If you’re a seasoned slot player, or an avid reader of slot reviews, then you may be quite familiar with the term ‘slot volatility’ or ‘slot variance’. However, even if you’re aware of the words, you may not fully understand what they mean, how they apply to different slots or how ‘slot volatility’ can impact your playing experiences.
Luckily for you then, this guide will talk you through everything you need to know about slot volatility. From what we actually mean when we mention low or high volatility slots, to the benefits of playing high or low volatility games, stick with us and you’ll soon be well versed in understand volatility in slot machines.

What Is Slot Volatility and What Is the Difference Between Low and High Volatility Slots?

Essentially, a slot’s volatility refers to how risky the game is. So, for instance, low volatility slots would be less risky than medium volatility slots and high volatility slots would be riskiest of all on the slots volatility index. Whilst this may sound quite straight forward at first – you’d obviously opt for a low risk slot right? – there are other factors players must take into consideration to work out which kind of volatility is for them.

Each different slot you play will have an expected value and therefore slot volatility can also be explained by looking at how far the game strays from this value when played. For instance, a slot which offers frequent yet small payout and sticks to this pattern would be considered a low volatility slot; you can predict quite easily what will happen when you play.
In contrast, high volatility slots are more unstable. High volatility slots have the possibility of giving you some amazing wins, but they also may leave you on a dry streak for quite some time. Therefore, as the name suggests, high volatility slots are highly unpredictable and therefore much riskier.

Slot volatility may sometimes also be referred to as slot variance. These words, in these circumstances, are interchangeable however so don’t go worrying about the difference. Different software developers, casinos and industry bloggers may use variance over volatility or vice versa but we’re all talking about the same thing! So, for example, high volatility slots are the exact same as high variance slots!

Which Slot Volatility Is Right For Me?

As we suggested earlier, it’d be easy to assume that if you’re looking to end up with more cash – and isn’t everyone? – you should play low volatility slots however this would be a foolish, and incorrect, attitude to have! Naturally, if it was that straightforward then all games would be designed as low risk and we’d always advise you to avoid high volatility slots. This, of course, isn’t the case so how do you know whether low or high volatility slots are right for you?

The truth is that all different types of players should be spinning different types of slots. Whilst low volatility slots pay out more frequently, high volatility slots pay out much bigger sums of money and so deciding what you want to achieve from a gaming session is your first port of call.

For instance, if you play slots as a way of relaxing you may be more inclined to play low volatile games as these types of slots allow you to play for longer as the regular pay-outs top up your bankroll. However if winning big is the sole aim of visiting your casino of choice, then high volatility slots may be perfect for you as they will be more likely to offer you the opportunity of winning a life-changing sum of money.

That being said, which kind of slot you should play is also dependent on your budget. We’ll talk more about wager strategies later in this guide, but for now it is important to realise that certain slots require bigger budgets than others. Whilst this does relate to slot volatility, it also relates to a slot’s RTP.

How Does RTP Relate To Low and High Volatility Slots?

RTP is an acronym used by casino writers and software developers and it refers to the ‘return to player’ rate of a slot. Usually, an RTP is expressed as a percentage and for the majority of slots this figure will range between around 94 and 98%. However, sometimes you may also see a ‘house edge’ percentage figure, this is simply the opposite of the RTP and therefore, just like slot variance and slot machine volatility, the two terms are quite interchangeable. If a slot has an RTP of 97%, it will have a house edge of 3% and vice versa.

The return to player rate is calculated by using the percentage of total wins over the total stakes played. However, RTP rates are theoretically, which means they are calculated over an extended period of play and therefore doesn’t represent exactly what will happen in your specific game. So for example, if a slot has an RTP of 96%, you shouldn’t expect £96 back for every £100 you wager!

So how does a slot’s RTP rate relate to a slot’s volatility? Well as we mentioned earlier, slot volatility refers to how much a game deviates from a certain value – this value is the RTP. Low volatility slot machines, therefore, tend to vary only slightly from the RTP percentage. This is why they pay out small but frequent wins. If you wagered £10 and ended up with £12 on a low volatility slot, that would be a RTP of 120% and would be considered to be quite a healthy win on this type of game.

On the other hand, high volatility slots offer greater variance from the RTP value and this is what makes them appealing to players who want to play a riskier game. As high volatility slots pay out much less frequently than low volatility games, it may mean that you’re ending up with a 0% return after your first 20 spins. However, as the payouts in high volatility slots machines are much bigger than low volatility slots, after a while you may end up with a win of 500x your stake. This would be a RTP rate of 250% for your session, which would be definitely much higher than the theoretical rate of around 96% listed on the slot.

That being said, high volatility slots tend to come with lower RTP percentages than average. This is because they offer players the possibility to win a lot. In contrast, low volatility slots often boast a high RTP, but don’t offer many chances to win much more than the listed rate.

How Do You Work Out The Volatility Of A Slot?

Now that you know how slot volatility works, how RTP relates to slot volatility and have hopefully figured out which kinds of volatility games suit your playing style, the only question left is to ask how do you know the volatility of your game of choice?

In general, software developers don’t really like to give away the variance of their slots. This is because they could dissuade some players from trying them out. Luckily for you however, it’s quite easy to work out slot machine volatility on your own. All it takes is a little detective work and some swotting up!

The only certain way to work out a slot’s volatility is to play it for an extended length of time until you’ve identified a pattern in its pay-outs. Of course, this can prove very costly and we wouldn’t actually recommend this method! Instead, we’d suggest reading slot reviews before you play any game, as the reviewers will have done the hard work for you. Alternatively, you could play the game in demo mode to get to grips with how the slot pays, but this can also be quite time consuming.

To work out a slot’s volatility, you need to look at how the game is behaving over around 200 spins. It’s important to keep track of how often it pays out and how much each time, and this should eventually indicate the slot’s volatility. Little yet frequent pay-outs suggest it’s a low volatility title, whilst a long waits for a big wins would suggest high volatility slots. Players can also look at the paytables of the slot; higher jackpots are usually found in high volatility slots.

Strategies For Low and High Volatility Slots
Having worked out the volatility of your slot of choice, the only other thing left to learn is how you can maximise your winning potential. All slots, regardless of whether they are low or high volatility slots, can be played with a strategy in mind, and this can often be the key to success.

If you’ve decided low volatility slots are the games for you, then the best advice we can give you is to quit whilst you’re ahead. You should never expect a huge win in a low volatility game, and therefore if you’re already up, you’re already probably getting the best from the game. Remember, as low volatility slots don’t deviate from their RTP too much, the longer you play the higher theoretical chance you have of losing. As we mentioned earlier, a personal RTP rate of around 120% is considered a decent win on these types of games, so don’t try to overachieve.

In contrast, high volatility slots are worth playing for much longer. High volatility slots have the possibility of paying out nothing for quite some time, and so staying patient is vital. As high volatility slots can vary massively from their RTP, if you’ve been on a losing streak your big win is probably just around the corner.