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How Do Variance and Return to Player Rate Affect Slots Players’ Decisions?

Slots continue to be the most popular of all online games.  Two of the elements in all slots that confuse some gamers are variance and return to player rate.  So, in this article, we will talk about these two aspects of slots and, in fact, all of the online games we offer here at Everygame Casino.

Slots are a Game of Chance

We have said it many times: there is no real strategy for winning at slots because slots are about as pure a game of chance as there is.  Some players, however, feel that they can game the game as it were by applying return to player rate or variance or, in fact, both.


This term is interchangeable with volatility.  The feelings players get when they use the term variance or the term volatility are quite different.  There are players who shy away from high volatility games but are comfortable playing games with high variance.

The fact is, that both of these terms refer to the same thing: how often a slot creates a win and how big that win might be.  A high variance slot will have relatively few wins but the wins will tend to be higher than the wins in a low variance slot.  Low variance in slots means a lot of smallish wins.

There are some players who try to play only high variance slots because they feel that they give them better chances to score a big win.  While it is technically true that a high variance slot might be the way to get a very big win, there are a few other factors that have to go into such an equation.

Your Bankroll

A high variance slot may simply be too rich for your bankroll.  High rollers can play even the most volatile slots but the average gamer has to stay within well-defined means. 

The Number of Paylines

Slots players do not like playing fewer than all of the paylines in a given slot and for good reason.  It hurts to lose a big win on a payline that you aren’t betting on.  So, most gamers will bet on every payline even in slots with 30 or more paylines.  So, you might be playing a high variance slot, betting on every payline, and you run out of bankroll fairly quickly.

In those cases, it might be a lot better to play a low variance slot or a slot with much fewer paylines.

Preparing for the Free Spins Bonus Rounds

In all slots, except for the progressive slots, the biggest payouts come in the free spins bonus rounds.  Here you need to be aware of two things.  First, the paylines you placed a bet on in the regular game are the paylines you play in the bonus round.  Second, the amount you bet on any given payline is the amount you’ll bet on it in the bonus round.

Some players will play a low variance slot but make relatively high bets on the paylines because, with more wins programmed into the Random Number Generator, they feel that this is the best way for them to play for an extended period of time and to have the best possible chances for a nice sized win.

It might be that playing a high volatility slot in the same manner will result in a big win in the bonus round.  However, you need to keep in mind that the free spins in the bonus round are limited and with fewer winning spins generally in the slots with high variance, a bonus round may come and go without that sought-after big win.


Progressive Jackpot Slots

The slots with the most variance are usually the progressive slots.  You can win hundreds of thousands of dollars and even more depending on the game and how recently a lucky gamer won the jackpot.

However, the high variance in these slots makes it emotionally difficult for some gamers to play aside from the stress playing them puts on a player’s bankroll.  For this reason, many gamers play just a few spins on a progressive jackpot slot on their mobile device when they have a few free moments in the course of their work day.  These gamers do not play progressive slots at home even though, in most cases, they play the games on their mobile devices at home as well.

Return to Player Rate

Variance and return to player rate are both programmed into the Random Number Generator.  Many gamers play a slot with a high return to player rate without realizing that this reflects many big wins for a few players but generally few winning spins overall.

It could be that a slot with a return to player rate of 96% actually gives you a better chance to finish the session very close to the break-even point if not ahead than a slot with a 97% or greater RTP rate.  This is because the game with the high RTP rewards a small number of gamers with very nice wins while a low variance slot will reward a larger number of gamers with smaller wins.

Variance is not nearly as deceiving as the return to player rate.  So, we suggest that you set your goals much differently when you play slots at Everygame Casino Red.  Play for the fun of playing.  Play for the vicarious experiences you might have.  Play for the sake of your imagination rather than for the sake of your bank account.

It is a lot more rewarding for most players to play for their imagination than to play for their bank account.  Unless you hit a really big win, going for such a win by playing many paylines in a slot with high variance may take away from your overall enjoyment in playing.


Both variance and return to player rate have a place in helping you decide which game to play.  Here is where playing slots online comes in.  Unlike at a land based casino, where you have to change seats to play a different slot machine, when you play at Everygame Casino online, you can play every game we have on offer without giving up your seat!

Therefore, you might play a high variance game for a limited number of spins and then go to a low variance slot. You might play a slot with a high return to player rate that is made up mostly of big wins and then play a slot with a slightly lower RTP but that gives you more wins.

The key is always to have fun and to manage your bankroll and your time properly so you don’t find yourself in the position of chasing big wins at the expense of big fun!