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RTP in Casino Games. How Important is It?

Casinos often promote their services with bonuses locked in high-RTP slots as a way to highlight potentially high odds of winning. Still, we need to add more nuance to this. Refer to our RTP guide below if you want to know more about a concept that’s on every casino gamer’s lips but remains shrouded in mystery.

Defining RTP

Return to player

Return to Player is a measure of a game's payout distribution. It clarifies the percentage of wagered money that returns to players overall.

We should also note that RTP is measured over hundreds of thousands, sometimes millions, of spins. If you’re a player yourself, you already know that, at the end of most slot gaming sessions, you won’t end up with exactly 95% or 97% of what you spent.

So, RTP may not reflect quite so obviously in your sessions. Why is it important, then?

Theoretical vs Actual RTP

Software providers design casino games with a built-in return rate, but the actual RTP might not reach the declared theoretical value in the short term. Numerous factors can influence RTP and cause certain deviations from the expected value.

To obtain the actual RTP, you need to divide the total value of winnings by turnover over a specific time frame. You might not have the data required to perform this calculus yourself. Still, official measurements prove that a game’s actual RTP might vary.

For instance, volatility can affect a game’s RTP rate. However, only deviations of up to 5% are accepted. These slight modifications can make a game riskier. That's why the United Kingdom Gambling Commission has ruled that all licensed casino operators must have their games tested for fairness by external audit services.

RTP Transparency

Casinos must display any piece of information that relates to a game’s odds of winning, as per the UKGC’s rules. RTP is included here with house edge and any other probability that may affect the decision to play one game.

The rule of RTP and odds transparency ensures the punter is always informed of their chances and can choose the game that suits their budget best. You may see a slot's RTP if you're playing online by hovering your mouse over the game icon. It may also be displayed in-game or on a dedicated list that should be linked in the footer.

RTP vs House Edge

RTP and house edge are two ways of describing your chances of winning. You could say RTP is the opposite of house edge. For a slot machine with 95% RTP, the house edge is 5%. The game returns 95% of the stakes to players and the casino keeps the rest.

Using Kingcasinobonus examples as a starting point, we can apply the same formula for table games, going the other way around. So, if European Roulette comes with a house edge of 2.7%, it means it has an RTP of 97.3%. When you compare it to American Roulette’s 94.7% RTP, it’s obvious which table is the more advantageous option.

RTP in Slot Machines

slot machines

Knowing a slot’s odds of delivering winning combinations can prove helpful in your gaming sessions. However, don’t raise your hopes too high when you see values close to 99%.

A 97% RTP slot may drain your bankroll just as quickly as a 93% game because other factors in the software design come into play. Your gameplay style may affect the session's unfolding as well. If you keep betting the maximum, hoping to trigger the game’s jackpot feature, it may not matter that the slot’s RTP is high.

RTP is important for differentiating between games at the surface but won't dictate your experience. To get a relatively accurate perspective over your winning odds, you need to consider variance and hit frequency, too.

Variance vs Hit Frequency

Variance, also known as volatility, measures a slot's risk level. As mentioned earlier, it can influence a slot's RTP in the short term.

Based on variance alone, slots can be divided into 3 types: low, medium, and high-risk games.

Low-risk slots are naturally better options when you’re on a budget. Conversely, risking a low bankroll in high-volatility slots is probably not a good idea. However, stories of one-hit payouts in such games are not uncommon.

You shouldn’t confuse variance with hit frequency. Variance correlates with financial risk because it can shift the RTP. On the other hand, hit frequency measures how often winning combinations appear. A slot machine may be set up with a high hit frequency level and pay repeatedly. Still, if it's also a high-volatility game, it may pay out negligible amounts.

5 Highest-RTP Slots

Refer to the table below for a list of the highest-RTP slots around:

Slot NameRTP %
Ugga Bugga99.07%
Mega Joker99%
Jackpot 600098.8%
Blood Suckers98%
1429 Uncharted Seas95.1%-98.9%

Variable RTP in Skill-Based Games

We need to touch upon a final subject to round off our RTP guide: skill-based card games. Here, RTP is variable because your strategy and style of play have a decisive say in what you receive back as winnings.

Even though we’re talking about virtual games, Blackjack and Video Poker require you to make the right betting choices to achieve the stated RTP.

The house edge for Blackjack usually ranges between 0.5%-2%, making it one of the most advantageous casino games. However, that 0.5% house edge (or 99.5% RTP) is only attainable with a perfectly sound strategy.

5 Highest-RTP Blackjack games

Some variants allow even greater return rates. So, if you’re familiar with Blackjack and want to play for the best odds, be sure to check out these high-RTP titles:

Blackjack VariantRTP %
Blackjack Charlie 799.84%
Super 7 Blackjack99.59%
7 Seat Blackjack99.6%
Atlantic City Blackjack99.65%
Buster Blackjack99.58%

Crossing the 100% RTP Threshold

Let’s conclude this guide with a fun fact. Did you know there are video poker titles that exceed 100% RTP? It's undoubtedly surprising that a casino would host a game that’s guaranteed to lose them money in the long run, but it’s a reality.

A few land-based casinos in Las Vegas offer this opportunity and provide an exclusive video poker terminal, Full-Pay Deuces Wild, with an RTP of 100.76%. If you’re not going to Nevada anytime soon, look for Joker Poker (RTP of 100.05%) at your favourite online casino.

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.