Updated on 26th March 2018
Since slot volatility and RTP play such an important role in the dynamics of casino slots and our players have been inquiring so much about these terms, we updated this guide. We’ve included additional sections and answers for those interested in understanding how casino games work. We’ve also included examples of low, medium and high volatility slots, expanded on strategies of gameplay on different variance slots and included some information on working out the variance of a slot on your own, among other things.
If you often read slot reviews, you might have heard the term ‘slot volatility’ before. But what does volatility mean? Also known as variance in the world of slots, volatility refers to one basic idea: how risky the game is. We’re not talking about the chances of death from a slot, by the way, we all know that the biggest risk for gamblers is losing money.
So the mobile slot volatility simply indicates the chances of ending a playing session with a boosted bankroll. It also somewhat influences how much cash we can win and put in our wallet afterwards. Slots have a range of volatility levels, mostly referred to as low, medium or high. Today we’ll talk you through what these kinds of categories mean, the benefits of each and what kind of slots fall into each group.
What Does Volatility Mean In Slots And Which One Is For Me?
It’d be easy to be convinced that what you’re looking for, to end up with more cash, is low risk slots. However, you couldn’t be farther from the truth. If it was that simple, all games would have low slot machine volatility and we’d review all high risk slots as worth avoiding. But why would developers stick to high slots volatility, then?
In actual fact, different types of players should be using different types of slots. Sure, low volatility slots pay out more, but you’ll find that high volatility slots pay out bigger sums of money. That’s because low risk slots pay often, but their jackpots are small. High variance means the opposite – rare wins, but larger single payout average.
Which type of variance you prefer from a slot will depend on a few things. Most importantly, what you want out of your gaming experience matters the most. However, the kind of money you can afford to spend will also affect your choice. After all, we’d always like to have more than we actually do. To fully understand how slot machine volatility works, the RTP is a very helpful term.
How Is RTP Related To Slots Volatility?
RTP is short for ‘return to player’ and is expressed as a percentage. Slots usually have around 93 to 98 per cent return, NextGen and NetEnt slots RTP often being slightly better than others’. What this means is that for every £100 wagered, up to £98 will be returned to the player. This applies to an unlimited number of spins and is a theoretical value rather than a practical one. If a slot has a 97% RTP, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll definitely get 97% of your bets back.
How is this related to slots volatility, you may ask? It’s this exact variance that decides how much a slot may differ from the theoretical RTP in a single session. Low volatility slots tend to vary only slightly from this percentage. That’s why they pay in small, but frequent sums. If you wagered £10 and ended up with £15, that’s 150% RTP and it’s considered a decent win on such a game.
Preferring high slot machine volatility means you want your games to offer a greater variance in its returns. Therefore, such games will usually differ much more from the theoretical RTP than in the previous example. That’s why you can often end up with a 0% return after the first ten spins. But if you stick to it, you might as well receive a payout that’s 1,000x your bet after 300 spins. This would mean that your RTP for the session is around 333%. That’s far more than the theoretical 95% or so.
High slot volatility tends to come with lower RTP percentages. They’re usually more lucrative to the operator and often leave the players empty-handed. However, players that do win, actually win a lot. This means that low risk slots often have comparably high RTP, around 97% or even around 98.5%. Are you seeing the tendency here?
Low Volatility Slots
Simply put, low volatility slots are those that pay out frequently and are often high RTP slots. These payouts will be small, but they will occur every five spins or so. Most of the time, these rewards will be just enough to keep you going, whilst a decent win may take you just over your starting budget.
Jackpots on low volatility slots are much lower than high volatility slots, which makes sense given they are low risk. There’s less chance of you winning a life-changing amount, but you’re also less likely to have a streak of spins without a single win. The best low variance slots, however, should still have a decent maximum win. If you can leave the game with around 25% more than your starting balance, then we’d say you’ve done well.
So, for example, say you start with £30 to play with. Perhaps you’ll have a few spins without winning, but then may cash in with a £10 win, which should top your balance back up. If you end up with closer to £40 then you’ve had a good session and can call it quits.
Low variance slots are best for players who don’t want to spend so much money or want to play for a longer period of time. You don’t need to place high wagers to see rewards, and as you’ll receive frequent wins your play time should be extended.
Medium Volatility Slots
Medium volatility slots are quite self-explanatory, now that you’ve got the idea what slots volatility is. Not everything is black and white, so these kinds of slots are between the two opposites. They’re medium risk, which means you’ll receive both enough payouts to keep playing, and the chance at some big wins.
Unlike high volatility slots, medium variance slots should pay out relatively frequently, although much less often than low volatility games. A noticeable win should come your way every 20 spins or so. Therefore, many players think that medium variance games are the ones to play if their budget allows spending a bit more than usual.
