Guide to volatility

Guide to volatility

Blowing the lid on volatility

The word ‘volatility’ conjures up many combustible thoughts: volatile chemicals that ignite engines, volatile emotions that lead to heated exchanges… But what does volatility mean in an online casino slot context? Well, if you play your slots right, it might mean you’re in for a red-hot time!

In this segment, we’re going to cover one of the biggest factors that influence your online slots gaming experience – volatility. It’s the difference between a slow, mellow, low-risk game, and the euphoric highs and crushing lows of a high-risk game.

A casino is a casino is a casino, right? How different can one casino be from another? All they do is exchange money for chips, offer games, and then exchange chips for money.

Well, no. No story goes, “Once upon a time, everything was simple, everything was the same, and everyone was happy. The end.”

Every casino – both brick and mortar and online – is unique. Yes, there are similarities, both legislative and game based, but there’s no way to summarise all casinos with just a few simple sentences.

Luckily for you, we have taken the time and effort to really get into the foundations of online gambling: what makes it tick, how it works, what players can expect, and so much more. Here, we offer you all the in-depth guides to online casinos and gambling you’ll need. And we take that promise seriously, which is why we are constantly working to add more guides that cover every aspect of the online casino experience.

In this series of guides, you will find information about jackpots, variance and volatility, online casinos, casino bonuses, withdrawals and deposits, and more.

Why should you use guides?

Casino guides like these can really help enhance your online casino experience. For example, jackpot guides don’t just tell you what a jackpot is; they explain the various types of jackpot, how they work, how to play to win, where to find games with different jackpots, and even who the game developers are.

Casino bonus guides are another super useful way to figure out which online casinos will work best for you. We don’t only look at the types of bonus offered, but explain how they work, the hidden pitfalls to look out for, and ways to make the most of your wagering requirements.

You’ll find enough information here to keep you busy longer than a great game of poker, so dig in, and come out the other side a little more knowledgeable. And if there’s anything you’d like to learn more about that you don’t find here on CasinoPlay, let us know. Happy reading!

By another name, volatility is known as unpredictability. Or, of course, predictability. When it comes to online slot games, volatility is an indicator of how regularly, or predictably, a game will provide winning combinations and, therefore, payouts.

It’s important not to confuse the game’s volatility with its RTP. The return to player percentage of a high volatility game can be similar to the RTP of a low volatility game. Volatility doesn’t indicate how much the game will pay out over time, but rather what you can expect during a single game session.

It’s also not to be confused with variance, covered here, which indicates by how much of a margin you can expect your game session to deviate from the RTP and isn’t based on a specific period of time.

Instead, volatility is all about how frequently you can expect the game to pay out, and how big those payouts will be. Variance and volatility are, however, closely linked, as high volatility games generally (but not always!) show the greatest variance, and low volatility lower variance.

Every slot or video slot game you play has been carefully designed around random number generator (RNG) technology. An RNG produces hundreds of thousands – even millions – of sequences of numbers every single second. Each of the numbers in that sequence will correspond to a symbol or position on a wheel or other variable built into the game and, at the precise instant you hit that play button, the game will display the series of numbers generated through those symbols. This process is completely random. Volatility, therefore, is not controlled by the RNG.

Game designers build in the volatility by carefully planning the game play. The quantity of different symbols that could potentially be contained on the reels, the symbols that are assigned as wild, the number of reels and paylines – all of these can influence the volatility of a game, and that’s just the tip of the gaming iceberg. Games are designed with complex algorithms that will govern the RTP, the volatility, variance and more.

Volatility exists on a spectrum that spans high to low, with a good selection of medium volatility games in between.

High volatility games are characterised by infrequent wins with high payouts. Low volatility games will win much more often, but the prizes will be much lower. Medium volatility games will naturally strike a balance between these two extremes. But that’s really just the beginning.

Thanks to the massive variety of games available in online South African casinos today, you can’t neatly fit all games into one of the three categories. If you take five different games, for example, they could easily be low, low-medium, medium, high-medium, and high. Fit a few more in there, and you could end up with low-low-medium, low-high-medium, high-high-low-medium… you get the idea. Volatility encompasses a wide range of game styles that suit your personal style or mood.

Most people will tell you that there is no way to play slots strategically, due to the complete randomness of the RNG. But we disagree. While it may be impossible to tell when or how much a game will pay out, especially with high volatility games and progressive slots, you can still include slots in your greater online casino strategy.

Most online casinos offer a welcome bonus and may offer several other types of bonus along the way. These are usually subject to wagering requirements, which we cover in much more detail here. As you will note from our wagering guide, slots are frequently used to fulfill those wagering requirements. This is partly because they generally contribute 100% towards wagering requirements. But employing volatility could also benefit you considerably.

For example, if your online casino’s wagering requirement is R20,000 to claim a R2000 bonus, you can play slots to the value of R20,000 to fulfill this requirement. This requirement is fulfilled whether you win or lose on those bets. That means, if you choose a game with low volatility, your bankroll should stay fairly consistent with the game’s RTP, and you could quite easily reach this requirement without the risk of losing big.

The only foolproof way to work out a game’s volatility is to spend a considerable amount of time playing it, and keeping meticulous records of bets, paylines, wins, losses, symbols and more. Then, you would need to spend even more time applying complex mathematical formulae to them to calculate the deviance and the variance… it’s certainly a challenge if you’re up for it, but we wouldn’t hold it against you if you’d rather spend your time enjoying your game play instead.

Most online slot game designers won’t reveal their volatility publicly, but that doesn’t mean this information isn’t available. There are actually plenty of aficionados who have done the maths and provided reviews, articles and game breakdowns that include volatility expectations. You can find reviews like these here, on CasinoPlay.