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While playing online slots, you'll see the word "volatility" quite a lot. But what does it mean? Here at Pink Casino, we know that casino jargon can be a bit hit and miss, so we want to help our players out by explaining some small details that we think are worth knowing before you jump right into playing online slot games.
What does volatility mean?
Volatility is a scale on which the number of times a game should pay out, and the amount that it could pay is calculated. Low volatility games should theoretically pay out less but pay more frequently, whereas a high volatility slot would pay out less often but for larger amounts. This is how it is described in slot games, but let's go into a little more detail about what volatility actually means.
What is slot volatility?
First off, we want to talk about the variations in slot game volatility. Usually, there's a volatility scale that ranges from low volatility to high or very high volatility. These can be viewed on a chart or written down with values between 1-5 or 1-10, depending on where you're looking for the information. High volatility slots are represented by values between 4-5, or 7-10, whereas low volatility slots will range from 1-2, or 1-4, depending on the scale. This just leaves medium volatility slots to fill the central area.
What is a low volatility slot
Low volatility slots offer something for a more casual player of online casino slot games, and there are plenty of them. Some of the most played slots in the world are low volatility slots, and we want to guide you through what low volatility means and how it can effect how you play online slots.
A Low slot volatility means that a slot will pay out more frequently, but will pay out smaller amounts, this is considered low risk to the player. This kind of slot game is enjoyed by all kinds of slot players, especially casual players who may not be interested in spending a lot of time looking for little wins. Generally speaking, these kinds of slots have fewer bonus features, in comparison to high variance slots, and likely include free spins but little else in terms of features.
On a scale, low volatility slots are represented by lower ranges, such as 1-2, or 1-3 depending on who is providing the information. These scales can vary between providers and online casinos, but they generally represent the same thing. Some of the best low volatility slots are the likes of Starburst, NetEnt's ever-popular online slot, and Thunderstruck 2 by Microgaming, but there's plenty of choice besides this.
Why should I play low volatility slots?
Low variance slots are the preferred type of slot game for players who don't intend to spend a lot of money waiting for infrequent, but potentially big wins. These types of slot games are designed to pay out more frequent wins, but these wins will likely be small amounts. As such, a player is more likely to put down lower bet amounts.
What is a high volatility slot
High volatility slots are online slot games that provide occasional big wins but pay out infrequently compared to their counterparts. These types of slot machines are less tailored to casual players, and more to those with a higher bankroll, who anticipate spinning the reels more times for a single higher value win, rather than accepting the small payouts over fewer spins that low variance slot games offer.
Generally speaking, bonus features tend to provide a high-paying winning combination, and as such, players are likely to become bonus chasers. As this is a high risk, we recommend that players always play responsibly.
Above and beyond this, there is also a small percentage of online slots that offer very high volatility, sometimes represented as a 6 on a normally 1-5 volatility meter. Many of these kinds of slots are provided by Nolimit City, Elk Studios, and similar providers of modern video slots.
Why should I play high volatility slots?
Popular high-volatility slots tend to offer a lot more bonus features than low and medium-slot volatility. Though these offer potentially high wins, that isn't always the case, as the volatility scales with the bonus features, which means payouts can still be fairly infrequent. However, the maximum win amount tends to be far higher. If low volatility slots offer around 5000x stake for a maximum payout, high variance slots can offer a max win of 50,000x stake and beyond.
Slot Volatility FAQS
How will I know the volatility of slot games?
The volatility of a slot machine should be written in the game information section and sometimes in the paytable of the game itself. This might be represented by a number, word, or a drawn scale or meter. Different online casinos and providers will label them differently, but the scale commonly ranges from low to high volatility. On occasion, there will be a slot with very high volatility, but there are much fewer of those than other slots.
Which slot variation should I play?
That depends on your play style. If you're someone who plays casually, then low volatility slots might be more interesting for you, as it should take fewer spins to pay out, in theory. High volatility slots players are more likely to be more invested in slots and willing to spin more for a payout. We do not recommend one type over the other, but you should always play responsibly no matter which type of slot variance you choose.
What is slot volatility compared to RTP?
When we talk about volatility or variance, we're talking about how difficult it can be to reach a winning combination of symbols or a bonus feature. With low volatility slots, theoretically, wins are generated more frequently than high volatility slots, or perhaps the bonus features tend to trigger more often. Compared to this, RTP is the theoretical percentage of winnings returned to the player and therefore, doesn't rank how often wins are generated but the percentage of wins that the player could receive.
This isn't necessarily reliable or true and should be taken with a pinch of salt, as a game with a 96% RTP will not necessarily return 96% of a player's stake, nor will the value equal the same as the initial stake a player makes, but it's useful to know the difference between RTP and variance.
What is the difference between high volatility and low volatility slot machines?
To give players a greater understanding of the high and low slot volatility terms, we’ve highlighted the main differences players can expect to see.
Low variance slots - This is a 1 on the volatility scale, which means the slot machine should pay out more frequent wins. Low variance games are preferred by casual players who don't want to commit to big bets or play the long game.
Low/Medium variance slots - Similar to the above, these slots prove to be a little more difficult than low volatility alone and are represented by a 2 on the volatility scale.
Medium variance games - Represented by a 3 on the scale, medium volatility slots are popular games and a little more common than low variance slot games, these present more of a challenge when it comes to winning frequency, so more experienced slot players prefer these online slots.
Medium/High variance slots - Amongst the most common slot machines are medium to high volatility games, which often include a number of bonus features to trigger but can be hard to reach. These are a 4/5 on the volatility scale and are usually played by experienced players.
High variance slots - Most modern slots are high variance games and feature a bigger number of bonuses for players to trigger. These often have higher max win multipliers, but they're not easy to reach. It also takes a lot longer to trigger any sort of win or bonus in a high variance game. These are recommended to experienced slot players who look for potential bigger payouts.
Other slot variance - One provider in particular releases games at very high and super-high volatility. Nolimit City often releases difficult slots, and though they offer a number of modifiers, they are not for the faint of heart. However, these are very popular games, despite the difficulty of the slot.