RTP Meaning

Online casino games are, for the most part, luck-based games which are not influenced by the player. There are some exceptions of course, such as table games, but for games such as video slots, the outcome of each spin is totally random.

Behind the facade of entertainment and amusement is a computer which generates the results which appear on your screen. Knowing a little about this computer can help you choose a better slot game and let you get better odds. The best piece of information to do all this is called the Return to Player (RTP).

What is a slot's RTP exactly?

Every time you spin the reels on your favourite slot, the outcome is determined by a random number generator. Each new spin is independent of the last. This means that the probability of landing a certain pattern of symbols is equal every time. Game developers and independent test labs test each slot tens of thousands of times and calculate the number of times that a payout is provided. This number is turned into a percentage of total spins, and the result is described as the game's RTP.

In theory, a video slot with a higher RTP percentage should provide you with greater or more frequent payouts when compared to a game with a lower percentage. However, in practice, it is not that simple. In order to get similar results to those obtained in the calculation of the RTP, you would need to spin the reels thousands or even millions of times. Even then, the same result cannot necessarily be guaranteed since slot results are always random.

You can think of a video slot's RTP as the opposite value to the house's edge on a table game. The house edge describes the casino's advantage, whereas the RTP describes the player's.

A better way to understand RTP in Slot games

The best way to understand RTP meaning is with a practical example. Consider NetEnt's highly successful slot, Gonzo's Quest. This game has an RTP of 95.97%. Essentially, this means that you can expect to be paid €95.97 for every €100. You can even calculate the house edge from the RTP. In this example, this would be 4.03%.

There is no fixed number of times that a particular slot is tested in order to calculate its RTP. In some cases, developers divulge this information and in others, they do not. You are unlikely to play a slot long enough to achieve the same RTP, but that is not necessarily a bad thing. The fun element of a slot is that each spin is unique and full of potential. Whilst it might take hundreds of thousands of spin for you to land an average payout of 95%, it could take just 5 spins to trigger a bonus with a reward of 500%.

Understanding RTP meaning and how it is calculated is a useful bit of knowledge for a slot player to have. However, it does not provide any guarantee or true indication of what payouts you can expect. Even picking high RTP slots will not ensure that you win more than you spend. You should only play video slots in order to be entertained and have fun and never as a way to make money.

Finding a slot's RTP

In most cases, game developers include the official RTP figure of a given slot on its paytable. If you would like to view it at any time whilst playing the game, all you need to do is:

  1. Click the game's paytable icon or, in its absence, open the slot's rules
  2. Scroll through the bottom of the paytable, passing the bonus and symbol details
  3. You should find the RTP at the bottom of the rules or in the end sections of the paytable

With the paytable and rulebook open you should check whether the game's RTP varies depending on the value of your wager. Some games unlock special features, like the opportunity to win a jackpot when you wager a certain minimum amount. Doing this will affect the slot's overall RTP and might provide you with a better payout opportunity.

What about hit frequency and variance?

It is a good idea that when checking the RTP of slots you also keep an eye out for another two metrics, hit frequency and variance. Some slots are designed to pay out more frequently but normally feature smaller prizes. These slots have a high hit frequency but a low variance. An example of such a slot is another NetEnt production, Asgardian Stones. This game themed around Nordic mythology provides, on average, a steady stream of payouts and has an RTP of 96.31%.

At the other end of the payout spectrum are slots which payout less frequently, but when they do, prizes are normally worth more. Such low hit frequency and high variance games are particularly popular with players who have larger bankrolls and can afford to wait longer for payouts. An example of such a game is Playtech's Great Blue. Although this aquatic adventure slot has a high variance, its RTP is only 96.03%, lower than Asgardian Stones.

A well-known genre of slots known to be low hit frequency and high variance are progressive slots. Games such as Red Tiger's Rainbow Jackpots, might not payout as often as other slots, but there is the added possibility that a player receives a mega prize in the form of a jackpot. As a result, such games normally feature a two-part RTP. The first provides the expected payout when playing the base game while the second shows the average jackpot payout RTP.

