How to Measure Volatility of Online Slots by Yourself
A rating of online slots (including their volatility)
Online casino players sometimes have to establish the volatility level of a particular online slot on their own. Why? Because:
Some producers of online slots do not provide this information
On the other hand, Volatility is a crucial parameter of any slot game (along with its RTP and winning hit frequency), and it enormously affects overall gambling experience
So to speak, from this article you are going to learn:
Two main factors that affect the volatility in a big way (many guides are missing this part)
Why it is so hard to assess the Volatility level properly
Some other related and hopefully useful info
From the very beginning, Volatility of online slots is not an exact science, and there is no convention across the board on how we should measure it. So when you see an online slot having a particular level of volatility, always take it with a grain of salt. It is a subjective opinion of a slot producer at best, or it can be done by a random guy on the internet like me (even if the guy has some experience in the gambling niche).
That’s why I find the majority of guides on this topic quite controversial and have decided to make the guide of my own finally.
The two main factors that predict the volatility of an online slot
The maximum possible winning that a particular online slot provides is a big factor, no questions about that. The more money you can win the higher level of volatility is to be expected. This is true, because lucrative (sometimes even life changing) prizes must come from somewhere.
However, what is more important is how often you can theoretically win the jackpot (the hit frequency).
Let’s consider these two examples, and things are going to become more clear.
Slot A allows us to win up to x10,000 of our stake (bet per spin), and it happens once in 10,000 spins.
Slot B allows us to win x2,000 of our bet size, and here it is the case once in 1,000 spins, which is 10 times more frequently than in slot A.
As a result, in slot A we theoretically win x10,000 per 10,000 spins, whereas in slot B x20,000 per 10,000 spins. This makes slot B twice more volatile than slot A even though slot B has got maximum possible winning 5 times lower.
Hopefully now you can see how the hit frequency plays a huge role, much bigger actually than the maximum possible winning does.
Why it is actually so hard to measure volatility of online slots
Speaking about the maximum possible winning, it is always disclosed by the slot producer as they are happy to advertise how much money we can win.
On the other hand, the Hit frequency of the maximum possible winning is not given as a rule of thumb. Though without this crucial piece of information, any assessments of the volatility are quite speculative.
Rough ranking of online slots in terms of volatility
I would like to stress out that it is a very rough estimation since we can not assess the hit frequency. But as we have learnt, these two parameters must be estimated only all together. However, this is at least a good starting point which is going to give you a general idea.
High volatility slots: x10,000+ of your stake (bet per spin) as the maximum possible winning
Medium-high volatility slots: x5,000 - x10,000 of your stake (bet per spin)
Medium volatility slots: x3,000 - x5,000 of your stake (bet per spin)
Medium-low volatility slots: x1,000 - x3,000 of your stake (bet per spin)
Low volatility slots: x1,000 and less of your stake (bet per spin)
Anyway, there are definitely low volatility slots with a local progressive jackpot (Holmes and the stolen stones), and high volatility slots with low possible winning (Fortunes of Alibaba). It happens, because, as I said, the hit frequency of the biggest winnings matters even more than their size.
A few secondary factors which in fact do not help a lot
You may have come across these factors which according to so many guides affect volatility:
Paytable distribution. The difference between payouts for 5, 4 and 3 symbols being hit. The sharpness of the difference predicts volatility (for example, x1,000 for 5 symbols and only x10 for 3 symbols)
Multipliers can be very different. In some slots it is modest x2-x3, though in others it can be even x100.
Free spins definitely let us win a lot, so they are also a factor.
Bonus game is another way to win big.
Special features (sticky wilds, cascading reels, etc.) introduce one more opportunity to get a really big win.
All of them are just derivatives from the maximum possible winning. The point is that it does not really matter from where we get our x10,000 win, from win per line or from the bonus game. The only thing that matters, as we have discussed, how much and how often.
So to say, above listed factors are not helpful at all, since they still do not answer our main question “how often”.
Observation is another way to determine the volatility
If you would like to try out a new video slot, but you are not sure if its volatility level is suitable for you, you may just play a few hundreds spins in demo (free) mode. It is going to give you at least a general idea how volatile this particular slot is.
However, do not jump on conclusion right away, because such an experience can be really flawed due to prolonged bad or good runs.
You’d better stick to software providers which make their own volatility estimation (Yggdrasil, Blueprint, Rabcat, Quickspin and some others). This is the most reliable way to assess the volatility as slot producers have got the fullest information.
Compare volatility level only within one particular software provider. Different game producers may have different standards regarding how they estimate the volatility. As a result, high volatility of provider A might not be equal to high volatility of provider B.
If the volatility level is not given by the software provider, stick to popular online slots. In this case the chances are much higher that the community of players have already figured out the true volatility level.
Online casinos with different volatility online slots (all 5 different volatility levels)