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Volatility in Casino Games

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Generally referring to slots, volatility essentially translates to the average risks involved over the course of gameplay in a specific game. Volatility, also sometimes known as variance or dispersion, represents the standard amount and frequency of payouts. Game providers will generally offer a diverse range of games with different volatilities, meaning that you are not forced to pick a certain provider based on certain categorized risks. Understanding this concept and what kind of risk that comes from the game you wish to play will allow you to more effectively manage your balance and strategize your bets.

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High and Low Volatility

Volatility is split up into two different categories; High or Low. Playing on a high volatility slot will generally yield higher win amounts scattered over a longer period of time. Lower volatilities, however, will usually see lower win amounts on a more frequent basis. While the rewards from games with higher volatilities tend to appear more rewarding, there is an increased risk that you might lose a lot of rounds before reaching a win. Essentially, higher volatilities equate to higher risks. 

If you are playing with a smaller budget, it is more advisable that you stick to lower dispersion games, as this will increase the chances of your money going further. Those little and often wins can start to add up and see you better off, in the long run. Playing on a high variance slot game is best suited for higher budgets on the other hand, as a larger balance has the ability to power through those dry spells. 

The variance of a slot might not necessarily be obvious at first. Therefore, it is best to check on a game you have little or no experience with by playing on the demo mode for about 10 to 15 minutes. This should give you enough time to establish what kind of variance you are dealing with.

High Volatility Games

Playing games with greater volatility requires time and patience since you will need to be prepared to play through several rounds without any returns. This is the price of greater dispersion, but the rewards are often much greater in the end. It is however almost mandatory that you start out with a higher budget, in order to be able to weather the storm of frequent losses throughout your journey. 

High variance slots, such as Immortal Romance, won’t last you that long on a smaller budget, as the gaps between your winning rounds will become less sustainable. Bonus rounds are often the main feature of such games, as this is where the truly significant payouts can be found. The win that can be gained from persisting, can therefore be much higher than the largest amounts typically found on low variance slots and clearly presents an equal amount of reward for the inherent risk involved.

Low Volatility Games

It is important to remember that low volatility doesn’t necessarily mean low win amounts. As the variance is based on averages, players are able to win larger amounts, as well as face dry spells. What’s important to keep in mind is that the chances of either of these events happening is much lower than what is usually seen in a higher variance game. Starburst or Thunderstruck II are good examples of low variance slots that will allow you to get the continued thrill of winning on a more regular basis.

The often lower achievable payout that can be achieved from winning rounds here is nothing to ridicule either. The possibility of hitting some incredible combinations is still achievable. Special features such as wilds and free spin rounds are very common in these games.


While the variance is commonly broken up into high and low, you will also be able to find slots with medium dispersion, such as NetEnt’s Gonzo’s Quest for example. Such games provide a stable middle ground between the others on either end, however, this can sometimes lead to having the dry spells of higher slots, along with the lower win amounts of lower slots. What really matters is simply understanding the concept and then playing the type you feel most comfortable with and get the most enjoyment out of. Whether that be from winning more often or winning larger amounts on average, different types of players will get satisfaction from different pursuits.

Nerijus Grenda
Nerijus GrendaUpdated: 25 May 2022
Nerijus is one of our top writers here at GoodLuckMate, and he knows exactly what casino players want to read about. He got started in the iGaming industry as a player, more specif...

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