking of all the times you put $100 into a slot game only to have it take every cent, you’re probably wondering what gives. RTP is calculated over a much, much longer span than the time it took to separate you from your $100. 

RTP is an average over the course of a game’s lifetime. If we go back to our example, the game will pay out 98% over an infinite number of spins. That’s why you might sit at a game one day and not win a dime but win a jackpot on the same machine the next day. 

RTP measuring long-term payback ensures that every player’s experience on a game will be unique to them. 

RTP vs. Volatility and Hit Frequency

If RTP is the percentage a game is set to pay back to the player, volatility indicates how frequently payouts occur and how much a player stands to win.

All slots fall somewhere on a spectrum from low to high volatility. The closer to the low volatility end a game is, the more frequently it will hit. Those wins, however, will be relatively small. High volatility games hit less often but winning spins pay greater amounts.

There are no recommendations or strategies for volatility there are for RTP. Rather, volatility is all about your playing style and preferences. When assessing if a game is worth playing, go for the highest RTP for the type of volatility that fits your style.

Most Popular Slots RTP Examples

If you’re looking to put an RTP-focused strategy to work, here are the most popular online slots with the highest RTP:

  1. Ugga Bugga, Playtech – 99.07% RTP
  2. Book of 99, Relax Gaming – 99% RTP
  3. Mega Joker, NetEnt – 99% RTP
  4. Zeus Lightning Power Reels, Red Tiger Gaming – 97.73% RTP
  5. Ooh Aah Dracula, Barcrest – 99%
  6. Jackpot 6000, NetEnt – 98.9%
  7. 1429 Uncharted Seas, Thunderkick – 98.6%
  8. The Catfather, Pragmatic Play – 98.1% RTP
  9. Blood Suckers, NetEnt – 98% RTP
  10. Jokerizer, Yggdrasil Gaming – 98%

Conclusion

Because of the casino’s built-in advantage on slots, choosing games with the highest RTP is a legitimate way to get more value at the casino. While RTP is not a guarantee of what your specific playing experience will be, it’s a good measuring stick for identifying games with a lower house edge.

The truth is, a lot of slots players care more about the theme, gameplay, bonuses, jackpots and max wins than they do about a couple points of RTP. Game developers know this too which is why the most popular games don’t always have the highest RTP.

That said, knowing where to find the RTP for slots and how it works is something every slots fan should take the time to learn.

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Author: Jay Adams
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