Understanding Slots Variance and Volatility

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We wouldn’t go as far as to say that understanding slot variance and volatility is a bona fide slot strategy. However, we would say that if you want to increase your chances of success playing online slots games, then having a good grasp of these concepts will certainly help. In a way, that sort of makes understanding slot variance and volatility important, and that is why at Canada Online Casinos.com, we want to briefly talk you through them.

What is Slot Variance and Volatility?

First and foremost, you must understand that variance and volatility are essentially the same thing. It doesn’t matter which term you prefer to go with (we like a combination of both). Variance and volatility both essentially mean: “how often does this slot pay out its winnings, and what kinds of winnings does it pay?”. Another way to describe variance and volatility is “risk”. As in, how much risk is involved when you play the game?

As well as slot variance and volatility, you should also have a grasp of what RTP rates are in slots. The simplest way to explain this to Canadians (without complicated equations) is to say that the RTP determines how much a slot will pay back for every $1 you wager on it. It doesn’t mean that you will get that money on each spin. It means that the slot will (over time) see the casino keep X-percent of that $1 bet, and pay back X-percent to all players. The key part here is all players, so not just you.

Let us take a look at how these work:

Variance and Volatility in Action

There are three main types of variance or volatility in slot games. Some slots allow you to alter the volatility level in games as you play, but most do not. These three volatility or variance levels include:

  • Low: A low variance slot will often pay out winnings to players. However, these winnings are usually worth very little. The basic idea here is that you can play for a long time, as you will usually recoup most of your stakes over time, with big wins coming very rarely. These types of slots are ideal for players on small budgets.
  • Medium: The average slot game. It can provide big wins or small wins, frequently or often. Ultimately, the slot has been designed to be as random as it possibly can be.
  • High: Highly volatile games pay out large sums of money. The downside is that they don’t do it very often. The idea behind highly volatile games is that you need to win quickly if you are to stay in the game, or you need large balance to sustain you through a losing streak until the next big win comes. Highly volatile games are ideal for players who want a brief slot gaming session.

What about RTP rates, though? They work as follows:

If you were to play a slot machine with an RTP rate of 95%, this means that for every $1 that is wagered on the game (not just by you), the casino will keep 5% of it, and make 95% of it available as winnings for players. This is ultimately paid out in the long-term, not immediately, and that does not mean that you will get 95¢ for every $1 you bet. It simply means that players at the casino will receive 95% of every $1 that is wagered, at some point over time.

If that sounds confusing, consider this: the only thing you really need to know about RTP rates is that the higher the payback percentage (the RTP), the better it is for you. We would avoid most slots which have an RTP of under 94%, and the industry-standard is between 95% and 96%.

Which Option Is Better Suited for Me?

You might be wondering which type of slot variance is for you? Ultimately it is down to you to answer that, and your budget may play a part in helping you determine it. However, here are the reasons to play low variance or highly volatile slots.

Reasons to Play Low Variance/Volatile Games

  • Ideal for long slot sessions
  • Perfect for players with tight budgets
  • Allows you to win frequently, but with smaller prizes paid out

Reasons to Play High Variance/Volatile Games

  • Ideal for short slot sessions
  • Perfect for players who like riskier gameplay but richer rewards
  • Slots won’t pay out regularly but will yield impressive wins when they do

Find Slot Variance and Volatility Online

Canadians can always do their own calculations to determine slot volatility and RTP rates, but this is a major pain, especially if you aren’t very good at mathematics. Why not take the easier path? Most slots feature their RTP rates on their paytable. Moreover, any number of top slot reviews (such as those found here at CanadaOnlineCasinos.com) and the websites of the slot developers themselves will reveal the volatility levels/variance of your favourite slots.


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