If you have ever taken the time to look beyond the surface of any video slot game by reading one of the many game profiles published on review websites or on slot developer websites then you will more than likely have come across the term ‘variance’ or ‘volatility’, expressed as high or low.
Volatility is a key factor in affecting your experience when playing an online slot. But what does it mean and why is it important to understand when choosing your next slot game? In this guide we will explain what variance is and how it impacts the payouts as you spin the reels. Further down the page we will also pick 5 slot games with high variance and 5 with low variance to try next time you play at any real money casino in Canada.
THE DEFINITION OF VARIANCE
Slot variance is a measure of deviation away from the expected payout rate or RTP of a game. A low variance slot will deviate from its advertised RTP to only a small degree whereas a high variance slot will deviate greatly.
In practice this means that low variance slots typically pay out more frequently but in smaller amounts. High variance slots pays out less frequently, but in bigger amounts. This makes high variance slots higher risk but with bigger rewards.
It’s important to remember that, as with all information relating to the maths model of a slot game (RTP, variance and win frequency), these are theoretical measurements that describe the average behaviour of a game. We don’t always get the same experience. Some of us get very lucky and some very unlucky!
LOW VARIANCE VS HIGH VARIANCE SLOTS
The important thing to understand about variance is that it will have a big impact on your game experience. And you should take the time to decide which kind of slots player you are which kind of games you like. To help you, here is a rundown of the characteristics of each.
Low Variance Slot Characteristics
- Low deviation from the advertised RTP
- Regular, smaller wins
- Greater odds of hitting a winning spin each time
- Lower risk gameplay
- Even distribution of wins
- Can be played with a small balance as the regular wins keep topping it up
- Suited to those who want a smooth slots experience where their balance lasts beyond a few spins
High Variance Slot Characteristics
- High deviation from the advertised RTP
- Irregular payouts / Uneven distribution of wins
- Long periods with little or no return followed by short bursts of much larger payouts
- Dramatic win sequences, often triggered by free spins and multiplier combinations
- High risk with long odds of coming away with a winning balance
- Suited to those who like to shoot for the stars and enjoy the ups and downs that come with it
- Often played by slots streamers
- Require a big balance to ride out the low times
Now that you know how low and high variance slot games work and the characteristics of each you can decide what kind of slot player you are and choose from the list of games below. When you’re ready to play, choose one of our Canada Online Slots casinos to play at.
TOP 5 SLOTS WITH LOW VARIANCE
Remember, these are low risk slots with a more even win distribution. Expect regular wins, but don’t expect to win huge jackpots!
Esqueleto Explosivo by Thunderkick
One of our favourite low variance slots of all time is Swedish developer, Thunderkick’s Esqueleto Explosivo, based on the Mexican Day of the Dead. It’s not the best-known game of its type but its notable for its fun mariachi band graphics and soundtrack. Features include Tumbling Wins, Exploding Wilds and up to 32x Multipliers. Plays at 96% RTP.
Jimi Hendrix by NetEnt
One of the rock series from NetEnt, Jimi Hendrix slot has a suitably psychedelic 60s feel and features a few of the best songs from the guitarists back catalogue. The Purple Haze feature is key to scoring wins as it turns all low value icons Wild, the free spins round gives up to five extra wilds and the win multipliers can advance up to 30x. Play at a 96.9% RTP.
Lara Croft Tombraider by Microgaming
Microgaming are famous for their branded movie slots and Lara Croft Tombraider is right up there with the best of them. It features striking graphics from the film all built on a 5×3 reel set and with 15 active paylines in play at all times. Features include free spins with a guaranteed 3x multiplier in each round and random cash prizes in the Tomb Bonus. Plays at 96.56% RTP.
Star Joker by Play n Go
Sweden’s Play n Go may be better known for their high variance grid slots like Reactoonz, but in the case of Star Joker they created an old skool low variance game with a simple but fun set of features. After any win you can gamble to double of quadruple your win by choosing the correct card suit or color. Plays at an RTP of 96.25%.
20 Gold Coins by EGT Interactive
If you like your low variance slots play with some good additional features then 20 Gold Coins by EGT Interactive is a good choice. The main feature is triggered by matching Gold Coins on reels 1 to 4 with identical ones on reel 5. There is also a Mystery Nudge that moves the 5th reel up or down to create a match. Plays at a 95.5% RTP.
TOP 5 SLOTS WITH HIGH VARIANCE
Here are five of the best no-holds barred high variance slots games, packed with features and likely to cause endless amounts of frustration before unleashing a tidal wave of big wins!
Book of Dead by Play n Go
One of best-know and popular high risk slots from Play n Go is the fabulous Book of Dead which combines an ancient Egyptian-theme with simply and fun game mechanics. All the best stuff happens in the free spins round – one symbol becomes a special one and expands whenever it lands to fill an entire reel. This can lead to huge payouts. Play at 96.2% RTP.
Bonanza by Big Time Gaming
Perhaps the most popular high variance slot of recent years is Big Time Gaming’s Bonanza, a gold-mining themed slot with a relentless hillbilly soundtrack and up to 117,649 paylines thanks to the expanding reels Megaways™ format. There are cascading wins and a free spins round with progressive multipliers and payout of over 10,000x. Plays at 96% RTP.
Tombstone RIP by No Limit City
One of the most exciting new slot providers to be making games in recent years is No Limit City. Their focus is on extremely volatile games like this one which has a Wild West theme. There is little to talk of until the free spins round in which huge win multipliers of up to 999x come into play. The game has a top payout of 300,000x! Plays at an RTP of 96.08%.
Immortal Romance by Microgaming
Microgaming’s famous vampire slot, Immortal Romance is famous for many reasons, one of which is its super-high variance. The free spins round is pretty special too. Here there are four Chambers with up to 20 free plays, a 5x multipliers and Rolling Reels. It’s a gamified slot in which you get more free plays each time you trigger the bonus round. Plays at 96.86% RTP.
300 Shields by NextGen
Our final choice for high risk fans is 300 Shields, a fantasy fighting game from SG Digital that has been popular at online casinos since 2014 and offers wins of up to 17,000x. The features like the free spins round are all triggered by collecting shields. It’s possible to earn multipliers of up to 300x! Plays at a 95.3% RTP.
Now you’ve read through our list of recommendations, try them out at any of listed casinos with real money slots.