Volatility or variance are words that you don't see particularly often when you're playing slots. If you're ever checking a slot's information, you'll find the number of paylines, its bonus rounds and even its RTP, but very rarely will you hear about its volatility.
This is strange, since slot volatility is one of the most important aspects of a slot, effectively governing how often you win. In order to give you a clearer picture of slots and how they work, we're going to take a quick look at slot volatility and how you should always bear it in mind whenever you fire up a new slot. For the purposes of this guide, it can be known as volatility or variance, but we'll be referring to it as volatility throughout, but the words are basically interchangeable.
When thinking about wins, most of you are going to be looking at the return to player rate (RTP) of any slot you play. The higher the number of the RTP, the more you'll win back. But you might also have noticed that the amount a slot pays back to you is really unpredictable. A slot might have an RTP of 97%, but you certainly aren't likely to get that percentage back on every spin.
In a world where volatility didn't exist, you would expect to receive 97p on every £1 you wagered, every single spin. What volatility does is spreads that return across the entirety of the game. With volatility, you still get that 97p back on every £1 you bet, but it's spread over multiple spins.
In this way, you end up with a “volatile” slot, where you sometimes have to play for ages, winning absolutely nothing, before you hit on a big win, which will on average have given you back 97% of your wagers, but delivered in on go, rather than spread out evenly across multiple spins. The vice versa of this can happen also, with players winning a lot of money right off the bat and then winning nothing for all their future spins, giving them hundreds of percent of RTP on their initial wager, before evening it out back to 97% when they've had numerous losses.
So the volatility of your slot is an important factor, since it can affect how long you have to stick with a game in order to procure wins and also how much money you're likely to make on each win you manage to get. The volatility is also likely to affect the kind of slot it is, with progressive jackpot slots and penny slots having an entirely different volatility from each other. So how do you identify what kind of volatility each slot has.
Depending on what kind of slots you like to play, it will affect the kind of volatility you'll be subject to.
Low volatility slots are usually found on penny slots and low buy in slot games. Because of this, low volatility is designed for players who are on a tight bankroll. Low volatility games pay out very often, but in very small amounts. Penny slots are perfect for this, as players can bet very little and receive frequent low payouts every few spins. This poses very little risk to penny slot players as they are able to consistently have their money returned to them, so they're not at risk of running out of money quickly, as their bankroll is always being refilled.
They also don't have to stick with the game for very long at a time, since your payouts are so regular, that you won't be investing a lot of money into the slot, waiting on a long overdue payout. If you're on a tight bankroll and want to enjoy quick bursts of low risk slot games, then penny slots are the perfect option for you, with their low volatility format.
Your bog standard video slots will all be medium volatility. Any slot release that you've seen from slot developers like NetEnt, IGT, Microgaming and NextGen are all going to be medium volatility. As long as a slot has regular buy in costs and isn't a progressive jackpot, then you're more than likely playing a medium volatility game. Medium volatility slots have the most average payouts and delays between payouts. You'll never have to go more than a dozen spins before you receive a payout and those payouts will float pretty close to the RTP of the game you're playing.
Medium volatility slots are the most popular slot games and there's several very good reasons for this. They all allow players to make a wide range of wagers, which is adaptable to many different kinds of bankroll. The payouts occur at a reasonable rate, and they return amounts to players which are close enough to their original wager to make the game both rewarding and unpredictable.
If you're an average gambler who wants to have a good time at the casinos, with the aim of putting down some reasonable bets, then medium volatility is certainly the way to go. And given that medium volatility slots are the most popular kind, you'll have no problem finding some incredible slot games to play. Just keep your eye on that RTP and make sure it's as high as possible before placing your bets. A great example of medium volatility slot is Guns N Roses.
Progressive jackpot slots usually have a high volatility. The idea with progressive jackpots is that they require much larger initial bets, in order to put yourself in the running for the progressive jackpot, but offer much larger payouts as compensation.
These larger payouts occur far more spread out than any other slot, with the idea being to keep their players invested in attaining the higher cash prizes, while risking more cash over an extended period of time. The balance of risk and reward is simple here, players are risking having to wait longer for their larger payouts, but at the reward of winning potentially life changing progressive jackpot cash.
If you're a fan of progressive jackpots, then you've probably already come to terms with their high volatility. But if you're interested in what high volatility games have to offer, then maybe you should be looking into progressive jackpots slots or high buy in slots in general.