Useful tips

Return to Player (RTP) and what it means to Players

The terms ‘Return to Player’ (RTP) is a common phrase used in the casino and gambling industry to describe what percentage of the cash that has been wagered in a slot or casino game will be paid back to the player after a certain duration of time.


In simpler terms, this can be explained to mean that the higher the percentage of the stake the more the times that a player is likely to win in the long run.  For example, if a player’s stake is at 100%, both the player and the casino stand an equal chance of winning. However, in cases where the stake is higher than that of the casino, then it means that the RTP goes higher to more than 100%.  In such a scenario, the casino would have lost money to its customers on the particular game over the set duration of time.

Let’s take an example, if you decide to place a hundred $1 bets on a game which has a RTP of 95%, you stand a chance of getting back about $95 in wins ( here, you only lost $5). It is important to note that RTP is not a daily occurrence as it is calculated over the long term. (A lot of unexpected things happen on a daily basis, so betting on money you can afford to lose is the wisest move).

RTP can be described as the opposite of ‘house advantage’. RTP mainly displays the player’s possible winnings while house advantage shows the opposite (the advantage to the casino).

One of the best places to find hundreds of casino games with the best RTP is 1xSlots Casino. You can also get a great 100 no deposit free spins offer to get started.

What is Hit Frequency in RTP policy?

Hit frequency is a pair of words used in a casino to mean the frequency at which the machine will stop on a certain winning combination. For instance, if a slot machine hits a frequency of 6%, this means that the machine will come to a stop on a winning pair or combination of about 6% of the time. If you are a newcomer in this industry, it is important to note that most slots allow betting on multiple lines for each spin.

Given that there are many slots and VLTs out there, it means there is also a lot of variation as far as the hit frequency is concerned. The difference ranges mostly between 3% for slots while other complex areas like video poker tend to have much higher hit frequency of up to 45%. Remember, as a player, you need to be well aware of the fact that video poker games may look appealing with their hit frequency, but the fact is that, in most cases, a player is only able to win back their original stake. On the other hand, slot machines with a low percentage of let’s say 3% hit frequency, offers a chance to win a huge jackpot.

Often times, you will find that casino players perceive games that have a very low hit frequency as being “tight” given that the wins are normally very far apart. On the other side, games with a much higher hit frequency can be seen as being “loose” because they offer an opportunity to have many small wins.

Bear in mind that the terms, “hit frequency” is simply an indication of how frequent (on average) a winning combination will appear.

Are High ‘Return-To-Player’ Slots Always Profitable?

Well, no one wants to incur losses and it is common for slot players to jump straight into high return slots with the aim of minimizing losses. However, you will soon realize that it is not always as simple as it appears.

In the casino world, there are numerous slots that come with lots of different colours and themes. The one a player chooses depends on a lot of things from those that are backed by a soundtrack from a memorable song or the bonus and mini-games that pop up every so often.

How do you Calculate Return to Player (RTP)?

RTP is a little complex and a player is not at a position to count it on his own. Often times, you will find that the RTP is given by the software provider and it is also common for the casino to tweak it a little so as to fit their needs. As a player, it is important to work with casinos whose RTP percentage is not below the average that the software provider has indicated as well as with casinos who openly display RTP on their website.

Do your due diligence online and in case you come across video slots whose RTP is between 98.0% and 98.5% and your casino has indicated 96.5%, then you should stay away from such a casino.

Although the formula for calculating RTP is theoretical, players are not provided with all the necessary information on how to do it but below is a formula that can be of much help to players:

The number one step is through the use of lots of players over a long duration of time. Taking into account the amount they use to bet, the amount they win, what they lose as well as their general turnover.

When it comes to the total amount that the players have used to bet, it is the total sum of money that the players have used on the said casino over a certain duration of time usually about one month.

Additionally, the amount that is returned to players indicates the total sum that the players are lucky to win in a round (theoretically), although this is also determined by the kind of game that they are playing. For example, if the players opt to play table games, the calculations will be based on the net win and not on the return. On the other hand, for slot machines and video pokers, the pay table from the game in question together with the results will be considered.

