What does RTP mean (casinos)?

Playing, gambling and betting can, for a lot of us, just be a simple leisure activity that we enjoy. A quick bet here, a night in the casino to unwind, a few spins on an online slots game. It can be fun and relaxing, and winning or losing often just an afterthought. At the same time, many of us approach playing in casinos with every ounce of strategizing we can muster. For either kind of player, though, there are some fundamentals which can often be tricky to understand.
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One of the most important things to get your head round when playing in casinos is the RTP—or rate of Return To Player. It’s fairly straightforward once you’ve sussed it out, so let’s look what it means and how to use it.
RTP, simplified
So, let’s just break down the basics of the term. Return to player means simply the winnings they can make on a slots game, expressed as a percentage of their total stake. So, if you play a slots game for an hour, and you stake £100 over the course of that hour at an RTP of 80%, you would expect to end up with, on average, £80 at the end of the hour.
Slots are often the simplest way to explain the concept of RTP, but they apply to all games in more or less the same way. The RTP naturally becomes more complex for different games, and thus harder to calculate for you.
In most table games, like blackjack, RTP is much more about strategy than simply something you have to live with. You can’t do much to influence the RTP of a slots machine or a lottery, but you can with something like blackjack.
Let’s look at which are the best games to play for their RTP.
Picking good games on RTP
The key thing to understand when entering a casino with RTP in mind is that it isn’t always out of your control. Part of the reason the modern gambling industry has been forced to display RTPs on online slots specifically is because those games tend to encourage chasing losses, and they easily become repetitive and addicting. By understanding your RTP, you can have a better sense of your chances of winning.
If you’re looking to really strategize, though, then my advice would be to look beyond the slots. Whereas the majority of slots games have, at best, 95-96% RTP, with a good strategy, blackjack can be as high as 99.6%. This is about as high as you can get with any game, with various kinds of poker sitting around 97%.
If it is slots games you want to play, you should still be equally discerning in which one you play. Some of the best online slots games boast RTPs as high as blackjack, but you’re not going to stumble across these games. You’ll have to know what you’re looking for.
You can start by looking for reviews of different machines, and finding the one with the best RTP according to user reviews. Then, you can look for those machines in the casinos.
You might also want to try to calculate the RTP yourself. Let’s look at how to do that.
Calculating RTP yourself
Depending on the game type, RTP is calculated either via a simulated or theoretical model. For example, with a slot machine, you might simulate every possible combination to calculate theoretical RTP.
When it comes to slots, calculating the theoretical RTP yourself is naturally quite difficult. What you can do, though, is track your winnings and stake over a period of time and calculate it that way. This, however, would only show one possible RTP, as opposed to the overarching theoretical RTP that the machines themselves will display.
While there is some benefit to looking at your own calculations for RTP, overall, it isn’t really necessary anymore. You should absolutely have a good understanding of it and know the RTP of any game you intend to play a lot, but it’s not really all that important to work it on your own any more. Always check the feedback of other users when choosing games and slot machines to play, as this is how you will find the machines with the highest RTP.
RTP is not as complex as it might first seem, then. It’s simply a way of determining how much of your stake over a longer period that you can expect to get returned to you. Playing slots, whether online or in a physical casino, is going to involve calculating the RTP if you expect to play for a long period of time. Typically, at least online, slots games are required to present the RTP for you. But if you are going to a brick-and-mortar casino that isn’t yet bound by this requirement, you may need to calculate it yourself.
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