What is the best volatility in slot machines?

What is the best volatility in slot machines?

Have you stumbled across the term slots volatility? Or do you want to understand what variance in slots means? Volatility helps us distinguish online slots with higher risk from those that are less demanding on the budget. Basically, the higher the volatility, the greater the risk – but also the potential winnings.

In the following article we deal extensively with the meaning of volatility. We explain what is behind the term. In addition, there are a few game recommendations at the end, so that it becomes clearer how volatility is expressed.

What is the meaning of volatility in slots?

Volatility is actually a technical term from finance. It is usually used to describe the fluctuations to which share prices, interest rates, prices etc. are subject – how strong or weak they are. It thus serves shareholders as a measure of risk.

The term can easily be applied to slot machines. After all, there are online slots, for example, on which you can win 10,000 times your stake with one spin – but it happens extremely rarely. This would be a game with a high slots volatility.

In addition to the volatility of slot machines, which can be classified as low, medium or high, there is also the RTP (“return to player”). This value breaks down how many percent of the stakes are returned to the players on average. Online, this payout rate is often at least 95% or higher.

However, the RTP should be considered separately from volatility. Volatility cannot be derived from it. Example: If I pay out 99 % of the stakes to the players every 1,000 spins, the RTP is 99 % – but the slot is highly volatile because 999 players are left without a win. Conversely, a slot with an RTP of 90% may well be low-volatility if winnings are paid out very evenly.

What levels of slot volatility are there?

Basically, slot machine volatility can be assigned to three categories. We elaborate on the differences below. Note that the boundaries are fluid. Thus, there are also volatile slots that are in between the stools.

Low volatility

Best suited for: Cautious players. Winnings are very frequent on these slots – but they are hardly noticeable because the payout is lower. Most of the time you win little or lose a small amount. Low variance slots pay out jackpots relatively rarely; bonus features like multipliers or expanding wilds are often left out.

Low-volatility online slots are interesting, for example, when you are about to fulfil the turnover requirements of a bonus promotion. You know this: Bonuses are usually only payable once you have fulfilled the turnover requirements. On slots with low volatility, it is easier to secure bonus winnings – so you don’t run the risk of having nothing left to pay out at the end.

Medium volatility

Attractive for: Players who are not afraid of a certain risk. Slots with medium volatility can pay out large winnings – but phases without interesting winnings sometimes last longer. Some jackpot online slots have medium volatility. Slots in this category also do not hold back any longer with bonus features.

Is your casino budget manageable? Is it too boring for you to realise small wins on low-volatility slots? In that case, a medium variance slot is the best alternative. You won’t be happy with high variance – your deposit will usually be gone faster than you can spell “volatility”.

High volatility

Right for: Players who need the thrill. High variance slots pay out winnings of dizzying amounts. Winning 5,000 times your bet on one spin is usually only possible on high-volatility slots. The prospect of the huge win takes its toll: jackpot-sized wins are rare; periods of permanent downward spiral become longer.

The best games with high slots volatility manage the balancing act between excitement and dreariness. Often, multipliers or other bonus features help you win the biggest. Again and again, moments flare up in which the giant payout is in the offing. Often nothing comes of it, but the win seems within reach – and so you like to try again.

What is the difference between volatility and variance?

Volatility and variance are often used interchangeably in the context of online slots. Strictly speaking, however, the volatility meaning is different from the definition for variance.

To keep it simple: Volatility stakes out the ends of the curve within which variance moves. Volatility describes the extent of fluctuation – i.e. how devastating are dry spells; how promising are lucky streaks. The variance indicates how often which events – even improbable ones – occur.

The differences are best illustrated by a simple example: The coin toss. There are two possible outcomes: Heads or tails. If you were paid twice the stake for a correct tip, the volatility would be conspicuously low. Because: As expected, the coin lands on both sides equally often; in the vast majority of cases, you win or lose a fairly small amount after 50 or 100 coin tosses.

