JeffBet by Matthew Gover |
Date of Publishing: 31 January 2023

5/5 - (10 votes)

What Does Volatility Mean In Slots?


To know how slot machines work, you must learn about slot volatility. Understanding slot volatility will help players understand their chances of winning when playing a particular slot and have a greater knowledge of how payouts are calculated. Through this guide, we will explain how players can calculate the volatility of a slot machine as well as emphasise its importance.

In this modern era of online casinos, players have endless choices regarding slot games: multipliers, multi-payline slots, and megaways to progressive slots. These games also come with various bonus features, most of which are designed to be compatible with all devices. In other words, online casinos want to provide slot games that appeal and are suitable for everyone. That said, whichever slot online slot machine gamblers choose, there is always one prevailing factor influencing their result: slot volatility.

Slot volatility is among the most vital concepts a player must understand before playing such games. Knowing what slot game volatility is and how it works can help players decide how much money they feel comfortable risking and where to place their bets.

Slot Volatility: The Basics

Slot game volatility can be referred to as a risk factor with slot machines. It denotes how much and how often a player can expect to win while playing a slot game. The term is often associated with the RTP rate (Return to Player), which helps determine the percentage of the total stake reimbursed to players in the long run.

Higher volatility slots offer fewer winning combinations but what they do offer is the potential for big wins. On the other hand, low volatility slots yield small wins yet are more consistent with fewer paylines. Whether the slot game is land-based or online, its volatility decides the odds of getting reward money, setting off a jackpot, and all the possible risks in the game.

Thanks to the wonderful world of the internet, it should be pretty simple to research the volatility of a slot game you are interested in playing. Despite being a crucial factor when playing online slot machines, slot volatility disclosure is only sometimes revealed nor required. That said, some online casinos may offer a volatility rating from 1 to 5, in which case, when choosing 3-star volatility in a game, you can expect medium or medium-to-high risks. Knowing the precise RTP of the game, however, is preferable.

If possible, players can refer to the game’s paytable. Slot games offering substantial prizes are likely high volatility slots since they will not offer that prize amount frequently.

Nonetheless, regardless of a slot game’s volatility level, it all comes down to the player’s personal choice and bankroll.


How to know the Volatility Level of a slot game?

Typically, casino game developers are not very keen on giving out this type of information, but, as mentioned, there are some ways to determine a slot game’s volatility. Most players are drawn to one particular type over another, which does not determine the slot game’s quality. 

Whether you prefer high volatility slots or low volatility games has more to do with your personal preference or style. 

One way to guarantee a rewarding experience is to figure out how to determine the volatility of slot machines, as discussed below:

Find Out the Slot Machine’s RTP Percentage

As stated, the slot RTP calculation of a game illustrates how much players can expect to see returned on average. The game developer providing the slot determines this factor.

Slot games with higher RTPs are more likely to pay out consistently, making them less volatile. Games with lower RTPs, in contrast, are more volatile. 

Finding out the volatility level of slot machines allows players to select games that match their betting requirements and goals.

Play the Slot Game

Most online casinos do not mention the volatility of their slot machines; hence, it is up to the players to find out. 

Some experts recommend playing a slot machine’s free or demo version to get a sense of the gameplay. The reason behind this is that the variance volatility of any slot game stays the same whether it is a free or a “play for real money” version. Moreover, demo versions also remove the risk factor since no money is staked. Although this trick is helpful, it can still be time-consuming, and if you take slot volatility seriously, the best option would be to stick to slots that contain this information.

Check the Bonus Intensity

Slot machines with bonus features usually have higher variance. For instance, slot machines featuring a bonus once every 500,000 spins may pay more than a slot offering a bonus every 50-100 spins.

Progressive slot games, or ones allowing players to place portions of their stake to go toward increasing the jackpot size, are usually more volatile.

Check the Slot Information

Some developers spare players the trouble of determining slot games’ volatility by offering the information themselves. This is usually included in the slot game’s paytable with the RTP percentages.

