Low-Variance Slots Explained

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An illustration of a slot reel with three sevens on it and a slot lever. It is surrounded by bright lights and flying gold coins.
BetMGM Jun 20, 2023, 1:33 AM

Slot games are undoubtedly the most popular online casino games among recreational gamblers, primarily because they are the most straightforward casino games to play. There are no complicated rules to digest, simply hit the “spin” button and enjoy their great entertainment value. That said, there are some things you need to know about slots in order to play responsibly and maximize your fun quotient. Whether you’re playing online slots from the comfort of your own home or spinning the reels of cabinet slots at your local casino, you should consider how the volatility or variance of both kinds of slots can impact your game and your bankroll. Read on to find out everything you need to know to get the most out of your experience.

Volatility and Variance

When describing slot games, you’ll often come across the words “volatility” and “variance.” If you’re a more experienced gambler for whom the nitty-gritty matters, there’s a small distinction between these two terms:

  • Volatility: This refers to how frequent or big your wins can be. It’s tied more to a slot’s gameplay element than its variance.
  • Variance: This calculates the expected return to the player over long-term and short-term results.

Casino games such as jackpot slots are about luck because you can’t influence the final results. However, knowing about volatility and variance may help you pick the right type of slot game, one that will give you a better chance of having fun without being too much of a strain on your budget. If you’re not interested in the fine print, you can get by imagining that they mean the same thing. For the sake of consistency here, this blog will stick to variance.

What Is Variance?

Variance describes risk. It’s the ratio of payout size to the frequency of rewards, which means the greater the variance, the more a player stands to win — and lose. Gambling games with the lowest variance are casino table games such as blackjack and baccarat, which offer close to even-money odds. The casino games with the highest variance are progressive slots that offer staggering payouts but with a minuscule chance to win them. You can waste a lot of money chasing after progressive jackpots if you’re not careful. Generally speaking, if you’re new to slots and you have a smaller budget, then low-variance slots are recommended because you won’t be risking too much cash from the get-go.

When you’re playing online slot machines, the term “hit frequency” is used to describe how often a machine may land on a winning combination. Generally, slots with the greatest success rates allow players to win more often but in smaller amounts. That’s what a low-variance slot boils down to. Simply put, you have a greater chance of winning at low bet slots because there’s less of a risk. But even though you stand to win more often, the amount you can win is generally lower than that of medium or high-variance slot machines.

Three of the Best Low-Variance Slots To Try Today

If you’re keen to test the theory for yourself, here are some top-rated online casino games of the slot variety:

20 Golden Coins – EGT

Developed by EGT, this game has a 95.50% return to player (RTP) rate, which means you’re almost always guaranteed to have some wins, although you won’t profit. It comes with a handful of features such as progressive jackpot prizes and its Golden Coin symbols contain random cash prizes inside the 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th reels. If you want to collect these prizes, you need to match them with the Collect symbol on the 5th reel of the slot machine.

Jimi Hendrix – NetEnt

Developed by NetEnt and based on the famous guitarist, this game gives you multiple ways, like the Purple Haze feature, to win a great payout. It has a 96.60% RTP rate over and above its lower variance. This slot gives you several ways to receive a good payout. For instance, when you match three or more scatter symbols, you activate one of four features — such as random multipliers — that can take your best win up to 30x higher.

Star Joker – Play ‘n Go

Created by Play ’n Go, Star Joker has a straightforward approach with 10 pay lines, a 5×3 reel matrix and a 96.25% RTP rate. Additionally, it has a Play’n Go mini-gambling game inside which allows you to double or even quadruple your winnings when you select the correct color or suit. Like a game inside a game, it’s innovative, exciting and offers a truly immersive experience.

Pros and Cons of Low Bet Slots

Fun and games aren’t always just fun and games. It’s important to know which game to choose and why so you can play responsibly and pick the game that best suits your skill level and budget.

Online slots with a lower variance are a great way to get started playing slot machines, especially if you’re new to the game and want to gain some experience. The two main advantages of low-variance slots are that you can enjoy frequent wins at a much lower risk because they provide you with the experience you’re looking for, with the bonus of a high pay-back rate, while extending your slot gameplay.

On the other hand, you risk losing money because your bankroll may gradually decrease after each series of spins. Without the chance of a massive return, it can be difficult to recover those losses. Of course, responsible gamblers already know that the purpose of recreational gambling is entertainment and that they shouldn’t expect to see returns on their spend. Ultimately, this is a lesson in bankroll management that even professional gamblers enjoying live dealer casino games can learn from.

Vary Your Slot Game Experience at BetMGM

One of the great things about slots is just how many of them there are, as you’ll realize when you register at BetMGM. Sports, adventure, fantasy, Greek, Norse, Egyptian and Roman mythology, music, movies and fruit — the list is practically endless. Low, medium and high-variance — it’s all here for you to explore.

Actress Vanessa Hudgens flipping casino chips next to the text "The King of Casinos"
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Our BetMGM editors and authors are casino experts with a wealth of knowledge of the online casino industry at all levels. Their coverage includes company news, game reviews, how-to instructional articles, strategy guides, and editorials showcasing BetMGM’s superior product and game library.

Our BetMGM editors and authors are casino experts with a wealth of knowledge of the online casino industry at all levels. Their coverage includes company news, game reviews, how-to instructional articles, strategy guides, and editorials showcasing BetMGM’s superior product and game library.