The Interplay Between Game Selection and RTP: What Players Need to Know

Daniel White

Last updated 7.12.2023

The Interplay Between Game Selection and RTP

When it comes to casino gaming, the interplay between game selection and Return to Player (RTP) is a key factor for players. Understanding this relationship is key to optimizing both the potential for winnings and the overall gaming experience.

RTP, representing the percentage of wagered money returned to players over time, is a fundamental metric in casino games. A higher RTP indicates a better likelihood of winning in the long run, making it an essential consideration for players when selecting games​​​.

The importance of RTP lies not just in its influence on potential returns but also in its role in game design and casino policies. Players should consider RTP, along with factors like game volatility and house edge, to make good betting decisions that align with their gaming strategies​​​​.

Understanding RTP in Game Selection

RTP (Return to Player) is a fundamental concept in the casino gaming sphere, representing the percentage of wagered money expected to be paid back to players over time.

It is a long-term measure indicating the general payout potential of a game. Higher RTP percentages enhance players’ winning chances in the long run, whereas lower RTPs signal reduced odds of winning.

Impact of RTP on Casino Game Outcomes

RTP directly influences potential winnings in casino games. Games with higher RTPs, like those above 96%, generally offer better odds for long-term wins.

With that said, RTP does not dictate short-term results, which can deviate significantly due to luck and variance​​.

RTP and Game Selection

When selecting games, RTP serves as a guide. Players seeking better winning chances are advised to choose games with higher RTPs.

This is particularly true in games like slots, where RTP varies widely. Familiarity with a game’s RTP, along with its variance and bonus features, enables players to align their choices with their gaming objectives and strategies​​.

Understanding Volatility in Relation to RTP

While RTP reflects the average return over time, volatility pertains to the risk and frequency of winning.

High-volatility games offer larger but less frequent wins, whereas low-volatility games yield smaller, more regular payouts. Players should consider both RTP and volatility when choosing games, as they collectively shape the gaming experience and potential returns.

The Role of House Edge

The house edge, the mathematical advantage a casino holds over players, is intertwined with RTP. A game’s RTP inversely relates to its house edge.

For example, a 96% RTP implies a 4% house edge. This balance ensures casinos remain profitable while offering fair winning chances to players​​.

Strategies for Maximizing RTP Benefits

To leverage RTP effectively, players should:

  • Research and select games with higher RTP percentages.
  • Understand and choose games based on their volatility levels, aligning them with their playing style.
  • Consider other game characteristics like bonus rounds and game features.

Game Design and Its Effect on RTP

Game design elements like themes, graphics, and bonus features significantly influence a game’s Return to Player (RTP).

These factors can either raise or lower a game’s volatility, which in turn impacts its RTP. For example, a game with elaborate bonus features might offer higher payouts but with lower frequency, affecting both its volatility and RTP.

Game ElementImpact on RTPDetailed Explanation
Bonus FeaturesCan increase RTPBonus rounds often offer higher payouts, which can elevate the game’s overall RTP. They might also increase volatility due to their infrequent occurrence.
Symbol DistributionAffects hit frequencyThe arrangement and number of symbols on reels influence the likelihood of hitting winning combinations. More frequent wins with lower payouts can lead to a higher RTP.
Game VolatilityInfluences overall RTPHigh volatility games provide larger payouts less frequently, which can lead to higher RTPs. In contrast, low volatility games offer smaller, more frequent wins, potentially lowering the RTP.
Theme and GraphicsIndirectly affects RTPWhile not directly influencing RTP, engaging themes and high-quality graphics can attract more players, increasing the volume of play and thus affecting the distribution of payouts over time.
Progressive JackpotsMay lower RTPGames with progressive jackpots often have a lower RTP, as a portion of each bet contributes to the jackpot pool instead of regular payouts.
PaylinesDetermines win potentialThe number and flexibility of paylines can affect the frequency and size of payouts. More paylines typically mean more opportunities for winning combinations, potentially increasing RTP.
Betting OptionsModifies risk and returnThe range and type of betting options available can alter a game’s risk profile. Games with wider betting options may offer a different RTP experience based on the player’s betting strategy.

