Slots Variance & Volatility: A Roller Coaster of Payouts

Think about what it is that drives you to play a specific slot machine. Maybe you are attracted by progressive jackpots that offer the chance to win hundred of thousands, if not millions of dollars in a single spin? Perhaps you’re drawn to themes that pique your interest? But have you ever found yourself choosing a game just because of the slots variance?

Slots VarianceUnless you’re a seasoned gambler, chances are you don’t know what slots variance, or volatility, really is. You may have heard the term used before, but didn’t think too much of it. If that’s the case, it’s time to learn.

A slot machine’s volatility is extremely important, as it has everything to do with win rates and the size of potential payouts. A slots’ variance generally runs high or low. There are some medium variance games (a median of the low and high versions), but they are far and few between.

We’ll discuss exactly what low/high volatility means, and why you should pay close attention to it when choosing a slot machine.

Low Slots Variance

The term “low variance” applies to the fact that there’s little variety between the profit potential per spin. That’s not necessarily a bad thing.

A slot with low variance is going to pay out more often, meaning you’ll hear the bells chime and see the lights flash a lot. However, you’ll experience a lower amount paid per winning spin. More often than not, it will be lower than the amount you actually spent to spin the reels.

Most slots fans actually prefer these types of games, not because they generally pay so low, but because the frequent wins keep them entertained, and their bankrolls topped off enough to make the playtime last longer.

In essence, low variance equals longer play, but less chance of walking away with a profit, unless you get lucky with free spins and other bonus features.

To find them, try looking for video reels with a high number of paylines. They are most often infused with a low slots variance.

High Slots Variance

On the opposite end of that spectrum, we have “high variance” slots, which don’t strike winning combinations very often. But when they do, the amount awarded is much larger. You could spin the reels 15 times at $1 per spin and hit nothing, then on the next spin win the whole $15 back, or even $20.

If you’re truly looking to make a profit, these games are often the best choice. However, due to the infrequency of wins, it’s just as likely that your bankroll will run dry before you manage to hit a win big enough to exceed your starting credits.

Slots with fewer reels/paylines are generally your best bet for finding games with a high slots variance.

Which Is Better?

Realistically, there’s no superior option between low and high volatility slot machines. They all have the same basic payout percentages programmed into them, ensuring the house will always win in the end. It’s more about being the lucky person who sat at the machine at the right moment.

It’s all a matter of preference, really. If you have a small bankroll, you might prefer low variance to get as much play time in as possible. With a larger bankroll, high variance may be the more entertaining choice. Either way, chances are you’ll pay more attention to slots variance now that you know how it works, and will surely discover your own preference soon enough.

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