Theoretical Return to Player or “RTP” is the hypothetical percentage that an online slot game returns to you, on average over time. The variance of the machine can have a huge effect on the ultimate results and sometimes they will hit hot and cold streaks in the short term, but they will always mathematically pay out what they should after long periods of time.
The equation is simple: amount won divided by amount wagered. Here’s a straight-forward example that will show you the math behind it and how it works. Let’s say you wager $100 total on a slot machine, 1,000 spins at $0.10 a spin. If you’re playing something that has a RTP of 97.5%, you should, on average, have a balance of $97.50 after your 1,000 spins. At first glance this may seem like a high return but casinos are more than happy to make small profits like these over time. When multiplied by thousands of people every day it’s easy to see how operators generate healthy revenues.
Now, you have to remember that we only used 1,000 spins as an example and in reality it could take a lot longer to realize the true percentage. This is what software testing companies specialize in and why it’s so important that you only gamble with reputable online casinos that are audited regularly.
Sometimes it’s not even a case of the betting website scamming people intentionally and it’s just an error with the software that is messing up the odds. That aside, assuming that everything’s calibrated correctly, some people will win a little, a very small amount will win big, and the vast majority of players will lose over time, but usually very slowly.
Every game reviewed on the Queen of Online Slots shows you the RTP on the right hand side of the page, which to reiterate, is always the average and never guaranteed. The return amounts can actually differ quite greatly, with the lowest usually being around 92% and the highest being close to 99%.
Some people take this math very seriously and allow it to dictate which titles they will play. Around here we never even look at the numbers beforehand because it doesn’t really matter at the end of the day. Yes, of course we like to win money but we also want to enjoy ourselves too. So for example, if you hated the movie that a release was based on, why would you waste your time with it? Even if it had an amazing payout percentage you still wouldn’t have fun so there’s no point in even opening it up in the first place: it’s all about finding the balance.
Most readers of this website know by now that we focus on the actual enjoyment that you will have and not which releases are the “most profitable”. This is because we treat this pastime as entertainment and it’s impossible to predict what it’s going to pay out during your session, so there’s really no need to stress over it. However, as mentioned above, you can always predict the average payout over time….but how much time are we talking? You’ll obviously never know that going in.
So while we concentrate on enjoying ourselves we’ll leave the advanced mathematical equations to The Wizard of Odds, Michael Shackleford, who’s basically spent his entire life crunching casino numbers. He’s an industry leader who’s designed actual betting machines, audited payout percentages, and does crazy stuff like going on 50 mile unicycle rides. He is hands-down the only true expert in gambling math so this Queen must bow down to his unequaled knowledge of the subject.
How Return to Player Works
Contrary to the opinion of many, bet size does not affect the Return to Player percentages and larger wagers don’t give you better odds due to “big payouts being bigger”. This is simply a myth that’s pushed on the internet by people who have no idea what they’re talking about and all it serves to do is confuse those seeking the truth about the situation.
If you take a moment to think about it you’ll quickly realize that the claim doesn’t make any sense. The larger your wagers, the larger the wins, but obviously your loses will be much larger as well. This is because the payout percentage never changes and is applied indiscriminately to the bets no matter what the size. The math simply doesn’t change.
Here’s an easy example to help debunk the claim:
Situation #1: Your bankroll is $100 and you’re on a machine for 10 hours that has a RTP of 97%, with your bet size being .10 cents per spin. You play long enough to experience the true return of the game and you end up with a final balance of $97 at the end of your gambling session.
Situation #2: Your bankroll is $10,000 and you’re on the same machine in Situation #1 for 10 hours that has a RTP of 97%, with your bet size being $100 per spin. You play long enough to experience the true return of the game and you end up with a final balance of $9,700 at the end of your gambling session.
Question: Were your odds of winning in Situation #2 increased by the larger bet size?
Answer: Of course they weren’t! The mathematical Return to Player of the machine is always 97% no matter what your wager size was, so whether you bet $1,000 a spin or $1 a spin the odds always remain the same.
That said, there are obviously some factors that can influence the probability of winning or losing, with the most important one being the number of paylines that you’re wagering on. This is because in order for the true return to be realized you need to ensure that you’re wagering on the maximum amount of paylines, since the “return” is going to be spread throughout all of the different ways to win that a game has. Of course increasing the number of paylines you’re wagering on each spin is going to increase your bet size, so technically a larger amount is needed to increase the payouts and odds of winning, but only up until a maximum of all the paylines being covered. Simple, right?
The other factor that can manipulate return amounts is a progressive jackpot because technically the percentage is changed depending on how big the cash prize is at the time. This is only because the larger the jackpot, the “better” the RTP will be, but in reality that winning percentage will only materialize for the one lucky person who wins it and not for the thousands of others who are chasing it. Therefore, you shouldn’t fool yourself into thinking that you have better odds playing games with progressives – the odds of winning the jackpot are minuscule and they’re only increased for one person.
So does RTP tell us how much we will win? Not at all. It tells you what you should win, but only on average and only after enough time has passed. As in life, there are no guarantees when gambling.
Now are you starting to understand why we never look at the numbers beforehand?
Highest RTP Online Slots
Ok, so we haven’t convinced you that you should be playing online slots for fun and not for the Return to Player. It’s fine, we didn’t think that we could change everyone’s mind. So for those of you who only want to concentrate on winning money, here are the highest return machines that you can find online. Click on each to read the reviews and find out if you will actually have fun while you’re trying to boost your bankroll.
So if you’re like us and play for the excitement and not for the possible return on your investment, you’ve come to the right website. Sure we might be shrugging off the importance of RTP somewhat and it is always a good idea to know the odds of winning beforehand, but we just can’t get that worked up about it.
Our advice is that you shouldn’t let the math be the ultimate decision-maker on whether or not you go for a specific title – we’re all here to have fun, after all. Gambling should always be enjoyable and never looked at as a money-making venture…because most times, it isn’t.