What Does Volatility Mean in Slots: Low vs. High Volatility Slot Machines

There are many things to consider before deciding on the best slot games. But one of the most important is slot volatility, which refers to how often and how much a particular game pays out.

This article explains everything you need to know about slot volatility. It introduces you to the best low, medium, and high-volatility slots from the leading software developers in the online casino space.

What is Slot Volatility? 

Slot volatility refers to how much and how often a particular game pays out. Games can have high, medium, or low volatility, and slot volatility is sometimes referred to as variance. 

Simply, a high volatility slot pays out big wins infrequently, while a low volatility slot pays out small wins more frequently. A medium volatility slot is somewhere in between. 

Therefore, high-volatility slots are the way to go if you’re looking for big payouts. Just be mindful that you will need to be patient, as wins are less frequent than they are when you play low-volatility games. 

What Does Low Volatility Mean in Slots? 

A low-volatility slot game pays out relatively small amounts of money frequently. While you probably won’t win a life-changing sum of money playing a low-volatility slot, being awarded regular wins makes for an enjoyable gaming experience.

Due to their frequent payouts, low volatility slots are popular with beginner players and those looking to play for long periods with a small bankroll, as they keep the payouts ticking over for a decent amount of time.

There are lots of low-volatility slots out there that you can play if you’re looking for small, frequent payouts from your online casino experience. 

What Does High Volatility Mean in Slots? 

Conversely, high-volatility slot games are those that don’t pay out particularly often, but when they do, they offer sizeable wins. You will find huge potential prizes and even progressive jackpots available in high-volatility slots, which is a big draw for many players. 

Patience is a virtue when playing high-volatility slots, as you will likely spend a fair amount of time spinning the reels without seeing much action. However, when a win lands, it will likely boost your casino account’s balance significantly.

Playing high-volatility slots is a good option if you enjoy the thrill of seeking big-money jackpots, but remember, patience is key, and it will probably take a while to see your rewards!

Best Low-volatility Slot Machines 

There are lots of low-volatility slot games that you can enjoy online if you’re looking for regular, small payouts, including the following: 

  • Starburst (NetEnt) – Since its release in 2012, Starburst has retained its position as one of the most popular low-volatility slots online. There are five reels, ten paylines, and a both-ways wins mechanic to keep things interesting. 
  • Wild Scarabs (Microgaming) – In this Egyptian-themed 5-reel video slot, there are 243 ways to win in the base game. There are impressive bonus features up for grabs, too, making this a super popular low-variance game to try out. 
  • Mr. Holmes & The Stolen Stones (Yggdrasil) – This much-loved low-volatility game from Yggdrasil is based on the exploits of famous British detective Sherlock Holmes. It features free spins, multipliers, and wilds to contribute to big wins. 
  • Tomb Raider (Microgaming) – Join Lara Croft in the low-variance slot title Tomb Raider. There are five reels, three rows, and 15 fixed paylines to form winning combinations, and be sure to look out for the Lara scatters, which trigger the game’s free spins round.
  • Telly Reels (Wazdan) – Arguably, Wazdan’s most popular slot game, Telly Reels, is a classic fruit-themed slot with low variance and a solid return to player percentage of 96.19%. 
Starburst (NetEnt)

Best Medium Volatility Slot Machines 

If you want to crank things up a notch but aren’t ready for high variance slots, these medium volatility games will serve you well: 

  • Hell’s Kitchen (NetEnt) – Get under the skin of celebrity chef Gordon Ramsey in the Hell’s Kitchen slot from NetEnt. This medium variance game includes multipliers and a team wilds feature, offering you the chance to supplement your base game wins. 
  • Diamond Strike (Pragmatic Play) – With an RTP of 96.48%, Diamond Strike is a solid medium variance game with some impressive features, including stacked symbols and special reels for the bonus game. 
  • Mystery Joker (Play’n GO) – Part of Play’n GO’s popular joker series, Mystery Joker is a medium volatility game with a mystery win feature, offering up to 100x the bet as a payout. 
  • Carnival Queen (Thunderkick) – The best thing about this medium volatility slot game is the cascading reels, which replace winning symbols immediately to form new winning combinations. There’s also a decent bonus round for players to trigger, offering sizeable wins for a medium-variance game. 
  • Count Duckula (Blueprint Gaming) – Although it doesn’t have the highest RTP (93.34%), the cartoon theme and the four random features more than make up for it in Count Duckula. The bonus round offers ten free spins in which big wins are possible.

Best High-volatility Slot Machines 

If you’re ready to go after the most significant wins available via online slots, you should try out the following high-volatility games: 

  • Dead or Alive (NetEnt) – This brilliant bandit-themed slot game from NetEnt is a high variance slot with a maximum win of 12,000x the bet up for grabs. A must-play for high-volatility slot fans. 
  • Money Train (Relax Gaming) – All aboard the Money Train for your chance to win 20,000x your bet. You can also make the most of this game’s bonus-buy feature if you don’t want to wait organically for the bonus round to trigger. 
  • Jammin’ Jars (Push Gaming) – Free spins and multipliers play a starring role in this high variance fruit-themed slot, with an impressive 20,000x the stake up for grabs. 
  • Bounty Pop (Yggdrasil) – The maximum win in this brilliant slot game from Yggdrasil is 55,000x your bet. What are you waiting for?
  • Wild Toro (Elk Studios) – This high volatility game is part of the much-loved Toro series and offers up to 174 winning ways, generous bonus features, and a max win of 2,250x the bet.

How to Determine the Volatility of Slot Machines 

The best way to determine the volatility of slot machines is to read the game description accompanying the game. If you can’t find it next to the game, visit the developer’s website for more information.

Another option is to play a particular slot’s demo version and consider how much and how frequently it plays out. As explained above, this will give you an idea of the game’s variance before placing your bets and playing for real money.

Volatility vs. RTP

Both volatility and RTP are essential things to consider before playing a slot game, but they’re not the same. 

RTP – return to player percentage – is a number that indicates the amount of money returned to players per 100.00 spent on a video slot game. 

For instance, if a game has an RTP of 97%, it means that for every 100.00 in bets, 97.00 will return to the players, while the casino will retain 3.00. This gives you a good idea of how much a particular slot game pays out. 

The key thing to remember about RTP is that it’s just an average metric and doesn’t guarantee results. Just because a game has an RTP of 97%, it doesn’t mean you will end up with 97.00 back after gambling 100.00. If you were to play millions upon millions of spins, however, the figures might end up being pretty close to 97%.

Also, RTP doesn’t necessarily affect a slot’s variance. For instance, you might see a low-variance slot game with an RTP of 95% and a high-volatility game with an RTP of 96%. 

 Therefore, you should consider volatility and RTP alongside each other before deciding about the games you wish to play online.

Recap: What Does Volatility Mean in Slots?

As explained, it’s important to consider the volatility of a slot machine before spinning the reels. Low-volatility slot machines typically pay out small amounts of money frequently, while high-volatility slots pay out significant amounts infrequently. 

It’s not a case of whether low or high volatility slots are better. Rather, you should consider your online gaming preferences and bankroll before deciding whether to opt for high, medium, or low-variance slot games at your chosen online casino.

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