Why RTP are the Three of the Most Important Letters in the Gambler’s Alphabet


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When it comes to gambling, there are certain criteria that can be used when trying to work out the chances of coming out on top. By knowing these, and utilising that knowledge, players in casinos, online and offline too, can make calculated guesses at how well they are may possibly do.

For games like roulette and blackjack it is predominantly a question of knowing the so-called house edge. To use the example of roulette, or the European version of the game at least, there are 37 spaces on a wheel, so the ball has a 1 in 37 chance of landing in any particular number. But, even if it does, the pay-out is only 35 times the original stake. This creates a house edge of 2.7% which, over time, means that the house always wins.

In the case of live roulette, it’s the law of probability that creates the house edge. In today’s video slot games, which have largely taken over from the old electromechanical ones, the house edge is programmed into the software that runs them. The result is that it is possible to predict fairly precisely the Return To Player, or RTP, that each machine offers.

It’s generally a figure that can range from between around 85% up to 97% at the highest and, as the name suggests, it is the percentage of stake money paid that will be returned as winnings. It’s important to know, though, that this is the percentage paid back over time rather than in just one session on a particular slot. After all, it would defeat the whole object of playing a slot if you always knew that you’d only ever be winning a set percentage of your stake money, let alone the fact that it’s always going to be under 100%.

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The reason that the RTP figure can be so precisely measured is that games which aim to recreate the randomness of the real world electronically use a Random Number Generator to achieve it. This is governed by an algorithm that can accurately control the RTP while still precisely replicating randomness.

The use of random number generators means that there are a whole range of games that can be given specific RTP percentages. A good example is the online version of the very popular TV game show Deal or No Deal. The game, which essentially involves guessing how big a cash prize is waiting for you when you open your box and judging whether it’s best to do a deal before you find out, is also governed by an RNG. So, one of the first things you notice when you play online Deal or No Deal is that the RTP is 95.46%.

This both gives an idea of the percentage of stake money returned, and can be used as a useful yardstick to judge it against other games such as popular slots such as Rainbow Riches, whose RTP is 95%, or other Instant Win games like 25k Scratch, with a 91.62% RTP.

So, whatever game you’re planning to play, it’s well worth finding out the RTP first, as it may well help you in the long run.