What is Slot Variance?

In essence, the slot’s variance refers to the amount of risk involved with each slot machine. The term applies to online and land based gambling. Slot variance is of vital importance when you consider what type of slot machine best suits your needs. In effect, slot variance refers to the frequency of winning and the amounts won on a particular slot machine: a low variance slot pays small amounts regularly, and a high variance machine pays much bigger amounts, but less frequently. Some players call high variance slots ‘streaky’ and this term is meant to refer to the long periods when there are no wins in between the bigger wins.

High and Low Slot Variance

With online slots (and slots found at land based casinos) the range of variance is not limited to high or low – there are many middle variance slots as well. The variance of the slot is not advertised as a rule explicitly. Most often players need to refer to the casino game’s individual paytable and make some calculations in order to arrive at an estimation of whether the slot offers low or high variance. If you look at a game’s paytable and find that when you land 3 or 4 of the same icons it pays a relatively low amount, but landing 5 icons pays out substantially more (let’s say 10 times the amount paid for 3 or 4 icons) it is most probable that you are looking at a high variance slot machine. If the paytable shows that 5 identical icons do not pay that much more than 3 or 4 of the same icons (let’s say on average 3 or 4 times more) it is likely that you are playing on a low variance casino slot. These calculations do not, however, apply equally well to all slots. In the end, the most reliable means of determining the slot’s variance would be to view the software provider’s specifications for the slot.

Yet it is often difficult to get hold of the manufacturer’s specifications and another fun and easy way to get a reasonable idea of a slot’s variance is to play a free version of the casino game for a while. This way you get to see what the slot’s payout rate is and you do not have to worry about losing your money in the process. When you have played the slot you are interested in for quite a while check your virtual credits: if your credits have not gone down by much and you have steadily made many small winnings the slot is probably low variance. However, if you lost your virtual credits very quickly or landed a substantial win during your free play, the machine most likely offers high variance.

Choosing Low or High Variance: Consult Your Budget

Understanding the different variances will help you determine which casino game best suits your pocket. If you decide to play a high variance game, to give yourself a reasonable chance of winning, you will need a bigger budget than you would if you were to play a low variance machine. You need a larger budget as you have to be able to sustain many rounds without wins if you want to play high variance casino games. On the other hand, if you do not have a huge bankroll, you can try your luck at low variance games – it is less likely that you will win a major jackpot, but you will be able to play for longer and are less likely to lose all your money.

Types of Low and High Variance Casino Games

Good examples of high variance slots include progressive jackpot slots, where the jackpot can be a life-changing amount, but pays out somewhat infrequently. Classic 3 reel slots, on the other hand, are often low variance and it is for this reason that these slot machines are very popular in pubs and other leisurely settings where people are more interested in extending their play.
Many high variance slots often include wild or scatter symbols that produce big winnings if players land multiples of these bonus icons. With many high variance games you also need to bet the maximum amount of credits in order to win the biggest prize the slot offers. Thunderstruck 2 and Immortal Romance are considered good examples of high variance games: both games offer the potential to win big with scatters and wilds and although you do not win all the time with these slots, when you do, the prizes are certainly worth the wait.

Understanding the Difference Between a Slot Machine’s Payout Percentage and Variance

A common misperception is that a slot’s variance is related to its payout rate. This belief is completely untrue; a casino game with a high variance can also have a high payout percentage. A slot machine’s payout percentage never changes – even after a major jackpot has been struck – and refers to the total amount of money played through the machine that will ultimately be given back to players. It is important to bear in mind that the period over which this sum of money will be returned to players is not fixed and, as such, the payout percentage will probably not affect your play in any measurable way.

Which is Better, Low or High Variance?

Ultimately, whether high or low variance is better is a matter of personal taste and depends on the player’s gambling habits. Many people who gamble infrequently want to play high variance games because they are solely interested in the possibility of winning a large jackpot that could alter their lives, but for many others gambling is a recreational pastime and such players feel that play should be extended as long as possible. Always bear in mind that all casino games are entirely random and even if you stick to low variance games it does not necessarily mean that you are guaranteed to win. Players should never play in the hopes of making back money they have already lost. That said, taking note of a slot machine’s variance helps you determine which casino games better suit your preference.