Understanding The Difference Between High, Medium and Low Variance Slots

High and low “volatility” are phrases you will see a lot when reading slot reviews or trying to identify the correct slot to play for your bankroll. But what do they mean? And what about other terms such as high and low “variance”? They are in fact posh terms used to describe the behaviour of a slot.

You may think all slots work from the same modus operandi – all basically paying back between 95 and 99 percent of the money which is played on them – meaning the formula for winning (and losing) is the same. Not so. The frequency of the payouts, the amount paid out and the level of risk involved, varies from game-to-game. There are three main categories: High risk, medium risk and low-risk games. Risk is the same as variance and volatility, here’s how they work:

Low Variance:

If you have a small budget but want to be entertained during a long relaxing online casino session you will probably want to play slots which involve fewer risks. That’s because slots which are labelled as ‘low variance’ will invariably pay out a relatively small win every five to ten spins.  Of course these small wins will fund further spins meaning you are not risking much of your money at any one time. A good way to think of it is as a horse racing punter who places level stakes on favourites race after race. They will win frequently but they will rarely win big.

Medium Variance:

By chance or otherwise, medium variance slots are the most popular of all slots. They will give you a reasonable amount of wins which will be both small and reasonably sized. You can expect much higher value jackpots than those found on low variance slots. If you enjoy taking risks and have a larger budget, medium to high volatility slots are for you as they can produce substantial wins but, obviously, at a less frequent rate.

Mega Variance Mega Jackpots

High Variance:

If you choose to play high volatility/variance games be sure you’re content with not seeing a lot of regular winning action. Significant bonus features will arrive but they won’t replenish your bankroll regularly. These games are all about the thrill of chasing big wins and jackpots. Overwhelmingly the slots with huge progressive jackpots will be of the high volatility variety and that explains why they are labelled as ‘high risk’. You are guaranteed to win less often but, on the flip-side, you could win a lot bigger.


There is no right or wrong in selecting the volatility of the slot you play. It is personal choice through and through. Recreational players who enjoy playing for prolonged sessions will eventually find themselves at low variance slots. Serious players with a bankroll, who like to chase enormous jackpots and are happy to keep investing funds in the pursuit of a life-changing win, will always head to some of the superb progressive jackpot slots. They include the famous Mega Moolah (which holds the world record for the largest ever online slot jackpot). Like we say, it entirely a matter of personal choice.

Want to play slots for free and enjoy free spins? We recommend BoyleSports Casino which has a 100% sign-up bonus for new casino players. Click HERE for more.