What players need to know about Volatility in slot games.

Gil Nieto
November 4, 2023
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What is volatility in slots games?

The will to gamble is a part of the millions of years of evolutionary processes that have led humanity from its inception up until the present moment. Many people feel that gambling is a vice in and of itself, but when faced with the fact that gambling in its core essence has led us to some of our greatest achievements as a species, then they start to get a little stumped.

And of course, the thousands of casinos around the world are a testament of how popular gambling really is, and they are created to exploit this human propensity for gambling.

Now, the fact is that there is variability in how big of a risk-taker some people are. While it’s true that the will to gamble is present in every human being in some form or another, there are differences in the willingness to gamble.

Some people are hardcore gamblers, and to them life’s nothing without taking risks. They bask in gambling whenever possible, and they find extreme satisfaction in it.

On the other hand, some people are highly risk-averse. These people are the ones who are sometimes afraid to leave home because of the risks that the outside world poses to them, even though these risks are highly negligible to most ordinary people. And most people are in between these two extremes, in the so-called grey area.

Now, how does this tie up to the subject of this article? Well, for one thing, slot machine designers have recognized this difference in the attitudes among the gambling population specifically. And they have used this information to create slot machines that are more tailor-made for certain types of people along the risk-taking willingness spectrum.

This comes in the form of the so-called machine volatility. One of the first uses of the term “volatility” has been to explain some aspects of the world of financing. And this term encompasses the statistical measure of the degree of dispersion of a security’s returns.

This may seem like a complicated definition, but we assure you, it is not. Suppose you implement the term “volatility” in the field of gambling. In that case, you get the definition that volatility the degree of risk or uncertainty concerning the size of the changes in the player’s bankroll value.

High Variance slot – when to play them?

We’ll stop using formal definitions now, and we’ll explain it in layman’s terms. Typically, there are two main types of slot machines regarding the volatility.

The first is a high-volatility machine, and the second one is a low-volatility machine. The high-volatility machines pay off a lot less frequently but a lot more in quality and size.

This means that if you sit at a high volatility slot machine, you may pull the reel for a long time before you hit a winning combination.

But when you do finally hit a winning combination, you’ll win it big, as the machine will hand out to you a hefty sum for having waited for so long.

Some examples of High Variance slot games are:

  • Book of Ra slot
  • Secret Romance slots
  • Dr Love slot
  • Siberian Storm slots
  • Pirate’s Plunder slot

Conversely, if you opt out for playing the low volatility machines, what you can expect is a solid streak of winnings, but with a lot less intensity. So you’ll win quite more often, but a lot less money.

These two systems have big implications for slot machine players. And this is where the introduction to this article ties up. Typically, the high-risk takers among the gamblers are going to opt out of the high-volatility machine, and the low-risk takers will take shots at the low-volatility slot games.

You must have realized by now that one is not necessarily better than the other, as the high-volatility and low-volatility systems are suited for different players and different mindsets. Both have their good and bad sides.

Low Variance slots – When to play them?

For example, the good side to the high volatility slot machine is that it pays off big rewards to those fortunate enough to make a winning combination. But the flip side to that coin is that you can spend a lot of money hoping to strike big, and the strike may never come. So you can waste money.

Conversely, the good side of low volatility is that you’ll make winning combinations far more often, and so you’ll at least be able to pay off your bet and break even most of the time.

But if you want to make big money, you’d avoid low-volatility games. Not to say that you can’t make big money even on them, but it’s far rarer for this to happen than the high-volatility games.

And how can you find out which is which? How do you know which slot machine game is of high volatility and which one is of low? Especially since the casinos aren’t necessarily too eager to divulge information on the volatility of a game. Well the answer is: easy – by investigating.

You can spend sometimes playing with low bets until you get a feel of whether the machine leans toward one end or the other. Even better, you can play the game with play money if that’s an option, and in this way you’ll save up.

Perhaps the best option is to ask other players about how often and how big does the game cash out to players, and they’ll tell you their experience of it, from which you can deduce if the machine is of high volatility or low.

Some examples of Low Variance slot games are:

  • Peggle slots
  • Spinata Grande slot
  • Theme Park slot
  • Elvis the King slots
  • Cash Coasters slot

Look at the paytable for RTP and volatility.

Another sneaky little way you can determine a slot game’s volatility is by looking at the pay table. Typically, most slot machine games will have the option for you to take a look at the pay table with all of the symbols and their value.

Well, as you realize now, the game where the prices and values attached to symbols and their combinations are high is most probably a high-volatility game where you’ll win big, but less often. And if the symbols and combinations have low value attached to them, then the game is most likely of a low volatility design, and you’ll win less money, but more frequently.

There is another term related to game volatility that can confuse some players, especially the newbies. This term is “variance”. What’s the difference between variance and volatility? There is none. Both of these terms explain the exact same thing. There’s one mystery that we have solved.

As you can see, “slot variance” isn’t a complicated term that will take a rocket scientist to understand. It’s straightforward and everyone can get a grasp of it. So what you should do is to put it into use immediately and seek out the type of machine that is best suited to your gambling propensities.

This will ensure that you get the best gambling experience you can, as one of the worst things you can do is to play high volatility games when you want to relax and enjoy a long time at the slots with little money, or to play their opposite when you want to take a risk and win it big.

Author Gil Nieto

Gil Nieto is an ex-affiliate manager currently leading initiatives at CasinoSisterSite.com and other sites in the Renewable Energies sector. He previously spearheaded affiliate programs at MoneyGaming.com and CasinoRIP.com (from GAN), but decided to start writing for players to share his insights on the gambling industry. He merges his diverse skills with hobbies in cultivating carnivorous plants and exploring new cultures with his family.