Strategy 101: Understanding how RTP works with online slots
An online slot might look great, but is it really worth playing? Without understanding the nuances of RTPs, you’ll never make the right moves.
Online slots are more than reels and symbols. At their core, each game is based on a return to player (RTP) score, and you need to know about this if you want to achieve the best win rate.
Delve into the mechanics of any online slot and you’ll see that its potential win rate differs from that of its peers.
Just as different games offer different payouts, the frequency in which you unlock prizes will change depending on the slot machine you’re playing.
In reality, the differences are fairly small and you probably won’t notice them while you’re playing. However, if you’re in it for the long haul and want the best overall returns, it’s important to know the numbers.
To understand what the stats and percentages mean in reality, you need to grasp the concept of RTPs.
What is RTP?
When you play any online slots game, it will have a theoretical RTP score. Expressed as a percentage, this number represents the amount you can expect bank in the long run.
For example, if a slot’s RTP was 98 per cent, you’d could expect a return of £98 for every £100 you bet.
In practice, things don’t always work out like this. In fact, if you wagered £100 in a single session, it’s unlikely you’d finish with £98, as RTPs are based on infinity.
Even though you can’t play forever, that’s what the calculations take into account. In many ways, a slot’s RTP is the same as the house edge in games such as baccarat or blackjack.
Because game makers can’t account for individual sessions, the mathematics of any casino game have to be based on a long-term average. By setting the RTP to 98cent, a developer is saying that, in theory, the overall return rate will converge at 98 per cent.
To put it another way, if you reviewed the results of thousands of players for an extended period of time, the payout rate should be 98 cent.
Results won’t always meet expectations
hat makes sense on paper, but, when you look at a graph, you’ll notice that individual results aren’t always in line with the expected RTP.
For instance, you could bet £100 on the 98 per cent RTP slot one day and finish with £150 but end the next session with just £60. This is known as variance, and is a natural part of the process.
However, if you took thousands of individual results and plotted them on a graph, you’d see them move towards the pre-set RTP. However, because of variance, you can’t predict how your session will go based on the RTP.
What you can do, however, is get an idea of what your potential win rate would be.
If we offered you two slots, one with an RTP of 98 per cent and one with 88 per cent, you’d always choose the former. Even though you could play the latter 100 times and win more, the numbers suggest that you’ll come away with more in the long-run if you select the former.
Learn to Balance RTPs and Jackpots
The selection process becomes trickier, though, when you add in jackpots and prizepools.
Take video slots versus progressive jackpot slots as an example. You’ll find the jackpot game Mega Moolah with an RTP of 88.12 per cent. That’s not bad, but it pales in comparison to the 96.03 per cent of Deco Diamonds.
However, the maximum payout for the latter is just over £27,000, while Mega Moolah often has jackpots topping £1 million.
By introducing this variable, you now have to balance your expectations.
Are you interested in more consistent wins or do you prefer larger payouts? Those that prefer to accumulate more prizes should base their decision on a game’s RTP score.
If, however, you just want to win big and don’t mind waiting, you need to look at a slot’s payout page.
Most experienced slots players go somewhere in the middle.
Although it’s not an exact science, regulars like to balance RTP scores and jackpots so they can enjoy a fairly consistent win rate but also have the chance to bank a fortune.
There are other factors that should go into your decision making process such as the slot’s theme, its stakes and any added bonuses.
But, if you like to play by the numbers, it’s important to understand a game’s RTP before you spin.