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Those who frequent casinos both land-based and online all have their own tips that they use in order to make the most of their experience of iGaming. Whether this is to enhance the winning potential or try their chances at a new game, players will use statistics such as the RTP or the volatility regarding slots to make their decision on which game to play and how to play it.

What is meant by the volatility and variance of a slot?

The volatility calculates the performance of a slot game during gameplay in terms of how often you are likely to win and the size of the wins when they occur. However, it is not something that casinos will advertise or share about their games, rather players will have to research slot reviews to find out other gamers’ views on the variance of a particular slot. Volatility also indicates the level of risk a game possesses. That way players can choose the game that is most suited to them by using these measurements to gamble appropriately according to their affordability.

High Variance Slots: Dead or Alive, Book of Dead or Immortal Romance.
Medium-high variance Slots: Gonzo’s Quest, King Kong Fury, and Finn’s Golden Tavern.
Medium variance slots: Thunderstruck 2, Jumanji and North Storm
Low-medium variance slots: Crown of Egypt, Twin Spin, Go Bananas
Low variance slots: Starburst and Blood Suckers 2

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Luis Santos | Deal Empire

What are the different levels of volatility/variance for slot games?

Some online casino review sites and iGamers will refer to the potential payout of a game as either variance or volatility, and they both pretty much mean the same thing. The 3 types of volatility that exist are – low, medium and high variance, although sometimes they can be broken down into 5 types – low, low-medium, medium, medium-high and high.

It is not possible to know exactly when a game will payout and therefore it is easier to measure the volatility of a game to see your chances of winning. Since the volatility of a game refers to the amount of times you could potentially win, if you are spinning a slot that has smaller win amounts and you are creating them frequently, chances are it’s a low variance game. On the other hand, if the slot you are playing has high win amounts and it doesn’t create wins that often then you are probably playing a high variance game.

Example of a Low Variance Slot: Starburst 96.1% RTP (Starburst Wild & Mega Win feature)

Example of a Low Variance Slot: Blood Suckers 98% RTP ( NetEnt Slots)

Example of a Medium-High Variance Slot: Gonzo’s Quest 96% RTP ( NetEnt Slots)

Example of a High Variance Slot: Book of Dead 96.21% RTP (Play'n GO Slots)

How can I tell the volatility of a slot game before I play it?

To be honest there is no straight answer to this but there are some factors that will give an indication of the variance level of a slot game:

  1. The maximum bet option for a slot is usually low for high variance slots.
  2. Read the paytable and figure out the difference between how much a 4 of a kind symbol pays compared to a 5 of a kind symbol payout. If there is a big increase for the 5 of a kind then you can assume it is a high variance slot.
  3. If the game provider offers large cash prizes, the game you are playing may be of high volatility.
  4. Be sure to check the RTP of a slot game as this will inform you of the potential return percentage.

What level of variance/volatility is best for me?

Each player has a different taste in slot games and the reasons for them playing the games will vary as well. For example, some people play at casinos for entertainment and will thoroughly enjoy their experience regardless of whether they win. Others will play at casinos in order to try to win some of their money back that they have spent previously. High rollers will normally be able to deposit quite large amounts of money in the hope of winning big at a casino. No matter the reason for playing, it is important to ensure that when you are playing at a casino that it is enjoyable for you. If you prefer to play at casinos to pass time, then you will likely be suited to low variance game where the risks are lower but the payouts may be more frequent.
Contrary to this, if you can afford to go big when playing at a casino and can deposit higher amounts, a high variance game will potentially be more appealing due to the high risk but chances of big jackpots to be won.

Ultimately, the slot game that you choose is down to the level of risk you are willing to take when playing at casinos. The greater the risk, the more potential there is for winning the jackpot prize when playing a high volatility game. Alternatively, if you’re just playing at a casino for fun and you don’t want to spend too much money then low volatility slots would be a better option. 

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