RTP: A Beginner’s Guide
The RTP (or, in its long-form, the “return to player” percentage), is a theoretical guide to how much a video slot machine can be expected to pay out, over the course of thousands of spins.
Now, it’s essentially another way of looking at the house edge - although, unlike with games like Roulette and Blackjack - slots vary quite a lot more...
And that’s why the RTP figure was created.
So, to begin: What is an RTP?
RTP is a theoretical estimation of exactly how much of the money played through it, a slot machine can expect to keep or payout over the course of its working life.
For example, if you played a video slot with an RTP of 90%, for every £100 staked on that machine, you could expect £90 to be returned. The slot would keep £10, as profit for the owner - in most cases, the online casino.
Now, of course, this percentage is calculated over millions - sometimes even billions - of spins - and just because a lot has a low, or a high RTP percentage, it doesn’t mean your playing session will be affected. However, by looking at the RTP, you can get a rough idea of the volatility of the game - and that’s something a little more important, as it affects the actual gameplay of the slot.
This is a very common question asked, and it makes sense; you see a slot game pays out regularly over its lifetime… and naturally, you think that’s a better slot to play than one with a lower RTP.
Unfortunately, it’s not quite that simple - and sometimes, it can be worth playing a game with an RTP percentage a couple decimal points lower than another, purely because the win-potential in the lower-RTP version is so much higher.
It’s also worth noting that high-variance slots generally have a lower RTP percentage than low-variance games - and while this does, over the long-run, of course, prove detrimental to you as a player, you really shouldn’t pay too much attention to the percentage.
As a general rule of thumb, you should not’ play a slot with an RTP of less than 92% (and even then, that’s very low) - and thankfully, when you’re playing online, it’s rarely a problem, as most online slots are 94% or higher.
What Is Volatility?
Volatility is, essentially, the playing-style of a slot, and it incorporates a few elements; how often it pays out, how big it pays out, and how likely you are to have a hit.
For example, a low-volatility slot would deliver frequently, but small wins, while a high-volatility slot would pay wins a lot less regularly. When it does pay wins, however, they’re generally higher than were you playing a low-variance game.
High-variance games are well-suited to players looking to enjoy a nail-biting gaming experience - and they’re perfect if you’re happy to go long periods of time without much in the way of wins, with the hope of hitting a BIG win, later on.
Low-variance games, on the other hand, are ideal for players who want to see continual action while playing. For example, if you’re not too fussed about hitting 100X + your stake wins - and prefer, instead, to just keep the gameplay going without busting out too soon - then a low-variance game is perfect.
There is, technically a medium-variance category too, although in reality, most games are categorised either by “high”, or by “low” variance.
It’s necessary to point out, again, that the RTP is a theoretical calculation, assumed over millions of spins. There is no guarantees either way, that a slot will pay out a certain amount of money, in a given time-period...
And it’s not uncommon for slots to see RTP’s as high as 150% - or as low as 50% - as all slots are, at the end of the day, based on luck.
So, while it’s beneficial to have a good idea of what an RTP percentage is… what it means… and how it affects the slot....
Remember, that your individual playing experiences aren’t going to be affected by it, and the shorter your playing-session is, the less of an effect it has.
Hint: You can view the RTP of a slot within the “Help Files”. This is found within the game itself, and is also sometimes known as “Game Rules”.