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What Is Slot Volatility And How Does It Affect Your Bets?

Volatility is one of the words that you will frequently come across on online slot games.

It’s a term used to indicate the amount of risk that is attached to a slot machine. Volatility describes the duration and amount that you can expect to over a period of time while playing a slot game.

There are different types of volatility. These include high, medium, and low volatility.

For a slot game to be considered high in volatility, it will be classified as a game that has high payouts that are far in between.

Low volatility slots have frequent but smaller payouts. 

What Are The Most Appropriate Slots For Me?

Well, for many gamblers, there is the notion that slots that offer more cash but with low risks are the best.

If the process was that simple, then we would all be millionaires as a result of betting on these slots.

However, this is not necessarily the case, and there could be a reason why many developers love slots with high volatility.

Additionally, the amount of bankroll that you will use on the slot in question, will also impact on the general outcome of the game.  

RTP in Relation To Slots Volatility

RTP is an initial used to stand for ‘Return To Player’. RTP is usually expressed as a percentage.  Most slots from reputable game developers have an RTP of between 93 to 98 percent. 

For example, if you wager $50 on a particular slot, the game has the potential to return up to 98%.

This is applied to any number of spins and it has a more theoretical value and not a practical one.  For example, if NetEnt offers an RTP of 97%, it’s not obvious that you will get back 97% of your bet value.

RTP and volatility work hand in hand.  Actually, the game’s exact variance is what determines the difference from a slot’s theoretical RTP in each gaming session.

For example, low volatility slots have a slight variation from this percentage. This could also be the reason they pay small but more frequents payouts. You may have tried a slot game and wagered $20 only to end up with $30.

This is an indication that the slot in question has an RTP of 150% which is quite decent.  

On the other hand, high volatility games will offer bigger payouts that do not occur frequently. Have you ever wondered why you end up with a 0% return even after playing the first ten spins? That is why these types of slots also differ largely from the theoretical RTP.

However, all is not lost with the high variance slots because; the longer-term benefits are much more. 

High volatility slots have good profit returns, but this can only happen after many spins (sometimes up to 300 spins).  

Low Volatility Slots

Example:  Break the Bank (Microgaming)

Simply put, slots that have low volatility have a frequent payout, with most of them coming with high RTP. Although the pay-outs are quite small, they occur regularly and this can even be after every five spins.

Often times, these small wins are not something to really celebrate about, as they will be enough just to keep the game going.  In most instances, a decent win from the low volatility slots will not be very far from your initial budget.

Additionally, even jackpots offered by this low volatility are quite low. This is attributed to the low risk associated with them.

You do not have very high chances to win a life-changing fortune, but at least, the wins will be regular.

To conclude that the low variance slot is worth the effort, the slot should leave you with a profit of at least 25%.  

For example, let’s say that you have started out with just $30. The first few spins might not get you any wins, but finally, you manage to earn yourself $10. Together with the initial investments of $30, you now have $40.

This is a good betting session, and you can comfortably call it a day at this stage.

If you are a player who is on a tight budget, then low variance slots are the most suitable choice.

You only need a small investment to see some rewards.

Break Da Bank (Microgaming) is one of the best examples of a slot with low volatility. This is a classic 3 reel slot that comes with a 5-pay line. The slot has only four symbols that you can use to form some winning combinations.

If you manage to get three BAR symbols on the slots pay line, you earn about five coins. This is a clear indication that this slot allows you to hit many small and frequent wins.

Given the small number of pay lines, and only one bonus features (single Wild), Break Da Bank is a slot with relatively low volatility.

Low volatility slots- Pros and Cons

The low variance slot games come with some advantages and disadvantages. The biggest advantage is the games' ability to offer wins in a short amount of time.

The second thing is that low slot machines are more favourable to players who are on a tight budget.

On the disadvantaged part, these types of slots do not offer huge returns.

The highest that you can expect with them is between 500-1000x times your bet amount.

This is nothing compared to the potential that comes with high volatility slots, that pay in excess of 10,000x your bet.

Medium Volatility Slots

Example: Dead or Alive (Net Ent)

These are the most self-explanatory type of slots.  Medium volatility slots are in the middle, meaning, they are neither too volatile nor too low in their variance.

Given their medium risk, you can expect both enough payouts and large jackpots with them.

Medium variance slots payout more frequently as compared to high volatility ones, but not as often as with their low variance counterpart. The frequency could happen after every 20 spins or so.

If your budget is a little above the usual one commonly used by players on low volatility slots, medium variance games are a good option.