Importance of Paying Attention to a Game’s RTP

The information above may be too much already, and you may be wondering whether RTP can be of any help to you as a player. While RTP may not be 100% guarantee on when and how to win and vice versa, it is very helpful in showing a player its reverse as well as the house edge.  A player can calculate this by simply subtracting the RTP from 100%. For example, if a casino offers an RTP of 95%, it means the house edge stands at 5%.

It may not be 100% but the thing is RTP is a great guide because as a player, it will assist you in noticing a game that has a better chance of winning because, the higher the RTP, the higher the chances of winning.  

Simply put, you may opt to play the Mega Joker that is offering an RTP of 99% than the Mega Moolah with a low one of 88.12%.

What is High and Low Volatility in RTP?

Volatility is a common word in casinos and it means a combination of two factors: the risk and reward factors. In slots, for example, it is very normal to experience lots of high volatility and low volatility. In simple terms, this means there will be regular occurrences of small but frequent payouts vs rare but big payout. In some games, however, cases of medium volatility are possible which and this is one of the sweetest experiences for players as compared to the other two options.

High Volatility Slots in RTP and their Benefits to Players


Most slot games that have a high volatility come with a lower RTP plus a much bigger house edge. However, this should not be a discouraging factor and you might find them very suitable if you take the time to study how they work. Such slot games might take a while before a player can reap a huge win with them, but their high volatility comes with the possibility of better returns.

In our earlier discussion, you may remember we mentioned that RTP can be shared between players or lay in waiting until an opportunity strikes. However, in slots games with high volatility, it is a matter of piling up. Such slots may not be appealing to players who are not patient enough since it takes times and many spins to be able to win some good money but the moment you do, you will be able to win a good sum that will cover all your loses and get you a lot extra.

Low Volatility Slots

When we talk of low volatility slots, we mean the exact opposite to what we have discussed above. Low volatility gives players a chance for regular wins but in small amounts. For instance, let’s say there is a game you are eyeing that has a high variance and you stand a chance to win $1000 after 60 spins, now, with low variance, you have chances of winning on each spin but in small amounts of like $1-$2.

Although their payout might be low, they are more frequent which means the player is at low risk of losing. These types of slots are very suitable for players on a shoestring betting budget or those that want their budgets to last for a little while.

Is House Edge Here to Stay?

Probably Yes. Online casinos are out to make a profit and they should not be misunderstood for charities! To keep afloat, these casinos have introduced the house edge to make sure that they have a safety net regardless of the large sums that they pay to the players. The house edge is the percentage that the casino deducts from your stake and which they use to stay in business.

What should I consider when choosing a new slot?

Bearing in mind that slots that have a higher RTP do not necessarily translate to huge wins, they are suitable if you are looking for long term benefit but might not work if you are in RTP slots for short term gains. Here is a little guide that will be of great help especially if you are a beginner with RTP slots:

Theme of the game

This is by far the most obvious point to consider due to the noticeable different themes in each slot game. This concept revolves around the game icons, graphics, reels as well as the bonus features available in a game. Take for example the slot Alice in Wonderland, notice how different the theme of this game is as compared to let’s say Ancient Egyptian slot game like Book of Dead. Everything from graphics to the sound effects to the bonuses differs.

As a player, you can take advantage of this difference by going for themes that catch your eye and staying away from those that don’t. However, as you narrow down your choice, remember to include other features otherwise if you only depend on these criteria, you might miss out on some great games.

Software developer

Casino Software developer

No two software developers have the same exact thoughts when developing a game. Some notable slot developers include soft wares like Yggdrasil, who have made a name for themselves with their ever stylish graphics and game bonus. One of their slots is Vikings Go Berzerk whose graphics is second to none.

Other notable game developers include NetEnt and Microgaming, who are known for creating fantastic and solid games but the graphics are not at par with the likes of Yggdrasil. NetEnt is the software behind slot games like Dead or Alive while an example of slots that have been created by Microgaming include the famous Game of Thrones and Immortal Romance.

Check the bonus available

Almost every modern online casino offers a bonus to both new and existing players. For example, it is common to find video slots that are packed with attractive bonus features like multipliers, free spins and expanding wilds among many others. Most of these features are designed in a way that, a player will be able to lift slots games into the latest 3D and not the usual spinning of reel. Another thing to note here is that a lot of these features are concentrated in areas with large wins, so you may need to consider this before selecting a game.

