The RTP, an acronym short for Return to Player, is a figure in percent that informs you about the odds of winning while you’re playing an online slot. RTP rate is the percentage of total wins, over the total stakes played.
You may already have seen this popular example that is used to illustrate how the RTP works:
A slot you are playing at has an RTP of 95%. If you play 100 rounds at £1, you can expect to win £95 back. This way, you win back most of what you wager. The remaining 5% of your wager in this example are the house edge – the money the casino earns off of each wager.
It’s not quite as easy as this, as the RTP is calculated over millions of spins. These spins include your own as well as the spins by other players at online casinos all over the world. Simply said, it means you won’t win back £95 each time you spin the reels a hundred times. You will win back your money, eventually, but the RTP makes no claim as to when exactly your winning spins will take place.
You will win your money back – in theory. That’s why the RTP is often referred to as “theoretical”, simply for the sake of honesty. Every player’s wagers contribute to the theoretical RTP. Your £95 could be going to someone else’s win one moment, your own jackpot the next. The RTP is a figure that is calculated from the pool of wagers every player contributes to.
Since it is a statistical average, it means that while one player hits it big, another may win a small amount or not at all. The outcome is completely random by design. That randomness is the beauty of gambling, after all it wouldn’t be the same to simply methodically win your money back. This way you can expect great wins even with small wagers. Luck is essential to gambling, the RTP doesn’t change that.
To actually figure out when you will win, you need several other variables, such as the hit frequency and a slot’s volatility. This is where it gets overly complicated, and so most gamblers go by a simple rule of thumb – the higher the volatility, the better the deal.
Slot game developers are required to let players know what the odds of a win are. Thus you will always be able to find out the RTP of the slots you like to play. You can find often find the RTP in a slot’s info section or paytable. This is the case for all NetEnt slots, for example. Some casinos have categories for the highest RTP slots to make them easier to find.
Any good casino slot review should also have information on a slot’s RTP.
Why does the RTP matter?
If the RTP doesn’t actually do a good job at telling you what you can expect to win back, then what is it good for?
First of all, while the wish to hit it big is no doubt a motivation to play online slots, it’s by far not the only one. To have a healthy and responsible relationship with online gambling, you should play for fun, and in a slightly roundabout way, the RTP makes an argument for the quality of a slot. After all, slot game providers have developed fun bonus games and symbols that not only often mean a win, but also make each win a spectacular affair.
This means that in a slot with a high RTP, you can expect bonus features like wilds, multipliers or the ever-popular free spins round. In the busy online casino industry, slots with great RTP rates force the competition to come up with their own slots that gamblers will like. This keeps the industry lively and the RTP high overall – you can only win in this case, both in terms of money and enjoyment.
Most popular online slots these days come with an RTP around 96%. That isn’t to say that there aren’t plenty of fun slots with a lower RTP, but as already mentioned, the competition is fierce, so you should at least use the RTP to guide you.
What else influences the RTP?
So far, so simple. However, we have already mentioned several other terms that are related to the Return to Player and just as important. These are:
- House Edge
- Hit Frequency
The hit frequency is a figure just as nebulous as the RTP. This percentage denotes how often a slot will award a win. However, this is once again an average calculated over a very high number of spins. Additionally, game makers are not required to disclose their slot’s hit frequency. If you can find out the hit frequency in addition to the RTP, however, it can provide additional help in estimating how good a deal a slot really is.
The House Edge is always an important figure, whether you’re playing slot games or table games. The house edge tells you how much of your wager automatically goes to the casino. Even the highest RTP slots will leave one or two percent of your wager to the casino, after all a casino has to earn something, too. Thus, even if you can’t tell exactly how much you will win, the RTP at least tells you how much a casino stands to gain from you playing a particular slot.
Finally, the volatility, also known as variance, is perhaps the most important figure to keep in mind when thinking about the RTP.
The volatility is either expressed as a number between 1 and 10, or simply by the words low, medium and high. This figure tells you something about both the frequency wins you can expect and how high these wins can be.
