Online Slots Variance

Slots variance ranks as one of the most important concepts to understand when you’re choosing the ideal online slot game for you. Variance measures the expected range between winning and losing. It’s important to learn because of the way it pertains both to bankroll management and to your chances of earning big wins.

Floating Vector Style Slot MachineFor those who are new to the world of online slot games, variance stands as a crucial concept to understand. It’s a factor found in all casino games. It basically estimates the range that your bankroll will inhabit while you’re playing the game, both winning and losing.

Casual players should know about online slots variance, especially if they’re hoping to win a lot of money in a short period of time. And expert players should know about it to make sure they have enough of a bankroll in place to sustain any slumps.

In the following article, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about online slots variance. We’ll talk about what it is, how it relates to choosing an online slots game, and how you can determine it. Finally, we’ll answer some of the most popular questions gamblers have about online slots variance.

Explaining Slots Variance

Imagine that you were to graph your long-term performance from a typical online slots game on a straight horizontal axis with a curving line to depict your winning and losing.

If the graph ends up looking like a series of high mountains and deep valleys, that game would be considered a high-variance game.

On the other hand, if it looked like a series of small undulations barely poking out from the axis, the game would be of low variance. Knowing this information gives you an idea of what to expect while playing.

Keep in mind that slots variance is something that’s measured in terms of long-term play. In a short session, your online slots results might vary from the expected variance.

But after you’ve played the game for a long time, your results should come close to what was predicted by the variance.

Slot Machine Variance vs Payback Percentage

The other main mathematical figure to know in the world of online slots is payback percentage. This is another long-term estimate, one which measures the expected return that a player might get from an online slots game.

For example, a payback percentage of 95% means that you can expect to end your play with 95% of your original bankroll intact, incurring a 5% loss. Payback percentage is also an average, meaning that short-term results might be skewed by a small statistical sample size.

Think of payback percentage as the destination at the end of your online slots play. Your variance, on the other hand, maps the journey you take to get there.

How Variance Impacts Slots Bankroll

The higher the variance of an online slots game, the higher the risk of ruin. Risk of ruin refers to the chance that you’ll lose your entire bankroll in a certain period.

Why is that important? A high risk of ruin means you’ll need to increase your bankroll if you want to play your online slots game for a long time. If you beef up your bankroll enough, you can survive the slumps caused by a high-variance game and enjoy the other side of it—the potential big wins.

Factors That Affect Variance in Online Slots

You might want a high-variance online slot game based on your desire for more jackpots. Or you might want a low-variance game if you’d prefer to play a long time on a relatively small bankroll. In either case, you’ll want to learn to determine variance to choose the online slots game that’s right for you.

You won’t always be able to find the variance number for a specific online slots game listed by the online casino that offers it. Even if you do, the number might not mean much without the context of other variance totals around it. That’s why you should know a few tips about determining potential variance on your own.

Pay Tables

Pay tables show how much you can win for each winning combination on the reels of the online slot games. They also indirectly show how much variance you can expect from the game.

If payback for the highest-paying spins are separate from the other winning spins, that means you’re probably looking at a high-variance game.

Those high-paying spins come up rarely, which means you could be looking at long stretches of losses followed by sporadic bursts of big wins.

If the disparity between payback on the pay table is spread more evenly, you’re probably looking an online slots variation with lower variance. Common winning spins will prop up your bankroll from dropping too low. But the high-paying spins won’t send it too far above your initial bankroll either.

Online Slots Bonuses and Extras

If online slots games feature more free spins, multipliers, or other extra features that boost payback, it’s likely that the variance for those games will be higher.

When you think about it, these bonuses will usually trigger flurries of winning which will send your bankroll skyward in a hurry.

The downside to that is that you’ll have a hard time wining that much when you don’t activate those bonuses. That means there’ll be stretches of time where your bankroll will be dropping at a quick rate.

Bet Size for Online Slots

The size of your bet on each spin can be related to online slots variance. If you put more of your bankroll at risk by betting more, you’re raising the variance. You could potentially lose more, but also win more as a result.

In addition, multiline spots have become increasingly popular among online slots players. These games allow you to bet on dozens of different lines from a single spin. Choosing how many of those bets you want to make each spin allows you to directly impact your online slots variance.

Importance of Online Slots Variance

Tablet Playing a Las Vegas Style Slot Machine

You concern regarding online slots variance depends on what kind of player you are and what your goals are. You have to determine all of that on your own before deciding whether you need to worry about variance.

Those who plan to make online slots a regular part of their gambling activity should be aware of it.

The best way to win at online slots is to hit big payback amounts. You can’t grind your way to big earnings in the same way that you could a lower-variance game like online blackjack.

For that reason, you’ll need to keep an eye on the variance as much as possible if you’re going to be a regular online slots player. You’ll have to keep your bankroll solid enough to handle the inevitable rough patches you’ll hit.

Difficulty of Determining Variance

As we said earlier, variance isn’t always advertised by the top online casinos offering online slots games. That’s why we gave you some tips to finding variance on your own.

The problem is that even those tips amount to some guesswork on your part. No online slot game is going to advertise how often winning spins will occur. That makes it ultimately impossible for you to determine variance much better than making a rough estimate.

Compare this to a game like video poker, where simple playing card probability will show you how often winning hands can be expected to show up during gameplay. When you combine that with pay tables, you can come up with an accurate estimate of variance. You can’t do that with online slots.

Casual Online Slots Players and Variance

If you’re the type of gambler who is only playing online slots every once in a while, you probably won’t have to worry as much about more advanced concepts like variance and payback percentage. You simply wouldn’t be paying the game enough for it to matter.

Those concepts will only predict your outcome when you’ve gone through hundreds upon hundreds of spins on an online slot game. Your results are determined by luck more than anything else. In other words, casual players don’t need to worry too much about whether an online slots game is high or low variance.

Online Slots Variance FAQ

  • Is High Variance Always a Bad Thing?

    Not necessarily. If you’re the type who isn’t worried about risk of ruin and is more concerned about trying to score a big jackpot, high variance can be an advantage. After all, high-variance online slots games are likely to have more of their overall payback concentrated in the highest-paying winning spins.

    The only time that high variance really becomes an absolute negative is if you’re hoping to play a long session on a small bankroll. In that case, you should be looking for a low-variance game for sure.

  • What Are the Negatives of a Low-Variance Online Slot Game?

    Again, this is entirely dependent on what you’re looking for from the game. But here are some drawbacks you could encounter playing a low variance game:

    • Less chance of a jackpot-style payment. As we’ve explained, you’re really going to have to hit some jackpots now and again when playing online slots if you’re looking for profit. Low-variance games make that a little harder.
    • Less excitement. If you’re the type that doesn’t like the grind of spin after spin where your bankroll doesn’t go very far in either direction, you’re not going to be thrilled by a low-variance game.
    • Not very slots-like. Slots are inherently volatile. Having a game work against that takes away some of the experience you might be expecting from online slots.
  • Should I Judge a Game Based on Variance More Than Payback Percentage?

    If you’re worried about your bottom line, payback percentage should be the deciding factor in choosing an online slots game. This is especially the case if you’re going to play enough where you can expect results similar to the percentage.

    But jackpot-seekers should be more concerned about variance. They should be looking for high-variance online slots that put sudden, significant payoffs in reach.