Differences between Actual, Theoretical and Expected RTP’s

Differences between Actual, Theoretical and Expected RTP’s

Staff Writer
Updated May 18, 2023

Differences between Actual, Theoretical and Expected RTPs

There are many facts and figures that you will come across in the online gaming environment. However, it has to be said that a great deal of them will often confuse a novice gambler! One area of online gaming in general that you should try and get your head around is in regards to RTP’s.

An RTP if you are unaware is simply the Return to Player, which is simple a way of enlightening players as to how much of their stakes will be returned back as winnings over the long term operation of any type of casino game.

As such when you do come across any RTP figures displayed on any online casino game you ought to be comparing it with other games in the same category, and then only play those games which have the very highest RTP’s!

Below are the three different types of RTP that you will come across in the online gaming environment, be aware each one is different and you really should get a good understanding on each of them to allow you to track down and play the best online casino games that will give you the best chances of winning over the long term, or at least give you longer than average playing sessions!

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Theoretical RTPs

The one way to find out just how much money you are going to get back to you based on the total amount you wager on any single online casino game is by you checking the pay table of the game you are player or having a read through the help files of that game and finding out what the Theoretical RTP of that particular game is.

Theoretical RTP is a figures displayed as a percentage, that any one casino game, due solely to its design, is theoretically going to pay back in payouts based on the amount of wagers gambled on that game.

Slot Machines or Video Poker games for example have such a figure attached to them and this is based on the design of the game taking into account things such as the total number of possible winning combinations that can be formed by players playing that game and their respective winning payouts attached to each of those winning combinations.

The reason why the word Theoretical is before the word RTP is that as each casino game is random there is no guarantee that you will reach the payout percentage attached to any one game. However, over time with everything being fair and of course random the Theoretical RTP of any casino game will be reached.

Expected RTPs

There are some online casino games that have been designed to return something known as an Expected RTP, and this figure is going to be expected over one complete game cycle of that particular casino game.

The most commonly found casino games which work and operate in this way are Fruit Machines, which whilst they are random they are completely compensated, and as such what RTP they have been designed to payout will be achieved at the end of each single game cycle.

Obviously the actual game cycle each of these Fruit Machines have been designed to have is going to vary quite dramatically from Fruit Machine to Fruit Machine, however no matter what, at the end of every single game cycle whatever payout percentage that game has been set to return to players will always be achieved.

The game will actual spin in jackpots or lots of high paying winning combinations whenever it is nearing the end of its playing cycle should it need to increase the payout percentage in order to achieve its Expected RTP, and many players tend to use this unique design to help them play that game in a certain way to take advantage of the games design, but we will cover that in another article one day soon!

Actual RTP’s

The one aspect of playing any random online casino game that is very important and all players must understand is that even though any game is going to display an RTP, the Actual RTP you achieve on any session of any game you choose to play is going to vary on each session.

So if you come across for example a great looking slot game and discover that the RTP on that slot is very high at let’s say 98%, you are not going to get 98.00 back for each 100.00 you stake and wager on that game!

Your Actual RTP will swing wildly in one direction or another, however over the long term you may find your RTP does come somewhere close to the Theoretical RTP of that game. If you have a winning session on an initial session it is quite possible that your Actual RTP for that session will be way over 100%.

Any additional losing sessions you have will however reduce the RTP you are getting, which is quite normal for completely random casino games, so do not be upset or shocked should you experience some very low paying sessions on whatever casino game you have chosen to play as that is quite normal!

Further Reading


Now that we have hopefully given you a much more clearer understanding of what RTP’s are and how they work, please have a good look through several of our other online casino game related articles, for by doing so you will find many of them that are going to list and present to you the highest payout percentages on a wide range of different casino games.

Remember the only way that you are going to get longer playing sessions and much more chances of ending your online gaming sessions with more money in your casino account than you started with is by playing the games offering the highest payout percentages.

If you play games offering lower than average RTP’s then you are not going to get the enjoyment and winning opportunities as you would when playing those with higher than average RTP’s, and there are plenty of higher paying games available at many online casino sites, it is just a case of tracking them down then playing them!



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