What Is Slots Variance?

Occasionally we talk about ‘variance’ in our reviews but it’s worth explaining in a little more detail what variance is in terms of playing online slot. We talk about games having a ‘low’ or ‘high’ variance but not everyone will be aware of what those terms mean so read on to find out more.

Variance is a term which describes how a slot pays out; we often, but not always, know what percentage of your investment you will theoretically get back but this is not what we are talking about here. Essentially we are referring to whether a slot pays out little and often or vice versa. Low variance games pay out lots of small payouts and high variance games pay fewer large prizes. Where there’s a low and a high there is of course always a medium and these will pay out somewhere in the middle.

How Do I Tell Which Games Are High And Which Are Low?

The easiest but most expensive way to determine the variance is to just play the slot. If you are rarely hitting small wins but occasionally landing big wins then it’s a high variance machine.

However if you don’t mind searching through the paytable then you can find some clues here; what you are looking for is the difference in payouts between winning combos of three or four symbols compared to the payout for five symbols. If the prize for five symbols is significantly higher than the others then this is usually a high variance slot. If the prize amounts are lower and closer together than it’s more likely that this is a low/medium variance machine.

Creating Your Own Variance

Creating your own variance is actually quite useful because you can continue to play your favourite game in a different way. Firstly it’s important to note that you can’t change a high variance game to anything lower – this only works one way.

All you need to do is fire up your favourite low variance game, increase the stakes and reduce the active paylines. You will be less likely to win the smaller, regular amounts but when you do strike lucky the prize will be based on your larger bet!

Pros And Cons

High Variance – Play these slots if you have a large bankroll and a high tolerance to risk; the rewards can be high but it’s pretty easy to run out of money before you land any wins. It’s not unknown for beginners to suspect they are playing a rigged game when they fail to land a win over many spins but this is not the case.

Read more about high variance slots here.

Low Variance – These are ideal if you are something of a low roller and you want to maximise your playing time. The disadvantage is that you are unlikely to land any life changing wins but of course many of us play for the entertainment as much as the potential profit.

Read more about low variance slots here.

Medium Variance

You still need a decent sized bankroll for an extended session on these games but you’ll get more playing time for your buck than with higher variance and bigger wins then low variance.

Read more about medium variance slots here.