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What Is Return To Player (RTP) And How Does It Work? A Complete Guide

RTP is return to player

Whatever type of gambling game you love to play, casino RTP (return to player) is an essential term for you to know – it’s what determines the chances of you winning some money, and separates the profitable games from the unprofitable ones.

In this guide, we delve deep into precisely what RTP is and how it works – once you’ve read this, you’ll understand one of the key things to look for when selecting what online casino you’re going to gamble at. 

What is return to player (casino RTP)?

You may have heard people talking about casino RTP without them using those three letters, or the words “return to player.” This is because RTP is all about establishing the house advantage and (most importantly to gamblers) your chance of winning some money in the long-run.

Because RTP is the method of showing how much money wagered goes back to gamblers over time, it’s also the way you establish if you’re playing a profitable game – the higher the RTP of a game the better your chances are of winning, hence the more profitable a game should (in theory) be. 

How do online casinos show RTP?  

RTP tells you how hard or easy it is for you to beat a land or online casino. It does so without vague or opaque terminology, but instead by using clinical percentages – below is an example of how that looks in practice, using Betway to explain the point. 

If you head to any top-class online casino there will be a page somewhere on the site that tells you the RTP for its games. Now, say poker is your game. If you head to Betway’s site you’ll find a page titled “Payout Percentages.” A cursory glance of the poker games tells you the “Theoretical RTP” for the following games: 

Game 

RTP

10 Play Power Poker - Aces and Faces 

99.26%

10 Play Power Poker - All Aces

99.92%

10 Play Power Poker - Bonus Deuces Wild

96.77%

10 Play Power Poker - Bonus Poker

99.17%

10 Play Power Poker - Double Double Bonus Poker

98.98%

What this means is that for every £100 gambled at 10 Play Power Poker - Aces and Faces, £99.26 makes it back into gamblers' pockets over time. Why? Because the return to player is 99.26% – so, all you need to do is think of that percentage as cold-hard-cash and it’s simple to understand what it really means to you.

How do you calculate casino RTP? 

Gambling is about many things – it’s the smell of casino air (ripped through with the perspiration of wins and losses), the joy of flopping a royal flush, and the fun of a home poker game. But gambling is also about maths and one of the most important equations for gamblers is the one used to calculate casino RTP. 

Casino RTP is used to calculate your chances of winning some money when you’re gambling. For such an important equation, the maths is brutally simple:

Casino RTP calculation equals: 


Amount of money that is returned to players 

÷ 

Amount of money gambled by players

If you want to be a truly winning player in the most popular card games, such as poker and blackjack, you’ll need to have some impressive maths skills. But if you just want to make sure you’re not a losing player, you simply need to understand the RTP equation – it’s the one that tells you if you’re betting on the right game. 

Is hit frequency the same as casino RTP? 

Many gamblers will hear hit frequency mentioned in close association to RTP. This may give you the impression that the two are one and the same, but know this – hit frequency is not the same as casino RTP. 

Hit frequency is a casino term that explains the rate at which a slot machine will land on a winning combination. Like RTP, hit frequency is represented as a percentage – for example, a slot machine may have a hit frequency of 8%, meaning it lands on a winning combination 8% of the time. 

What this means is that the hit frequency is a method of describing how often a player will win at a game. While this is close to RTP it’s not the same. This is because RTP is a percentage expression of how much money goes back to players, not how often they win at the game. 

Is a high casino RTP the sign a top-class online casino?

So many things go into making a gambling site a top-class online casino – it needs games to cater for a range of gamblers, new and old titles, a user-friendly app, security icons from gambling organisations, and lots more. 

One of the key details you should use to determine the standard of a gambling site is its casino RTP. Why? Because it tells you how likely you are to win money playing its games. 

You’ve already read detailed explanations of why RTP is important and how it’s calculated elsewhere in this guide. So, we’ll keep this point simple – high-casino RTP isn’t the only sign of a top-class RTP, but it’s certainly one of the most important.

While RTP may sound like a difficult concept to get your head around (don’t all terms that come in acronyms feel that way?), it really is pretty straightforward. 

Now that you understand what RTP means and how it works, make sure you look for the RTP of the games you play at your favourite online casinos – if you don’t,  you might find you’re playing a game that gives you a poor return on your money.