What is Slot Volatility?

There are plenty of ways in which slots players look for the best slots games online. Sometimes, it’s not just about picking the best developer or a game that appeals to you visually! The more and more you get into your slot games, the more likely it will be that you start to learn about how they all differ!

A slot machine is a composite of all kinds of different bits and pieces. Some slot games will offer big prizes and jackpots, while others will offer you varied payables and lots of mini line wins. The best way to break down how generous a slot machine or game is likely to be is to look at slot volatility.

A high variance slot, for example, will tend to be favoured by those looking for big wins. Lower volatility slots, meanwhile, carry lower risks but are still likely to pay out fairly often.

However, there’s a bit more to it than that – let’s take a look at what a high volatility slot is – as well as what sets medium volatility slots apart from the pack.

Slot Volatility: An Overview

Before we start looking at the science behind slots volatility, it’s worth keeping in mind that online slot games are generally divided into one of three types. These are:

  • Low volatility slots
  • Medium volatility slots
  • High volatility slots

For ease, remember that when we talk about volatility and slots, this can sometimes be referred to as variance. Don’t get confused – both terms mean exactly the same thing.

Therefore, when you start playing a new slots game for the first time, it will be either a low volatility slot, one of several medium variance slots, or a high variance slot game. Medium volatility tends to be a popular option as it offers none of the extremes that you can expect from high and low volatility games. There are big wins, but they come along regularly!

But what can you actually expect from each level of this volatility slot table? Let’s look at low volatility slot games first as a priority.

Low Volatility Slots

Low volatility slots and games tend to appeal to those players who prefer more action and fun for their money than, say, big wins and big jackpots. Therefore, while you might see plenty of free spins and bonus deals lining up, slot volatility at this level is unlikely to give you sizable payouts.

However, this can sometimes work to your advantage, and it does somewhat revolve around the size of your stake, as well as your slots playing style.

Low volatility games and slots will likely give you plenty of paylines. For example, the Megaways games, and titles such as Thunder Struck II, are likely to give you more wins but not necessarily the big prizes.

Think about risk. The risk factor with low volatility slots is, as you might expect, pretty slim. You won’t win on every spin, but unlike high volatility slots, you probably won’t go hundreds of spins without a nice payout.

Many people want to play low volatility slots for the array of features and the feeling they get when they win any kind of money. As is the nature of low volatility slot games, this might only mean a few pence here and there, but it’s still great fun. That’s the crucial aspect – low volatility slots are more aimed towards the casual, ‘fun’ market.

Medium Volatility Slots

For the best of both worlds, many players stray towards medium volatility slot games. These mid variance slots tend to give you more in the way of big wins, but will also pay out – generally – more often than high variance slots and high volatility games.

We’d recommend that you take a look at a few medium volatility slots and games if you are struggling to bridge the gap between low variance slots and high volatility games.

These games are likely to have plenty of symbols and payable variants, and will also have stacks of bonus features. Some mid-range games do keep it simple, but for the biggest prizes at a reasonable level of frequency, these slots are well worth holding out for. Even better is the fact that you will often find free spins deals serving up for medium volatility games, too.

High Volatility Slots

As the direct opposite to low volatility slots, high volatility slots are going to give you more than a ‘bit of fun’. These games really do pump up the big prizes and the stakes. For example, you might find that some high volatility slots follow the Jackpot King or Party Pots lines of games – in that there are much bigger prizes to play for from slot to slot. However, even getting a shot at these super high jackpots isn’t always going to be easy.

That said, neither is claiming regular wins on a high volatility slots game or two. This type of slot is going to demand your patience. Unlike low variance slots, a high volatility slot game is unlikely to pay out for quite some time.

However, those who want to play for the biggest prizes will look for high volatility slots for the sheer potential in return. High variance slot titles let you shoot for the stars. The sort of player who is likely to place money into high volatility slots are likely to be the same who will bet ‘0’ or ’00’ on a roulette wheel – the odds are stacked against you, but if you do win on a high variance slots game, you are going to take away some serious cash.

How Does Volatility Affect Slots Games?

Volatility can affect the slots you play in many different ways.

  • Low slot volatility will mean that you get plenty out of your game. This means that you’ll be able to open up plenty of different bonus features and sample the game to its full potential.
  • High volatility in slots, however, will mean that you stand to see less of a game – but when you do, you’ll have access to some huge prizes.
  • Medium variance slot games wander somewhere in the middle. These slots give you lots of features and little wins, but with the boosts of a few high wins and prizes here and there.

Low variance slots and lower volatility means that while you’ll win regularly, you might not get the big returns you’re looking for. High volatility and variance equals high risk – just keep that in mind!

How Do You Measure the Volatility of a Slot Machine?

How long is a piece of string? Joking aside – it takes years of practice – and ‘bucket loads’ of free spins – to really get a feel for what drives the volatility of a slots game.

Therefore, it’s always worth going about a bit of research on your own. However, you may have to play hundreds of hours and spins on high volatility slot titles to get a real feel for whether or not you are playing a higher risk game or something a little safer.

Therefore, it’s always worth reading our guides and reviews to check out what you can expect from slots in the long run. We’re always testing and checking low, medium and high variance slots to see what players can expect from game to game.

What is Return to Player (RTP)?

Return to player, or RTP, is a little similar to volatility in slots in some ways. Your RTP will tell you how likely it is that a slot game or machine will pay out over its lifetime. Therefore, it is less of an exact science when it comes to actively measuring whether you will get big wins or smaller prizes along the way.

RTP will tell you how likely it is that a slot will bring you back to a bankroll plateau. This means that, again, it’s a good measure of risk.

A good RTP tends to be that which is around 95% or 96%. Anything above this will give you a high chance of getting your money back. However, you must remember that this doesn’t drive down the random nature of these games.

Many players use RTP alongside volatility to check whether or not a slot is likely to be the best fit for their needs. Of course, checking out the latest free spins deals doesn’t hurt, either.

Why not take a look at our full guide to RTP to learn more about how it might affect your gameplay?

Which Volatility Level is Right for Me?

That’s the burning question. Many players find that they drift easily between low variance slots and high variance games. If you want to make the most of your money, you are going to need to look for high variance as standard – that, however, is how it might appear on the face of it!

Low volatility games are still great fun, and if you have a smaller bankroll than most, it’s a lower risk option. However, there’s nothing to say you can’t make bank with high stakes on a low volatility game.

If you’re really unsure and want to play it safe, you should of course look towards medium-range volatility instead. These games tend to give you the best of both worlds. It’s worth trying mid-range games before going to either extreme.


We hope we’ve helped to clear up some of the bigger questions around slot volatility. It can sometimes be tricky to understand at first! However, once you’ve had a play around some of the bigger games that fall under each variance level, you’ll soon be able to spot the big differences between low and high volatility slots.

Why not take a look at our guides to low, medium and high volatility slots? Check out a few of the big developers and titles sharing big and frequent prizes with the masses right now. You might even find a few big bonus deals along the way, too.

A freelance writer who loves to research all areas of online casinos. As a Journalism Graduate, I enjoy copywriting and reviewing all the latest slot machine games released. With many iGaming articles published in Birmingham Mail, Manchester Evening News & Daily Mail. Currently working remote and enjoying the freedom.