A Guide to Slot Volatility and Variance

A Guide to Slot Volatility and Variance

Slot volatility is used to calculate the amount of risk inherent to a slot machine. The term is used to describe how often a player can expect to win, as well as the size of the winnings. Volatility metrics can be applied to land-based and online slot games. Before playing on a slot machine, it could be useful to take a look at its slot volatility to make sure that the game suits your preferences.


Slot Variance vs Slot Volatility

Slot variance differs slightly from slot volatility, in that it measures the game’s distribution of long-term results. A game’s variance measures how far a slot game’s results stray from its statistical win average. Even though slot machines are programmed to offer a predetermined RTP (return to player), they deliver very different results from player to player. Some slot machines might not achieve their programmed RTP until they have had millions of spins, so their results are unpredictable during that span of time. 

On the other hand, volatility is bound to a specific amount of time and helps players figure out what sort of risks they would be taking in the short run. In a couple of hours, a player could either win a massive prize or lose their entire bankroll. 

To put it in simpler terms: variance is an indicator of how easy it is for a player to move away from the average house edge. Volatility, on the other hand, refers to the programmed RTP and the related risk. 

Many slot games have indications of volatility, but very rarely will one have a variance index. However, the game’s volatility metrics can give you an idea as to what its variance level would be. The factors to evaluate are: 

  • The size of the jackpot: If the game has a huge jackpot, the slot probably has high variance and volatility. 
  • Bonus features: The more bonuses a game has, the higher volatility and variance it will likely have. 
  • Small payouts: If a slot game has many small prizes, you should expect a lower level of volatility and variance. 
  • Max bet option: A game with high variance will feature a smaller maximum bet. 
  • The paytable: If 5 matching symbols have a much higher payout than 4 matching symbols, the slot likely has high volatility and variance. 
  • Slot reviews: Make sure to check CasinoChan’s gambling blog for slot reviews and insights. We include the RTP and variance levels in our writeups. 

Of course, the slot game might show players up-front as to what level of volatility it is, so be sure to pay attention. This will often be the case with online slots games, but not so much with land-based machines. You can generally predict what the RTP would be based on coin (and dollar) denominations, which are as follows:

  • 1 cent slots: 88% – 91% RTP
  • 5 cent slots: 92% – 94% RTP
  • 25 cent slots: 94% – 95%
  • $1 slots: 95% – 96%
  • $5 slots: 96% – 98%

Types of Slot Volatility

Low Volatility 

Low volatility slots offer lower value wins, but at a higher frequency than games with higher volatility. When playing low volatility slots, you can expect to hit a winning combo approximately every 5-10 spins. Such games are popular among players who are new to slots because the frequent wins add to the excitement. They are lower-risk, fast-paced, and exciting. However, the potential wins would never reach the value of wins from high volatility slot games. 

Low volatility slots: Starburst, Thunderstruck II, Bloodsuckers II, and Wild Scarabs

Medium Volatility

Medium volatility slots are probably the most popular type of slot games among players. You get the best of both worlds: the much higher payouts of high volatility slots and the more frequent wins of low volatility slots. These games are usually equipped with a host of fun bonus features to make your gambling experience even better. 

Medium volatility slots: Jumanji, Guns'n'Roses, Gonzo’s Quest, and North Storm

High Volatility

If you enjoy taking risks, then high volatility slot games might be for you. These games offer huge rewards, but fewer payouts. Their lucrative bonus features and mechanics will also prop your bankroll up and keep you playing for longer. 

High volatility slots: Book of Dead, Immortal Romance, and Dead or Alive.

Which Type of Slot Is Right for You?

Before hitting the slots, take a hard look at your budget. If it’s on the small side, it would be best to play slots that aren’t very risky. This way, you can use the frequent, albeit small, wins to keep your gameplay session going. On the other hand, if you have a large budget and you enjoy thrilling gameplay, you could try your hand at medium to high volatility slots. 

If you are interested in low-volatility slots, check out Big Bad Wolf, Starburst, Thunderstruck II, Bloodsuckers II, and Wild Scarabs. Some great medium-volatility slots are Jumanji, Guns n Roses, Gonzo’s Quest, Dracula, and North Storm. If riskier slots are your thing, then perhaps try the high-volatility Book of Dead, Jungle Jim, Creature from the Black Lagoon, Immortal Romance, or Dead or Alive.

Above all else, make sure to stay aware of your bankroll. It can be easy to be swept up by the fun, flashy graphics and thrilling sound effects. You could lose track of time, be drawn in by small wins, and not realize if you are losing most of your deposit.

If you want to find out more about playing online slots, check out our top dos and donts for playing online slots.

So, are you ready to try out your hands at a low, medium, or high volatility slot game? At CasinoChan, we offer a wide range of popular online casino slot games. You also get a chance to win free spins and cash through our 11-level VIP program!