How to estimate the payout rate of online casino games.
Did you ever look at a gambling game and wonder how much you could win playing it? Some are easier to calculate than others, right? Betting black or red in roulette comes with an even-money payout, thus you can win what you bet. But what about street bets, double- or single-number bets, or even worse, not roulette at all, but slot machines, progressive blackjack, or keno?
The truth is, it’s not about what you can win, but how much you can expect to lose, if Lady Luck doesn’t grace your shoulder with her ephemeral presence. The fact is, every casino game is designed for the house to win, and the player to lose. Some will get lucky—in rare instance, extremely lucky—but the majority are going to lose. That’s just the way it works. No casino would stay afloat otherwise.
Thus, to have any decent chance of winning, the trick is to find the games with the lowest casino advantage, or “house edge”. Essentially, the less you stand to lose, the more likely luck could kick in and net you a win. Which brings us to…
Calculating Casino Payout Rates
The payout rate is what those in the business call RTP. It stands for “return to player”. This is the amount that a machine will pay back to players, based on what it takes in over a long period of time. Due to that last oh-so-important part—the long period of time—the RTP is a theoretical percentage.
For example, if a game has a 96% RTP, one player could, theoretically, win back $96 for every $100 they bet. It’s not probable though, due to the unpredictable nature of the games. It would be more accurate to say that, over a long period of time, a large group of players should collectively win back about $960,000 for every $1,000,000 the collectively bet.
If we reverse that, the same could be said—a large group of players will likely lose $40,000 for very $1,000,000 wagered. Among them will be some who make a profit, and many more who lose money. As for who wins and loses what amounts… that is truly up to fate. And, due to that theoretical nature of RTPs, we can never precisely “calculate” casino payout rates. Instead, we must learn to…
Estimating the Payout Rate of Online Casino Games
The first step is to find out the RTP of a game, which is one of two reasons we recommend online casino games, rather than the land-based variety. The other reason is because online casinos have higher average RTPs than their land-based counterparts. And again, the higher the RTP, the better.
Most online slot machines these days will display their RTP somewhere within the information table. For other games, if it’s not already on display, you can look up a basic odds chart for any game on the internet. Note that blackjack is a tricky one, because each and every rule invoked will alter the payout ever-so-slightly. Plus, how you play the game—with or without basic strategy—will also impact the RTP.
Examples with Simple Math
Moving on, once you know the RTP, estimating the payout rate becomes simple. Since the RTP is always displayed as a percentage, just subtract this number from 100. The result is how much you can (theoretically) expect to lose for every $100 you wager.
Example 1: 100 – 96 RTP = 4 (lose $4 per $100)
Chances are, you plan to bet less than $100 per play. If it’s a $1 bet, divide the answer by 100.
Example 2: 100 – 96 RTP = 4 (lose $4 per $100), or 4 / 100 = 0.04 (lose $0.04 per $1.00)
A $5 bet would use the same formula, but divide the result by 20, like so:
Example 3: 100 – 96 RTP = 4 (lose $4 per $100), or 4 / 20 = 0.50 (lose $0.20 per $5.00)
If you find multiplication easier than division, try calculating (or rather, estimating) in $1.00 increments instead of $100, then multiply by the bet size. Let’s say you’re betting $15.
Example 4: 100 – 96 = 4 (0.04 per $1.00), then $0.04 x 15 = $0.60 (lose $0.60 per $15)
While the thought of losing anything isn’t exactly a joyful one, if you look at gambling as another form of paid entertainment, choosing high-RTP games does make them rather affordable. You just have to play within your limits, and take your time. And at least this form entertainment does afford a chance—however small—to walk away with more money than you had to start.
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Adalene Lucas: is our jack of all trades here at DBC. She is a skilled coder, gambler, writer and webmaster. She lives in Manitoba where she enjoys the lush landscapes and camping near Tulabi Falls. Nature gives her inspiration to write. When she's not immersed in nature, her favorite words are "game theory". She lives with her husband and their two Labradors, Kophy and Whisper.