Slot Machine Volatility Calculation

Slot Machine Volatility Calculation

Many factors affect the payout on slot machine games, and volatility is an important one. Determining the volatility of a slot machine may be quite tasking. This is because most games do not display each game’s volatility for players. Fortunately, there is a way you can calculate slot volatility using certain statistics. This article will explain slot machine volatility calculation for USA players. Keep reading.

What Is Volatility

Outside of the gambling industry, especially in finance discussions, the term “volatility” is commonly used in relation to stock risks. On the other hand, volatility among online gamblers is a measure of a game’s average payout size and how frequently one is likely to win or lose at it.

In simple terms, volatility shows how difficult or easy it is to win a game.

Risk, Variance & RTP

Risk, variance, and Return to Player percentage (RTP) are common terms you will frequently encounter if you are into gambling. Volatility is related to the return-to-player percentage (RTP), but they shouldn’t be confused with each other as they are two separate terms. RTP is a percentage of the total amount gambled by the player that the casino pays back over time. Likewise, many use variance and volatility interchangeably, although few know that the two terms have slight differences. While variance puts a value on the winning combinations you can expect to get over the long term; volatility will let you know your likelihood of winning over a short period.

There was a time when only poker players used the word “variance.” Now, though, both variance and volatility are used in slot games to describe the risk factors of a game and how often players can win.

Important Factors for Calculation of Slot Machine Volatility

Sometimes, you will see the slot machine volatility of a game as a star rating. For instance, if you find a game with a rating of 1 star, this means that the slot has very low volatility. However, you won’t see this often, so it is best to know how to figure out the volatility on your own. Below are factors to consider when determining slot volatility.

Bets & Paytables

The bet size is a crucial variable in any game, whether at the reels or tables. The amount you put in the slot will influence the size of your winnings and the prizes you will get from bonus games. For a high-volatility slot, the minimum bet players can place will be higher than for those with low volatility. This reflects in the winnings, which is quite a considerable amount, corresponding to the high risk you’ll take by going all the way out while placing their bets.

You should not overlook the paytable when determining a slot’s volatility. It summarises the combinations available to land a win and the payouts you are likely to get from the slot machine.

Most of the time, slot machines that pay a small amount have numerous winning combinations on the reels, whereas those with higher payout values have very few.

Bonus Rounds & Intensity of Other Bonuses

Most slot machines feature bonus rounds that add to the thrill of the game. Bonus offers you will often see as you play on the slot machine include free spins, bonus games, respins, scatter symbols, and wildcards. Not only do they make the game more fun, they usually help in slot machine volatility calculation. In most situations, the value of the bonus prizes affects slots’ volatility. If the payout from a bonus round is huge, such a slot will usually have high volatility. The rate at which bonus rounds are activated influences the payout, which invariably affects the volatility. For instance, a bonus round that comes up once after every 30 spins will have a higher value than one that comes up after every two spins.

Random Symbols & Cascading Reels

Random features like wild symbols and scatters affect slots’ volatility. If a slot machine features extra scatters or more wild symbols on the reels, they usually lead to more rewards, thereby increasing the payout from the game. A cascading reel is a feature that removes winning combinations from the reels as soon as they occur to create more space for potential wins. This increases the slot’s volatility as there is the possibility of winning more payout with a single spin.

Winning Ways

Winning ways are also important when determining slot machine volatility in the USA. Nowadays, there are various ways to win in several slots. You will find online casinos promising hundreds of ways to win. These slots have reels that accommodate different numbers of symbols, sometimes up to 12 icons. While this feature increases the chances of winning, it reduces the volatility of the slot machine, causing the frequency of payouts to be irregular.

Types of Slot Machine Volatility

Slot machines vary in their volatility. There are three primary levels; high, medium, and low. Often you’ll also find some in between. Those are the mid-volatility slots: medium-high and medium-low.

High & Medium-High

With high-volatility slot machines, you can land a huge payout when a win comes. The disadvantage is that it is associated with dry spells in which you spin for an extended period with nothing coming forth. High volatility slots have the most risk, but they guarantee a large payout if you win. If you are not big on taking risks or don’t have enough bankroll, this type of slot is not for you.

