How to Choose Slot Machine Volatility

Slot machine volatility is a measure of how often a game has payouts. If a slot game has a lot of winning spins, it’s considered low volatility. If a game has fewer winning spins, then it’s considered high variance. Neither is inherently good or bad, though players need to know a game’s variance based on their play preferences.

This guide to volatility in slots provides players with definitions and characteristics of each type of game. This article provides separate lists of both high and low volatility slots. We discuss how variance and RTP mesh together, while answering key questions readers might have.

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Key Takeaways:

  • The differences between low and high-volatility slots appeal to different players. It’s the difference between a high-risk, high-reward slot strategy or a lower-risk approach to gambling.
  • Our guide below gives tips on how to choose slot machine volatility for your preferences. This article provides lists of slots of different volatility levels to help get you started on your research.
  • High variance and low variance are not inherently bad or good. Based on their play preference, players will see the benefits of low and high-volatility slots in a much different light.

What are the differences between low and high volatility slots?

High volatility slots follow a high-risk, high-reward strategy. You won’t have as many winning spins, but the payouts are higher when you get lucky. Low volatility slots have a low-risk, lower-reward strategy. The player isn’t as likely to have as many lulls in the action, but they payouts won’t be as high.

Low Volatility

Low volatility slots have a high frequency of payouts. The fact they offer winning spins more often makes them less volatile. Since online casinos use both terms, some readers might wonder at the different between low variance and low volatility. There is no difference in the way the terms are used.

Players can get an idea of a machine’s characteristics by looking at the maximum payouts and jackpots. If the max payout is low, then the game (probably) has a low volatility. The paytable on slot machines often mentions volatility, so look there if you have questions.

Characteristics of Low Volatility Slot Machines

  • High Payout Frequency: It hits more than high volatility slots.
  • Lower Average Payout: When it hits, the average payout is lower than a high volatility game.
  • Low Risk, Lower Reward: Best for players who dislike cold streaks and still get a thrill from lower jackpots.
  • Fixed Jackpots: More likely to have fixed jackpots instead of progressive jackpots.
  • High RTP: A solid number of low volatility slots have better overall odds. Note: This is a general rule of thumb and is not always the case.
  • Good for Beginners: Slots with lower variance are good for beginners. Because the game pays out more frequently, new players are less likely to get discouraged.

Readers likely want examples of the best low-volatility slots online. The following list is a good place to start. Most slot designers produce low-volatility online slots, so you’ll find similar games in casinos powered by RTG, Rival, Betsoft, and Dragon Gaming.

Top Low Volatility Slot Machines

Slot Name RTP Provider
Blood Suckers 98.00% NetEnt
Golden Tour 97.71% Playtech
Starmania 97.68% NextGen Gaming
Medusa II 97.02% NextGen Gaming
Butterfly Staxx 96.68% NetEnt
Wild Scarabs 96.28% Microgaming
Fortune Coin 96.20% IGT
Crystal Vault 96.04% Playtech
Starburst 96.01% NetEnt
Wolf Run 94.98% IGT
Da Vinci Diamonds 94.94% IGT
Cornelius 94.05% NetEnt
Reel King 94.00% Novomatic
Pixies of the Forest 93.95% High 5

High Volatility

High volatility slots have a lower frequency of payouts. The fact they offer fewer winning spins makes them more volatile. It means players have longer “droughts” in between payouts, but they can expect a bigger payout when they do happen. High volatility is the same as high variance.

Once again, check a slot machine’s paytable for verification of a game’s hit frequency. Below is a list of characteristics to consider when scouting for high-variance slots. Below is a list of some famously high-variance slot machines to keep in mind.

Characteristics of High Volatility Slot Machines

  • Low Payout Frequency: It has longer cold stretches than low volatility slots.
  • Higher Average Payout: When it hits, the average payout is larger than a low-volatility game.
  • High Risk, High Reward: Best for players who don’t mind cold streaks but want big wins when it does happen.
  • Progressive Jackpots: More likely to have progressive jackpots or high jackpots than small, fixed jackpots.
  • Low RTP: High volatility slots are more likely to have worse overall odds or RTP. Note: This isn’t always the case.
  • Need a Bankroll: Slots with higher variance are better for high rollers and established players with a nice bankroll. They’ll need to weather long periods without payouts.