In a slot with low volatility, wins will be frequent, but small. On the other hand, when a slot has high volatility, you may play it for many rounds without winning anything at all, but those times you are lucky are all the more lucrative for it. You can also say that the volatility gives you a tool to determine the risk involved in playing at a certain slot.
Even if a slot has a high RTP, its volatility plays a major role in getting an idea of your actual winning chances. That’s why many players prefer slots with medium volatility, which is meant to provide a satisfying balance between the frequency of your wins and their actual amount. One such slot is the popular Book of Dead. Slot RTP is also influenced by a number of factors, so if you want to approach the matter scientifically, you should keep all of these features in mind.
Can you actually calculate the RTP?
As a slot’s applies to thousands of spins across all players, a single player would need lots of data if they tried to verify the RTP. Gambling commissions and auditing bodies do that work for you. They ensure that the RTP of a slot is actually what a game provider claims it to be.
What you can do however, is calculate the RTP for your individual gambling sessions. For that, all you need is:
- The Total amount you wagered over the course of your session
- The total win you’ve accumulated during the session.
Your wins should include any amount of money you’ve won from the base game as well as free spins or wins from double up games.
Let’s assume that you have played 75 spins at 50p a wager during a session. The total amount wagered for the session would be £37.50.
Your total wins for the session, free spins and all, come down to £24.
Now all you have to do is to divide your winnings by the amount wagered:
24 divided by 37.5 equals 0,64. To get your RTP, you remove the decimal. That’s all! Your RTP for this individual session was 64%.
Can a low RTP have advantages?
As we have stated, several factors play into the RTP, but a high RTP should mean a good deal for you. Competition between the different slot providers means that most slots now have a good RTP of around 96%. There is however good reason to keep an eye out for slots with lower RTP percentages than that.
Progressive jackpots often have slightly lower RTP rates. Of course this isn’t true for all of them. The popular Mega Fortune Dreams for example has an RTP of 96.4%. Generally the RTP of progressive jackpot slots is going to be much lower than that. This is because all wagers contribute to a massive jackpot, rather than individual smaller games in the base game. Gamblers mainly play these slots because they want a chance to win that jackpot, so this is what slot developers concentrate on, rather than distributing smaller winnings in the base game.
While the RTP may be low, you can profit from the jackpot, should you hit it, which is a fair tradeoff.
To give you an idea, here are some well-known progressive jackpot slots and their RTP figures:
- 95.3% Joker Millions
- 95.2%/90%(*) Arabian Nights
- 95%/88.% Mega Moolah
- 94.22% Jackpot Giant
- 93.97% Funky Fruits
(* note that the second number denotes the RTP of a slot without its progressive jackpot)
Furthermore, slots with an incredibly high RTP are often excluded from casino bonus offers such as free spins, or they don’t contribute to fulfilling wagering requirements at online casinos.
Many casinos have a rather long list of such games. Immortal Romance and 1429 Uncharted Seas are titles you often see on such lists, particularly due to their high RTP. A high RTP in these cases would make it too easy to quickly fulfil the wagering requirements that come with welcome bonuses and free spin offers.
This makes it easy to see why the highest RTP doesn’t only have advantages. In any case, a high RTP doesn’t always mean a fun game, and it’s always best to play what you enjoy first and foremost.
What are the slots with the best RTP?
After all this talk, let us introduce you to some of the slots with the best RTP. Maybe your favourite is already among them, and you will look at it with new eyes. Maybe you’re also just looking for a new slot to play and want to get a feel for what playing a slot with a particularly high RTP would be like.
In this list you will find some of the actually rather long list of best RTP slots. UK players can find these at any of the casinos recommended by Slotsia.
Ugga Bugga – 99.1% RTP
Ugga Bugga is a slot with a tropical theme by Playtech. The design is not the freshest, but as a 3-reel slot with 10 paylines, it’s quick and easy to play. This slot only has one bonus feature, but it’s very important to why the RTP is so high and the game is such fun overall.
