What is Slots RTP? Learn Why It Impacts Your Chances of Winning

Zoe Walker - EditorZoe Walker - 20 July 2020 in Features
What is Slots RTP? Learn Why It Impacts Your Chances of Winning.

Return to Player (RTP) describes the percentage of all the wagered money a slot machine game will pay back over time. In practice what this means is that for every one hundred $1 bets you make on a machine which has an RTP of 90%, you can expect to only ever receive back $90 in wins.

It can also be described as the opposite of the casino's “house edge”.

Online slots typically have RTP percentages ranging between 95% to 98%. This means they'll pay out between $95 and $98 for every $100 players wager. The remaining 5% to 2% make up the casino's house edge.

RTP percentages between 95% and 96% are considered to give players a low to medium return, while slots with an RTP of 97% or more are considered lucrative.

As a rule of thumb, slot RTP percentages can be categorized as follows:

  • 90% to 95.5% - Low
  • 95.5% to 96.9% - Medium
  • 97% - 98% - High
  • Above 98% - Exceptionally high

If you want to make the most out of your gaming experience, understanding RTP becomes very important. In this article, you'll discover what RTP is, how it's calculated, and why you should take it into account when choosing what casino slot machines to play.

In theory, high RTP percentages are more profitable for players since they inevitably result in a smaller house edge for the casino. However, as you'll discover while reading this article, there's a bit more that goes into assessing how often, and how much, you can expect to win on a particular slot.

How RTP Percentages Are Calculated

Calculating RTP is relatively straightforward - you divide the total amount of wins a slot has paid out by the total amount players have staked.

This calculation is generally done over a certain period, or more commonly, over a large number of spins. Here’s an example of it’s done:

$964,000 in wins / $1,000,000 worth of bets = 0.964. The slot has an RTP of 96.4%.

Although fundamentally accurate, the example above is a simplification of how slot RTP is calculated. In reality, software providers conduct far more complex and elaborate tests that take every aspect of a slot into consideration.

For instance, the RTP percentage might differ in the bonus rounds, and that's something the manufacturer must consider when setting the game's final RTP. To summarize, the more intricate and complex a slot is, the more advanced the testing process becomes.

RTP Percentages Don't Tell You How Often You'll Win

If you play a slot with an RTP of 97%, it doesn't mean you'll win 97% of the time. This assumption is probably the most common misconception players have about RTP percentages.

RTP is calculated over an incredibly vast number of spins and describes the proportion of money a slot pays out for all winning players to share. Furthermore, these numbers are theoretical statistical calculations that you shouldn't take as gospel.

Now, if you played an almost infinite number of spins consecutively, you would eventually see a 97% return on your total stake. However, in a realistic scenario, that's not how things unfold most of the time. In other words, RTP percentages aren't indicative of how many of your spins you'll win during a gaming session.

Let's use a simplified and hypothetical example to demonstrate what we mean:

Assume we're calculating a slot's RTP, and that we gather the following statistics over one million spins:

  • Total amount staked by players: $10,000
  • Total amount won by players: $9,700

Now, let's apply the formula:

$9,700 in paid out wins / $10,000 in placed bets = 0.97.

We can conclude this slot has an RTP of 97%.

Now, let's assume that the one million spins were played by 1,000 players and that only 190 players split the $9,700 return. This shows us that although the slot did indeed return 97% of all stakes, most players didn't win at all.

As you can tell from this example, you shouldn't expect RTP percentages to tell you how often you'll win, but rather to indicate the overall return you and other players may benefit from.

Why You Need to Consider A Slot's Volatility

It's not incorrect to assume that slots with high RTP increase your chances of winning over time. However, a slot's win frequency also has a lot to do with its variance, or volatility as it's sometimes called.

This is another important term that describes how frequently a slot will pay out wins. High variance slots typically pay out large prizes; however, wins are often far and few between. Low-variance slots, on the other hand, will reward you more frequently but payout significantly smaller amounts.

Variance is usually expressed as a number, and the scale varies depending on which software provider has made the game. When you look at a slot's RTP to assess your chances of winning, you should consider its variance as well.

How to Compare Slot RTP Percentages

Knowing a bit more about both RTP and variance, we can start comparing different slots and better understand what to expect. Let's look at three popular slots and see what the game specifications tell us.

What is Slots RTP? Learn Why It Impacts Your Chances of Winning.

Dead or Alive

RTP: 96.82% | Volatility: High

This is a volatile slot with a medium-high RTP of 96.82%. This means that this game doesn't give a huge return. However, due to the game’s high variance, the return is split into fewer and more substantial wins. Many high rollers are willing to trade high variance for a lower RTP in their pursuit of big wins.


What is Slots RTP? Learn Why It Impacts Your Chances of Winning.

Hook's Heroes

RTP: 96.82% | Volatility: Low

Contrary to Dead or Alive, Hook's Heroes is a low-volatility slot. However, it still has an RTP of 96.82%. In other words, Hook's Heroes has an RTP identical to Dead or Alive, but the low variance ensures the return is distributed as a larger number of smaller wins. This increased win frequency will likely result in a more eventful gaming experience and makes Hook's Heroes a suitable choice when you're playing with a smaller bankroll.

Slots can have identical RTP percentages, despite their win frequencies being radically different. This is because RTP percentages merely describe how much money is paid out as winnings on average, and not how often each player will win during a gaming session.


What is Slots RTP? Learn Why It Impacts Your Chances of Winning.

Blood Suckers II

RTP: 96.94% | Volatility: Low

This slot combines a rather high RTP with low variance.

If you're looking to get frequent wins and decent returns, this slot would be worth considering because:

  • A high RTP means a large percentage of stakes are returned to players.
  • Low variance ensures wins occur frequently.

Who Decides The RTP of A Slot?

Game developers decide the RTP percentages of the games they produce. For the most part, providers will have a selection of both high and low RTP slots in the catalogs. However, some providers, such as Yggdrasil and Betsoft, produce slots with generally high RTP percentages.

What Difference Does RTP Make?

Although we've concluded that high RTPs won't necessarily guarantee bigger or more frequent wins, they're still something you should consider.

After all, slots with high RTP ultimately do give players a more favorable edge in the long run.

Depending on the slot’s variance, a high RTP may result in more significant or frequent wins.

Top Ten Canadian Slots with the Best RTP

Here's a list of slots with high RTPs available to Canadian players.

Software Provider: Leander Games | RTP: 97.2%
Software Provider: Leander Games | RTP: 97.2%
Software Provider: Playtech | RTP: 97.1%
Software Provider: PG Soft | RTP: 97.1%
Software Provider: Betsoft | RTP: 97.1%
Software Provider: Playtech | RTP: 97.1%
Software Provider: Thunderkick | RTP: 97.1%
Software Provider: NetEnt | RTP: 97.1%
Software Provider: NetEnt | RTP: 97.1%