The Case for Playing Volatile Slot Machines

Picture of Distorted Wheel of Fortune Progressive Slots

Slot machines definitely don’t offer the same win frequency as casino games like baccarat or blackjack. Instead, they see you lose far more often than almost any other casino game in existence.

Slots are extremely volatile, because they have such a varying degree of payouts. They can pay you as little as $0.10 on a $1 bet, for example, or millions of dollars in certain cases.

Seeing as how slots hit frequency is low anyways, many advise that you don’t play the more-volatile slots. However, I’ll discuss some reasons for why you should buck this advice and play them even more.

What Is a Volatile Slot Machine?

Before I get into the reasons for playing volatile slot machines, I’d like to discuss more on this term. Volatility refers to how closely short-term results relate to a statistical mean.

People use volatility interchangeably with variance. But the latter deals with the correlation of results to a statistical mean without time parameters involved.

Therefore, volatility is more relevant to slot machines. After all, you probably don’t care about slots win frequency over the span of years.

Highly volatile slot machines feature wild variations in results when compared to the statistical average. Here’s an example of a volatile game:

  • A slot offers a $1 million progressive jackpot.
  • It also features free spins, random wild symbols, and win multipliers.
  • The win frequency is only 18%.

No exact definition exists for a volatile slot machine. However, many real money online slots developers give their games a volatility rating ranging from 1-5 or 1-10. You can rely on these ratings when trying to determine how often you’ll win.

Why Should You Play Volatile Slots?

You may be slightly scared of volatile slot machines, because you never know when your next win is coming. Nevertheless, you should still consider playing these games for the following reasons.

Chase the Biggest Payouts

The online gaming industry offers some huge progressive jackpots. Certain slots, including Microgaming’s Mega Moolah, consistently offers jackpot worth millions of dollars.

However, the same games feature insane volatility. They can’t pay as often, because the developer must recoup some of their costs for seeding such a large jackpot.

Chances are, you aren’t going to win a multimillion-dollar payout. But if you still want to dream big, you should play volatile progressive games.

Enjoy the Most Features

You don’t have to try hard to find slot machines with low volatility. Plenty of online and land-based casinos offer three-reel games with little to no features.

Basic three-reel machines were once the norm in gaming. However, the slots world has advanced far beyond what were available decades ago.

Today’s slot machines are bursting with features, ranging from random wilds to unlimited win multipliers. These bonuses give you an opportunity to collect big payouts on any spin.
But they also greatly increase the volatility of a slot. You usually have to sacrifice high win frequency to enjoy the biggest and best features.

Play Quick Sessions

Perhaps you’re somebody who doesn’t like spinning the reels for hours. Instead, you just want to play a quick 10- or 20-minute session and take your chances at large prizes.

Volatile slot machines give you this very opportunity. They have the type of features and jackpots that can quickly deliver notable payouts.

These games can also eat away at your bankroll faster. But you may not care about this if you like quick action.

Downsides to Playing Volatile Slot Machines

You can see that there are compelling reasons to try volatile games. However, you definitely want to consider the following points before jumping on slot machines with exciting features and massive jackpots.

Bigger Drain on Bankroll

The main reason why some people advise against playing volatile slots is because of what they do to your bankroll. These games can quickly take your money either through extremely low win frequency or losses disguised as wins (LDWs).

Low win frequency consumes your money faster for obvious reasons. If you’re barely winning any payouts, you’ll have a much tougher time sustaining your bankroll until a good prize comes along.

An LDW refers to when you win an amount that’s worth less than your original bet. A $0.30 win on a $2 bet isn’t really a win at all.

Nevertheless, casinos do a good job at masking LDWs through entertaining animations and loud sound effects. Volatile slots are notorious for either LDWs or low win frequency.

More Losing Sessions

The hope behind volatile slots is that you’ll trigger lots of features or a big jackpot. Of course, these occurrences don’t happen on a regular basis.

Part of the excitement behind these types of games is that you never know what will happen. The most-likely scenario, though, is that you’re going to experience losing session after losing session.

The reason for the high volatility of slots is that casinos can’t afford to pay you consistently. They’d quickly go broke by paying you at a 45% rate along with offering multiple features and large jackpots.

As long as you’re willing to accept the high degree of losing sessions, then you shouldn’t be scared of volatile games. But if you hate leaving the casino a loser time and time again, you’ll want to reconsider playing such slots.

Less Overall Entertainment

Many players use slot machines as a way to escape reality and have fun. They may not necessarily expect to win big or even end up with a profit at all.

Assuming you fall into this category, you certainly want to be wary of volatile games. They can take your bankroll in quick fashion.

You don’t optimize your entertainment time by choosing volatile slot machines. Instead, these games are best when you want the chance at massive payouts in multiple bonuses.

When to Consider Less Volatile Slots

Despite their drawbacks, volatile slots are all the rage in casinos today. But you may want to consider safer slot machines (i.e. those with small jackpots and fewer features) for one or more of the following reasons.

You Have a Small Bankroll

Not everybody has $500 or more to blow on casino games. Some players are dealing with a bankroll worth between $20 and $100. The same gamblers may be shocked when their $20 vanishes in a few minutes.

If you’re dealing with a small bankroll, you probably don’t want it to disappear within a 10-minute span. Instead, you might be looking to gamble for at least 30-60 minutes.

Slot machines don’t seem like the best option for making this goal happen. But low-volatility games at least give you a better chance at stretching your bankroll further.

Social Gambling Experience

Land-based casino trips don’t have to be all about the gambling. You may visit a casino with one or more friends as a social excursion.

These outings allow you to enjoy everything from blackjack to slot machines with buddies. In the latter case, you’ll want your money lasting longer to avoid having to watch your friend play the rest of the time.

Choosing slots with zero bonuses and/or smaller jackpots help out in this regard. You may be able to play next to your friends(s) for hours with just a $100 bankroll.

You Enjoy Frequent Wins More Than Big Payouts

Baccarat, blackjack, roulette, and certain craps bets offer the best routes to winning consistently in casinos. However, you don’t have to relegate yourself to the tables just to win more often.

Slots with high win frequency can also do the trick. This is especially true when they don’t deliver an abundance of LDWs.

The same slot machines actually list their win frequency in the pay table. You can use this information in combination with the volatility rating to judge how often you’ll win.


Slot machines have progressively gotten more volatile over the years. This trend shows that players highly value large jackpots and features over consistent winnings.

You may not necessarily be thrilled with the current situation. But if you want to win big and unlock lots of bonuses, then you must consider playing a volatile slot machine.

The fact of the matter is that casinos can’t give you the best of both worlds with numerous bonuses plus high win frequency. You must sacrifice consistent winnings in order to enjoy explosive features and life-changing prizes.

Perhaps you won’t always be in the mood to make this sacrifice. However, you should consider playing volatile slot machines whenever you’re looking for a more-exciting gaming experience.