Game Design Elements and Their Influence

  • Bonus Rounds: Games with multiple or complex bonus rounds generally have higher volatility. These rounds often offer large payouts, which can increase the overall RTP.
  • Symbol Distribution: The arrangement and frequency of symbols, especially in slot games, directly impact hit frequency and payout sizes, thus affecting RTP.
  • Themes and Graphics: While not directly affecting RTP, engaging themes and graphics can enhance player experience and interaction, indirectly influencing game popularity and playtime.

What to Look for in Game Design

Players should be attentive to:

  • Bonus features and their potential impact on winnings.
  • Symbol distribution patterns that might hint at the game’s volatility.
  • Engaging themes and graphics that offer a more immersive experience.

Understanding Hit Frequency and Game Volatility

  • Hit Frequency: This refers to how often a game pays out. Games with higher hit frequencies typically have lower volatility and vice versa.
  • Game Volatility: Volatility determines the risk level of a game. High volatility games offer larger wins but less frequently, which can be enticing for players looking for big wins but can also affect the game’s RTP.
  • Bonus Frequency: The rate at which bonus features are triggered in a game can also impact RTP. More frequent bonuses generally mean more chances to win, potentially increasing the RTP.
Game Design and Its Effect on RTP

RTP for Long-term vs. Short-term Play

Long-term Strategy and RTP

In the context of casino gaming, long-term play refers to engaging in millions or billions of spins, allowing for a comprehensive recording of all winning combinations, bonus round features, and maximum wins of a specific slot game.

This extensive testing helps verify the game’s RTP. With that, achieving the theoretical RTP value, such as 96%, is improbable in short gaming sessions.

Over extended periods, like millions of spins, a player’s actual RTP will align more closely with the theoretical RTP. But the practicality and feasibility of reaching this exact RTP figure in real-world gaming scenarios are debatable.

RTP Consideration for Different Player Types

  • Short-term Players: For players engaging in brief sessions, their personal RTP may significantly deviate from the theoretical RTP due to the variance and volatility of the game. They might experience substantial wins or losses in a short period, which can temporarily increase their actual RTP well above 100%.
  • Long-term Players: Those who play over extended periods will find their actual RTP gradually converging with the theoretical RTP. Long-term players are more likely to experience outcomes that reflect the average expected returns of the game.

RTP-Related Strategies

  • For Long-term Players: Focus on games with a consistently high RTP, as this will likely yield returns closer to the theoretical RTP over time. Emphasize bankroll management to sustain longer gaming sessions.
  • For Short-term Players: Opt for games with higher volatility that offer the potential for large wins in shorter sessions. Understand that these games might deviate more from the theoretical RTP, but can offer substantial payouts in the short term.

Selecting the Right Casino Games Based on RTP

When browsing for a new casino game, RTP should be one of the first factors to consider, especially if profitability is a priority.

Finding RTP information is often straightforward; most online casinos provide this along with other game details like volatility.

Interpreting RTP Percentages

RTP does not guarantee a certain return per $100 wagered but indicates the average payout over time.

Games with an RTP above the typical 96% are considered high, potentially enhancing winning potential in the long term. Players shouldn’t disregard games with lower RTPs, as some may offer unique benefits like high volatility or progressive jackpots.

Analyzing and Comparing Game RTPs

To increase winning chances, compare the RTPs of different games and focus on those with higher percentages.

For example, among games like ‘Book of Dead’, ‘Sweet Bonanza’, and ‘Deadwood’, choosing the one with the highest RTP, such as ‘Sweet Bonanza’ at 96.5%, might slightly boost long-term profitability.

Game TypeAverage RTP (%)Volatility RangeCommon Player StrategiesNotable Variants
Classic Slots92-95Low to MediumChoose games with fewer reelsFruit Machines, 3-Reel Slots
Video Slots95-97Medium to HighLook for games with bonus rounds5-Reel, 3D, Multi-Payline
Blackjack98-99LowUse basic strategySpanish 21, Blackjack Switch
Roulette94-97HighBet on outside chancesAmerican, European, French
Baccarat98-99LowBet on banker for lower house edgePunto Banco, Chemin de Fer

Addressing Myths and Misconceptions

Common misconceptions include the belief that RTP guarantees a fixed return per $100 wagered and that casinos can manipulate RTP percentages on the fly.

