What is volatility in online slots?

For the most part, online casinos do their best to use language that is easy to understand. Terms like bonuses and free spins are pretty straightforward to understand, even if they often come with restrictions. Today we are going to talk about one of the more mysterious casino terms – volatility.

What is volatility?

The term ‘volatility’ is not unique to the online casino realm. In fact, it is used in finance, chemistry, statistics, and computer science.

Of course, our interest is in online casino but understanding what the term means in other sectors can help us to explain what it means.

In chemistry, for instance, a substance is considered highly volatile if it is more likely to transform into a vapour. Substances like petrol are highly volatile. This definition boils down to determining how easily one substance changes into another state, which can help to understand volatility in slots.

High volatility vs low volatility

Volatility, also known as variance, in slot games can be described as the amount of risk in a particular game. High volatility games are riskier – they pay out less frequently but the payouts tend to be larger. You can easily spin through your bankroll on a high volatility game with no wins and then break the dry streak with a large win.

Low volatility games, on the other hand, pay out more regularly but in smaller amounts. These are considered lower risk because the regular, small wins will balance out the losses. You are likely to keep your bankroll at the same or a similar level when playing low volatility games over time.

It is worth noting that volatility applies not only to online slot games but to physical slot machines too!

How to determine slot volatility

The thing about volatility is that game developers are not keen to give out information on this particular aspect of their work. So, how do you figure it out?

The best way to guess at a slot’s volatility is to play it. Personal preference and your own gambling style certainly play into how a game works for you, so there are no ‘good’ or ‘bad’ games, only ones you do or do not enjoy playing.

User forums are also a good place to get an idea of a slot’s volatility. Just keep in mind that a gambling experience is a highly personal thing and thus, is very subjective.

Finally, demo play is another way to get a feel for the kind of volatility you can expect from a slot. Play a number of rounds (without spending your money) to help you figure out how the game works.

What should I play?

Setting aside personal preferences, the one determining factor for playing high volatility slots versus low volatility slots is your budget. If you are happy to risk a long dry streak, with the chance of a big win at the end, go for high volatility.

Players with smaller budgets, on the other hand, will get more entertainment value (and longer playing time) with the repeated rewards offered in low volatility slots.

Check out the casinos below to play all kinds of games, most of which offer a free demo version so you can get a feel for their volatility.

6 NetEnt Casinos

Last updated: 13 Nov 2019

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