What is Slots Variance? Casino Terms Explained at Online Casino King.

Posted on May 9th, 2011

Here´s a query we keep getting from our visitors- what´s slots variance? And if enough people ask , we generally write an article (it´s easier to point people to a page explaining the term).

Understanding Slots Variance at a Casino
Slots Variance refers to the level of risk on a slot. It has nothing to do with casino payout, which is a measure of how much money the casino keeps back from the total amount of money being bet to run its business.

Variance, on the other hand, is basically a measure of the risk in a slot. Basically, a low variance slot will pay out lower amounts more frequently, and a high variance slot will pay out bigger jackpots less frequently. And there are a whole load of slots in the middle, of course- it´s a sliding scale, so you also get medium variance slots.

Variance isn´t something that´s generally explicitly advertised by the casinos, but you can sniff out some clues from the paytable.

How do You Work Out Slots Variance?
If you look at the paytable you will get a clue as to the variance. If you see 3 or 4 symbols pays out low, while 5 symbols pays out a lot more (say 10x the amount), then you are probably playing a high variance machine. If the multiple is more like 3x or 4x, then you´re on a low variance game. But it´s not as clear cut as that- the only way you can really tell is to test the slot out statistically, or get hold of the manufacturer´s specs.

One way to get an idea of the variance of a game is to play it in fun or practice mode (that way you don´t spend any money). If after a hundred spins or so you have bagged lots of small wins and your virtual bankroll hasn’t gone down too much – it is probably low variance. If on the hand your balance has been eaten away quickly OR you had a monster win – it is probably high variance.
Another way is to look at the paytable for that game. The button to view it is labeled differently within each casino software, but with the game Some slots games just have to be played to know what the variance is for sure- there are no shortcuts.

If you are playing a high variance slot, you´ll need a bigger bankroll, (or at least play a low coin size if your budget is modest so that you can afford a decent dry run with no winnnings).
Low variance slots are more suitable for players with a smaller budget. Your bankroll will last a bit longer but you won´t be able to win the monster jackpots. It´s a question of distribution of winnings: there´s a finite amount of money to go around- it´s either paid out infrequently in large amounts or more frequently in smaller amounts.

An example of high variance machines would be progressive jackpot  slot machines where players can win a jackpot that can be stratospheric-  in the millions (such as Mega Moolah). While a low variance machine migh be a 3 reel slot machine (like a pub slot) that normally has more modest payouts but on which you will win more frequently.

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