The variance now describes how the volatility is made up. For example: How often do events like heads-to-heads, heads-to-numbers, tails-to-numbers, etc. occur? Volatility represents how much success and defeat diverge – variance deals with possibilities. For example, how often heads or tails can be expected ten times in a row if I flip the coin 300 times in the air.

It is quite understandable that the terms are confused. After all, slots with a high volatility also have a high variance. There are many different outcomes (variance) that feel different. Sometimes you win the jackpot, sometimes a lot – but little measured against the volatility of the slot. Sometimes you score plus minus zero, sometimes you lament slight losses, sometimes you find yourself in the deepest valley of tears. On slots with low volatility, there are fewer swings – and thus less room for variance.

How is the volatility of a slot machine determined?

Many slots manufacturers have started to report the volatility in addition to the RTP – the payout percentage. Unlike the RTP, there is no unit of measurement (such as percentage) that has been agreed upon within the industry.

  • Often slots volatility is described in words, i.e. low, medium or high. Or something in between.
  • Sometimes points are also assigned. If the scale ranges from 1 to 10, 10 stands for a slot with high variance.
  • In rare cases, percentages are used. 20 % would then indicate a slot with comparatively low variance.

The volatility is sometimes noted in the description of the slot game. Often the value, together with the RTP, can also be seen in the paytable. Or the developer displays the information directly at the start of the game.

Best high variance slots

High variance slots promise the highest payouts. When it comes to jackpot slots, some of them involve life-changing sums. The flip side of the coin: You can also experience the other side of variance. No jackpot, no big grin on your face.

Those who can live with variance will discover highly exciting slot games in this category. For example:



The prime example of a slot machine with high variance. With extreme luck, you can win 100,000 times your stake. To do this, you first have to trigger the free spins. In the free spins, the aim is to hit the crook symbols. These act as wilds and remain in their position until the free spins are completed. The aim is now to completely cover a winning line with wild symbols. Unlike in the predecessor, you can hit wild symbols several times in the same position. Then the multiplier increases to 2x and 3x. This is offset against the win amount – after each spin.


Among the clones to Book of Ra, Book of Dead is at the top. “Book of has become a kind of genre of its own. The special feature of the slots are always the free spins. Before these start, a symbol is selected at random. Whenever the symbol is now seen – during the free spins – it spreads over the entire reel. Five hits already result in a full screen. The high slots volatility is explained by the free spins alone: For high wins, a premium symbol such as the explorer must be selected first and foremost, which then has to appear during the spins. Experience shows that the free spins often end without an interesting win. But if it goes bang, you can win 5,000 times your stake.


The second part of the Buffalo Blitz series is closely based on the original. What is new is the expanded playing field during the free spins. This opens up more winning ways for you. The highest wins occur when you form winning combinations with the buffalo – and when this happens in combination with diamonds. In the free spins, the diamond symbol can double or even quintuple wins. The payout is limited to a maximum of 10,000 times the stake.

Best medium variance slots

If the spectacle of high variance slots is a touch too dangerous for you, take a look at the following slot machines:



NetEnt has released this slot machine to celebrate the 35th anniversary of the US series Miami Vice. One of the strengths of the real-money slot is certainly the wide range of bets. You can play from €0.15 – but high-rollers can bet up to €450. Among the most interesting game mechanics are the hotlines. You can play with one, two or three hotlines; if the Auto Wild symbol appears on a hotline, the symbol expands on the reel and re-spins occur. Three hotlines require higher stakes – but the RTP increases to 97.04%; the volatility decreases. With a single active hotline, the volatility is higher; the payout rate drops to 96.13%.


Riddle Reels: A Case of Riches offers the best entertainment for sleuths. The slot follows the unusual structure that developer Play’n GO has already used for Fire Joker and Holiday Spirits: Three reels, three rows. The medium volatility is explained by the bonus functions. The wild symbol also acts as a multiplier and can triple winnings. During the free spins, you have to collect clues and solve the case – if you are successful, this results in a mega spin. The maximum win is 5,000 times the stake.


