What Does Volatility Mean In Slots?


Slot machines have become a large part of online gambling.

Though they function in ways similar to the slot machines that you’ll find in real life casinos, there are a few notable differences and updates that people will need to be aware of, and one of those is slot volatility.

But what does volatility in slots mean?

What Does Volatility Mean In Slots?

To put it simply, volatility in slots refers to the risk that comes from using a specific online slot machine. Slot volatility is a representation of how frequently that slot machine triggers a win, and what the usual size of its wins are. 

However, there is a lot more to learn about volatility in slots, including the different levels of volatility and their meanings. We’ve got all of the answers in our handy guide below, so carry on reading!

What Does Volatility Mean In Slots?

As we touched on in the introduction, slot volatility is a term only used in online gambling, where slot machines are categorized by their level of volatility.

Volatility refers to the risk of each individual slot machine, suggesting how frequently or infrequently the machine gives out a win, as well as how large or small that win might be.

There are different levels of volatility and they are measured on the Volatility Index (VI). 

That isn’t to say that the slot machine will always behave like this, though, because volatility is just a measure of the average experience with the machine.

The size of its wins could increase or decrease from the average, and the machine could trigger wins more or less frequently than the average. 

How Is Slot Volatility Measured?

In order to give people a clear idea of a slot machine’s volatility and its average performance, the volatility is measured in three different levels.

These are: low volatility, medium volatility, and high volatility.

However, there can be sublevels in between these, specifically medium-low volatility and medium-high volatility. 

As you can imagine, low volatility slot machines are expected to give out wins more than high volatility slot machines, but this is not definite and it is still only the average performance of the individual slot machine.

However, since the volatility is lower, the average payout is going to be lower too, whereas a high volatility win would be rarer but often offer a bigger payout.

“Often” is a key word here, because it’s important to stress again that slot volatility is just the average performance of the machine, not anything definite.

For example, it could be the case that somebody gets a win on a high volatility slot machine and they only get the type of small payout that one would expect from a low volatility machine.

What Are Low Volatility Slot Machines?

Low volatility slot machines are ones that are expected to give out more wins than higher-volatility machines, but those payouts are typically going to be small.

These slot machines are known to be steadier and safer bets, because the average risk is measured to be lower. 

When it comes to the small payouts, they can tend to be anything from 250 to 500 times the amount of the bet. 

What Are Medium Volatility Slot Machines?

As you can imagine, this is the middle ground when it comes to slot machine volatility, not offering the low risk and small rewards of the low volatility slot machines, but not being as risky as the high volatility machines. 

As a result, you get a blend somewhere between low risk and high risk, which can make using these slot machines a frustrating experience.

With that being said, they (on average) offer a higher payout than low volatility slot machines, and so that’s why some people play them. 

What Are Medium-Low And Medium-High Volatility Slot Machines?

As we mentioned earlier, there are sublevels of slot volatility: medium-low and medium-high volatility. These are quite self-explanatory, but offer slightly less or slightly more risky variations on a medium volatility slot machine. 

A medium-low volatility slot won’t offer quite the risk of a medium volatility machine, but also won’t be as minimally risky as a low volatility machine.

On the other hand, a medium-high volatility slot won’t carry the average risk of a high volatility machine, but it will be a bit riskier than a regular medium volatility slot machine. 

What Are High Volatility Slot Machines?

What Does Volatility Mean In Slots? (1)

High volatility slot machines are the riskiest slot machines to play, offering (on average) the rarest frequency of wins, but offering the highest (on average) payouts in the uncommon event of a win. 

In terms of those payouts, a player could win between 3000 and 10,000 times the amount of their initial bet.

However, as we said earlier, it could also be the case that the win is as small as the small payouts you’d expect from a low volatility slot machine.

It can go either way, and the volatility level is only based on the average performance of the specific slot.

These types of slot machines are most commonly used by people with lots of money, because they know that they can afford to lose plenty with such a risky machine.

On top of that, these people will also usually have more patience and time. 

Is Slot Volatility Stated?

The volatility of a slot machine is often not going to be common knowledge, because a lot of online casinos won’t share the volatility with their players.

How Do People Determine Slot Volatility?

As a result, players often determine slot volatility themselves. This is expensive to do with a paid one, because it requires a lot of play, so use a free version of the machine to try it out.

It’s common that progressive slots are more volatile, and machines that offer very infrequent bonuses will often payout higher. 

Additionally, the higher a machine’s Return To Player rate, the lower its likely volatility. 

Final Thoughts

Volatility is a measure of how risky (on average) a specific slot machine is.

Richie Thames

Hi, my name is Richie Thames and I have been a software developer for 12 years. I have worked on some of the most popular online slot machine games, including ones you still see in online casinos today. While there is no simple trick to win the jackpot, there is power in learning about your game before playing. With several decades of experience under my belt, I created this website in the hopes of helping newbies on their journey. Please, enjoy my website, and I hope you learn something valuable about the art of gambling. Who knows, maybe you’ll be the next jackpot winner?

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