This article will discuss slot machine variance. This is a very important concept to understand for slots enthusiasts because it can help to stretch your gambling dollars even further.
The slots games offered at online casinos come in different categories. They’re differentiated by a number of features, one of which is the variance of the slot machine. You will see the word volatility mentioned a bit in this article, it’s used interchangeably with variance, as they are one and the same thing.
So, What is Variance in Slots?
Variance is really just another word for “risk” or the “volatility” of a slot machine. In a nutshell, slot machines can be judged as being high variance, low variance, or somewhere in-between. In this article, we’ll discuss the characteristics of each of these games.
Don’t confuse this with the Return to Player percentages. Generally speaking, online slots games offer payout percentages of around the 94% to 96% range, but this tells you nothing about the variance of a particular game.
High Variance Slots
High variance slots are characterized by a low hit frequency, meaning the wins are less frequent. They don’t pay out very often, but when they do, the wins tend to be much bigger than low and medium variance slot games. Playing these kinds of slot machines can be very hit and miss, but a lot of slots players like to play these games, because they have the potential of offering much bigger wins in the range 100-1000x your initial wager or more.
Low Variance Slots
On the other hand, low variance slots are characterized by a high hit frequency with low volatility. When you’re playing these kinds of slots you will get plenty of lower valued winning payouts, and it can seem like your balance isn’t fluctuating much at all. There is less risk of ruin when playing low volatility slot machines, because the regular smaller wins you’ll be getting keeps your gambling balance topped up.
Medium Variance Slots
As you would have guessed, medium variance slot machines fall somewhere in-between. Medium variance slots have the potential to offer the player both high and low jackpot prizes. They aren’t really high volatility or low volatility, and therefore cater to the slot players who are looking for the best of both worlds. Most slot games available to play at online casinos are those which are known as medium volatility slots.
Which Slot will appeal to you?
Ultimately, it comes down to the level of risk you’re willing to accept. With greater risk comes greater potential reward and a higher chance of winning a big jackpot if you decide that you would like to play a higher volatility slot machine.
If you’re more risk-averse, then I wouldn’t advise playing high variance slot machines. The low to medium variance slot games are going to be a lot more beginner-friendly, because you’re unlikely to see your bankroll evaporate quickly due to the low hit frequency built into the game, meaning your balance will last longer.
With that being said, when it comes to gambling, you can’t be too careful, can you? I feel Iike you’re missing out NOT playing the high variance slots if your bankroll can properly support the swings, because the whole point of playing slots in the first place is to win big jackpots. It is going to be a difficult task winning anything significant on the low volatility slot machines. Are you really going to be happy having won a few dollars on a penny slot machine after several hours of play? It does also depend on the size of bankroll you have to play with.
How can you tell in which category a slot belongs to?
The thing is it is not always immediately obvious whether a slot machine is a high, medium or low variance game. One way you can gauge the variance of a slot machine is to take a look at the game’s paytable.
When you look at the paytable attached to each game, you need to compare the wins awarded to different winning combinations. Compare the amount you can win on a spin for three of the same symbols on a payline. Compare this with the amount you win for four or five symbols. If there is a big difference in the payouts when making this comparison, it likely suggests you’re playing a high variance slot machine, where most of the big wins will come from the bonus games you can trigger in the base game.
If you’re still not sure about the volatility of a slot, of course, you can decide to just play the game and get a better feel for how it plays.