Slots & RTP: All You Need to Know in One Place
If you’ve been playing slots for any length of time or have just been watching streamer play slots online, you’ve probably heard the term RTP mentioned more than once. Even if you have no idea what it means, it is clear that this elusive RTP is an important factor for slots. In this article, we’ll explain everything you need to know about this concept, how it is integrated with slots, and how it should influence your decision about what games (not) to play.
RTP in a Nutshell
RTP stands for Return To Player and it describes the amount a slot pays back to the players over a large number of spins, usually expressed as a percentage. For example, a slot with RTP of 97% will give back €97 for every €100 that goes into it. So, this piece of information basically explains how much you can expect to lose playing a particular slot game.
It is important to understand that this number is calculated based on a huge number of spins, usually millions. So, over a short session of a few hundred or a few thousands spins, everything can happen, which is exactly what makes slots exciting. A game that would pay back exactly €95 back after 100 spins played at €1 would hardly be entertaining to play.
RTP in Slots: Complicated Math Behind the Scenes
Setting up RTP for a slot machine is a complicated process and it gets harder the more elaborate the game is. If there are many features and a large number of paylines involved, game developers need to figure it all out in such a way that, when it is all said and done, the game returns exactly the percentage expected.
In a nutshell, though, a slot is always programmed in a way to give back the percentage of the total money that goes into it. The distribution of the RTP can vary, which we will discuss in a moment, but at the end of a day, a slot with 98% RTP will give back 98 percent of all the money that goes into it over an infinite number of spins.
Variance & RTP: Two Similar but Different Things
RTP is often mistaken for variance of a game (and vice-versa). Although these two concepts are usually closely related, they aren’t the same thing. We’ve already explained Return to Player and what it means in a nutshell. Let’s now briefly touch upon a variance.
Variance basically defines the way in which game’s RTP is realized. Lower variance slots are programmed in a way where you’ll have frequent smaller hits, which will help you keep your head above the water and play many spins without busting. Higher variance games usually have a lot of its RTP situated in bonus features and can provide some really big hits. However, to compensate for these big hits, these slots don’t have as many small to medium wins in the base game.
This is to say that not all slots with high RTP are necessarily very friendly on your bankroll. In general, games with higher are RTP are always a better choice than the ones with a lower percentage but if your game of choice is very volatile, you can go through many thousands spins before coming anywhere close to true RTP.
Land-based vs. Online Slots: Which Have Better RTP?
Most players who transition to online slots from land-based casinos or play online and brick and mortar venues soon come to a conclusion that online slots seem to play better. Although the gambling world is full of fallacies and wrong beliefs, this isn’t one of them.
Online slots do, in fact, play better in a large majority of cases.
Most slots online, even if it is the exactly same game, have significantly higher RTP. Land-based slots are usually set to return anywhere from 70% to 90%, with very few games ever going over 92%. Online, slots that are under 94% - 95% are usually considered bad and many of the newer games have RTPs north of 96%.
This isn’t some brick and mortar conspiracy, though. The reason why slots in physical venues are set to return less is because land-based casinos are limited in space so they have to make more money from physical machines placed on their floors to keep up with expenses and make profit.
Online casinos, on the other hand, can have hundreds or even thousands of machines available for play at any given time with no physical restrictions. Thus, they can afford to offer games with much higher RTP.
Truths and Myths About RTP in Slots
To wrap this article up, we’ll address some of the truths and myths about RTP in slots. Over the years, players have developed a number of ideas about how RTP works and what can and can’t be done so we’ll try to put some of these to rest.
Online casinos can manipulate RTP of their slots
This is not true. Online casinos don’t own the slots they offer for play. They merely rent the slots from game developers and games are usually stored on the developers’ servers, which means that casinos don’t have the kind of access required to change core settings such as RTP. Some providers do offer games with several RTP variations (like Play’n GO) but casinos can’t change a random game at will.
RTP is completely irrelevant for a single session.