However, medium volatility slot games should not be taken lightly. This is because they are in the middle, and so a player is not a hundred percent sure of what to expect.

Medium volatility slots award varying wins. A maximum win can bring along a massive jackpot.  

Medium volatility slots are the better option if you are looking for more thrilling games, than what you get from low volatility slots.

If you are interested in trying out medium volatility slot games, strive to end your gaming session with an RTP of at least 125%.

NetEnt has a lot of interest with medium volatility slots. Dead or Alive slot is a good example given the fair jackpots that it offers. The slot’s jackpots are in the range of 200-1000 coins.

Other features on the game include a Sticky Wild (found in the base game), as well as a basic Free Spins bonus (this one pays just 2xs per every win).

High Volatility Slots

Example: Mega Moolah (Microgaming)

High volatility slots are the riskiest of the three. These types of slots are not only high risk, but they are also highly thrilling, not to forget their fast-paced nature

High volatility slots can be compared to bungee jumps or the swift racing cars.  If you can allow, me, I can compare them to the casino version of YOLO!

A slot with high volatility promises very huge jackpots.

However, with these types of slots, there is a catch.  The slot’s payout is not very frequent, and the large jackpots that they promise are far in between.

These types of spins can be a lot of work since you will make many spins with no sight of a monetary reward anywhere.

However, when high volatility slots rain cash, they actually pour.

The trickiest part with high volatility slots is that they are highly unpredictable.  Therefore, it is important to limit yourself.

Frankly speaking, high volatility slots are more suitable for high rollers, or those players with huge spending power. Remember, regardless of how spins you make, these slots will keep you in a dry spell for quite some time.

However, when the payouts happen, you will most definitely smile to the bank.

High volatility slots also come with some small wins. However, the major difference between them and the low variance ones is the fact that, with low variance slots, there is no day you will receive large wins.

Microgaming seems to eye high volatility games if the long list of such slots is anything to go with.

A good example is their famous slot, Mega Moolah, which also offers a progressive jackpot.

The slot’s draw comes in the form of a four-tier progressive which is capable of randomly awarding players huge prizes that can be anything from $10 to $1 million (this is actually the MINIMUM).

However, the randomly-triggered jackpot combined with a Wild jackpot (15,000 coins), makes this slot highly volatile.

High volatility slots- the pros and cons

The obvious advantage of the high volatile games is the high payout potential.

This high payout can go to tens, hundreds or even millions of dollars. There is also a lot of excitement that revolves around these slots, which is a big advantage to gaming.

However, all is not bliss here, and the big payouts that these slots promise, rarely happen.

This is a clear indication that the game requires a high bankroll, and you might spend lots of cash before you can see any profits trickle in.

Determining The Volatility Of A Slot

The few examples that I have shared above may not bear much information that can help you to conclude the volatility of a slot.

After all, many slot developers are tight-lipped when it comes to the variance of their slots.  Most likely, the developers may be afraid of scaring away potential players, if they reveal the information before the actual gaming.

However, you can be able to work things on your own and find out the actual variance of a slot game.

The only sure way to determine the performance of a slot game is by actually playing it. Try to observe a pattern that the slot forms after a number of spins (at least 200).

The best approach is to use a demo until you are able to pick out the slot’s volatility. This will help you to make a wise judgement call without incurring any cost.


Before engaging in any slot game, never form the mentality of quick gains in this industry.

For example, a low volatility slot does not guarantee a massive windfall. If things are working against your expectations, quit before it’s too late.  

Since the slot’s RTP is always below the 100% mark, the casino has an upper hand because of the house edge, which also makes your chances of incurring a loss high.

For the medium volatility slots, you will find more success by working within a set budget.

Since there are those slots that do not fit in either the low or the medium range (mostly, these are in mid or mid to high type of volatility), not all the strategies will work. However, it can get easier by trying the games on the free demo to get a clearer picture of what works best.

Since gambling is a very unpredictable industry, always ensure to leave the games when you reach 35% on top of your initial investment.

The only way to succeed in gambling is by engaging in it in the long term.  High volatility slots may be quite risky, but they have massive potential where you stand to win thousands or even millions of dollars in jackpots.

High jackpots can quickly swallow your bankroll; however, if you are patient enough, you will reap big. However, it can take you between 100 to 300 spins to see some profits.

Shawna Dudley

Shawna is an ambitious and free-spirited digital nomad with expertise in creating high-quality and SEO-friendly guides and reviews in the iGaming and travel industry. Follow her on Twitter or Linkedin or send her an email.