How Important is Slot Machine RTP?
Is playing the casino’s highest RTP slot machines pointless?
If you’ve read up on any casino strategies lately, you’ve probably heard that slot machine RTP is critical to a profitable gaming experience. RTP is, of course, the theoretical ‘return to player‘ that’s programmed into the software that powers every modern-day slot machine. But how important is it really?
The truth is, playing only the highest RTP slots won’t help you at all. It’s not because the programmed return is a lie, or that casinos are cheating their players out of money. In fact, RTPs make casinos incontrovertibly honest about their games. It’s the fact that you’d have to play a million spins or better to achieve the game’s RTP, and that would, by default, ensure that you lose.
How a Slot’s RTP Works
Slot machines are basically computer programs, which are very complex at their core. But I’m not going to get all technical here. In the simplest of terms, a slot machine’s RTP is the rate at which it’s going to pay out winnings, compared to the money it takes in.
RTP is always displayed as a percentage. A typical online slot machine might pay 96.13%. This would mean that, theoretically, the machine will pay out $96.13 for every $100.00 wagered on the game. But that’s a theoretical number. It’s not precise – at least, not in the short term. If you bet $1 per spin for $100 spins, you’re not going to win back exactly $96.13. It doesn’t work that way.
Over 100 spins, the RTP you experience will fluctuate. It could be higher or lower than the programmed percentage. You may only win on a few of those spins, resulting in something like a 20% RTP (loss of $80). Or, you could have a nice streak of wins over those 100 spins and experience a profitable 140% RTP. You could even win a massive jackpot, shooting your RTP up into the thousands, even millions!
The Highest RTP Slot Machines Still Fluctuate
The exact same scenario can and will happen to players of both low and high RTP slots. A game with an 85% RTP can also award a jackpot, or go on big winning or losing streaks. There’s nothing programmed into the software that tells the game whether to win, lose, or pay out a jackpot on any particular spin. For every individual player, it’s truly random. Only over the course of years, over millions of spins, will the machine actually meet its RTP.
Think about that for a moment. If you spin the reels a million times, the game is more likely to pay its theoretical return. And if it does, you’re guaranteed to lose. That’s how casinos make their money in the first place. For players, the RTP fluctuates. Some win, some lose. For the casinos, profits are guaranteed, because they will still be around for those millions of spins.
No More Mega Moolah Jackpots?
If you think playing slots with the highest RTP is a good strategy, try telling that to all the people who’ve won the life-altering, multi-million dollar Mega Moolah jackpot. It has one of the worst online slots RTPs in the world, set at just 88%. And yet, that game has made 58 millionaires to date, paying an average $5.8 million jackpot every 8 weeks and 5 days (about 2 months).
If all those players had listened to so-called slot machine strategists, avoiding low-paying games and only playing the 97%+ variety, where would they be now? Probably working some labour job or behind a desk, living pay check to pay check like the other 78% of us. Instead, they’re sipping cocktails on a beach on some remote island any time they feel like it.
I’m not extrapolating the belief that ‘Joe won the lottery, you can too!‘ I’m just saying that it’s okay to spread your horizons. Play the slot machine that you want to play – not the one with the best numerical values programmed into its software – because playing the highest RTP slot machines isn’t really going to help you.
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