Low vs High Variance Slots: Which One Should You Play?

Slots

2023-01-10

Benard Maumo

Online slots are arguably the most beginner-friendly casino games to play. Players only need to find the perfect slot machines and spin the reels to receive a payout after matching two or three symbols. 

Low vs High Variance Slots: Which One Should You Play?

But your success at online slots depends on various factors, including variance or volatility. As you may already know, slot machine variance can either be low or high. Low variance titles are more friendly to your bankroll, but high-volatility slots can be unpredictable but hugely rewarding. 

This article looks to end the low vs high variance slots controversy and help you to define your slot machine gameplay.

What is Variance/Volatility in Online Slots?

Before you learn what slot variance means, it's important to note that slot machines are games of chance. This means the results are 100% luck-based, and no strategy can reduce the house edge and tilt the odds in your favor. So, if you want to play online casino games involving a little skill, learn more about blackjack and video poker. 

Quickly moving forward, a slot machine variance is how often the game pays out in the long run. If a slot machine variance is rated low or low/medium, it means the game pays out quite often. However, the payouts in low volatility slots are usually small.

On the other hand, high variance online slots reward players with bigger prizes than low-volatility slots. However, these games pay out less often, meaning you'll need the patience to create a winning combination. Online slot jackpots are excellent examples of high variance slots. 

Low Vs High Variance Slots

It's time now to get a little granular with some had-nosed facts about low and high variance slots. As said before, the slot machine's variance will determine how often you can match winning symbols on a pay line. This, of course, can help you determine the type of slot machine to play and the bankroll size to use.

For example, expect small but frequent wins with low volatile online slots. Players don't need a $1,000 budget to play low variance slots. But if you opt for a highly volatile title, embrace the fact that winning sessions could be rare, although a single win can recover losses and add a decent amount to your bankroll. 

In short, low variance slots should be your go-to titles if you're a budget or conservative player. But if you're a high roller with an appetite to bring down the jackpot, play highly volatile games. But do you have the heart to withstand prolonged sessions without winning? Answer that before playing!

But slot machines have the highest volatility compared to other online casino games, especially table games. Here is the thing; you already know your chances of winning in red/black bets in roulette, player/banker in baccarat, or come/pass line in craps. However, slot machine outcomes are random, with no fixed payout rate. 

How to Know a Slot Machine's Variance

Finding out the volatility of a slot machine can be a deceptively simple task. Game developers such as Microgaming and Thunderkick decide to keep this vital information to themselves. However, others like NetEnt, Pragmatic Play, and Yggdrasil will gladly indicate the variance of the machine on the paytable.

So, to find out the volatility of online slot machines at the best online casino sites, look at the number of symbols. Highly volatile titles have fewer winning symbols, mostly less than nine. And to compensate for the fewer symbols, these games have bigger multipliers or coins for matching combinations. If the paytable shows that the game has a maximum payout of 3,000x, that's likely a low volatility slot. 

Players can also learn more about an online slot's volatility by playing the game for free using the demo version. If the game doesn't have a demo version, play using online casino bonuses and promotions like free spins and deposit bonuses. Usually, you'll need to play at least 1,000 rounds to conclude how the game pays out. For instance, if you register 300-400 wins out of 1,000, that's likely a low-medium volatility slot. But nothing is certain!

What About the Hit Frequency and RTP?

Slot machine players shouldn't only look at the hit frequency when choosing a title to play. It's advisable also to consider the RTP and hit frequency, as these features can tell you how often the slot pays out. It's even safe to say that the hit frequency is more like the game's volatility.

For starters, the hit frequency is usually the percentage of how often a slot machine pays out. For example, you can play the demo version of a game and record the result of 2,000 spins. If 600 spins are wins, that's a 30% hit frequency (600/2,000). This means that almost a third of your spins will result in a win. A low variance slot should have at least 30% hit frequency. 

Regarding the RTP (return to player), this rate represents the maximum amount players can win in the long run. If a game has a 98% RTP, players can win a maximum of $98 from a $100 wager. Therefore, a higher RTP rate means more winning sessions on the casino website. Avoid playing slots with less than 96% RTP, as the variance is likely to be high. 

Below is a brief overview of what to look for when determining a slot's volatility:

  • The hit frequency
  • The return to player rate, although not often.
  • The maximum payouts. Jackpot games are usually highly volatile.
  • The number of symbols. Many symbols mean the game is less volatile.
  • The number of bonus features. More features typically mean the title is highly volatile.
  • The number of paylines. Low volatile slots have more paylines.

Low Vs High Variance Slots: Which is Best?

Are you still sitting on the fence regarding the type of online slots to play? It all boils down to your style of play and budget. If you're a conservative player who likes raking up small but frequent wins, games with low volatility are best for you. But if you have a big budget to burn at the casino, going for the big prizes on highly volatile titles might be a good idea. 

Meanwhile, don't play highly volatile slots blindly. Setting a bankroll and timing your gameplay is advisable because these games can eat through your bankroll quickly and decisively. So, it's essential to know that your winning odds are slim. But the good news is that most slot features, like the volatility, hit frequency, and RTP, will kick in after 1,000 or so rounds. So, play your first couple of rounds aggressively. Have fun!

Best gambling quote: “Successful gamblers always have two things on their lips: Silence and a smile”

Favorite Casino Game: Blackjack

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