The benefits of knowing the hit frequency

The hit frequency metric can provide insight on how often a winning combination should land in general, or it can provide specific value during a slot's special feature. It is normally more likely to receive a payout during a bonus feature, such as free spins than it is during the normal portion of the game.

Once again, you should not take hit frequency and variance values to provide any guarantee of results. A slot featuring a hit frequency of 20% should, in theory, provide a payout once every five spins. In reality, it could provide a payout hit frequency of 10%, 50% or any other random value. This is especially true if you only spin the reels a handful of times.

Types of variance

In the above examples, we outlined low and high variance, but the scale provides a more detailed selection. Slots can fall under one of the following variance ratings:

  • Low
  • Low-Medium
  • Medium
  • Medium-High
  • High

A slot's rating is certainly not an exact science and up for debate. Game developers are not required to comply with a particular set of standards when determining a game's variance. Some even forgo the above rating and provide their variance as a percentage or a figure from a custom scale.

Which RTP is best for you?

As we have already seen in this RTP meaning guide, a high RTP doesn't necessarily mean better payouts. When choosing which slot to play you should consider several factors, including hit frequency and variance. Of course, you should also look for games which are themed to your liking and include bonuses or features which you enjoy. After all, slots are a form of entertainment, so look for ones which thrill and excite you.

In fact, when deciding which slot to enjoy you should consider other details, such as variance, paylines, and features. Some players enjoy games with thousands of ways to win, whereas others prefer the simpler three-reel fruit machine. The advantage of playing online slots at a well-stocked online casino is that you're more likely to find the game features you are looking for.

High RTP Slots - The Slot Games with the Best RTP

Now that you have a good understanding of RTP meaning let's look at some popular slots you can try right now.

Jack Hammer 2: Fishy Business

Developed by NetEnt, Jack Hammer 2 features an RTP of 97.1%. This crime adventure and comic themed-slot provides 99 bet lines along with several bonuses. The Sticky Win feature, for example, keeps winning symbols in place and triggers re-spins. You can also win up to 20 free spins at a go whilst receiving double wins and extra wilds. Jack Hammer 2 has a low variance and was released in 2013.

Keeping Up with the Paddy's

Keeping Up with the Paddy's is another Leprechaun-themed video slot which takes a humorous approach to the lovable Irish icon. This 20-payline three-row slot is exclusive to Paddy Power casino and features everything from free spin clovers to drinking bonuses and Irish jig rewards. With the potential to win 1,000x your wager on a single spin, Keeping Up with the Paddy's slot is a good way to check if you have the luck of the Irish. The slot has an RTP of 94.16% and was developed by Cayetano Games.

Barbarian Treasures

A slot with a wilder side, Barbarian Treasures lets you lead your crew to new conquests in a Viking-themed game. With a 5x3 layout and 20 bet lines, the game might look dull, that is until you see all the bonus features which can trigger at any time. Free spins, random wilds, multipliers, and a combination of bonuses can provide you with over 1,000x your bet. Barbarian Treasures has an RTP of 95.93% and was released by Cayetano Games in 2020.

Deal or No Deal Megaways

Based on the popular tv show, Deal or No Deal Megaways lets you become the participant, with an opportunity to win 10,000 your bet. The game features the popular, Megaways, feature, which provides you with up to 117,649 different ways to win. Deal or No Deal Megaways runs on a cascading symbol mechanism and features free spins and a minigame with 22 mystery boxes and other elements of the show. This slot has an RTP of 95.72% and a medium to high variance. It was released by Blueprint in 2019.

Wings of Ra

Wings of Ra is an Egyptian-themed jackpot slot created by Red Tiger. Featuring pharaohs and gods, the 5x3 slot that includes 10 paylines and a bonus of up to 18 free spins. This slot has a default RTP of 95.69%, however, without the jackpot, this figure decreases to 92.7%. Wings of Ra has high variance which lets you win up to 3,166 times your wager at a go.

Mighty Griffin Megaways

What's more fun than playing around with a mythological creature which is part lion, part eagle? How about a slot which features both 117,649 different ways to win as well as a progressive jackpot where you can win up to 50,000 your stake? Might Griffin Megways is just such a slot. Developed by Blueprint, it brings together several favourite features of slots, including free spins, payout multipliers, and cascading wins. It has an RTP of 95.46% and a medium to high variance.

