Many folks in the online casino community are often overwhelmed by the razzle-dazzle of casino games. The Vegas-esque glitz and glamour are certainly hard to resist.

However, there are important realities to understand in the world of online casino gaming. Today, we will introduce two important concepts, short-term luck and long-term RTP, as they pertain to online casino games.

At first glance, it's like splitting hairs. Upon closer inspection, we learn that there are dramatic differences in how players should approach online casino games, given the impact of the mystical force of chance (luck, fate, or good fortune) versus the proven statistical element of return to player percentage, otherwise known as RTP.

On the betting spectrum, the short-term is defined as follows:

'Any bet or wager focused on the now – the current or foreseeable session of play.'

The long-term is defined as follows:

'Betting or wagering that takes place over a prolonged period, or at some distant point.'

More accurately, we define the long-term as a period of play encompassing hundreds of thousands, or millions, of slot machine spins, blackjack hands played, baccarat rounds, roulette spins, etc.

Achieving the much-vaunted long-term RTP in any online casino game is a monumental feat. The reason is that significant time and expense are incurred.

We begin our discussion by exploring the impact of luck on short-term play and how it can nullify unfavourable RTPs in any online casino game. As a short-term player, you might enjoy any number of themed slot games, card games, and table games in a single-play session.

Experience teaches us that online slots typically have more favourable RTPs than land-based slot machines.

There are many reasons for this; suffice it to say the lower cost of operations at online casinos gets passed on to players in the form of higher RTPs. It behooves players, therefore, to opt for high RTP slots online over the land-based equivalent, which invariably have much lower RTPs.

RTPs in Slot Games

Online slots are complex creations. The audiovisual elements we are exposed to on-screen represent a fraction of the game's dynamic, innovative, and advanced machinations.

Game designers, creators, and developers utilise sophisticated programming technology, combining algorithms and randomisers to generate outcomes.

On a rudimentary level, the RTP represents the percentage payback a player can expect over the long term. An online slot with a 97% RTP is expected to pay back 97p for every £1.00 wagered over the long term.

It's a theoretical concept grounded in statistical probability. It is important to point out that such precise outcomes hardly ever materialise practically, given that most players are short-term players.

You would not be considered a long-term player unless you played the same slot machine game for an excessive amount of time – weeks or months. Therefore, by deduction, your gaming session is governed by Lady Luck!

Now, any online casino player worth his or her salt understands that good fortune is the X-factor in the equation. When luck is on your side, anything is possible. There are many instances of lucky casino players minting it.

Consider the following mega-money winners at online casinos over the years:

  • In 2021, a lucky online casino player won a jackpot of $23,632,599.85 playing Mega Moolah Absolootly Mad slot online.

  • In 2018, a lucky online casino player won a staggering €18,915 721 jackpot playing Mega Moolah.

  • In 2013, a Finnish player scooped up an incredible €17,861,800 payday with a €0.25 wager.

  • In 2015, good fortune smiled upon a player from the UK who won £13.2 million playing Mega Moolah Progressive Jackpot, also with a 25p bet.

  • In 2020, good fortune ensured that a €10,735,716.84 jackpot was hit on Mega Moolah.

These represent a handful of jaw-dropping paydays scooped up by incredibly lucky players. It's important to point out that the RTPs on these progressive jackpot games are much lower than the RTPs on traditional slots.

For example, the traditional Mega Moolah slot game has an RTP between 88.12% and 93.42%. That's relatively low for an online slot machine game, yet the payouts are massive.

FUN FACT: One of the reasons low RTP slots have such high payouts is that the lower frequency of payouts allows bigger jackpots to build up. Of course, progressive jackpots are linked on a wide network where players contribute a small percentage of each bet to the jackpot prize pool.

The odds of winning a jackpot on a huge network are substantially lower than they are on local networks with smaller player numbers and attendant jackpots.

Important Information Regarding RTPs and Online Casino Games

It's quick and easy to determine the RTP of any online casino game since they are typically published on-site. Most slots will have RTPs in the region of 92% – 98%, while roulette games vary according to the particular game in question.