In reality, medium volatility slots can sometimes be more frustrating to players than either of the other two types. This is because they occupy the middle group and it can be hard to know what to expect. The size of your wins on medium volatility slots can vary enormously, yet there should be a large jackpot amount for a maximum win.
Medium volatility slots are great for those who want more excitement than low variance games can provide. It’s also an option if you have a slightly bigger budget but still want to play a bit longer than high variance slots would allow. Medium variance game players should strive to end their sessions with RTP higher than just 125%.
High Volatility Slots
High volatility slots are high risk, high thrill and fast-paced. They’re the equivalent of bungee jumps or fast cars. In short, they’re the casino’s answer to YOLO. If a slot machine volatility is high, it will promise mammoth jackpots. The trick here is that they come at a price because they only pay out once in a while. So the risk is much larger than with other types of slots.
Playing this type of slots, you can spin for a long time without any reward. However, when they do decide to rain cash, they pour, as the saying goes. There’s really no telling what to expect from this kind of machines, so it’s important to know your limits. In general, high volatility slots are best for those with a large bankroll, as then you can afford to keep spinning through a dry patch waiting for that big win.
When it does pay out, you will often end up with more than you started with anyway. You won’t always manage to land such a win, though. It’s not that high volatility equals only big wins. Such slots will pay in small amounts too. The difference from low variance games is that the latter don’t have huge wins. Their five-of-a-kind wins are quite small compared to the same wins on high variance slots.
Examples Of Low And High Risk Slots
Now that you know everything about slots volatility, it’s time to see all this in action! So, here are a few examples of the best RTP slots UK in each category of slot variance.
Troll’s Tale is a great example of a low volatility slot. It’s filled with plenty of smallish wins to keep you going. Copy Cats is another example, including a copy-cat feature that will often provide decent wins. Low slot volatility doesn’t mean that only small wins are possible, though. Divine Fortune jackpot game is considered as low to medium variance slot, too, if we don’t count the jackpots in.
Piggy Riches, not be confused with Piggy Payout slots, is an excellent example of a good medium volatility slot. Many of the most popular slots of all time have medium variance. This includes Foxin’ Wins and Gonzo’s Quest. Not surprising, considering that the middle ground is where the most players can feel comfortable in.
Maybe that’s the reason why Starburst is an all-time favourite for many. Starburst slot RTP is just above 96% and its low to medium variance makes it both lucrative and cheap enough for most players to enjoy. For more on this game, however, you should check out our Starburst slot machine review.
Finally, a perfect high volatility slot example is 300 Shields, featuring a 300x multiplier bonus. Such insane features aren’t necessary to make a game highly volatile, though. Hong Kong Tower and Golden Mane slots prove it.
How Do You Work Out The Volatility Of A Slot?
The examples above may not be enough if you decide to try even more games. Besides, slots developers don’t like to give away the variance of their slots. After all, this could dissuade some gamers from playing certain games. Luckily, it’s possible to work out the slot machine volatility on your own.
The only real way to assess a slots variance is to play, and keep playing until you work out a pattern. Although, of course, we’re not expecting you to do this. Instead, you can read our game reviews or you can put the game into demo-play mode until you can make a judgement call.
In general, you need to look at what the slot’s doing over around 200 spins. Keep track of how often it pays out and how much. Little and often shows signs of a low variance slot, whilst a long wait for a win is probably a medium to highly volatile slot. You can also look at the paytables of games to try and find some clues. High jackpots indicate high variance slots, as do large differences between four-of-a-kind and five-of-a-kind multipliers.
Strategies For Different Slot Volatility
Having chosen a slot to play, it’s time to take this slot machine guide one step further and check your strategy based on the slot’s variance. We’ll just give you a few leads for each type and, hopefully, help you win a fortune. Or a small win, if you’re into low variance slots.
Speaking of those, never play a low volatility slot with the expectation of a huge windfall. If you see that things aren’t going as expected, quite before you lose it all. Remember that the RTP is always below 100%, so the more you play, the greater your theoretical chance of losing. Even if that loss is just a small one.
When playing medium volatility slots, it’s always a good idea to decide on your budget and stick to it. Also, keep in mind that some games may have a low to mid or mid to high volatility. This means that different strategies might equally work, so consider playing the game in the demo to see what works best.
You need to be disciplined to play this type of games and know how and when to concede. This is because there’s always the hope of a jackpot win in the back of your mind. Unfortunately, it could easily just not come your way due to the nature of the game. Depending on each particular case, expect to leave with at least 35% on top of your starting amount.
You need to be in it for the long haul with high variance slots. These games can swallow up your money very quickly, with no reward. Luckily, staying patient for anything from 100 to 300 spins will often pay out. This might be difficult with high bets, but even small ones can bring an impressive win. So, it’s up to you to either bet big or spin more.