Casino Games Edge: Why some game RTP’s fluctuate and others do not.
There are so many different types of casino games out there, you’d probably need at least a few energy drinks (not to mention a very large bankroll) to try them all in a single visit. Every game comes with a house edge – a percentage-based amount that the casino expects to win off of all players collectively. The opposite of the house edge is known as the return to player, or RTP – the amount players (collectively) can expect to win back from all their bets on a single game.
Most games have a static RTP. That is, the RTP never changes. Others have a fluctuating RTP, meaning that the player’s decisions can impact how well a game pays out. We’ll take a closer look at casino game RTP, examining how and why they may fluctuate.
Static RTP Casino Games
Most casino games fit into the category of having static RTPs. The majority of slot machines fit this bill, as do most card games. Any game where the player’s only decision is where to place a bet will have a stable RTP. This applies to games like baccarat, craps, pai gow poker, roulette – pretty much every table game outside of blackjack, and those that feature ‘Ante / Play‘ bets.
Most slot machines also have a static RTP. These games are programmed to pay out a specific percentage of their intake over a long period of time. In this manner, luck (or as the pros call it, variance) is able to play a role. Without variance, there would be no winners at games with static RTPs. With it, we know that some players will win, but many others will lose to make up for it, ensuring the casinos make their profit.
Ways to Effect a Casino Games Edge
The most famous game in this category is blackjack. As we’ve all heard, serious blackjack players are capable of lowering the house edge to an absolute minimum simply by utilizing a basic strategy chart. Professional card counters can take it a step farther, actually sliding the edge into their favor.
A typical, untrained blackjack player might have an expected RTP of 98%. For a strategy player, the RTP might rise to 99.5%. And for that elite card counter, it could pass the holy threshold into the 100+% range.
How does counting cards effect the RTP of a game? By removing a variable from the equation. Most casino games do not allow for adaptive variables.
In European Roulette, the ball might land in Black ten times in a row, but this doesn’t make it any less likely that black will win again on the next spin. The odds of black winning are always 18 in 37, or 48.65%. The only way to change the odds would be to add or remove positions on the wheel, changing the variables. The extra 00 in American Roulette does just that, giving the casino a slightly better edge. In this game, black will win 18 in 38 spin, or 47.37% of the time.
Similarly, removing cards from a deck changes the variables in blackjack. If we count cards and realize that no Aces are left, we know there won’t be any blackjacks dealt before the shoe is reshuffled. This results in a lower RTP for the player. However, if most of the low cards are gone, leaving a lot of Aces, Tens and Face Cards behind, we know the odds of being dealt a blackjack are higher; thus, the RTP is higher.
Any card game that requires the player to make decisions after placing their initial bet can have a fluctuating RTP. Let It Ride and Texas Hold’em Bonus Poker are perfect examples, wherein players can choose to bet more or less depending on their starting cards. Unlike blackjack, however, there’s no way to slide the edge into the player’s favor.
Even slot machines can sometimes have a variable RTP. Progressive slot machines often require players to bet a minimum amount to be eligible to win the jackpot. Therefore, if you don’t bet high enough, you can’t win the big prize, resulting in a lower RTP. Failing to activate all paylines on a multi-line slot can lower the RTP, as well. Always read the pay table for specific information on a casino games edge, and if you happen to see the RTP listed as “up to” a certain percent, this is a direct clue that it will fluctuate based on your decisions.