What Does Volatility Mean When Talking About Slot Machines?

Published 19 Oct 2018, 1:54 p.m.

Slots are games of chance which, some might assume, means that there aren’t too many things that can objectively be said about them. You press the spin button, wait for the reels to stop spinning, see if you’ve won and that’s it. While it is true that slots are completely random, and players can’t impact the outcome of the game, there are many things that you should know if you want to understand slots, how they work and all. What does volatility mean when talking about slot machines? – might not be one of the most common or most frequently asked questions by potential players, but it is definitely important.

Keep reading and you’ll get the answer of the question ‘what does the volatility of a slot machine mean?’. Another word that’s used synonymously with volatility is variance. You will read and hear a lot more about the RTP and while we agree that the RTP is quite important, that’s no reason to neglect the volatility, so let’s have a look into it and see how it affects the gameplay. We’ve already said a few things on volatility, but let’s expand that and give you a more detailed overview of volatility and what it means.

Game RTP And What It Means

As you can see from the link above we discuss some of the games and their volatility and, in a way, that’s our unofficial slot volatility list. Generally, we divided slots into low volatility slot machines and high volatility games. Plus, there are certain games that have medium volatility. Anyway, let’s say a bit more about the RTP before we proceed to discuss volatility.

RTP stands for return to player and it is expressed in percentage points. Simply put, this is the amount that the players get back in return as winnings. The RTP is theoretical calculation based on a large number of virtual spins. Before a game is released, the developers set the return to player percentage and set the game random number generator to match this percentage. They run tests and check whether the set RTP percentage is reflected accurately.

Let us explain the RTP in a more practical manner. When we say that a game has an RTP percentage of 97%, this means that out of every theoretical £100 that have been wagered on the game, £97 will be returned to players as winnings. Notice that we said ‘theoretical £100’, which means that it is not the case for every £100. The RTP is calculated over the course of millions of spins, which means that the fewer spins you play, the less likely you’re to get an accurate RTP.

In fact, if we imagine a situation where you have played only three spins with £1 per spin and you lost the first two, whereas on the third you hit a £15, the RTP of that session would be 500%. No game has an RTP percentage that’s so high. That’s why we say that it is a theoretical percentage.

What Does The Volatility Of A Slot Machine Mean

In the last paragraph of the previous chapter we’ve reached the topic of volatility. Namely, we can say that the standard deviation from the standard RTP percentage gives us the game volatility. A volatile game is one where the wins are less frequent but are much higher.

To put it simply, players who are willing to take riskier bets would opt for volatile games, whereas players who employ a more casual approach would prefer games with a lower volatility.

Volatile games aren’t too different in terms of RTP, the fact that a game is volatile doesn’t mean that it should have a lower, or a higher RTP percentage compared to games with a lower volatility. The volatility simply means that the deviations from the standardly set RTP percentage are greater.

Again, lets go with a bit more practical example. We will assume that one player played ten spins and the RTP of that session came to about 60%, whereas another player also played ten spins but the RTP came to 135%. This is a hypothetical situation, it doesn’t mean that something like this will actually happen, but the point is that if you take the average RTP of both sessions it will come to about 97.50%.

The more gaming sessions are considered with a higher number of spins, the closer the average percentage would come to the advertised RTP. Of course, if the game has a high volatility, then the discrepancy could be a lot more significant. It could go either way with volatility, it can be a lot lower than the standard RTP, or a lot higher, so if you are willing to take risks and you’re hoping to win major prizes, even at the risk of losing funds, then volatile slots would be perfect for you.

List Of High Variance Slot Machines

If you are looking for high variance games, then you probably want to know the games with high variance, now that we’ve explained everything about it and answered the question ‘What does volatility mean when talking about slot machines?’. So, here goes.

Book Of Dead

Book of Dead slot is a Play N’ Go game with a full title Rich Wilde and the Book of Dead which has an RTP percentage set at 94.17%, but the volatility is pretty high, so if you’re looking to make riskier bets and aim to win bigger prizes, then try this game out.

Dead Or Alive

Dead or Alive is not only one of the most popular NetEnt games, but also one of the most volatile ones. And that says a lot, since NetEnt have delivered some of the top games in terms of quality of the gameplay and the graphic and sound features of the game.

Gonzo’s Quest

Gonzo’s Quest is another game by NetEnt, and one of the most played games of all times. This is also a game with high volatility, available at many SlotsWise casinos.

If you want to play high volatility slots, register with one of our featured casinos, claim your bonus and choose the most volatile games that suit your style of play.