RTP Explained: How Your Wins Are Calculated in Online Casinos

3D Realistic Casino Games and Gold Chest - RTP

Online gambling is an entire world unto itself, and although it is a great way to pass the time and possibly win big money, it can be confusing to those unfamiliar with the gambling world! Why? The terms and acronyms, which tend to be tossed around like dice on a craps table.

Today, we’ll be tackling one of the terms—RTP. This particular abbreviation stands for “Return to Player,” and if you are going to play casino games online, you’re going to encounter it a lot.

But what exactly does the RTP mean, and how is it calculated in regard to gameplay? We will unpack this casino concept and make it much easier to understand than the instructions for building an IKEA bookshelf.

What Is RTP?

At its core, RTP is a percentage that indicates how much of the total money wagered on a game is paid back to players over time. You can think of it as the casino’s way of saying, “Here’s what you can expect to get back.” But don’t get it twisted; RTP is not about the odds of winning on each spin, hand, or throw of the die—it’s about playing the long game.

For example, if a game has an RTP of 96%, it means that for every $100 wagered, $96 will be paid back to players—eventually. The operative word here is “eventually.” It doesn’t guarantee you’ll get $96 back from your $100 in a single gambling session. The RTP is calculated over millions of spins or rounds—it’s a big-picture, long-term expectations kind of deal.

The Calculation Behind the Scenes

Now, let’s get into the nitty-gritty: how RTP is calculated. The formula might seem like it requires a degree in rocket science, but it’s actually straightforward. RTP is calculated by dividing the total amount returned to players by the total amount wagered by players. The sorcery happens behind the curtain, with game developers using infinite amounts of data to come up with this percentage.

Here’s the breakdown of how it’s calculated:

  • Total Returns to Players: This is the cumulative amount of money the game pays back to players. It includes winnings from all rounds of the game.
  • Total Wagered by Players: This is the sum of all bets placed by players over the course of the game’s life.

The formula looks something like this:

RTP = Total Returns to Players divided by Total Wagered by Players x 100%

Quick Example of RTP

Picture a slot machine that, over its lifetime, sees $1,000,000 in wagers. Out of this, it pays back $960,000 to players. Using our formula:

RTP = 960,000 divided by 1,000,000 x 100% = 96%

And voila! We have an RTP of 96%.

The Role of RTP in Your Gambling Strategy

Understanding RTP can be a literal game-changer in approaching and playing the games you love. Here’s why:

  • Smart Choices: Knowing the RTP of a game helps you choose where to place your bets. Higher RTP games potentially offer better long-term returns.
  • Budget Management: Awareness of RTP can be a helpful tool in managing your gambling budget more effectively, setting realistic expectations of wins and losses.
  • Strategy Development: While RTP alone won’t guarantee wins, it can advise your gambling strategy, helping you decide when to play and when to log off.

Misconceptions and Realities

There are a few myths about RTP floating around the internet ether that we need to dispel, and they are the following:

  • RTP is Not a Predictor of Immediate Returns: High RTP doesn’t mean you’re about to hit the jackpot. Remember, it’s about the long-term scenario.
  • RTP and Volatility are Different Beasts: A game’s volatility affects how often and how much you win in the short term. RTP is all about the long game.
  • Changing Your Bet Size Doesn’t Alter the RTP: The game’s programmed RTP remains constant, regardless of whether you bet pennies or break the bank with each spin.

Online Casino Games and Their RTPs

RTP isn’t just a term bandied about in the slots section of online casinos; it’s a widespread concept that touches virtually every corner of the gambling world. Understanding which games offer what RTP can really boost your gaming strategy and make it more fun! Let’s take a close look at what casino games use the RTP.

Slots Graph


You’ll commonly see RTP percentages being front and center in online slots. Slots vary widely in RTP, with figures typically ranging from as low as 90% to as high as 99%. The variance in slots can also affect how RTP feels in the short term, but over millions of spins, the RTP’s goal is to even things out.

Table Games Graph

Table Games

Table games like Blackjack, Roulette, and Baccarat also have RTPs, but they’re often discussed in terms of the house edge, which is essentially the flip side of RTP. For example, if a blackjack game has an RTP of 99.5%, the house edge is 0.5%. Table games offer higher RTPs than slots, with blackjack often having some of the highest RTPs due to its strategic nature.

Video Poker Graph

Video Poker

Video poker is another category where RTP plays a big role—some video poker variants offer RTPs that can exceed 100% with optimal play, which is super rare in the casino world. But there is a caveat: winning these kinds of huge payouts requires a thorough understanding of the game and a pretty much flawless execution of strategy.

Specialty Games Graph

Specialty Games

This category includes games like keno, scratch cards, and bingo. The RTPs for these games can really vary, often being much lower than those of more strategic games like blackjack or video poker. But they do offer a different kind of entertainment and simplicity that attracts certain players.

Live Dealer Games Graph

Live Dealer Games

Live dealer games combine the convenience of online play with the experience of a live casino setting. The RTPs for these games align closely with their traditional counterparts. For instance, live roulette and live blackjack will maintain similar RTPs to those found in physical casinos and virtual table games.

Understanding RTP in Game Selection

When choosing which online casino game to play, considering the RTP can help you make smarter decisions about where to place your bets. Here are a few tips:

  • Look for Transparency: Reputable casino apps and game developers will openly share the RTP of their games.
  • Balance RTP with Fun: While a high RTP is inviting, also consider what games you love playing. After all, gambling should be fun!
  • Consider the Volatility: High RTP games with low volatility could offer more frequent wins but smaller payouts, while high volatility games might offer larger payouts but much less frequently.

Final Thoughts About RTP

RTP is an important part of various online casino games, influencing both the potential returns to the player and the overall gameplay. Whether you’re spinning the reels, hitting the blackjack table, or participating in a live dealer game, understanding RTP can help you navigate the world of online gambling with more confidence and a solid strategy.

If you take anything away from this info, it should be this: RTP provides a theoretical return over the long term; short-term gameplay can still produce different results.

Please remember to gamble responsibly by setting limits and sticking to them—we want your gaming experience to be enjoyable and not become a problem!

With this eye-opening look into how RTP influences different online casino games, you’re ready to choose your next game and understand the different dynamics of your potential returns—that’s money, baby!

Alicia Green
Alicia Green

Alicia Green has earned her reputation as an authority on the online gambling world. With a keen eye for the latest trends and a gift for clear, compelling communication, Alicia transforms in-depth casino app reviews into accessible, engaging reads. Her work serves as a personal navigator through the vast ocean of online casinos, directing you towards your next go-to game or platform with straightforward, trustworthy guidance. If you're seeking advice with no frills but full of integrity, Alicia's articles are your essential resource.