This is an area of online casino that plays a key role in the dynamics of a player’s slot experience. In this guide we will cover all of the aspects that relate to slot volatility at UK slot sites and all of the ins and outs such as technical components and the implications of volatility on gameplay.
Determining the volatility of a slot depends on the complexity of the algorithms that are applied to the slot design, as these can have an effect on payout frequency and level of randomness during the gameplay.
In simplest terms, to understand the level of volatility that a slot has it is worth getting an idea of how often the slot pays out and for how much. Slots that go a long time without paying out generally will yield a big payout and as a result, are known as ‘high volatility slots’. On the other hand, slots which payout frequently and issue a lower amount of winnings at a time can be identified as ‘low volatility slots’.
In 1981 the first slot machines were brought to the world, when Sittman and Pitt of Brooklyn, New York developed what was known as a ‘gambling machine’, which was an early version of the modern-day slot machine, which contained five drums that held a total of 50 card faces and which revolved around the game of poker.
The popularity of these soon increased and before long, every bar and hostelry had one of these in their establishment. However, due to the extensive number of ways in which there was to win, it became nearly impossible to create a way for a machine to issue automatic payouts.
That was until Charles Fey, who resided in San Francisco, California established a much simpler machine that had an automatic mechanism, containing three spinning reels and five symbols. These included horseshoes (clubs), hearts, diamonds, spades and a Liberty Bell, which subsequently is what gave its name to this new machine.
As such, Fey replaced 10 cards with three reels instead of the previous five drums, which significantly reduced the complexity of reading a win and as such made it easier for Fey to come up with a way in which the payout system became more effective.
Due to the success and popularity of this revolutionary new machine, Fey found it hard to keep up with the demand, which opened up possibilities for other manufacturers to build on this model with other variations, including Herbert Mills from Chicago who in 1907 developed the Operator Bell.
It wasn’t until 1963 however, that revered slot company Bally introduced a more sophisticated upgrade, as gambling became increasingly accepted, especially in early Las Vegas based casinos.
These were the first-ever electromechanical slot machines and were a feat of intelligent and precise engineering with the ability to calculate considerably more accurate payouts in the form of monetary value. Previously, slot machines in hostelries paid out in different prizes such as drink tokens.
With the introduction of the ‘Money Honey’ slot machine from Bally, this allowed a payout of up to 500 coins, based on an outcome calculated by the machine itself.
Ever since as technology has developed, slot machines have become even more advanced as other slot developers have found ways to innovate in order to increase the size of the market and customer base, with the gambling industry experiencing major growth in the decades that followed.
The major breakthrough came at the turn of the new millennium with the internet boom, which allowed gambling companies (and even household bookmakers) to add an online casino to their offering, with a multitude of slots. Thanks to computers and technology which enabled the ability to program payouts and volatility using mathematical algorithms, for the first time, this made it far easier to track payouts and measure volatility.
Differences between online slot volatility compared to physical slot machines
The vast majority of gambling companies now use third party suppliers who design and develop all of their slots which means, typically many online casinos now choose to have a mix of slots that differ in their volatility levels.
It is far easier to play slots online regardless of the volatility levels, due to the fact that, regardless of the volatility levels, some slots may offer you the chance to play using free spins first, without making a deposit. This allows the player to get used to the slot and also ascertain the payout frequency in 10-30 spins.
With physical slot machines in a casino for example, it is possible to change the volatility levels of a slot machine, however this requires a specialist engineer to take it apart and alter the relevant components.
There is every chance you can monitor a physical slot machine easier to determine when it might payout, compared to an online slot. This is because, simply by observing the behaviour of a slot over a certain period of time, can give you a clue when its next payout might occur. Also, physical slot machines are only able to hold a certain amount of coins and cash before a payout is triggered, making it potentially easier to identify when this might be.
Different levels of Slot Volatility
Slot machines have different levels of volatility which are determined generically as ‘high’ and ‘low’. It is very rare that two of slots will have exactly the same level of volatility however, whether they are low or high, though each slot will be programmed to payout within a certain time period and within a certain range.
It is often considered that slots which have a low level of volatility are more suited for those who are new to the world of online casino, due to the fact that they do not have to wait a long time for a potential payout, or wager a vast amount. This ensures that new players do not become disillusioned, because they are at least, potentially getting a little bit back every few spins and as such, stay interested.
Slots with low volatility
Starburst, by NetEnt is one of the most popular online slots in the industry and is featured, often prominently across most online casinos. Having first hit the market in 2012, this highly interactive five reel slot with 10 paylines is fast paced and enthralls even the most casual player with its exciting graphics and regular payouts.
Grim Muerto by Play’n Go is a particularly engaging slot based on the Mexican national holiday; Day of the Dead, celebrated every November. Featuring five Wild reels, and free spins aplenty, there is a lot to love about this slot as well as generous payout frequency should you hit the right combinations.
Irish Eyes 2 by NextGen was a highly anticipated sequel slot, which was upgraded significantly. Featuring typical Irish themes such as catchy, traditional music, national emblems and a lot of engaging green, the slot also presents plenty of opportunities for players to win with regular bonuses and free spins.
Slots with high volatility
These slots require patience and are only usually played by gambling enthusiasts who have a strong amount of experience in the industry and who can understand how they work. Typically, players who know what they are doing won’t spend over a certain amount of time or funds on such slots, because they will come to a conclusion upon reaching this point. There are quite a number of high volatility slots, many of which are well known, though maybe not known by most to have this volatility level.
The Dead or Alive slot by NetEnt is known as being super highly volatile though since its release to the market in 2009 it has been one of the most popular in the industry and is known for its hefty payouts. While the graphics do leave a lot to be desired, the gameplay couldn’t be simpler.
Raging Rhino by WMS is a highly addictive slot for its gameplay and colourful graphics, though is arguably the most volatile slot ever produced by its developer. While it is easy to play, there is a feature called “Any Way”, which means that there are 4096 ways in which to win on any one spin, with the possible rewards, huge.
While Microgaming aren’t a developer who is particularly well known for having high volatile slots, despite their revered reputation in the marketplace, their popular slot, Immortal Romance is one which has considerable volatility. Released in 2011, the graphics are quite dated, however, the gameplay is still quite addictive.
Slot volatility is an important factor to consider if you are new to the world of online casino and make sure you do your research is vital in ensuring that you do not lose faith quickly. Ultimately, higher volatile slots are best suited for those who have been around the industry for a long time and understand that, fundamentally, patience is required.