Many players like to look at the Return to Player and the chances of winning on a variety of different games offered by online casinos. And we fully support doing a little bit of research ahead of time to ensure that you get the best deals when it comes to playing video slots, table games, and progressive jackpots. Each game has slightly different odds and RTP for each type of bet. Plus, you need to know in advance if the higher payouts of low odds are worth it over better odds, more consistent wins, and lower overall payouts. We’ll get to all of this and much much today!
The Return to Player (often shortened to just RTP) is a percentage that tells you how much you can expect to win on average over a long playing session. When we say long, we mean a theoretical average that’s calculated over millions of spins on slots. Or millions of bets in table games like roulette, blackjack, and baccarat. Of course, no single player is going to rack up millions of individual bets (we assume!). So, the average given by RTP figures is an important consideration or benchmark for players to consider as if millions of bets had been placed.
Let’s take a simple example for the purposes of this in-depth online gambling guide. Say a particular slot you want to play has a stated RTP of 98%. In this case, it means that for every euro you bet, you can expect to win back an average of 98 cents. The extra 2% is going to the casino – this last bit is known as the house edge, or to put it more simply, the expected profits made by the casino for each bet. That might not sound like a great deal, of course, but 98% is considered to be a very high RTP percentage. And we must take into consideration that it is an average. You can always beat the odds and walk away as a winner. It’s just that X number of other players will end up losing to the casino to balance it out.
Not to go too geeky here, but the way RTP is calculated on a general level is quite simple. It is the total amount won (or returned) to players divided by the total amount that was wagered by those same players. So, while it isn’t calculated on the actual history of a single game, it is simulated by computer algorithms to play millions of rounds in a short space of time to replicate something that had been played by thousands of players over many years or decades. And because each spin uses a random number generator (RNG) to ensure that each spin has exactly the same chances of winning as the next one, we know that the RTP is accurate.
You’ll sometimes get lucky and all the big wins will just be rolling in, while at other times, the same slot might give you nothing but losses. In short, for one player to win, someone else has to lose. The only thing that’s certain is that the slot, or the casino, always gets to keep between 2% and 5% (or whatever percent the house edge is) of the bets, while the rest is paid out as winnings to random players.
Since the RTP is always lower than 100%, this means if you keep playing and playing, you'll lose in the end. You can, of course, be lucky and get quite a few big wins, but the trick is to withdraw your winnings at some point. If you keep betting your winnings over and over again, the slot will leave you empty-handed. Unless you win a jackpot, of course…
For full disclosure, we must state that the RTP of any given game isn’t always an indicator of your chances of winning each time. At least not when it comes to online casino slots at least. For example, a progressive jackpot slot might have a relatively low RTP of around 70%. This is because one spin can end up winning a jackpot of millions of euros, while the overwhelming number of spins won’t win anything or only a small amount. So, while the figure is low for jackpot games, the risk might be worth it. There’s always a chance that the reels go into a complete meltdown and you end up pocketing a jackpot win. But, it’s a different story for table games.
Let’s take roulette as an example. Here, you can reasonably expect to pick up an almost equal amount of wins and losses. That is if you’re sticking to something like even money bets on red, black, odd, even, high, or low. That’s because the chances of winnings are around 50% – though not quite because of the zero or double zero pockets on the wheel. So, even money bets have odds of 48.64% each time, with a house edge of 2.70%. All the other types of wager have been carefully calculated to maintain this house edge, which means the Return to Player is 97.30%.
So, while it might seem quite confusing as to what Return to Player actually means, it’s relatively straightforward once it’s been explained. You can now use this information to reliably inform yourself about your chances of winning whenever you find a new game to play. You can also balance out the odds of winning versus the payouts expected for each type of bet you make. Good luck!