Manage your casino money

There is a term that people who write about and review slots use from time to time: variance.  Most slots players don’t fully understand the term so in this article we will explain variance and show you how to use it to your advantage here at Springbok Online Casino.

What is Variance?

The term variance is also sometimes called volatility.  It refers to how often the slots game pays out money to players and the actual and relative size of the pay outs.

High variance refers to games that pay out larger sums but less often.  Conversely, low variance games pay out more often—sometimes much more often—but for the most part pay out less per win.

When we sometimes talk about the psychological side of online casino gaming, we also sometimes refer back to slots variance.  Some players’ personality leads them or should lead them to high variance games and some players’ personalities lead them or should lead them to low variance games.

Money management is involved in the players’ choice between high variance and low variance games.

Random Number Generator

We have all heard this term many times as well.  The RNG determines every outcome of every game at Springbok Casino and at all online casinos.  It also determines the outcome of all video games at land based casinos. 

The RNG works like a perpetual motion machine.  It continually runs through all the possible outcomes.  When a player presses play or deal or spin at an online casino game, it sets in motion a time frame for the RNG.  The software ostensibly “stops” at a point determined by the player’s action.  However, it doesn’t actually stop.  It is more correct to say that the RNG “reports” the outcome of the game as it continues going through its set sequence of permutations.

RNG and Variance

The RNG determines all winning spins in slots.  The number of winning spins per total spins, along with the normal payouts for winning spins, are the variance in the game.  So the Random Number Generator is directly related to the variance.  However, and this is a very important point because it is so often incorrectly understood, the Random Number Generator does not determine the overall variance in a slots game.

Every casino works with the game developer to determine the general return to player rate for each game.  This rate fluctuates because once the game provider and the casino set the general rate and let the RNG take its own merry path, neither the casino nor the developer have any say in the matter.

Variance as a Function of Pay Lines

The number of pay lines is a major factor in the variance of a slots game.  Some games have as few as nine pay lines whist some have many dozens of pay lines and some have so many ways to win that they don’t measure pay lines.  The most common ways to win in these very huge games is 243 but some go even higher.

One of the most frustrating things gamers face is playing a slots game with dozens of pay lines and losing out on wins because the gamers didn’t or couldn’t cover even the minimum bet on all the pay lines.

If a slots game has a lot of pay lines, it is likely to award lower wins per winning line.  That’s easy to understand: the casino knows that with, say, 60 pay lines, there will be a lot of wins, so the return to player for each basic win is small relatively.

Variance as a Function of Minimum Bet per Pay Line

The next area where variance shows up is in the size of the minimum bet.  Most slots have a single credit as the minimum bet but some go higher.  In these games, the number of wins may be determined by the number of pay lines.  If there are relatively few pay lines but a relatively high minimum bet, the game may be quite variable with fewer wins but higher pay outs per win.

Variance as a Function of Progressivity

Progressive games have the highest variability of all because there is a jackboot waiting to be won.  Many progressive jackpots get into six or seven figures.  These very high jackpots are contributed to by the game developer who shaves off a very small amount from each bet in that particular slots game. 

The variability obtains from two sources: first, there have to be fewer small wins because the game is “waiting” for a lucky player to win the progressive jackpot and, two, because, in order to qualify for the progressive jackpot, a gamer has to make the maximum bet on the winning pay line.  Since you never know which pay line will win the progressive jackpot, players bet the maximum on all the pay lines.

Money Management

It should be clear at this point that if you can’t afford to play a high variance game, you should be happy playing low variance games.  Here at Springbok Casino, we have mostly low variance slots because those are the slots most of our gamers prefer playing.  It’s very important to understand if a slot has high or low variance in terms of managing your bankroll.  Our tip is to always check the game for its variance.

Personality and Variance

Some gamers like playing for the big wins and don’t mind getting fewer wins in general.  Other players prefer winning a lot of times even if the wins are relatively small.  As Shakespeare said: “To thine own self be true.”  Shakespeare was a great genius and the applicability of this little statement to slots shows the great extent of his genius