What does volatility mean in slots?

Have you ever wondered why winning in certain online slots is rare; you may have contemplated that the reason is you’re not a good player. But have you also wondered why you win regularly at some others? While strategy or experience cannot be disregarded, the main factor that determines the frequency of landing winning combinations is Volatility.

For slots players, a major consideration in playing crypto slots involves what the volatility level is. This is because knowing it from the start gives you prior knowledge of the risk level of the slot, how frequent your wins would be, and the possible profit you’ll make from such a game.

In this concise guide, you’ll find out the various types of volatility. You will also get to know which is more favorable to you. We have also provided you with where you can find the best slots of any volatility levels to play.

Volatility Vs Variance 

While volatility and variance are commonly used interchangeably, there is some distinction between both terms. We have explained them in these points.

Variance measures how far each number in the set is from the mean and thus from every other number in the set.

Quote from https://www.investopedia.com/terms/v/variance.asp
  • The use of “variance” began in Poker before it slowly found its way to slot games.
  • As the name implies, Variance describes how a game deviates or varies from what is expected, – that is, what is commonly referred to as its Return-to-Player (RTP). 
  • Most players considered their possibility of winning by only observing the Return-to-Player without giving much thought to the fact that the result by the end of the game could vary. So, variance is a term used to evaluate how much the outcome of a session of gaming can vary in a brief while.
  • On the other hand, volatility doesn’t entail how much the outcome could vary; rather, it entails how large the prize of a slot is and how frequently such a prize could be won. 

Types of Volatilities 

Every online slots game has its volatility level. This is usually contained in the description of the game within the details/information section; or on online slot review sites. You could also decipher the volatility level of an online slot during gameplay. We have explained the five types of volatility in later in the text.

For more information, check out these pages below:

How to determine slot volatility?

Knowing the volatility levels of games helps you determine whether you should invest your time and money into such. For instance, if you’re a high roller, you don’t want to expend your energy and time on a certain slot only to land a winning combination and discover the profits are way below your expectation. We have provided you with several ways to determine how volatile a slot is.

Give a detailed description to the user on how to determine the slot volatility? List out some factors to make the user understand easily. (explain each point in about 100 words)


Games are accompanied by Paytables. These paytables provide information on the amount that symbol combinations will amount to. The amount you stake usually determines the value of what you’ll win if you land winning combinations. One means of identifying low volatility slots is to observe the payouts; when you observe there are generous payouts, it is most likely a low-risk slot.

Although not a conclusive approach to deciphering volatility, you can just observe the least symbol and what it pays for each combination landed (in their 3s, 4s, and 5s). This helps you know what the lowest value will be.

Checking out the prizes offered by the game developer

Another clue to the possible volatility of a slot is the prize that is offered. When the prize is high, then it is probable that it is a high-risk game, and so winning such a prize won’t be regular. A good example of such is Jammin’ Jars by Push Gaming which offers a maximum payout of 20,000x your wager. 

Hence, these prizes are high, so you can already tell that such a game is not one where wins are got frequently. The exact opposite works for low prized games; low prizes indicate that the risk level is minimal.

Maximum bet

Checking the maximum bets of online slots is another important factor in identifying volatility. Right from the wager screen, you can tell if you should play some games or just click your back button. This is because certain slots are built to suit high rollers hence, they only allow high bets. 

Most times, when you come across a game in which the maximum bet amount is high relative to the others; then it is most likely targeted to high rollers. For instance, the slot by Push Gaming, Joker Troupe has a maximum bet size of $200 whereas Microgaming’s Dragon’s Myth offers a maximum bet of just £2. 

Playing in demo mode

What better way to find the volatility than test the game out yourself? Some games allow you the opportunity to play them for free and without real money. This helps to reduce the risk, as you need not deposit to try them out, and at the same time, gets you to familiarize yourself with the game.

Playing in a demo has the same features as playing for real money, so, you get a first-hand experience of how the game functions. You’ll find out whether wins are easy or hard, the frequency of wins a well as whether the max amounts that can be bet.

Slot reviews 

This is your best bet in finding all you want about the game. Slot Reviews are carried out by casino experts who give an in-depth evaluation of what the online slot offers. Through reading slot reviews, you get to know the entire details of the game, right from the game developers, to the RTP, the variance, to the best casino sites where you can play the game, down to the professional advice of the review experts on whether you should invest your time and money in such game.