This is both true and not true. While anything can happen in a single slot session and actual RTP of the game is unlikely to be reached either way, this piece of information isn’t as important. However, on average, a slot with 96% RTP will play better than the one with 85% RTP. So, while you can still win and lose on both, you’ll win more often on the game with higher RTP, so you’re better off playing that one.
Progressive jackpots influence real RTP of a slot.
This is true in most cases. Slots with progressive jackpots may have advertised RTP of 94%, for example, but a part of that RTP is usually realized through progressive jackpots. This means that, unless you actually win the jackpot, you’ll be playing the game with RTP significantly lower than what is advertised.
Extra: Top 10 Slots with Best RTP
Now that you know all that you need to know about RTP in slots, let’s take a look into some of the slot games that offer the highest Return to Player. These games aren’t necessarily your best choice if you’re after a big win but usually play pretty well and will give you a decent amount of play-time.
Mega Joker – up to 99% RTP
Mega Joker is a NetEnt classic slot with three reels and fruity symbols. Game’s RTP actually changes depending on the stake level you play at and to reach the best return, you’ll need to bet 10 coins. Additionally, there is a slight skill element to this game as you need to know when to collect the winnings from the Supermeter.
Jackpot 6000 – up to 98.8% RTP
Jackpot 6000 is another classic slot from NetEnt, quite similar to Mega Joker. You’ll also need to play this game at the maximum bet of 10 coins and study the Supermeter strategy a bit to reach the best possible returns. This is a good game for those players who like to be involved and actually able to influence their result at least to some extent.
Chess Mate - -98.7%
Chess Mate is a game from a relatively unknown developer, Multi Slot. This colorful and nicely animated slot offers 15 paylines, a couple of bonus features (including free spins with the win multiplier up to 9x), and very high RTP of 98.7%. Although the game isn’t available at many online casinos, it is definitely worth a try if you come across it.
1429 Uncharted Seas – 98.6%
Developed by Thunderkick, the 1429 Uncharted Seas slot is one of the older games from this developer. While this slot doesn’t bring anything spectacular in terms of graphics or features, its very high RTP of 98.6% makes it worth a few spins.
Monopoly on the Money – up to 98.1%
Developed by Barcrest, Monopoly on the Money is a slot themed after one of the most popular board games ever invented. In the base game, this slot has RTP of just 94% but it is the Big Bet mode where you should be looking as playing in this mode can give you RTP as high as 98.1%.
Bloodsuckers – 98%
The Bloodsuckers slot is another game developed by NetEnt but unlike the ones mentioned previously, this is actually a proper video slot with two different bonuses, 25 paylines across 5 reels, and very low volatility. If you’re into vampire-themed slots as it is, Bloodsuckers is well worth your time with its outstanding RTP of 98%.
Starmania – 97.87%
Created by NextGen Gaming, Starmania will definitely remind you of another well-known game that we don’t even need to mention if you’d ever taken free spins at an online casino. Set among the starts with colorful symbols on the reels, this 10-payline slot pays both ways and features RTP of 97.87%.
Kings of Chicago – 97.8%
We’re coming back to NetEnt and their Kings of Chicago slot, a game entirely based on poker. Instead of classic win combinations, you’ll get paid for making poker hands here, such as trips, straights, flushes, full houses, and quads. If you love poker and casino gambling, this game is a perfect combo for you, especially with its very high RTP of 97.8%.
Devil’s Delight – 97.6%
The final NetEnt slot to be featured in this list, Devil’s Delight comes with RTP of 97.6%. This nicely animated game with several bonus features and the entertaining Soul-O-Meter would be well worth a try even without this high RTP. With it, it is definitely a must-play.
Big Bad Wolf – 97.4%
Barely making the list of top 10 slot with the best RTP is Quickspin’s Big Bad Wolf. Based on a well-known fairytale, this game can be quite exciting with little pigs turning into wilds and symbols cascading on the reels. Of course, with high RTP of 97.4% and low volatility, this game is a good choice if you’re looking to kill some time without doing the same to your bankroll.