Does RTP have an Impact on Bonus value?

Often, a casino bonus revolves around playing games on a slot machine. These types of slots are attractive because in most cases, their wagering requirements are much lower because different games have different bonus requirements.  What a lot of players may never know is that the value and worth of any casino bonus is differently impacted by the game slots a player selects. This is also the case with the slots RTP.

So the answer to the above question is yes. RTP has some impact on your bonus value and for you to increase your chances of winning, you are better off choosing slots that have a better and higher RTP value. This will also assist you in completing the wagering requirements for the bonus.

Ensure you read the casino’s small print before you rush to claim the bonus. This will not only ensure any miscommunication later on but it will also assist you in evaluating the real value of your bonus in relation to the slots of your choice. Depending with the operator, you may encounter cases of a bonus whose value has been lessened or even cancelled or banned on certain slots. Most of such scenarios are as a result of an RTP which is higher than the average.

An easy way around such cases is to gain an advantage over a casino which you can do by following a formula that offers wagering requirements that are balanced against the RTP. For example, if a casino offers a bonus that requires wagering of let’s say 30xs, you can take advantage of it by playing slots with higher RTP of not less than 96.7%. If the casino requires wagering of 40 xs, then go higher and select slots with higher compensation of not less than 97.5%.

A Summary of Some Top Facts about RTP

  • Most slots that are part of a franchise or renowned companies are more likely to offer very low RTP rate. The main reason here is because such big brands are costly for casinos and they end up paying a lot of money so as to use their images or names. Famous titles like The Terminator, Marvel and Jurassic Park may be very common but they can cost a casino an arm and a leg and so most of them pass on this cost to the player by offering very low RTP rates.
  • If you want to try your hand in higher-paying slots, look for games from developers like NetEnt, Microgaming and Thunderkick. Other developers like Nextgen, Playtech, Yggdrasil, Ballys and WMS offer much lower RTP.
  • Most progressive slots offer extremely low RTP percentage which can be as low as 10%. If you want to make a profit with casinos, it is better to avoid such games.
  • Trust other players’ opinion and reviews. This may not be very applicable in poker but is extremely necessary in slots. If players feel shortchanged by a casino, they will call it out and fast. Reviews and ratings are some of the best places to look for evidence before plunging in. You can also look for casino discussions on social media pages.
  • Make and stick to a betting budget. This may not be an easy undertaking but it might be the only way to save you loads of debts! Avoid fantasies on how you will spend the jackpot money that you are aiming and stick to reality that yes it’s possible to win the jackpot and on the other hand, getting carried away and spending more than you can afford can ruin your finances.
  • Another great virtue when playing slots is knowing when to quit. Remember, they say there is no guarantee in life and this is also the case with slots. RTP will never be100% and the longer you continue to play without a win, the higher you stand to lose.
  • When speaking of RTP, it is common to come across the phrase “in the long term”. For beginners, this may sound confusing as most people tend to think it means 5 or 10 years to come. But in reality, this means that you cannot expect to walk into a casino, play a one-time slot game with $200 and immediately walk away with a profit of $180. However, this means that you will need an indefinite number of plays to be able to make some good money.
  • Ensure you always take some time to study the RTP of a machine prior to deciding which slot to play. Use the formula given above to work out the possible RTP you will receive per single session. This will go a long way in assisting you to calculate how well your RTP is performing over the long-term.
  • If you are just joining casino games, make good use of the demo provided to learn as much as you can before placing bets using real money. Apart from demos being fun, they are good at helping you improve your strategy. You will also be at a position to tell when a slot is in low, medium or high volatility.
  • Always ensure you leave a game session after activating all your bonuses so as to better your chances of winning in subsequent choices.
  • Check the casino’s preferred denomination before placing a bet. Currencies differ a lot and there is a big difference between a cent and a dollar.
Shawna Dudley

Shawna is an ambitious and free-spirited digital nomad with expertise in creating high-quality and SEO-friendly guides and reviews in the iGaming and travel industry. Follow her on Twitter or Linkedin or send her an email.