Software developers also offer a dedicated “Help” section with more information on the set, its volatility included. The three volatility options, i.e., high, medium, and low, are used as descriptions by gaming companies to denote the variation of each game. Players sometimes must refer to the game provider’s official page to get this information.

Slot Variance: From High to Low

Slot variance levels come in three types, i.e., high, medium, and low, with the same risks applying to online and land-based slot games. Below are the different variances in detail.

High Variance

High variance slot games are the riskiest but promise to offer the highest payouts. This variance level is not ideal for players with small bankrolls or those who would rather not take significant risks. High variance level slot games show winning combinations less often. You usually need considerable capital for these games and may have to spin numerous times before hitting a winning combination.

High variance slots are best for risk-takers with bigger bankrolls. Such players are usually patient and have the potential to win significant amounts.

Medium Variance

Medium variance slot machines are considered the “sweet spot” between high and low variance games. Those who prefer this level of slot volatility are not opposed to taking some risks. However, they don’t want to spend significant periods of time without seeing any returns.

Medium variance games feature regular small slot wins and some mid-range winning combinations during the game.

Low Variance

Low variance level slot games award players smaller yet more frequent payouts. With this variance level, winning combinations may occur after every few spins. These also usually yield a small amount to add to players’ bankrolls. 

For many players, it can be disheartening to see many spins return nothing. If this sounds like you, then you should stick to low variance games.

Why does the Variance of Slots Change?

Slot games feature numerous exciting features. Players can expect a slot machine to have features such as free spins and scatters based on the games they choose. There are also fixed and progressive jackpots and bonuses for certain paylines. Such features add a certain amount of risk to how the game is played.

While bonus features may add excitement to slot games, they also add volatility and higher risk. Low variance slots give players the impression that they may be winning significantly, although their starting capital remains the same even after playing for several hours.

High variance slots, in contrast, call for higher capital and patience, but landing one jackpot can result in significant profit. Ultimately, numerous factors impact slot variance, as discussed below.


Bonus games are well-liked by slot players since this feature adds feelings of randomness and excitement. Free spins, scatters, respins, wild cards, and bonus games are among the features players can expect to find in online slot machines. Bonuses come in different frequencies, i.e., the more bonus features a game has, the lower its hit frequency will be.

Bet Amount

Bet size is crucial in any slot game. The winning amount in any combination and the bonus prizes offered in a slot game rely on the initial value of a player’s bet in every spin. High variance slot games typically come with a higher minimum bet size than low variance slot machines.


When checking a slot game’s volatility, it is crucial to check its paytable. Each winning combination in a game corresponds to a particular winning value, which might or might not be dynamic based on a player’s bet value.

Typically, slot games with smaller payout values offer a much higher frequency of winning combinations, and more substantial payouts mean fewer winning combinations.

Slot Volatility FAQs

Volatility FAQs

This is all a matter of preference. The higher the volatility in a game, the less frequent yet more substantial the wins are.
Slot games with low volatility are best suited for recreational players since winning combinations, however small the payout is, occur more frequently.
Medium volatility slots are the “halfway point” between high and low volatility slot games. These slots offer frequent small wins but also allow players to activate the bonus rounds without adding in a bet value. These games have a smaller minimum bet value and offer bonuses and extra features like free spins.
If you are a gambler looking for that dream win, look for slot machines that have progressive jackpots with low volatility. These games have the potential for players to land a big win. The problem with low-volatility slot games is that you are more likely to walk away empty-handed, so please be aware of this.
RTP stands for return to player. This is presented in the form of a percentage. For example, if you bet £100 on a slot title with an RTP of 96%, the maths suggest that, on average, you should expect a return of £96.

About the Author

Author: Matthew Gover.

After graduating, Matthew began working as an English teacher abroad, initially in Spain and then Vietnam before finally coming back to the UK to settle. Matthew has always had a love for writing and an even bigger love for the igaming industry... Read More

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