How you understood casino RTPs wrongly

How you understood casino RTPs wrongly

Just like in Palahniuk’s Fight Club there was a set of inviolable rules to be learned before joining and starting out, we believe every gambler should tick a couple of boxes:

  • I don’t see gambling as a way to make money; I gamble for entertainment;
  • I have a gambling budget and never exceed it;
  • I don’t let gambling affect my daily routine;
  • I understand that all gambling games are designed to be advantageous to casinos and never to players.

If you have sincerely agreed with the 4 statements above, we can try to get a deeper take on slot RTPs, no matter whether they are physical machines at a land-based casino or when you play Gems Respin video slot or any other virtual casino game online.

So, when you insert a coin into a slot machine, you give your silent consent to lose in the long run. How is it possible? – you might think, recalling the 90+% RTP parameter of the slot. Because you know what RTP stands for: Return to Player Percentage. Then, with, let’s say, a 90% RTP of your favorite slot game, you expect to win $90 back after having gambled $100 away. That is a logically possible interpretation, but it is wrong. The mistake here is applying the 90% RTP to an individual gambling experience.

What is RTP for a casino?

Yes, the RTPs are printed on every slot machine found at a land-based casino, and they are supposed to be disclosed by online game developers (you can usually find the percentage in the slot description). Authorities regulating local gambling venues establish their minimum RTPs. RTPs show the percentage of the money spent on a slot game that the casino has to pay back to players over a certain period (a million spins or longer). The casino can pay this amount back in the form of numerous smaller prizes, a couple of huge jackpots, or mix and match of those options. It works with all the other casino games, not just slot machines.

So, it does mean that, with a 90% RTP, the casino is obliged to return $90 from every $100 spent on one machine. Yes, that is correct. However, these $90 are the least likely to go back to the same gambler who spent the $100 a million of spins later.

Do higher RTPs mean a better choice for a gambler? Generally, yes. It means that producer A is ready to pay back more than producer B, the competitor. Kudos to the A-guy! But will it mean that with slot A you, personally, will win more than with slot B? No, it won’t. Will it, perhaps, mean that you are never going to lose your whole budget if you choose the slots with the highest RTPs only? No, you can lose any time, at any game.

So, is there any point in checking RTPs out while choosing a slot to play? Is it a completely useless piece of information? We will say that when you are deciding between two games, with one of them offering an 85% RTP and the other – 97%, you’d better go for the second one. And not just because 85 is lower than 97. On average, slot RTPs range from 93% to 95% at today’s online casinos, and 90% to 95% – at the land-based venues. It won’t be sensible to go that far lower than normal.

RTPs don’t influence a casual gambling session as much as variance, for example (unless, of course, you play millions of spins in an evening).

Variance (or slot volatility) shows how often a player should expect to hit a prize and how big it is going to be. If a game has high variance, it is going to payout rarely but massively, while low-volatile slots will offer more frequent but smaller cash prizes. This information is more applicable to casual gambling sessions than the RTPs covering millions of spins and thousands of gamblers.

What is RTP for a gambler?

Let’s take a hypothetical gambler in a vacuum and make him (or her) play 100 spins on a slot machine with a 90% RTP. We will see how the player is not necessarily going to end up with $90 (and, honestly, is not likely to).

For a casual single player a 90% RTP will mean negative expected winnings: the player will lose 10 cents from every dollar that goes through the machine.

If you bet $1 per spin and play 100 times in a row, you will end up with about $90. Go on, and 90 spins later, you will lose 10% of those $90 and end up with $81. We hope you see where this is going. Yes, you might win something and even compensate for some losses, but believing that every $100 will give you back $90 and you won’t lose more than 10% with the 90% RTP is just wrong.

We hope you have found the ideas here that will help you stay sensible and have a better understanding of what happens behind slot reels at land-based and online casinos. Keep a cool head, gamble responsibly, and have fun.

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