What Is Volatility in Casino Games and Why Does It Matter?

Volatility in Casino Games

Love chasing big jackpots or prefer steady streams of small wins when playing your favourite casino games?

Volatility is the key!

Let's discuss what it is and why it matters.

Understanding Volatility

In a nutshell, volatility tells you how a game pays out.

A casino game can be of:

  • High Volatility: paying big wins infrequently (e.g. slot games with life-changing payouts). You can spin for a very long time without much happening, then suddenly—boom!—a huge win.
  • Low Volatility: paying smaller wins frequently. It's great for keeping your bankroll ticking over and playing for longer.
  • Medium Volatility: the happy middle ground! These games give you moderate wins and then sometimes something bigger.

The Technical Bit: Standard Deviation and RTP

Volatility isn't just a gut feeling—it's math.

Standard deviation measures how win distribution varies.

High deviation means big ups and downs, common in high-volatility games. Expect long dry spells and sudden spurts of high-value wins.

Conversely, low deviation means steady streams of smaller wins—typical in low-volatility games.

The standard deviation is connected to the distribution of a game's RTP, which shows how much it pays out long-term as a percentage.

In low-volatility games with low deviations, RTP is evenly spread, so you'll likely get close to the claimed percentage on each gambling session.

But in high volatile games with high deviation, RTP swings widely. Most sessions pay out much less than claimed, which is compensated by rare occurrences of big wins that can make the RTP skyrocket.

The Psychological Factor

Gambling is about the thrill you feel.

The rush of chasing a massive win on a high-volatility game is different from the steady satisfaction of frequent wins on a low-volatility game.

What gets you going is totally your choice.

Why Volatility Is a Big Deal

Playing games based on volatility is purely a strategic move.

Here's why:

  • Your Bankroll is Everything: high volatility can be tough on your bankroll as losing streaks are common. On the bright side, you get shots at massive wins. Your bankroll stays steadier with low-volatility games, making them ideal for tighter budgets and longer play sessions.
  • Managing Your Playstyle: volatility influences how you adjust your bet size. Larger bets in low-volatility games and smaller bets in high volatility is a common strategy.
  • The ‘Chasing Losses' Trap: it's a recipe for disaster with high-volatility gambling. Losing streaks can tempt you to keep betting, hoping for a big win. But there's no guarantee. Responsible gambling is knowing when to quit.

Volatility Across Casino Games

Understand how volatility plays out in your favourite games:

Slots

Slots are the kings of volatility!

From old-school classics with low variance to flashy modern ones with big payout promises to progressive jackpots that could change your life, they've got it all!

  • Examples of High Volatility Slots: Immortal Romance, RIP Tombstone, Dead or Alive 2, Razor Shark
  • Examples of Low Volatility slots: Starburst, 1428 Uncharted Seas, Butterfly Staxx, Starmania

Blackjack

Blackjack games generally have very low volatility. If you play smart and beat the dealer, you can rack up those small wins.

But it's a game with a portion of skill in it. Your decision in each hand can be more or less profitable, which affects volatility.

To keep it low-risk, stick to ‘basic strategy'. This is a cheat sheet on how to play each hand perfectly for minimized volatility.

Roulette

In roulette, you've got choices!

Bets on individual numbers are highly volatile and risky, but potentially and satisfyingly rewarding.

Meanwhile, ‘red' or ‘odd' bets are of low volatility, offering smaller but steadier payouts.

Finding a Game's Volatility

Unlike RTP which is readily available information in all games, the volatility of a game is seldom mentioned.

Here's how to tell if a game is a wild ride or a smooth cruise:

  • Look for the Max Win: the more a game can pay, the higher its volatility. Anything under 1,000x is low and over 10,000x is high. With some games offering 300,000x these days, volatility can be off the charts!
  • Check Casino Info: the best online casinos reveal a game's volatility. Jackpot!
  • Do Your Research: Google-search the game's volatility or check the developer's website. But keep in mind:
    • Not all game providers show this information.
    • Search results may give you mixed answers.
  • Play for Free: while the demo mode might not show you the exact volatility stats, you'll quickly get a feel of it by noticing if the game pays often or makes you wait for big wins.
  • The Player Community: Online forums and review sites hold valuable real-world insights into the volatility of specific games shared by players.

The Power of Choice

There's no ‘best' volatility, only the right volatility for YOU.

Whether you're after huge jackpots or just looking to have a good time playing a game that keeps the fun flowing, understanding volatility helps you make the most of your casino time.

Mattias Fröbrant is a seasoned iGaming journalist with over 8 years of professional experience in the online gambling industry. Having worked with leading gambling companies such as Betsson Group, reviewed over 300 online casino sites, and gambled himself for over 15 years, his deep understanding of the industry sets him apart.
 
With a focus on providing accurate, reliable, and up-to-date information that’s backed by extensive research, Mattias specializes in crafting comprehensive reviews, guides, and news articles related to minimum deposit casinos.
 
His commitment to quality content and meticulous fact-checking ensures that readers can find the best minimum deposit casinos in Ireland and become educated with little to no effort.
 
Get in touch with Mattias on Linkedin.