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Once players know how to play slots, they become more discerning, staying on the lookout for slots that meet certain criteria, such as RTP, max payout, or minimum bet. But one of the more important yet often overlooked features of real money slots is the volatility. Slot volatility refers to how often and how much a slot pays out on average, and it applies to both slot machines and online slots. Here’s what you need to know about this great indicator when looking for your next favorite slot.

What Is Slot Volatility?

Slot volatility represents how often a slot triggers a win and the typical size of the wins. A slot with high volatility typically pays out big wins spread apart while a slot with low volatility pays out small wins in quick succession. However, all slots can pay out both small and big wins, and any slot can provide a hot streak and a cold streak. Where the slot falls on the Volatility Index (VI) is simply the average experience.

Put Another Way: Think Of Slot Volatility Like Roulette

If you’ve ever played roulette, you know that the more numbers you bet on, the higher you chances of winning. For example, betting on black or red means betting on 18 different numbers at the same time and pays double or nothing. On the other hand, a player could bet on just one single number. That would pay out 35 to 1. Needless to say, players can expect to win the double or nothing bet (low volatility) more often than the 35 to 1 bet (high volatility).

Different Types Of Slots Volatility

The different types of slots volatility include:

  • Low Volatility
  • Medium-Low Volatility
  • Medium Volatility
  • Medium-High Volatility
  • High Volatility

Slots volatility ranges from high to low. The lower the volatility, the more often you’ll win, but the lower the typical payout. The higher the volatility, the less often you’ll win, but the wins will typically be on the higher side.

You can also find online slots with medium volatility as well as medium-low and medium-high volatility.

For example, let’s say you start with $100 at a low volatility slot. If you place $5 bets at a time, you can generally expect frequent wins that range from $1 to $10.

With a high volatility slot, you can play $1 spins 99 times and never get a win, then hit a $300 payout on the 100th spin. Thankfully, you’ll still earn points toward an online slots tournament for every bet.

However, the Volatility Index (VI) only represents the average. A high volatility slot may payout with the frequency of a low volatility slot and vice versa.

The only truly smart way to play the slots is by utilizing Responsible Gaming strategies.

Volatility vs. RTP

Slots volatility is how often a slot typically pays out, whereas return to player (RTP) is how much a casino game pays back to players.

For example, a penny slot machine with an RTP of 90% means the slot pays $90 in winnings for every $100 wagered. Both high volatility and low volatility slots typically have an RTP above 90%.

Like with volatility, RTP represents the average and does not guarantee results. A slot’s RTP of 98% can still mean you’ll lose your entire bankroll – just like you could walk away with the million-dollar progressive jackpot.

For players looking for high RTP and low volatility, check out our list of the best payout slot machines online.

How Can You Find A Slot’s Volatility

You have three potential options for determining a slot’s volatility. Ideally, the online casino will simply tell you the volatility when you click to see its info.

Unfortunately, Golden Nugget (apart of NJ online casinos and Michigan online casino offerings) is one of the only online casinos that display the volatility for every slot. Perhaps this is something US online casinos can improve upon.

Another option is to Google search the slot title with the word “volatility” to hopefully find some information. For example, “Mercy of the Gods Slot Volatility.” If you go this route, make sure to check a couple of different sources to make sure that it’s an accurate Volatility Index level.

You can also try out the slot in demo practice mode, which usually gives you a good idea of the volatility. It’s smart to try a slot in demo practice mode before risking real money anyway. Playing the slot is the only way to know if the game is for you.

High Volatility Slots At US Online Casinos

Some of the most popular high-volatility slots that you can find at online casinos for real money USA include:

While the payouts are infrequent, the wins are often enormous, as made clear by this list of the biggest online slot wins.

Medium Volatility Slots At US Online Casinos

Many players will enjoy the medium volatility slots. These create a nice middle ground by balancing the big and small wins as well as the hot and cold streaks. Here are some of the most popular options:

In fact, those three slots are among the most popular online games in the US.

Low Volatility Slots At US Online Casinos

Low volatility slots are harder to find than high and medium volatility games. But here are a few examples of games that payout low wins with high frequency:

Even at Golden Nugget Online Casino, there’s no way to browse slots by volatility. But if you’re a low-budget slots player that wants to play as long as possible, low volatility games are worth seeking out.

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About the Author

Mike Epifani

Mike Epifani

Casino Content Manager
Mike Epifani is a gambling expert and professional writer with more than a decade of industry experience. His current role is Brand Content Manager at, part of the Catena Media network. Mike has written hundreds of guides on online casinos, casino gaming, sports betting, sweepstakes sites, and lottery play.
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