Written by: Edward Ackins | Fact checked by: Melisa Dobrev.
April 26, 2024 | Updated on: May 1, 2024

Volatility is an integral part of casino games, and this article will help you understand this concept fully. In short, it refers to the degree of fluctuation in the outcome of the game. It refers to the distribution of wins and losses of a specific gaming session.

In other words, it is a determination of the size and frequency of your winnings. Factors such as bankroll management, levels of risk aversion, and expectations affect the volatility of any game.

Let’s look at how volatility levels can affect your decision-making, increase the possibility of high payouts, and improve your gaming experience.

I will help you recognize the role of volatility in both land-based and online casinos. I also give examples of games with different volatility levels to help guide which game to choose.

What Does Volatility Mean in Slots

Volatility in online slots refers to the risk level associated with a specific game. It indicates how often you can expect a slot machine to pay out. The level of volatility also impacts the thrill and excitement you experience when playing a game.

To understand what volatility means in slots, let’s take a brief look at the three types of volatility: low, medium, and high. These levels of volatility will impact your potential winnings and the level of risk involved.

Remember, volatility is not an exact indication of how much payout you will receive or the fairness of the game. It is an indication of how much risk is associated with the game.

volatility meaning

High Volatility in Slots

This type of slot offers infrequent opportunities to win big but also has the greatest risk. Players can expect to face dry spells before having a massive payout. These slots are suited to players who are looking for the euphoria of receiving a jackpot.

The downside of high volatility slots, you will need a fairly large budget and a low level of risk aversion to sustain them through losses.

Low Volatility in Slots

Low volatility slots are ideal for risk-averse players who can accept slow, steady wins. They can also enjoy longer playing sessions, and they have a higher chance of winning during each spin.

Although these slots may have fewer winnings during each spin, the low payouts reduce the chances of you hitting a big jackpot.

Low-Medium Volatility Slots

These are also low-risk games that often result in hits of higher frequency games. If you are looking for lots of excitement over the long run and have a decent budget you might just hit some big wins.

Medium Volatility in Slots

These slots reach a middle ground between low and high volatility, offering both small and large payouts. If you want the exhilaration of these big wins but still want consistent payouts, medium volatility is the way to go.

Remember, volatility in gambling does not indicate how much payout you will receive or the fairness of the game.

Comparison between high and low volatility slots
Type Risks Rewards
High volatility slots
  • Infrequent wins
  • Need for a large budget to sustain potential losses
  • May result in addictive gambling behaviors for those seeking the adrenaline rush
  • May result in impulsive decision-making
  • High risk of losses
  • May lead to anxiety, stress, and frustration
  • May encourage riskier betting, resulting in higher losses
  • Not ideal for casual players
  • Possibility of massive payouts or jackpots
  • Exciting and thrilling gaming experiences
  • Skilled & strategic players can influence the outcome of their games
  • Potential for substantial profits
  • Wide range of games
  • Appeals to risk-takers
  • May offer a more engaging gaming experience with intricate storylines and graphics
Low volatility slots
  • Smaller payouts
  • Markedly less thrill and excitement
  • Relies on luck instead of strategy
  • Low variability can result in predictability and monotony
  • Slow progression of winnings
  • May result in a higher house edge
  • May have less game variety
  • Frequent wins
  • Allows for efficient budgeting and lowers the chances of depletion
  • Small payouts
  • Low risk, therefore to risk-averse players
  • Enjoyable gaming experience for casual players
  • Reduced stress
  • Allows for extended gameplay

high volatility vs low volatility in slots

The above diagram is a representation of the differences between high and low volatility slots to help you make more informed gaming decisions.

Examples of High & Low Volatility Games

Online casinos often offer a huge variety of slot games. However, the volatility of a game is not often mentioned on gaming sites. Depending on the trade-off you are willing to make, you will need to decide between:

  • Higher risk and large infrequent outcomes
  • Lower risk and frequent payouts,

The table below will give you an idea of some high and low-volatility slot games.

Examples of high and low-volatility slot games
High Volatility Games Low Volatility Games
Book of Dead Da Vinci Diamonds
Reactoonz Starmania
Big Bamboo Fortune Chain
Razor Shark Starburst
Money Train 3 Wolf Run

Frequently Asked Questions about Volatility in Online Slots

These terms are often used interchangeably but the key difference is the time frame used when measuring them. Variance is measured over the long term while volatility is calculated over a specific number of plays.

Variance measures how often the slot machine pays its players overtime. Volatility measures how often and how much the average wins are.

Volatility is the opposite of return to play (RTP). A high RTP usually indicates low volatility and vice versa.

You need to note that slots that payout often will have a higher return to play, even though your overall winnings will be small.

In the long term, these frequent winnings may add up to more than the amount you initially bet.

On the other hand, high volatility slots have more risk yet offer the chance of enormous returns. There is also the risk of losing a considerable amount of money.

House edge refers to the average gross profit that a casino can expect to make. It differs among games, and depending on the house edge, a casino might be packed or almost empty.

house edge to volatility

My advice: look for casinos with a lower house edge; that will give you higher chances of winning.

The profit or house edge of the casino can vary from 0.5% up to 40% depending on the game you play.

Wrapping Up

As this article aims to explain, you cannot discount the importance of volatility in terms of a game. It can make the difference between a huge win and a massive loss. It is an indication of:

  • how rarely
  • how often you can expect to win
  • how much you might win.

Once you understand the meaning of high, low, and medium slot machines, then you can choose which game is best for your gaming outlook.

It is also useful to know your odds and remember to gamble only what you are ready to lose.

Disclaimer: This article is meant for educational and informational purposes only. It is not meant as financial advice in any form or manner.

Edward Ackins
Hi, gamblers! I am Ed - bitcoin casinos review specialist. I have been working as a casino dealer for 4 years. Later I started to work with online casinos, and when bitcoin appeared on the market, I realized that this is the future. Today I am a manager with 5 successfully launched bitcoin casinos behind, and I know how it works perfectly from the inside. So if you need a recipe for winning you are in the right place.