Whether you play online slots regularly or you’re thinking about giving the reels a spin for the first time, you’ll want to know more about slot volatility or variance. You will likely come across these terms regularly, and knowing what they mean can help you decide which online slots to play. We’ve broken things down for you in one quick, simple read.
Slot volatility explained
You’ll see many slot overviews include a volatility (or variance) rating. These are typically expressed as high, medium or low. This is simply a measurement that tells you how often a slot is likely to land a winning combination, and in such a case, how big the average payout size is likely to be. These are the three volatility/variance levels:
- High-volatility wins are rare, but when they do happen, the size of a payout will typically be large, which means a high-variance slot may result in a larger reward.
- Medium-volatility wins mean you’re more likely to land a winning combination than when playing a high-volatility slot but less likely to win than if you chose a low-volatility slot. So, it’s a case of average risk and average reward.
- Low-volatility slots land winning combinations more often than games with high or medium volatility, but because the risk is lower, the rewards will also be lower.
Find the volatility of your favourite slot
Some online casinos will give their games a variance rating of between 5 and 1. This works similarly to the high to low breakdown we covered above: 4 to 5 is medium to high risk; 3 is medium risk; 1 to 2 is low to medium risk. Other times, the volatility of a game may be broken down as, for example, 2 wins in 200 spins (for a high-volatility slot).
The other term connected to the performance of online slots that you’ll often see is the “return to player” (RTP), which is expressed as a percentage and is calculated from thousands of theoretical spins in any given slot game. This figure represents the average percentage of your bets that are likely to be “returned” to you as winnings over a long period.
If you look for a volatility or RTP rating on your favourite game but can’t find it, don’t be alarmed. There is no regulation that requires that this information is made available to the public, although leading game developers do tend to provide it. This is because slots are a game of chance. So, volatility ratings are simply a way of giving you an idea of a game’s track record, which tends to average out at one level or another.
If it’s important to you to get an idea of a game’s volatility, you can look at the paytable. If the promised prizes are large, the title more than likely has a high variance. Meanwhile, small prizes tend to indicate that a title has a low variance.
Also, games with more bonus features tend to have high volatility. So, if a bonus feature comes up once in every 250,000 spins, this would typically reward a player with a more significant amount compared to a winning line that pops up once in every 100 spins.
Slot variance categories
It’s simpler than you might think. The variance of a game can be worked out in this way:
- A payout ratio that is more than 10,000x your bet value = high variance
- A payout ratio that is between 5,000x and 10,000x your bet value = medium variance
- A payout ratio that is less than 5,000x the value of your bet per spin = low variance
Our pick of titles with varying levels of volatility
Now you know more about volatility, you’re in a position to decide the level of risk you’d like to take when you play slots. We’ll give you some pointers further down, but for now, here are a few slot titles we can recommend.
If you have a sizable bankroll and you enjoy plenty of bonus features and increased risk, try Medusa. This Ancient Greek-inspired slot from NYX has you battling the mythical Medusa as you spin to win some handsome cash rewards. This 5-reel slot has 25 paylines and more bonus features than ever seen in a “snake”-themed game. Or take your chances on Montezuma Megaways by WMS Gaming for some 6-reel action and up to 117,649 ways to win.
Hailing from Pariplay is a 5-reel, 25-payline slot called Sharknado, which features high-end sound and visuals. The game includes randomly added exploding wilds, a special Sharknado mode that boosts wins by up to 5x, and a free spins bonus round. Stakes start at 0.25 coins per spin and rise to 25, and it’s a good title to try if you’re interested in playing a medium-volatility slot.
The imaginatively titled video slot Esqueleto Explosivo runs on Thunderkick software and features a Mexican Day of the Dead theme. It offers 5-reel action and 17 paylines, with small but more frequent wins likely owing to the game’s low volatility.
When choosing whether to play low vs high-volatility titles, consider your personal preferences, the level of risk you wish to take, and – of course – the size of your bankroll.
If you enjoy games that offer a number of exciting features such as scatters or free spins, progressive and fixed jackpots, and bonuses for specific paylines, opt for high-volatility titles that require more risk (and sometimes higher coin sizes) for bigger rewards.
If you prefer hours of slot action – with accompanying lower risk – over the chance of big wins, you’ll want to stick to low-volatility games. Or you might like to mix things up a bit, depending on the time you have to play and the amount of money you have available.
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Whether you prefer to play low-, medium- or high-volatility slots, at The Phone Casino, we feature some of the best online and mobile casino games, including blackjack, roulette, scratch cards and many more. By simply registering with us, you can play online slots with no deposit wherever and whenever you like! Still not sure what slots to play? Try Casinomeister, one of our highly entertaining online slots, to get the reels rolling!