Slots are an integral part of many matched bettor’s daily routine. The thousands of slots we can find online have different Return to Player (RTP) percentages, which is important to consider when working out the Estimated Value (EV) of any particular offer. However, another important factor to consider is the variance of slot we are using.

We may find we can play for 500 spins and not hit a bonus round or lose our stake for an offer within a couple of minutes. Alternatively, on a different slot we may find we are hitting a bonus round every 20 spins for small wins. For somebody new to slots this may seem wrong or not worth the effort, however, in truth what we are experiencing is slot variance which is what we will be looking at in this matched betting guide.

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Low variance slots

A low variance slot is one which pays out little and often. It is not possible to hit massive wins on these slots, but you will hit small to medium sized wins relatively often. As well as the regular small pay-outs being an indicator that we are playing a low variance slot, the paytable can also be a good indicator. If the biggest pay-out for 5 symbols is equal to or less than 5x the pay-out for 4 symbols (as in the example below), then it is most likely a low variance slot.

low variance slots

Low variance slot examples

  • Bloodsuckers
  • Starburst
  • Steam Tower
  • Wild North
  • Sunny Shores
  • Well of Wonders
  • 1429 Uncharted Seas
  • Tomb Raider
  • Big Bad Wolf
  • Ghost Pirates

High variance slots

These are the type of slots we can spin for what feels like an eternity with very few wins but every now and again we hit a monster win. A low or medium variance slot might offer players a top pay-out of 250x – 500x the total bet. High variance slots will offer players the chance to win 3,000x, 5,000x or even 10,000x their initial stake. As with low variance slots, the pay-table is often a good indicator that a slot is high variance. In the example below, the pay-outs jump significantly between 4 and 5 symbols.

High variance slots

High variance slot examples

  • Dead or Alive
  • Book of Dead
  • Jack and the Beanstalk
  • Immortal Romance
  • Buffalo Blitz
  • Epic Ape
  • Bonanza
  • Pink Elephants
  • Gonzo’s Quest
  • Vikings

Why is slot variance important?

Slot variance can have implications on the EV and risk of any offer we are attempting. If we are doing a bet and get offer where we have a choice of slots, we should initially choose a slot with as low variance and high RTP as possible. This is because with these types of offers all the EV is tied up in the bonus/free spins we get after the initial staking requirement. Therefore, we should pick a slot that will have the lowest risk to our cash. If the free spins/bonus has a wagering requirement, we may wish to switch to a higher variance slot to give us a better chance of completing the wagering with significant profit.

The EV of an offer that has wagering requirements increases greatly when using a high variance slot. These type of Advanced Casino Offers (ACOs) include buy-in for bonus and refunds, as well as bet and get offers with a high wagering requirement on the free spins/bonus.

Take a standard ACO offer of 100% bonus up to £50. If we use the Casino Calculator, we can see what effect the variance of a slot has on the EV. If we look at the two examples below, keeping all other details the same, we can see that choosing a high variance slot over a low variance one for this offer increases out EV by nearly £10.

slot variance

slot variance

Unfortunately, many online casinos are wise to which slots are best to use for their offers. It is important to remember to always check the Terms and Conditions of the offer, as often some low variance high RTP slots are excluded from wagering requirements, as are high variance high RTP slots for ACOs.

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