Return to player (RTP) determines your long-term chances of winning money with any casino game. If you care about winning, then you’ll definitely want to avoid games that feature low RTP.
Unfortunately, it can be difficult to know what constitutes a low-paying game and what is considered a high-paying game. After all, RTP varies based on a multitude of factors.
You can still root out the low-paying games, though, by understanding what’s fair RTP and what isn’t. The following guide discusses acceptable payout percentages for different games and how to avoid bad deals in the casino.
RTP Standards Vary by the Game and Setting
No two casino games feature the same payback. Therefore, you have to look at each game individually when assessing the RTP.
Here’s a view on how payback standards differ when moving around the casino. The games discussed below have variable power percentages based on the casino, rules, and other factors.
Blackjack is typically one of the best-paying casino games. However, payback is heavily affected by the given table’s rules.
One table may feature a single deck and 3:2 natural blackjack payouts, which both favor you to a great degree. Another table might have 6:5 natural payouts and eight decks, which hurts your chances of winning.
Here are the key rules that affect blackjack’s payback:
- 3:2 Natural Blackjack Payouts – Raise RTP by 1.39% (versus 6:5 payouts)
- Single Deck – Raises RTP by 0.59% (versus eight decks)
- Double Down on Any Total – Raises RTP by 0.25% (versus only doubling on 10 and 11)
- Dealer Stands on Soft 17 – Raises RTP by 0.20% (versus dealer hitting)
- Double Down After Splitting – Raises RTP by 0.17%
- Re-splitting Aces – Raises RTP by 0.08%
- Late Surrender – Raises RTP by 0.07%
A table with great blackjack rules will feature anywhere from 99.5% to 99.7% RTP. These games are usually found in online casinos, although they can sometimes be available in land-based venues too.
In contrast, the worst-paying blackjack games feature around 98% RTP or less. As long as you’re at a table with 99% payback or better, then you stand a decent chance of winning.
For the most part, craps features the same RTP across the board. Pass line and don’t pass line bets offer 98.59% and 98.64% payback, respectively, no matter if you play online or live.
However, some variation does exist with odds bets. Odds are named for the fact that they pay at your true odds of winning. They’re the only wagers in the casino that offer 100% RTP.
Of course, you have to place a pass line or don’t pass line bet before using odds. These wagers diminish the RTP to some effect.
But real money casinos let you bet odds up to a certain multiple of the original don’t pass line or pass line wager. Here’s a look at how much the RTP increases when dealing with larger odds:
- 1x Odds With Pass Line – 99.15%
- 1x Odds With Don’t Pass Line – 99.32%
- 2x Odds With Pass Line – 99.39%
- 2x Odds With Don’t Pass Line – 99.54%
- 3x Odds With Pass Line – 99.53%
- 3x Odds With Don’t Pass Line – 99.66%
- 3x-4x-5x Odds With Pass Line – 99.63%
- 3x-4x-5x Odds With Don’t Pass Line – 99.73%
- 5x Odds With Pass Line – 99.67%
- 5x Odds With Don’t Pass Line – 99.77%
- 10x Odds With Pass Line – 99.82%
- 10x Odds With Don’t Pass Line – 99.88%
The maximum amount of available odds varies by the casino. Some Las Vegas land-based casinos offer up to 10x odds or more. Most brick and mortar casinos at least allow up to 3x-4x-5x.
Mobile craps tends to lag behind in this area, with some sites not even offering odds at all. Playtech and Betsoft casinos feature the highest online craps odds at 3x.
The roulette RTP differs based on which variation you’re playing. The different payout percentages are as follows:
- American Roulette – 94.74% payback
- European Roulette – 97.30% payback
- French Roulette – 98.65% payback
Land-based casinos are a hit or miss on whether they offer American or European roulette. You could be facing just 94.74% RTP when playing live. However, your chances of finding European or even French Roulette improve when visiting western Europe.
Meanwhile, European Roulette is always available at online casinos. Microgaming and RealTime Gaming casinos also offer French Roulette. In any case, you don’t have to deal with American roulette’s ugly payout percentage online.
