How to determine the volatility of a Slot Machine

As a slots player you may have read about the volatility or variance of slot machines. While this factor does not affect the overall payout of a slot machine, it does determine the swings that you will experience when playing it. Slots are generally referred to as either high variance or low variance, but how does one determine whether a machine is the former or latter?

Here we will take a look at how to differentiate between the two so that you can select a machine wisely and according to your specific slot play strategy.

Check the Paytables

Slots paytables give players a large amount of insight into how a game is programmed. High volatility slot machines are characterised by a low hit frequency. As a general rule of thumb, the higher the lowest reward is on the paytable, the lower the hit frequency will be.

In other words, if a slot is offering larger prizes, these are generally hit less often, in this way the game compensates for the bigger payouts with larger and longer upward and downward swings or volatility. A slot that pays a mere coin or two on its lowest winning combinations can afford to pay your more frequently than one paying out a minimum of 10 coins.

While one cannot calculate the exact hit frequency of each slot, we are able to make educated guesses about this factor when comparing one machine with another.

The presence of Multiplier Symbols

Slots featuring multiplier symbols generally have a lower hit frequency than machines that do not have these features. In addition, the higher the value of the multipliers, the lower the hit frequency is and therefore the higher the variance.

The winning combinations as a result of multipliers are not listed on the slot’s paytable, but they are still factored into the machine’s payout program and as such, will be compensated for within the payout rate.

While some slots with multipliers offer good hit frequencies, in general, they are still lower than those without them.

Analysing Game Play

It is rather easy to identify high volatility slots based on the above characteristics. Low variance slots on the other hand are a different story. Merely examining their paytables and looking for the presence or lack of multipliers will not be enough to accurately judge them. This is because some slots will have a low lowest reward on the paytable but still have a high volatility.

The best way to tell if a slot is truly a low variance slot is to play it and analyse your results by tracking your spins after approximately 500 to 1000 spins.

Volatility Combination Slots Strategy

Some slot players like to split their bankroll into two portions, one for high variance slots and the other for low volatility machines. The thinking behind this slots popular strategy is that even though the odds of hitting a big win are lower on a high variance machine than a low variance one, the potential for rewards are far greater. This means that it may be viable to sacrifice a percentage of the odds in exchange for the potential to earn more.

The only downside to this strategy is that high volatility slots tend towards longer cold streaks, which means that you’ll require a larger bankroll to keep your game play going in order to overcome it.

This is why players split their money. So if they can’t sustain their high volatility game play, they can switch over to low volatility games and recoup some of the losses through lower, more frequent payouts. In doing this, the bankroll requirement is reduced.