Understanding that RTP represents an average payout and is regulated to ensure fair play helps in making better betting decisions.

RTP-Related Strategies

Employ a balanced approach by choosing games with favorable RTPs that align with your personal preferences.

This strategy involves analyzing, comparing, and understanding RTPs and other game features to make well-informed selections.

RTP Misconceptions and Clarifications

RTP, or Return to Player, is a key statistic in slots and other casino games, yet it’s often misunderstood.

Misinterpretations of RTP can affect players’ approach to gambling, leading to unrealistic expectations or strategies.

Common Myths and Reality

  • Myth: Guaranteed Returns: A common myth is that a slot with a 96% RTP will return $96 for every $100 wagered. In reality, this percentage is an average over a vast number of plays and doesn’t guarantee a specific return in short sessions​​.
  • Misconception: RTP and Short Sessions: RTP is often misapplied to individual or short gaming sessions. RTP reflects the long-term average payback of a game, not immediate outcomes in individual gaming experiences.
  • Gambler’s Fallacy and RTP: Some players mistakenly believe that hot or cold streaks in slots affect RTP. These streaks are natural variances and do not influence the RTP, which remains constant over time.

Understanding RTP in Context

  • Expected Value and House Edge: RTP should be understood in relation to the expected value (EV) of a bet and the house edge. The EV, a statistical average, indicates the expected rate of loss or gain over the long run, and is tied to the structural design of the game. The house edge, the opposite of EV, reflects the portion of player wagers that goes to the house as profit​​.
  • RTP as Statistically Averaged Payback: When playing a slot, each bet has its own EV, contributing to the overall RTP. RTP, thereby, represents the statistically averaged payback of bets over time, not immediate returns.
Common MisconceptionReality and Detailed Explanation
RTP guarantees specific returns in short sessionsRTP represents a long-term average return to player percentage, calculated over millions of spins or hands. It does not provide an assurance of returns in short gaming sessions, as short-term results can be influenced by immediate variance and luck.
Higher RTP always leads to winningsA higher RTP does indicate a better long-term payout potential, but it doesn’t guarantee winnings in individual sessions. Gaming outcomes are also influenced by game volatility, player decisions (in skill-based games), and chance.
RTP can be manipulated by casinosRTP figures are set by game developers and are subject to strict regulatory oversight to ensure fairness. Licensed casinos cannot alter these percentages, as they are embedded in the game’s software and monitored by regulatory bodies.
Hot or cold streaks affect RTPRTP is a statistical measure unaffected by perceived ‘hot’ or ‘cold’ streaks in a game. These streaks are typical variances in gambling and do not change the predetermined RTP of the game. RTP remains a constant value that reflects the programmed payback over an extended period.

Accurate Interpretation of RTP

Players should approach RTP as a reliable and precise indicator of a game’s long-term payout potential.

Understanding RTP in its proper context helps players form realistic expectations and strategies, emphasizing the importance of viewing RTP as part of a broader gambling experience rather than a predictor of immediate outcomes.

Importance of RTP in Game Selection

This comprehensive exploration underscores the essentiality of understanding the interplay between game selection and RTP in casino gaming.

This knowledge is not just a tool but a necessity for players aiming to optimize their gaming experience and increase their chances of winning. By grasping the nuances of RTP, players can make better wagers, leading to potentially more favorable outcomes.

RTP—its definition, impact on game design, long-term versus short-term play implications, strategies for selecting games with favorable RTPs, and clarifying common misconceptions.

Each of these points ties back to the initial premise: informed betting based on RTP is key in casino gaming. Understanding RTP in its entirety equips players with the insights needed to navigate complex casino games, ultimately enhancing their overall gaming experience and success.

Daniel White

Daniel White, based in London, UK, serves as the dynamic Editor-in-Chief at With a sharp eye for detail and a deep understanding of the online casino industry, Daniel specializes in RTP analytics and player-focused content. His leadership has transformed the site into a go-to resource for players seeking the most rewarding online gaming experiences in Europe and beyond.