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January 10, 2023

Casino 101: What volatility means and why it’s important

Every online casino game is measured in different ways. The most popular of elements reviews look into are the theoretical return to player (RTP) rate and its various mechanics Another element that also gets mentioned often but not as frequently as the others is volatility. 

The reason why many reviewers don’t try to bring it up as often as RTP and game elements is that there is no exact qualitative measurement for this part of a game. Instead, it is presented under vague labels namely low, medium, and high. That said, it is easy to understand its concept and what each of its variations means when referring to any casino game. 

Here’s your quick guide to volatility and what it means to casino games:

What is volatility?

Volatility covers two basic aspects of a casino game. The first is how often a win is triggered while the other is how big the size of the payout is everytime there’s a hit. Volatility is high if the rate of winning is low but the potential payout is big. Almost every Bitcasino slots has this level. Likewise, low means winning is more frequent but the payout is generally which Bitcasino live casino games tend to fall into. 

Different levels of volatility

The three levels of volatility define the player’s expectations of the casino game. Unlike the RTP, it’s usually not prominently featured as a spec for the game. Oftentimes, it’s just mentioned in passing. High and low are the most common distinctions but neither is explained under any context. Medium is also used seldom but most often as one of the settings in the casino game you can choose or as an indicator of range. Here’s a clearer description of each volatility level as observed among all Bitcasino games.

Low

Low often refers to games with even money payouts (1:1) or have a fixed paytable. A few examples include baccarat, and blackjack. Bitcasino slots like Starburst from Netent with the standard five rows, three slots, and 10 to 20 paylines. There will be minimal instances when wins would pay lower than 1:1. 

Medium

Medium volatility is the middle of two extremes. That means you have a balanced rate of winning and losing with payouts that are high but no more than 50x the ante. One example of this is roulette where you have plenty of options with varying odds. Payout scale with their likelihood of hitting with outright bets being the riskiest8 as well as the most rewarding at 35:1. 

High

Having high volatility means it pays really well at the cost of lowering the chances of winning to the lowest possible. It’s the common volatility level of popular slot games, usually with jackpot prizes that can hit for 0.01% chance or lower. Bonanza from Big Time Gaming as well as other Megaway slots are all in this category. 

Some don’t have jackpots but they have interacting mechanics that can cause a chain reaction of hitting multiple wins per spin. It is entirely possible to hit the maximum payout, usually more than 10,000x, in Megaways in a single spin. The catch is that most of its combinations are less than 4 of a kind per symbol and pay less than 1:1. 

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In betweens or mix

Some Bitcasino games will be written with two out of three volatility levels but the combination can have different interpretations. Games labelled as having low-medium have shown more frequent hit rate than medium slots but with low payouts. They’re still considered more rewarding than low volatility slots because multiple hits mean they accumulate profits better. 

Medium-high volatility slots tend to have maximum payouts by the thousands but the hit rate is more frequent than a high volatility slot. The low-paying hits are still lower than 1:1 but the hit rate is as frequent as in low volatility games. Thus, it can be described as a medium volatility game but with mechanics enabling jackpot-like payouts. 

Some games can reach both low and high extremes as well as find a balance in between. One such example is plinko, a new category of casino games. There’s one title from each software provider at Bitcasino like Spribe, Smartsoft, BGaming, and Turbo Games. It has a unique mechanic where you can adjust the volatility level between low, medium, and high. In this case, the differences between all three volatility levels are easier to measure while its use in other casino games is abstract. 

What is the importance of distinguishing volatility?

Identifying a game’s volatility gives gamblers a glimpse of what the experience of a game is like before they try it. Many players restrict their sessions to specific experiences only and knowing the volatility level can help narrow their choices when looking for new games to play. Trying it out at the demo is the better way but some people prefer not to spend time on it. 

As a general observation among gamblers, low volatility games are more appealing to casual players. They are often easily satisfied by quick profits from slots or table games where it’s easy to build a betting strategy. High rollers, on the other hand, are more likely to dedicate big budget and playtime to high volatility games. Big antes, most of the time aided by a Bitcasino bonus, are most rewarding when there’s a chance for a 10:1 payout or more.

Volatility also acts as guidelines for the game providers. Knowing which volatility level has a high demand or which one they haven’t explored yet can influence their next title. Right now, high volatility slot games are the most popular but many software providers aren’t closed to the idea of developing for low volatility if there’s demand for it. 

How is volatility determined?

Knowing a slot game’s volatility goes a long way to helping you set the right expectations. However, it can be omitted because some game reviewers don’t find it as important as the other details. If you have to take matters into your own hands to find a game’s volatility, then here are some ways to assess it:

Check the game description

Every game has a description which you can find either at the casino, at a review site, or at the software provider’s page for the title you want to learn more about. It usually consists of short texts sorted from basic details to specific game mechanics. Volatility can be found near the topmost part together with the RTP. 

If the description didn’t mention the volatility, then look at the paytable and just assume it. Low volatility games have RTP above 98% and usually don't have the means to trigger chain wins. The paytable can have high payouts but there are usually paylines restricting combinations. 

High volatility casino slots would have seemingly low pay tables except for the top three symbols but there are mechanics that enable random payout boosts. Some examples include multipliers, a bonus mode, and collapsing reels. Medium slots are harder to determine because it’s almost impossible to settle on a neutral ground when it comes to assessing slot games. Thus, it's often easier to assume either low or high.

Play the game and see the size between lowest and highest payouts

If you don’t mind spending time playing in free play mode then try it out to get a first-hand experience. You can assume that the slot game is low volatility if the most frequent high payout you can get is a three of a kind of a high-paying symbol. High volatility games seldomly find a reliable mark between 2x to 100x payout regardless of how many times your bet. On the other hand, medium volatility would often feel like it wins frequently but the payout is inconsistent.

Sometimes, one glance at how a spin is animated is enough to show a Bitcasino slot game’s volatility. Low volatility games feel like casual experiences. It can have a big-paying jackpot but the overall vibe of the slot is tame. Compare that to high volatility slot games which typically have a lot of visual noise. NoLimit City’s games like Mental is a great example in which the reels’ structure is normal but every spin triggers a special feature. 

Check bonus mode and highest payout intensity

The most direct way to tell volatility is to check the game’s biggest-paying feature. Most of the time, it’s the scatter which triggers another game mode. The most popular of which is where you get free spins on a slightly altered version of the same game. Low volatility slots can have 1000x max payout or more that can only be reached using this game feature. 

Medium volatility games can pay you hundreds at a bonus round but the highest payout is not too different from that of a low volatility slot. High volatility games present many means to reach 1000x payout both in and outside of the scatter and the highest possible payout typically reaches five digits.

Takeaway: Choose the game with volatility that you like

The differences in volatility weren’t meant to indicate that one slot is better than the other. It only serves to describe the overall experience of a game. You decide which among all of the fun Bitcasino slots available you want to play. Do you want a reliable win rate even if the pay is low or would you rather push your luck for a chance to hit a big payout? Whichever your desired experience is, there is bound to be a casino game waiting for you and identifying them by their volatility is how you find the perfect one. 

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