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Understanding Volatility in Slots Machines: 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 volatility 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 advisable that you stick to low-volatility casino slots. 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 high variance slots is best suited for higher budgets, 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 try new games by playing in 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

High Volatility Games

Playing games with greater volatility requires time and patience. 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 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 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.
Examples of high volatility slots:

Low Volatility Games

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.
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.
Examples of low volatility slots:


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 dry spells of higher slots, along with the lower win amounts of lower slots.

What really matters is simply understanding the concept of volatility in casino games. You should play 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 Grenda
Last Update: 22 Jun 2023
Nerijus Grenda is a prolific contributor to the GoodLuckMate site. With a deep understanding of the online casino industry, gained from his own experience as an avid player, he offers valuable insights on what sets the best casinos apart from the rest. As a writer, Nerijus shares his expertise through expert analysis and thoughtful commentary on various topics related to online gambling, including casino reviews, game guides and industry trends.

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