We often get asked about how to find less tough, or lower volatility, slot machines. You can’t walk up to a slot and see this information, and only some game makers share the relative volatility of a game on their website.
Trademarks of a Low Volatility Slot
Instead, there are a few ways you as a player can begin to tell the difference between higher and lower volatility slots. These traits can provide indicators of how difficult a game can be, and a game with multiple traits indicative of a low volatility slot machine is likely lower than other options on the casino floor.
This is not an exhaustive list, but can give you some examples of what to look for.
1. What’s the Top Prize?
Higher volatility slots often have bigger top prizes attached to them. A classic Double Diamond machine by IGT has a top prize of about 800x your bet. By comparison, Lightning Link’s grand progressive jackpot starts at 20,000x the minimum bet of the machine.
That’s a massive difference in top prize between the two, and you’d be right to presume that Lightning Link will be more volatile than Double Diamond.
2. How Many Bonuses or Features Are There?
The trend has been to increase the number of bonuses and features on games. There’s often now at least two, some sort of a free games and some sort of a key feature, like a hold and spin. Having these additional bonus types though spreads the money more thinly.
Going back to our original example, Double Diamond has no bonuses or features, so all of the money is in the line hits – no chasing a bonus for the bigger wins. By comparison, Lightning Link has both free games and a hold and spin, so the money is spread thinner. You can still get a big line hit, but it’s more difficult.
3. How Old is the Game?
Older games, as a general rule, are less volatile than their newer counterparts. There has been a continual trend over time to make games increasingly volatile, so finding a classic game on the floor, or even a remake of a classic game, will tend to be less volatile than many brand new games hitting the floor now.
This isn’t a perfect rule – Mega Vault was released a decade ago and it’s more volatile by far than, say, Quick Spin, which came out more recently – but it’s a good general guide.
4. Is the Game a Follow On Theme or Brand Extension?
It’s a pretty common rule that if additional themes come out on the same brand, or extensions of a brand are released, they’re likely pushing on the volatility by raising the bet requirements, adding some sort of additional feature, etc.
The original Buffalo was a 40 credit game. Buffalo Gold added some base game multipliers and the collection of gold heads and bumped it to 60 credits. Buffalo Gold Revolution added the wheel and the random symbol changes on the base game, and now it’s 75 credits. Each step raised the bet, and raised the stakes accordingly. But you can still find the original Buffalo on casino floors if you want that baseline experience with less volatility.
The same can be said for Huff N’ More Puff – it added bonus types and increased the bonus frequency at the expense of the value of the line hits. It became more of a bonus chase game than the original, increasing the volatility in the process.
5. How Often Does it Pay?
One classic sign of how volatile a slot machine is revolves around a term known as hit frequency. Hit frequency is what percentage of the time you get a winning spin on a slot, which is getting paid any sort of amount (even if it’s not your bet back).
Generally speaking, slots with higher hit frequencies pay more often, but smaller amounts, while slots with lower hit frequencies pay less often, but higher amounts.
And that’s a great descriptor for slot volatility too – lower volatility slots pay more often, but smaller amounts, while higher volatility slots pay less often, but higher amounts.
You can’t just look at a slot to see how this works out in practice, but quite often a few minutes of play on one and you’ll quickly be able to tell which side of the coin it falls on.
Takeaway on Low Volatility Slots
If you need a break from those tougher slot games, you can find ones that are a bit easier of a ride. Every slot will have its ups and downs, but like roller coasters you can opt for one with lower highs and lows too!