The volatility of the sugary sweet Pragmatic Play slot is not to be scoffed at, even if we just give the game the stamp “medium variance”. The variance is particularly noticeable in the free spins. Because: While these are running, bomb multiplier symbols can appear. This multiplier ranges from 2x to 100x – so the gradient is huge. The bombs only burst at the end of the free spins. The slot also has a tumble function, which means: The reels continue to spin without a new bet as long as new wins arise. According to the manufacturer, the maximum win is exhausted with 21,175 times the bet.

Best slots with low variance

If you are not averse to slot machines in principle, but shy away from risk, you are in exactly the right place. Low-volatility slots are also well suited for meeting the turnover requirements of deposit bonuses.

By the way, it turns out that jackpot slots don’t necessarily have to be volatile slots. See for yourself:



Boarding, please – departure for the Jackpot Express! The slot is one of the few jackpot machines with low variance. Apart from the jackpot, there are several other bonus features. For example, three different free spins with casino flair. The playing field is divided in two during the free spins – on the left the reels; on the right roulette, dice or cards that throw multipliers, wild symbols, etc.. The jackpot is played out via a wheel of fortune. The major jackpot is the highest, but there are two smaller ones. Developer Yggdrasil states the maximum win of the real money slot as €217,500. The RTP is pleasantly high for a jackpot slot and is 96.2%.


In Clash of the Beasts, everything boils down to a tiger vs. dragon battle. At first, you have to look for bonus functions with a magnifying glass; even a wild symbol is only available in the free spins. The latter are triggered by the tiger and dragon scatter symbols. Two or more tiger scatters trigger tiger spins, dragon scatters trigger dragon spins. Both animals have special abilities. The tiger, for example, strikes with its claws – and thus enables larger winning combinations. You get the best free spins when you trigger the free spins with the tiger and dragon symbol. Then both animals come on the scene. On top of that, there are more free spins than normal. The differences in the free spins affect the volatility – nevertheless, the slot has a low variance overall.


Something has gone wrong in the lab: In the slots game Not Enough Kittens, cats are multiplying like crazy. Every time a wild symbol completes the winning combination, the number of cats doubles. This should make you happy. Firstly, the cats are hilariously animated. Secondly, the win doubles. In the free spins, the meow concert sounds even louder: Here, the wilds appear as stacks, which means that several wild symbols can lie on top of each other. The maximum win is limited to 3,650 times the stake. The volatility is low, so you can fully concentrate on creating new cats. Because: As the title of the slot says so well? There are simply not enough cats!

How to determine the variance of the slot?

It is easier to see a list of NetEnt video slots. Few publicly display the variability of their slots on official websites. Then it can all be just a marketing ploy. On the other hand side, the concept of dispersion is rather arbitrary and cannot be measured accurately. This is still not a payout rate that has clear percentage – for example 96.4%. Players have to roughly determine the volatility themselves. And the word “roughly” is the key word here. Moreover, for someone a slot is less risky, for another the same slot will seem too risky. There is an obvious element of subjectivity. In a nutshell. Determine the variability of the slot in terms of external characters and the gaming process:

You should not make less than 150-200 spins to understand the level of variance. Do you get a large sum? How much is it? Is it 20 or 60 bets? And how much is the biggest win? During the spins you might get all the answers. Frequent and not big wins mean that the slot has low variance. Infrequent but bigger wins indicate high or medium variance. If your wins during the game are less than 30-40 bets, it means that you are playing low variance slot.

You see a table with winnings: what is the maximum win? If it is a few thousand bets, the slot has high variance. If there is a range between the winnings for four equal symbols and for five equal symbols is ten times more, that is the slot with high or medium variance. Pay attention to jackpots. The more their number, the higher the risk.

Payout rate is another important sign. The slots with high payout rate often have low variance. And the bigger the winnings, the lower the payout. But this is not always the case. By low payout we mean 94-95%. The high payout rate is 96.5%+. On our website you can find the data from the manufacturer and reviews from our tester. But check the data because sometimes the manufacturer can change the settings.

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