If you know anything about casino gaming, you’ll have probably come across the concept of volatility. However, research suggests that comparatively few casino gamers have any real clue what volatility is all about. Or more important, what it means in the context of their gaming habits.
Roughly summarised, volatility refers to exactly how much risk there is in playing any given casino game. Sometimes referred to as dispersion or variance, the volatility of the respective game indicates how likely you are to win with any given spin. Not to any kind of accurate extent, but more an indication of its probability of paying out.
Though volatility and RTP percentages play equally important roles in determining the viability of any given slot for the respective gamer, they are nonetheless entirely different. While RTP percentages indicate how much of the total money taken is returned to players, volatility concerns the frequency with which the machine pays out and the size/nature of the prizes.
High Volatility Slots
At the top end of the table, high volatility slots are known for having the most generous jackpots of all. In instances where prizes in general on the pay table are relatively high, it’s usually safe to say you’re looking at a high volatility slot. The only problem being that as the prizes available increase in value, the actual likelihood of winning them decreases accordingly. The more appealing the prizes, the less likely you are to pocket one.
Perhaps the most illustrative example of a high volatility slot would be the classic progressive. In the cases of slots with progressive jackpots, top prizes on offer can be life changing sums of money that often reach seven figures. However, the actual likelihood of winning this jackpot is as close to zero for the average gamer. You’d have to spin the reels millions of times to come close to winning the jackpot, during which time there’s a strong chance you wouldn’t win anything at all. This being a prime example of a high volatility slot.
Generally speaking, high volatility slots require continuous game play over an extended period of time, before paying anything out whatsoever. Nevertheless, in the instances where high volatility slots do pay out, they tend to pay out extremely generously.
Why Play High Volatility Slots?
As for why some people prefer to play high volatility slots, the primary attraction is of course the potential to win substantial cash prizes. Nevertheless, you typically need a relatively extensive bankroll to succeed with high volatility slots. It’s commonplace to continuously lose for a relatively long and unbroken period, before hitting any winning combinations whatsoever. By which time, you may have pumped quite a lot of money into the machine.
High volatility slots are also extremely popular among high rollers in general. In some instances, slots at this end of the spectrum allow up to £500 (or sometimes more) to be wagered on every single spin. If you want to therefore, you could wager many thousands of pounds per minute on the slot of your choosing. This may not seem particularly sensible on the surface, but the more you wager, the more generous the potential payouts become.
Still, you’ll most likely need plenty of spare cash, plenty of self-control and the ability to meticulously manage your bankroll, if looking to spend time playing high volatility slots.
Low Volatility Slots
At the opposite end of the spectrum, low volatility slots are…unsurprisingly…the opposite to their high volatility cousins. Check out the pay table for a low volatility slot and you’re unlikely to see any particularly generous prizes at all. Even in terms of the primary jackpots, chances are things will be rather on the modest side.
Nevertheless, what’s appealing about low-volatility slots is the fact that you are far more likely to win with every spin. With a high volatility slot, 100 consecutive spins could lead to nothing but 100 losses. By contrast, the same 100 consecutive spins on a low volatility slot could potentially mean say 25 wins or so. Each of these 25 wins isn’t going to be particularly large, but constitutes a win nonetheless.
What’s more, you’ll usually find that low volatility slots are significantly cheaper to play in the first place. Spins often starting from around 5p and perhaps going up to say £10 as the upper limit. Particularly when combined with a high return to player (RTP) percentage, low volatility slots can make even the most modest of bankrolls go a seriously long way.
Why Play Low Volatility Slots?
For obvious reasons, low volatility slots are extremely popular among newcomers, casual gamers and those not looking to put a great deal of money on the line. They deliver all of the entertainment and excitement online slots have to offer, though minimise or even eliminate the risk of heavy losses. They may also eliminate the prospect of generous wins, but are nonetheless hugely enjoyable to play.
Low volatility slots are also great for those who do not have the time or the patience to deal with seemingly endless losing streaks, before winning a prize. With low volatility slots, it’s perfectly possible to dip in and out of the games of your choosing, even when you only have a few minutes to spare.
Play for Free
In all instances, it simply makes sense to try before you buy. These days, pretty much every online slot on the face of the earth can be played 100% free of charge, in order to see how things work before putting a penny of your own money on the line. Particularly if unsure as to which end of the volatility spectrum suits you best, it can be hugely helpful to test the waters and see how things go down when put into practice.
You won’t be winning any prizes by playing for three, but you also won’t be risking any money on slots that simply aren’t for you!