European Roulette has an RTP of 97.30%, with an attendant house edge of 2.70%. French Roulette has an RTP of 97.30%, with a house edge as low as 1.35%. American Roulette offers the lowest RTP at 94.74%, with a house edge of 5.26%.

But it's certainly not that simple to determine the long-term probability of specific bets in online casino games. That's because there are many different bet types available in games like blackjack, baccarat, roulette, craps, video poker, and even among different variants of slots games.

Interestingly, the RTP for specific casino games remains constant, even if the probability of your chosen bet varies from one game to the next. Consider the following tables of American and European Roulette bets as cases in point:

European Roulette – Betting Probability Analysis 

Bet Type Odds Probability House Edge RTP
Red/Black/Odds 1/1 48.64% 2.70% 97.30%
Dozens/Columns 2/1 32.40% 2.70% 97.30%
Six Line 5/1 16.20% 2.70% 97.30%
Corner 8/1 10.81% 2.70% 97.30%
Street 11/1 8.11% 2.70% 97.30%
Split 17/1 5.41% 2.70% 97.30%
Straight-up 35/1 2.70% 2.70% 97.30%

American Roulette – Betting Probability Analysis

Bet Type Odds Probability House Edge RTP
Red/Black/Odds 1/1 46.37% 5.26% 94.74%
Dozens/Columns 2/1 31.58% 5.26% 94.74%
Six Line 5/1 15.79% 5.26% 94.74%
Corner 8/1 10.53% 5.26% 94.74%
Street 11/1 7.89% 5.26% 94.74%
Split 17/1 5.26% 5.26% 94.74%
Straight-up 35/1 2.63% 5.26% 94.74%

The Psychological Aspects of Gaming

At 888casino, we are staunch advocates of responsible gaming. That means we go the extra mile to ensure players are always safe. We encourage you to set a budget and stick to it. There is no point chasing short-term losses with long-term losses.

This naturally lends to a discussion of the psychological aspects of gaming. It's an intricate process indeed. Online casino players routinely find themselves driven by emotional responses.

The allure of casino games is certainly enticing, but it's important to maintain clarity and focus during your gaming sessions. Various psychological triggers can easily push you off kilter if you don't guard against them.

For example, Gambler's Fallacy routinely surfaces among players. If you have enjoyed a purple patch in your gaming session, you may believe it is unlikely to continue in the future. Conversely, you may believe you are due a win if you've had bad luck for some time.

Online casino players begin with a fixed budget. As bets are placed, the cash in hand rises and falls - that's obvious. When a player starts losing money, the knee-jerk reaction is an attempt to recover losses.

One has to guard against emotionally-based play. This is a classic example of short-term luck going in the wrong direction.

In poker, similar concepts are known as Tilt – a form of emotionally-based betting where irrational decision-making abounds. A successful session of play invariably leads to elevated emotions – a feeling of invincibility.

Since gambling has been shown to release dopamine – the feel-good chemical in our brains – it can be hypnotic at times. That's why it's important to plan ahead, knowing that short-term luck is often at odds with the long-term RTP of online casino games.

One can never overcome the RTP or the ill-effects of good luck gone bad. Any card game, table game, live dealer game, or slot game should be approached as a fun activity on a fixed budget for any given session.

Throughout, it's important to carefully assess each game on its merits. There are certain games with bets that should be avoided, such as insurance bets blackjack, longshot bets in craps, or tie bets in baccarat – the house edge is simply too high.

It is possible to mitigate the effects of high RTP games by placing wagers that have a greater probability of success in the short term. Naturally, it's essential that gambling activity only takes place with a clear head and a set budget.

You can always practice in demo mode to get a feel for short-term luck and an appreciation of the long-term return to player percentages.

With that said, you now have a much better grasp of the implications of short-term luck at online casinos. There is tremendous merit in understanding the implications of RTPs as they pertain to your gaming sessions. We welcome you to try our games in demo mode before you play for real.

Some players have the luck of the Irish, while others rely on strategy-based play to get it right. Either way, enjoy the game!

*Credit for all of the photos in this article belongs to Alamy*