Slot machines have the wildest RTP range. This payback range runs from 88% to 96% in brick and mortar casinos.
The unfortunate part is that you never know when you’re sitting at a low-paying machine. Land-based slots don’t list payout percentages because the same game can offer different RTP at varying casinos.
Mobile slots payback generally runs from 95% to 97%. You can check out the info/home screen of a given game to see what payout percentage you’re facing.
Most of the modern slot games offer at least 96% RTP. Some of the older and rarer online slots feature as little as 92% payback.
Video poker RTP is among the hardest to nail down. It not only differs based on the game but also by the different pay tables available for each variation.
Here’s an example of this phenomenon using Jacks or Better tables:
- 9/6 Pay Table (9 coins for a full house/6 for a flush) – 99.54% RTP
- 9/5 Pay Table – 98.45%
- 8/6 Pay Table – 98.39%
- 8/5 Pay Table – 97.30%
- 7/5 Pay Table – 96.15%
Land-based casinos feature the lowest-paying video poker machines on average. They typically use a lesser pay table for games like Jacks or Better. That said, you’ll normally face between 97.5% and 98.5% RTP in brick and mortar venues.
Certain Nevada casinos, however, present exceptions and can even offer video poker machines with over 100% RTP. You’ll need to do some research, though, before finding these casinos.
No online video poker games offer 100% payback. But they do feature more consistent payback across the board.
Every mobile casino that I’ve played at offers both 9/6 Jacks are Better and 8/5 Bonus Poker (99.17% RTP). In some cases, you can find even better-paying games, like RealTime Gaming’s Aces & Eights (99.78%).
How You Can Avoid Low-Paying Games
You’ll already be a big step towards avoiding low-paying games just by knowing common payout percentages for each. However, you can improve your chances of winning with these games even further through the following advice.
Play Most Games Online
Depending upon the game, either land-based casinos or gaming sites can offer the best RTP. But mobile casinos feature the highest payback for the most games. They generally provide higher-paying slot machines, video poker, blackjack, and roulette.
Land-based casinos normally feature larger craps odds. Select brick and mortar venues also offer the best video poker machines.
Choose the Highest Paying Casinos
Some casinos have a reputation for featuring high RTP across the board. Casinos in Downtown Las Vegas, on the Boulder Highway (LV), and in Reno, for example, feature higher-paying games.
With online casinos, the software providers typically dictate RTP across the board. For instance, NetEnt is known for having plenty of high-paying slots. You should look for NetEnt casinos if you want to enjoy favorable slots RTP.
Don’t Ignore Volatility
This discussion has been entirely about payout percentages up to this point. However, you should also consider volatility with regard to winning.
If you want better short-term odds, then you’ll need to choose less volatile games and bets. European and French roulette, for example, both offer even-money wagers that pay out a high percentage of times.
Meanwhile, slot machines or any other game with a jackpot are highly volatile. Even when they have high RTP, they’ll be very unpredictable.
Assuming you want to reduce volatility and win more frequently, then you should pick even-money bets or at least near-even-money wagers.
Chase Bonuses and VIP Rewards to Raise the RTP
Bonuses and loyalty rewards aren’t technically part of any game’s payback. However, they do affect your bottom line to some degree.
Many online casinos feature large deposit bonuses. You should definitely take advantage of these deals if you’re going to be playing online anyways.
Both land-based and online casinos offer VIP programs. The type of rewards you get from each setting can vary. Nevertheless, you’ll get rewarded so long as you’re a member of the given program.
Millions of gamblers play low-paying casino games every year without realizing it. They don’t bother to do any research and, thus, burn through their bankrolls faster.
Luckily, you don’t have to fall into this class. Instead, you can easily avoid the worst-paying games just by knowing fair RTP.
With roulette, for example, you shouldn’t play anything worse than the European version (97.30% RTP). With video poker, you should be playing 8/5 Bonus Poker (99.17%) at a minimum.
The standards vary based on which games you like and the setting. Nevertheless, you need to make sure that you’re at least getting a fair deal regarding the RTP.
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