Slot reviews also take into consideration the prior points we listed above. So, you could simply go straight to these review sites to find whatever info you need. 

How to choose the right slot volatility 

To make things even easier for you and to get the most out of your gameplay, we’ve come up with a table that shows which volatility levels suit you.

Variance LevelUser should play each volatility category slot if:
LowYou’re a newbie you have a low bankroll, you’re playing for fun, You wish to play for a longer period, you’re after frequent wins
Low-MediumYou have a low bankroll but are willing to take a little more risk, you’re a newbie willing to win higher prizes, you’ve got interested in the bonus offers 
MediumYou wish to win while also playing for fun, Your bankroll is little but you wish to win high prizes, you want high prizes which are frequent also you wish to take advantage of bonuses and free spins
Medium-HighYour bankroll is pretty high you want to win a huge profit, you feel you’ve had enough of slots with medium volatility levels, you’re in search of slots that have a balance between payout size and frequency of wins
HighYou are a high roller you are patient enough for bonuses to get triggered, you prefer huge wins which will be difficult to come by are ready to end a gaming session once your bankroll finishes 

Why is volatility important in slot machines?

Before you even begin a game, you can tell a lot about it if you know its volatility. With it, you can tell the risk you’re getting involved in, and you can tell how frequently payouts will be. 

So, the importance of variance/volatility in slot machines cannot be overemphasized because it already gives you a clue on which sort of gambler the game is targeting, whether a high roller or just a gambler who’s in for the fun of it. Thus, with the variance, the game developers already give you the possibility of knowing and then selecting the slots you intend to play.

Apart from variance, you should also take note of the Return-to-Player (RTP) which accompanies slots. The RTPs are essential in letting you know the house edge, that is whether or not you’re likely to win or lose. For instance, Dead or Alive by NetEnt, has an RTP of 96.82%; what this means is that out of each $100, the slot pays every $96.82 averagely. The remaining 3.18% is the house edge. 

We advise you to jointly consider the volatility of a slot together with the RTP, this will serve as a proper guide, rather than relying on just either of both.

starburst thumbnail netent slot machine
RTP 96%

Played 74 times

narcos slot thumbnail
RTP 96%

Played 63 times

Deadwood slot thumbanail
RTP 96%

Played 85 times

Dead or Alive banner slot machine with cowboy and a gun
RTP 96%

Played 44 times


Volatility Vs RTP

Now that you’re aware that both the volatility and the Return-to-player (RTP) could impact your overall gaming experience, we’ll explain further the roles they play as well as their differences.

The Volatility, as already explained throughout this guide, entails three things majorly: 

  • The level of risk involved in that slot game being played, 
  • the frequency of winnings that you will be able to make while playing the game, and 
  • how huge the amount you can make will be 

Whether you’ll end up spending your entire bankroll without recording a single win depends on the volatility of the game being played.

However, the RTP is a value that is in form of a percentage that lets you in on the house edge. So, with the RTP, you’re mindful of the percent that you’re entitled to as a player. The Differences are:

  • While Volatility is concerned with a short period of time, the effect of the RTP is more long-term,
  • Although a game may be volatile, it still complies with the RTP set by the game developer, hence a game with a RTP of 97% though volatile will always return the 97% value to the players, while 3% will be the house edge. 


Do high volatility slots pay more?

Yes. High volatility slots pay more but pay less frequently.

How to find the volatility of the slot game?

To find the volatility of a slot game, you can do this through checking pay tables, prizes, demo modes, maximum bet, and reviews of the casino.

What slots have the most balanced risk to payout ratio?

The best slots with the most balanced risk to payout ratio are the Medium volatility slots.

Is a slot’s RTP more important than its variance?

No. The RTP only lets you know the house edge whereas, with the variance, you get to know how frequent your wins would be. Both are equally important, though the RTP has a long-term effect while the variance is short-term. 

Fred Edwards

Fred Edwards

CO-FOUNDER & CRYPTO ENTHUSIAST We are born in a chaotic age, all looking for our own space. A space that exists beyond ideas of what's right and what's wrong. Space where we can express, and find ourselves. Fred Edwards is on his way to find the best expression possible of what are his passions. Enthusiast about blockchain, tech in general and a close-knit gambler. Contact me at info [@] cryptogamble [dot] tips

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