Return to Player is a term that is used quite commonly in the world of online casino gaming. In fact, it is referred to so often that it is frequently abbreviated to the initials RTP. But what exactly does this Return to Player term mean? And does it really matter?
In this article, we'll tell you precisely what Return to Player means, how it is calculated (yes, it's a number) and why it is something that all online casino players should be familiar with. We'll also explain why you should always give preference to games with a high casino RTP, and we'll recommend some of the best so that you can start heading in the right direction straight away.
What Does RTP (Return to Player) Mean?
We refer to Return to Player as the amount of money that a particular casino game is expected to pay out to its players over the long term. The casino RTP is usually presented as a percentage figure, and the higher that percentage is, the better it is for players. Check out our list of Casino Reviews to know where to find High RTP games.
For example, consider an online slot with an advertised RTP of 96%. This RTP suggests that the game can be expected to return 96% of the money it takes in bets. If a game takes C$1,000,000 in bets, it can therefore be expected to pay out C$960,000 in prizes, leaving C$40,000 for the casino.
If you are familiar with the concept of the house edge in gambling then you can think of the RTP as being the exact opposite. While the house edge tells you how much money the casino expects to retain from bets, the RTP tells you how much it expects to return to players, hence the term.
RTP percentages are first calculated by the companies that create entertaining casino games and slots, and they are then verified by external auditors. Calculating the Return to Player figure for a particular bet in a specific casino game is a fairly simple matter of comparing the odds paid for success with the true odds of succeeding.
For example, when you play a game of European Roulette and you bet on an even money outcome such as red or black, you will be paid odds of 1:1. This would be perfectly fair if you had an 18 in 36 chance of succeeding, but the green 0 on the table means that you only have an 18 in 37 chance of success. Even if you bet on both red and black at the same time, you would only have a 36 in 37 chance of success, and that equates to 97.29%. The difference between that and 100% for a perfectly fair game is 2.71%, which is the house edge.
When you know the house edge for a particular game or a bet within a game you can easily calculate the RTP for it. Simply take 100% and then deduct the house edge from it. The figure left over is the RTP. For example, the house edge for a Pass Line bet in a game of craps is 1.41%. The RTP is therefore 100% - 1.41% = 98.59%.
Calculating the RTP of online slots is much more complicated. That's because the outcome of every spin depends on a multitude of variables, such as the number of lines being played, the number of reels being used, the way the paytable is organized and so on.
Typically, the game providers will program the software to aim for a certain RTP target in mind, and the games are then tested over many millions of simulated spins to get a publishable figure. Where different variables in a game can be changed, either by the casinos that offer it or by those who play it, the RTP will be published as a range. For example, an RTP range of 94% to 97% means that the actual RTP could vary between those two figures, depending on how the variables are tweaked.
It is important to understand that RTP figures are only long-term estimations. When you play a game with a 96% RTP you can't realistically expect to win C$9.60 for every C$10 that you bet, or even to win C$960 for every C$1,000 that you bet. In the short term, you could win many times more, or you might lose every cent. Always bear this in mind, and don't expect a long-term RTP to be a reliable guide to the short term.
When you play popular online slots, you will find that they differ in how volatile they are. Slots with low volatility will tend to pay modest prizes fairly regularly, so the casino RTP will be more reliable in the medium term. Those with high volatility, on the other hand, will tend to pay out larger prizes on a less regular basis, so their actual RTPs can lag behind the advertised figures for a long while before eventually 'catching up' in a much shorter period. This 'hit frequency' explains why no slots player should expect RTP figures to be reliable for any individual gaming session.
We have just explained that the RTP of a game, and of a slots RTP, in particular, is no indicator of how it can be expected to perform in any given gaming session. Even so, it still makes a great deal of sense to focus on playing high RTP slots rather than others with lower Return to Play figures. Here are just three good reasons why we say that:
Most online casinos award bonus funds to attract new players as well as to retain existing ones. You can usually spend those bonus funds on a wide variety of games, including slots, and we think that using them on high RTP slots is a particularly good idea.
Because high RTP slots will return more of their turnover to players over the long term, they will give you a better chance of winning than other slots games. Specifically, we would recommend playing low volatility slot games with high RTP figures, as their more generous hit frequency will also make it easier for you to get a return from bonus funds.
Free spins can also be awarded as casino bonuses. In some cases, these will be given for a specific game. Often, however, you can choose to use them on any type of slot, in which cash high RTP slots would also be a good choice.
Online slot games openly publish their RTP information in their rules, so it isn't at all difficult to find. That said, we understand that many of you will be keen to try a few for yourself with a minimum of fuss, so here are five of the best that we can recommend with enthusiasm.
Slots games can be viewed as having a high RTP when they return 96% or more to players. However, when you play table games the RTP is often even higher, especially if you know which bets to make. Here are two table games with high RTP that are particularly popular with players in Canada.
BlackJack – up to 99.5%
One of the most famous casino card games in the world, Blackjack is one of the few that allows you to exercise skill instead of relying on pure luck. Play the game according to basic strategy and the house edge in a game of Single Deck Blackjack can be as high as 99.5%. You should always avoid taking Insurance when playing this game, as it will reduce the RTP to less than 95% in a single deck game and even lower levels in games using multiple decks.
Roulette is a game of chance that has a number of variants. American Roulette has two green zeros on the wheel, and that gives the casino a house edge of 5.26%, which equates to an RTP figure of 94.74%. The best variant of the game is European Roulette, with just one green zero and a house edge of 2.71%, which means the RTP is 97.29%. You should note that some roulette variants with side bets or bonus features will usually have considerably lower RTPs, so be sure to take that into consideration when choosing which games to play.
Return to Player (RTP) figures tell you how much money bet on a casino game will be paid back to players in the form of prizes. The RTP can be viewed as the inverse cousin of the house edge, which means that the higher the RTP, the better it is for the player. Bear this in mind whenever you play online casino games, and consider keeping track of your gameplay and the RTPs involved so that you can see for yourself how RTP affects the longevity of your bankroll.