Money Train 2

Following the success of its predecessor, Money Train 2 takes you to the adventurous Wild West. The Relax Gaming slot features five columns and four rows as well as 40 bet lines. In many ways, Money Train 2 is better, featuring several modifiers and the opportunity to win up to 50,000 your bet. Throughout the game, you could trigger respins, special multipliers, and an unlimited number of free spins. The game's RTP is 96.4% and although its variance is lower than that of the original, it still ranks as high.

Hotline 2

Part slot and part tv action series, Hotline 2 is another successful game developed by NetEnt. This medium variance game has a default RTP of 94.51% and lets you win up to 5,184 times your wager. Featuring an animated intro and visually-stunning graphics, Hotline 2 offers free spins, wild symbols, and a minigame. The 5x3 slot transforms into a 3x6x6x6x3 layout with 1,944 bet lines during the bonus game, raising the RTP to 96.05%.

Book of Dead

Play'n Go's Book of Dead is often cited as a ripoff of a similarly themed slot, but in actual fact, it stands as a distinct and entertaining Egyptian adventure. The game was released in 2014 and feature five reels and 10 paylines. Step into the fictional adventure archaeologist shoes and explore the hidden temples for the mysterious book. Throughout your journey, you will have an opportunity to win free spins, trigger expanding symbols and unlock the powers of the book. This slot has an RTP of 94.25% and a high variance.

RTP myths and truths

Unfortunately, the Internet is full of myths surrounding RTP. By understanding RTP meaning you should already be able to identify most of these statements as either truths or myths.

Casinos can secretly change a slot's RTP

This statement is an absolute myth. In the overall majority of cases, casinos feature slots developed by completely separate creators. The games run from the developer's servers and the casino operators have no access to the game's computer or random number generator. Whilst some developers give casinos the option to set their own RTP, the change is carried out by the developers and the slot features the updated percentage.

Progressive jackpots can affect a slot's RTP

This statement can be correct. Certain slots advertise an RTP, of which part is only realised through their progressive jackpots. This means that without the progressive jackpot, the game's true RTP would work out to be less than the value which is advertised.

RTP has no value for a couple of spins

This statement is neither completely true nor completely false. The randomness of a slot means that any result can happen with each spin. However, you are more likely to get a payout when playing five rounds on a 96% RTP slot than you are when playing the same five rounds on an 85% RTP slot.

Slots can be hot or cold

This myth has been part of slot culture since the first fruit machines appeared in bars and casinos. Some people believe that if a slot hasn't paid out in a while it is cold and if it pays more frequently it is hot. Whilst you could argue that a game with a higher RTP is hotter than one with a lower RTP, the truth is that on a small number of spins you are unlikely to see much difference. In fact, you could very well get the same number of payouts when spinning five times on a slot with an RTP of 96.05% and one with 86.05%.

High variance slots are best-suited to smaller bankrolls

This statement could be true and has some merit. Since high variance slots provide more frequent payouts on average, they allow players with smaller bankrolls to enjoy more spins. With more frequent wins your bankroll is continually replenished, and you are more likely to trigger a bonus feature, such as free spins, special multiplier or expanding wilds.

FAQs

What is RTP?

Return to Player (RTP) is a percentage which shows how much money a player can expect to recoup from the total amount wagered over a period of time.

How does RTP work?

A game with a higher RTP percentage will provide players with greater or more frequent payouts over time when compared to a game with a lower percentage.

How can you become a better player using RTP?

Players can adjust the amount of money they spend on a game based on its RTP. With a higher percentage RTP, players could theoretically earn back more of what they spend if they play for long enough.

Where do I find a game's RTP?

In most cases, you can find the official RTP of a game in the description provided by the operator or by opening the paytable after loading the game.

Can the RTP of a game change?

Operators cannot independently alter a game's RTP and this percentage won't change while playing.

Can a game have more than one RTP?

Yes, mini-games and bonus rounds may have a different RTP compared to the main game. This information is usually available in the payouts section.

 

If you're new to online casino, you can read more about How to play slot games. Also, you can find a few Slot machines Tips and Tricks in this article.