Understanding Variance In Online Slots

Published: March 11, 2017

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Volatility and variance are two words often used in describing online slots. Actually both words mean exactly the same thing. High variance online slots are those that deliver really big wins but do so not very frequently. Low variance online slots deliver wins much more frequently, but the wins are of much smaller amounts. Neither type is better than the other. Each type caters to a different type of online slots player. High variance slots attract online casino players who are willing to risk their bankrolls, but are interested only in big wins. Low variance online slots attract players who like to conserve their bankrolls and are willing to accept small wins. This article gives some pointers on assessing the variance of online slots.

Progressive jackpot online slots are the most volatile. The top payout keeps on increasing till the jackpot is hit. Within the progressive jackpot genre the variance is not the same. At one end you have video slots like Mega Moolah that have been paying more than $6 million per hit on an average approximately once in two months. On the other hand there are progressive slots like LotsaLoot with average payouts of about $20,000 on an average of 5 days. In between this range each player will find a progressive slot whose variance they are comfortable with.

It is far more difficult to assess the volatility in regular video slots because there are several factors that independently come into play. The first of these is the number of paylines. In the standard 5x3 structure there are 243 possible paylines. The earliest video slots had 9 designated paylines, which meant that only about 4% of the possible paylines could deliver payouts. The top line payouts were routinely 5000 coins or more in such video slots. Now you have video slots with 243 designated paylines and top line payouts of only 500 coins. The 9 paylines video slots obviously have higher variance.

Some video slots offer extremely attractive bonus features. For example there are a large number of free spins with big payout multipliers. In addition there are features like wild symbols that stick on the reels for the remainder of the free spins. So when you trigger such bonus features you will reap rich harvests. Therefore it is obvious that these features will not trigger as frequently. The simple conclusion is that online slots that have lucrative bonus features will have high variance.


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