Top High Volatility Slot Machines

Slot Name RTP Provider
Wheel of Fortune: Power Wedges 97.00% IGT
9K Yeti 97.00% 4ThePlayer
Immortal Romance 96.86% Microgaming
Dead or Alive 96.82% NetEnt
Twin Spin 96.60% NetEnt
Legacy of Dead 96.58% Play’N Go
Reactoonz 96.51% Play’N Go
Almighty Buffalo Megaways 96.50% Pragmatic Play
Book of Atem 96.45% Microgaming
Jack in a Pot 96.06% Red Tiger Gaming
88 Fortunes 96.00% Light & Wonder (SG)
Chicago Gold 96.00% Pear Wonder
300 Shields Mighty Ways 95.99% Light & Wonder
Bass Boss 95.71% Red Tiger Gaming
Zodiac Infinity 95.57% ReelPlay
Mustang Money 94.31% Ainsworth
Towers of Olympus 93.38% Wizard Games
Lightning Link 90%-93% Aristocrat

Does low volatility mean a high return to player or RTP percentage?

That’s not necessarily true. Games with progressive jackpots are high volatility. They also tend to have a lower RTP, though that’s not always the case. Low variance slots are likelier to have a lower house edge, but players should look at the paytable to be certain.

Starburst (96.09%), Platinum Goodess (96.00%), and Robin Hood (96.75%) are low variance slots that have a relatively high RTP. Fortune Coin (94.2%) and Da Vinci Diamonds (94.94%) have low variance but also a relatively low RTP, so it pays to check in specific cases.

Pay attention to the table with high variance slots above. Wheel of Fortune: Power Wedges from IGT and 9K Yeti from 4ThePlayer each have a 97.00% expected return, and yet both are high volality slot machines. Don’t simply equate volality with expected return, because it’s not always that simple.

What are the benefits of low and high-volatility slots?

Choosing between low and high-volatility slots depends on a player’s personality. If you can’t stand to have long stretches of play with no winning spins, then you should focus on low-volatility slot machines. Find a list of games with low variance and stick to them.

If you don’t like games that advertise winning spins (with bells, whistles, and bright lights), then you should choose high-volatility slots. Some players dislike the machine making big noises and flashing “Win” on the screen when they win $0.20 or a bit more than the price of “Spin.” If you’re one of those players, choose high volatility slots — where a win is a real win!

Meanwhile, medium volatility slots are for players who can’t decide, or who haven’t decided yet. These games split the difference, so you get medium jackpots and a medium amount of time between hits.

How to Choose

Choosing a slot machine based on volatility leads to more satisfaction with your play sessions. Most players bet on slots for the entertainment value. For many, entertainment has to do with an adrenaline rush or thrill. For others, entertainment means the best chance to have a winning session or hit a jackpot — even if the jackpot isn’t life-changing.

To be a more satisfied with your slot sessions, follow the tips below:

Tips for Picking High and Low Variance Slots

  • Read lists based on high volatility slots or low volatility slots. Review sites like this one compile lists of online slots based on each category.
  • Read slot reviews. These give more detailed information on individual slots. Often, slot reviews have a “volatility” or “variance” factor in their list of features.
  • Ask AI bots about high-volatility or low-volatility slots. If you prefer high variance, add a script like, “Provide a list of high volatility slots” or “Can you give several low volatility slot machines?” Use ChatGPT, Microsoft CoPilot, Google Gemini, Perplexity, or Writesonic.
  • Research on slot manufacturer websites. Most of the top slot providers have a page for every slot game they produce. These often list volatility stats.
  • Pick according to the size of the jackpots and other top prizes. If you don’t know a game’s volatility, the size of the jackpot is a good rule of thumb. Progressive jackpots, huge fixed jackpots, lots of multipliers, and lots of free spins tend to mean high volatility.

How do I choose slot machine volatility based on my play preferences?

If you live off the big adrenaline rush or thrill of a big payout, then you should choose highly volatile slot machines. If you get bored with long pauses between payouts, then you should choose games with lower volatility. Plain and simple, it’s based on your personality.

Conclusion

As you can see, slot machine volatility adds another degree of complexity to casino gambling. Many players are trained to look for the expected return and/or the house edge of slots, but understanding the differences between low and high volatility slots helps players pick the games they’ll enjoy.

Refer back to this guide occasionally to remember how to choose slot machine volatility. Choosing variance is the difference in games that pay out often enough to keep your attention, or offer big enough payouts to give you a thrill.

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