The game actually works with multiple spins – during your first spin, only the bottom three reels spin. If you get a full symbol on a reel, you can choose to hold it. This will cause the symbol to appear over the rest of the reel before your next spin, leading to a high probability of winning multiple times in the following round.
The only downside to Ugga Bugga is that since it’s not optimised for mobile casinos, you can’t play it on the go.
Ooh Aah Dracula – 99% RTP
Ooh Aah Dracula is a popular slot by Barcrest, who actually have several other slots with the stunning RTP of 99% or thereabouts.This is an immensely fun slot. Barcrest have decided to create symbols that give
you the feeling of a family dressed up for Halloween rather than actual monsters and bloodsuckers, and the fun music and sound effects help with that impression. You actually only get the 99% RTP in this 5-reel slot if you decide to play 5 rounds at an increased stake, either 20 or 30 times your original stake. Only these 5 spins come with the extra high RTP, but there is the opportunity to trigger an extra cash prize. The base game still lies at a comfortable RTP of 96%.
Blood Suckers – 98% RTP
NetEnt, too has decided to design a high RTP slot all around vampires. This time, you’ll face properly scary creatures of the night across 25 paylines in a hand-drawn style. Blood Suckers has two bonus features. The vampire bride awards you at least 10 free spins with a 3x multiplier. The other bonus feature works like a treasure chest selection game – you have to select a number of coffins and as long as a vampire waits inside, you win a cash prize.
Much this slot’s high RTP is thanks to the incredible value of its high-value symbols. 5 vampire brides across a payline award you with 100 times your stake.
Jokerizer – 98% PRT
Yggdrasil’s Jokerizer is one of these slots that may not be for everyone despite its high RTP. It comes with high volatility, which always bears the high risk of going away completely empty-handed at the end of a session. The height of the RTP for this slot is explained with the possible cash wins.
A regular fruit machine on the outside (albeit one with fantastic music!), Jokerizer offers two features that both have to do with its slightly creepy jester. Three jester symbols immediately award you with a cash prize anywhere between 1000 and 6000 coins, while the rare base game win activates the Jokerizer mode. It’s only during the Jokerizer mode that the RTP is 98% – otherwise you have to make do with a measly 88%.
In Jokerizer mode, each spin costs you 20 coins, but now 2 jesters are enough to gain the mystery cash prize.
1429 Uncharted Seas – 98.63% RTP
1429 Uncharted Seas isn’t only a fair slot of medium to high volatility, it’s also incredibly beautiful. Designed to look like an old seafarer’s map, this slot can be played with wagers between 25p and and a whopping £2.500
There is no fine print you have to keep in mind when it comes to the RTP of this slot – the free spins are reasonable to achieve and for the extra portion of excitement there is also an expanding wilds feature which puts your ship at the mercy of mighty sea dragons.
Big, Bad Wolf – 97.35% RTP
This slot is one of Quickspin’s many beautifully designed games with a fairy tale theme. We all know the story of the wolf who came to blow the house of the three little pigs to smithereens. Here we can actually help them defend it and earn a max win of 1000 coins.
Big, Bad Wolf comes with many interesting features. First of all, winning symbols will be replaced with new symbols falling down from above. This kind of respin continues for as long as the symbols build winning combinations. There is a wild symbol, with the chance to earn more wilds the more you win – one after another, the pig symbols will turn to wilds, offering the chance for extra wins.
Last but not least, three moon symbols give you 2 extra spins, six moons will give you the same amount of spins with a 2x multiplier. Regular free spins are also available. Big, bad Wolf comes with medium to high variance.
Whatever slot you choose to play, be aware that the RTP, no matter how high, is never a guarantee for wins. At most it should be used a rough guideline for what slot to play, together with whatever other feature is important to you, such as the number of kind of available bonus games.
Slots with high RTP percentages will have fun features, which are often the main thing that makes the RTP so high in the first place, but of course you need to trigger them first. Always keep in mind a slot’s volatility to successfully assess your risk when playing. Sticking to your limits and making intelligent use of bonuses is just as essential as the RTP.
Most importantly: have fun!