The real pros and cons of playing the highest RTP casino games.
Ask the average casino goer if you’re better off playing a game with a high return to player (RTP), and they’ll say, “Yes, of course! If you know what RTP is, you should obviously be aiming for the highest RTP games.” But the average player isn’t likely to tell you about the disadvantages of doing so, because the average player never puts that much thought into it.
The truth is, there are pros and cons to seeking out a high RTP in casino games. On the surface, they will give you the best odds of winning money. There’s no denying that. But there’s a bigger picture to be seen, especially in an online casino environment.
Pros & Cons of Playing the Highest RTP Casino Games
The most obvious pro/con here relates to the way a game’s RTP works. When we say a game has an RTP of 99%, it means that – probability-wise – players will win back 99% of their bets. That’s a really high chance; almost as high as a 50/50 win-loss ratio (but actually 49.5/50.5). What so many players don’t consider is that these probabilities cannot possibly come to fruition in the short term.
If you place 10 bets of $5 each on a 99% RTP blackjack game, you’re not going to finish with a 99% RTP (win back $49.50; total loss $0.50). Probabilities like this hold true in the long term. Play one million hands, and yes the RTP is more likely to be accurate, but not in the long term.
If you place just one large bet – your entire bankroll at once – you will not have a better chance of winning that bet. In fact, your chance would be 49.50% of winning; ever-so-slightly in favor of a loss.
The point is, if you’re only playing casino games in the short term, that high RTP is not going to work in your favor nearly so much as the volatility, or variance, in short term probabilities. Which brings us to…
The Problem with High RTP Slot Machines
One thing I like about today’s online slot machines is that they usually provide their RTP and Volatility rating on the info sheet. If it’s visible, you’ll find it near the end of the pay table information. I also like that online slots have way higher RTPs than land-based machines. We’re talking averages of 95-97% online, versus 88-95% on land. That’s a pretty significant difference. But a game’s volatility can be far more problematic than its RTP.
Volatility relates to the average frequency of winning combinations, combined with the average worth of those wins. A game with a high variance is not going to have very many winning combinations. You might experience ten or more spins in a row without winning anything. However, when you do win, the size of the prize is generally larger.
High RTP/Volatility slot machines are best for players with a large enough bankroll to outlast the variance. With a small bankroll, the average distance between wins means you could lose big before the volatility swings ever in your favor.
RTP and its Impact on Casino Bonuses
One last thing to consider is the promotional aspect of an online casino. Everyone enjoys claiming a big, juicy welcome bonus or reload bonus, but the terms and conditions of those promotions will limit your gaming options.
Read over the wagering requirements (WR) of any typical bonus offer, and you’ll find that certain games don’t count 100% towards play through. Some are excluded entirely. If you look at the RTPs of the limited and excluded games, you’ll find that they are always among the highest RTP casino games.
If blackjack (average RTP 99-99.65%) counts at all towards WR, it will only count up to 10% at most. That’s why so many casino restrict their bonus play-through to slot machines. On the bright side, calculating the bonus into your own cash increases the overall RTP of your gaming experience.