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The medium-high volatility slots look like the highly volatile ones, although they are not entirely the same. The relationship between them is in terms of the payout amount and how often symbols combine to form winning combinations. You can play the medium-high volatility slot and occasionally enjoy some small and huge wins. This volatility is an excellent choice if you are a high roller with enough bankroll to spend.

Medium & Medium-Low

Slots with medium volatility take their place between the extremes. A medium-volatility slot pays wins that can either be small or mid-sized throughout the game. When you play a medium-volatility slot, you will not deplete your bankroll as quickly as when you play a highly volatile one. On medium-low slots, you can expect to have more winning combinations. Although most will result in small wins, they have more frequent payouts and lesser risks than high-volatility slots.


Low-volatility slots offer players a chance to spin for much longer and win the game with little money. This type of slot rarely has huge jackpots, but the payout frequency is higher than slots with higher volatility. While these games may not be as intriguing as other volatility types, they still allow players who have limited bankrolls to play and win with what they have.

Guide for Slot Machine Volatility Calculation

If you are an ardent slot player, you may wonder how the calculation of slot machine volatility in the USA works. The fact is there is no golden rule for calculating slot machine volatility. However, you can find the volatility of a slot game by doing any of the following:

  • Check the information about the slot on the gambling site.
  • Play the demo version of the game to determine its volatility.
  • Search for the volatility of the game on the internet.

How to Play Casino Games

Playing slot machine games is still one of the easiest ways to calculate volatility if you cannot find the ratings anywhere, either on the machine or on the internet. Like any other game, once you play long enough, you will discover the pattern the slot uses in terms of the frequency and the amount it pays per win. With this, you can do the calculation or at least get an idea of the volatility. This method is not always prudent, as your bankroll will be on the receiving end. An alternative is to play the free version since the volatility of a slot game is the same either in the real game or in free demo mode.

Slot machine game demo
You can play the free version since the volatility of a slot game is the same

Below is a step-by-step guide to playing slot games at an online casino:

  1. Select the best online casino for you. Once you have done that, choose a slot machine that catches your fancy.
  2. Next, check out the paytable to find the values of each symbol on the slot reel. This will help you know which ones to aim for as the game proceeds.
  3. Select the number of paylines you would love to use.
  4. Finally, spin the reels.

Determine the RTP

Since the RTP is linked to slot volatility, determining the value of the former can help calculate the latter. A slot game with a high RTP value will usually have a low volatility, and vice versa.

How to Choose Slots With Right Volatility Value

Knowing how to calculate volatility is not enough. Choosing a slot machine with the right volatility is essential too. This naturally depends mainly on the type of gameplay you love and your budget. If you enjoy the thrills that come with taking significant risks with your money and playing it safe does not appeal to you, then high volatility slots are for you. To play a high-volatility slot, you must have enough bankroll at your disposal.

On the contrary, you should choose low-volatility slots if you prefer getting frequent wins and don’t mind the small amount it turns out.

Low-volatility slots are for players who just want to play for fun and don’t expect to become wealthy from the game suddenly.

The medium-volatility slot is ideal for players who wish to win considerable sums of money but do not want to suffer through long periods of spinning the reels with no win.

With slots being famous and a favorite of many, most online casino sites have a variety of slots from different providers available for their customers. With so many options, making your choice might be confusing.

Slot machine games
Most online casino sites have a variety of slots from different providers

The best online casino sites offer you a variety of slot games with great RTP and volatility ratings. Here are some online casino sites with slot games we recommend.

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Slot volatility describes how often players win at the game over a brief period and the value of each win per spin.

The high volatility slot pays more than its counterparts, although less frequently. They have features like the bonus rounds, which lead to more wins and then more payout, the value of which is more substantial because the extra features don’t come often.

Yes. You can do this by examining some of the slot’s characteristics, like the bonus rounds, paytable, and bet size. Usually, low-volatility slots have lower minimum betting limits when compared to highly volatile ones.

The low-volatility slot machine is the best to play to get small but frequent wins.

A slot with a high RTP offers players more chances of winning. The higher the probability of winning, the less volatile the game.

Publication Author
Donald Peterson
Author of articles
Donald Peterson is an avid gambler from Edmonton, Alberta, who also writes about his experience with casinos. He’s been in the business for over 10 years, following the ever-changing industry landscape. His articles are aimed at helping beginners with choosing casinos, suitable games, and strategies.
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