laptop screen showing a 777 spin on a slot machine

One of the first things that slots aficionados learn about slots gaming is that game results are totally random. That doesn’t mean, however, that there’s nothing that you can do to boost your chances of winning. Casino advisors say that practicing the game in the Free Mode before playing for real money in the Real Mode can help you move through the gameplay more efficiently, to look for casino promotions, to find high RTP games and to find games that feature specific features because those are more likely to deliver better payouts.

Advisors also suggest that you look at the game’s “volatility” so you know what type of payout rate to expect. Most players skip this step because they don’t understand the concept of volatility. But if you’re a dedicated slots player, it’s a good idea to become familiar with the volatility of a slot machine and how it can affect your gaming event.

Slots Volatility

Slot volatility refers to the percentage in which a slot triggers a win as well as the typical size of the wins. If you’re playing a slot with high volatility you can look forward to a gaming event where you’ll see big wins spread apart. If you play a low volatility slot you can expect small wins in quick succession.

However any slot can provide a hot streak and a cold streak and all slots can pay out both small and big wins.  So where the slot falls on the Volatility Index relates to the average experience that that slot machine provides..

With roulette for instance, you can expect that as you increase the number of numbers that you bet on, you have a higher chance of winning. Bet on black or red means that you’re betting on half the wheel -- 18 numbers. The payout for a win on betting on a color is double or nothing. On the other hand, if you wager on one single number, your win would pay out 35 to 1. The double or nothing bet is a low volatility bet while the 35 to 1 bet is high volatility wager that pays out less often but at a higher rate.

In slots gaming there are five different levels of volatility, including

  • High Volatility
  • Medium-High Volatility
  • Medium Volatility
  • Medium-Low Volatility
  • Low Volatility

As you move down the scale, the lower the volatility, the more often you win. However, the payouts are less. In short, the higher the volatility, the higher the wins but the wins will occur less often. The lower the volatility, the lower the typical payout but the more often you’ll win. You can also find online slots with medium volatility as well as medium-high and medium-low volatility.

Low Volatility Slot

For example, let’s say you are playing a low volatility slot. Start with $100 and place $5 bets at a time. You can generally expect wins that range from $1 to $10 on a fairly frequent basis. Now, if you move to a high volatility slot, you might typically see no wins on $1 bets for most of the game but when you do hit a payout, it’s in the hundreds of dollar range.

It’s important to remember that the Volatility Index represents the average. You might have a surprise and have a gaming session where a low volatility slot pays out with the frequency of a high volatility slot or vice versa.

Volatility vs. RTP

It’s easy to confuse volatility with RTP. Return to Player is also something that players are told to check to determine the type of gameplay that a slot machine offers but its different. RTP refers to the amount that a casino game pays back to players while slots volatility is how often a slot typically pays out. For example, a slot with an RTP of 95% means the machine pays $95 in winnings for every $100 wagered. This number, too, represents an average and doesn’t guarantee results. Both low volatility and high volatility slots could have a 95% RTP.

How Can You Find A Slot’s Volatility

If the volatility of a slot machine is important to you, there are a few ways for you to determine this information.

  1. Check the game review in the casino slots lobby to see if the information is included.
  2. Click on the game to play in the Free Mode and make a guess as to what the win/payout rate seems to show.
  3. Write the slot name in the Google search bar together with the word “volatility” to see if there’s information about that slot online. It’s advisable to look at a few sources to make sure that it’s an accurate Volatility Index level.

What’s Preferable?

What type of slot is preferable, high volatility or low volatility. In the end, it all comes down to your preferences and your style of gaming. For instance, if you're a high-risk player and you enjoy chasing big jackpot prizes, you’d probably prefer a high-volatility game. On the other hand, if you prefer to play conservatively with a more steady stream with smaller wins, you’d probably be better off with a low-volatility game. Luckily, the casino has it all!

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