Slots Variance
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Understand High Slots Variance Vs. Low Slots Variance?

When you play slots at online casinos, you will often find that there is a choice between slots that offer low, medium and high variance. Simply put, the variance of the slot relates to whether there is a high or low risk associated with it.

Casinos offering a good choice of High and Low Variance Slots

Low Variance Slots

Statistically, if you're playing a low-variance slot with a $100 bankroll over 240 minutes you will have a smooth ride. Every once in a while you will win some money but your bankroll will decrease very slowly. Big wins aren't impossible, but it is a statistical outlier. On average, these types of games can be played for a more extended period but your chances of winning are lower as well. Hence why low-variance slots are preferred for wagering casino bonuses. See our list of best low to medium variance slots.

High Variance Slots

The fluctuations on a $100 bankroll over 60 minutes on a high-variance game on the other hand are more volatile and unpredictable. You may initially start out with a series of losses followed by big wins. Over a longer period of time, the casino will always have the edge, but you definitely have a more substantial chance for a high win if you are seeking to maximize a shorter playing time. See our list of best high variance slots.

Can you determine the Variance of a Slot Machine?

Online Slot Paytable
Typical Online Slots Paytable

In the majority of cases, most casinos don't promote the varying levels of their machines openly, and in order to determine the variance of a specific slot, the player should take a look at the slots paytable.

Here is how:

  • Ratio of wins - when looking at the paytable, it is important to note the ratio of wins to the various combinations.
  • Level of payouts - Try to determine the level of payouts for getting 3 or 4 of the same icon in a winning combination, and then compare this to the amount you would receive for getting a 5 icon combination.
  • Larger difference - if the amount you would receive for a 5 icon combination is around 10 times more than you would expect to receive for a 3 or 4 icon combination, chances are you are playing a slot with a high variance.
  • Smaller difference - for low variance slot machines, there is usually a smaller difference between 3 and 4 icon wins, and 5 icon wins.

Does playing a Demo Version help to Determine Slot Variance?

Most online casinos give you the chance to play their slots with virtual money, and this is a great way of getting a 'feel' of how the slot machine works. Here is why:

  • It is also a good way of determining if the slot machine you are playing has a high or low variance, without the risk of losing any real money.
  • The great thing about using this method is that the slots play in exactly the same way in demo mode as they do when you are using real money.
  • After playing a slot in demo mode for a little while, you should take note of your virtual funds. If you used up all of your funds in a short amount of time, or you hit a big win but lost on nearly every other spin, chances are, it is a slot with a high variance.
  • If, however, you have kept most of your money, and you have won smaller amounts on several occasions, you are probably playing a slot with low variance.

Which variance of slots should you play? Are you more suited to Low or High Variance Slots?

  • The amount of money you have at your disposal will determine whether you should play high or low variance slots as explained below.
  • The amount of time you have to play each slot machine will go a long way to determining whether you should opt for a low or high variance machine.
  • If you have enough funds to cover lots of losses then a high variance machine is more suitable for you.
  • If you have the money to wait for the machine to pay out a big jackpot, it could very well be worth the wait in the long run.
  • If you have a smaller budget and plenty of time to spend on playing slots, a slot machine with a low variance will be better for you.

Senior Editor Gayle Mitchell

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Gayle Mitchell is the leading female expert on casino gambling and has written extensively, presented seminars and was editor of four gaming newsletters. She is the author of seven books, 12 Ebooks, and five Tips booklets. Online since 1999, Mitchell has owned and operated 4 gaming websites. Her writing and teaching style is targeted at educating novice and passionate casino players.

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