Top 10 high variance slots online


Online slots that have a high variance give players a specific type of experience, and for many players, this is the only style of play they’re interested in. The basic idea is that it’s a give and take situation. What players get from high-variance slots is that they have more chances to win larger payouts. However, they give up the fact that they’re going to have bigger and less controlled swings in their slot sessions, and they also give up balance in the pay table, meaning there are fewer small- and medium- sized wins. Overall, many players prefer games with a high variance because of the excitement of having chances to win larger pays.

The top 10 online slots with a high variance

In what follows, you’ll find descriptions of 10 of the most popular online slots running today that have a high variance. Fans of these games will tell you that they are all good for exciting, action-packed gameplay with opportunities to come out as a big winner on any given spin.

300 Shields (NextGen)The movie 300 from the year 2007 brought the fight between King Leonidas and the Persian King Xerxes into popular culture, and the 300 Shields online slot by NextGen played on this theme. While it’s not based on the movie itself, it’s based on the same story, and it’s brought to life with a different style of graphics and visuals. The reels are set out in a wheat field, and you can see Sparta off in the distance behind the game.This slot has 25 paylines spread across a typical 5×3 layout. One of the sources of the high volatility gameplay for 300 Shields is the 1,000x win for five wilds and the 100x win (times your entire bet size) for five of the scattered shield. However, the shield symbol is the key to the largest available pays in the game, even though five of a kind pays the same as a 2,500x line bet win, making it the single largest regular win available in the slot.

Pick up three or more shields to start the bonus feature. You get five free spins, and all wins with the wild symbol are hit with a 2x multiplier. During this feature, the number of shields that are seen on the reels total over the spins are counted for your “shield count.” When that number gets up over two, you get five more free spins with the wild multiplier increased to 5x. With a shield count of six, you earn five more free turns, and that multiplier kicks up to an incredible 25x.

As if that wasn’t enough to move up the volatility, a total of 12 or more on the shield count gives you another five free spins, and your multiplier for the wilds is increased to a huge 300x, one of the largest multipliers we’ve ever seen in a slot.



Dead or Alive (NetEnt)Based on a wild west theme, Dead or Alive is a high-variance slot produced by Net Entertainment. The graphics in this game are outstanding, as is the case with most NetEnt titles, and the variance in this game comes from the top-heavy pay table combined with the selection of bonus features. If you’re a fan of western movies or television shows, then this is a game that you’ll definitely be interested in.This game uses five reels with three rows and nine paylines. While some people would be surprised that a nine-payline slot has a high volatility, the sticky wilds that show up on the reels give you a chance to catch bandits that are tied to some pretty significant payouts. This is one of the main features that drives the volatility in this game. You can pick coin sizes ranging from $0.01 to $0.50 each, and you can bet up to four coins on each payline for a lot of flexibility in choosing the specific bet size that’s good for you.

The top regular pay in this game is 1,500x line bet for five of the wild wanted poster. However, during the free spins, the wilds stay in position for the rest of the feature, which increases the volatility further by giving you even more ways to win. You can also pick up 2,500x total bet for five of the scattered pistol symbol, and three or more of this scatter gives you 12 free spins with a 2x multiplier. It’s clear that this combination of features and payouts are responsible for the high volatility of the game overall, and they also drive the gameplay as a whole.



Book of Dead (Play’n GO)If you’re familiar with Egyptian mythology, you won’t be surprised that the Book of Dead is based on an Egyptian theme. While there are a lot of slots out there with this type of theme, Play N Go has done an excellent job in making sure that this particular game stands out. It has attracted a lot of players with its high-volatility gameplay with five reels, three rows and 10 paylines.Players in this game can bet with coins that run from $0.01 to $2 apiece and the ability to bet up to five coins on each of the 10 paylines. One strategy some players use in high-volatility titles is to play with a lower bet size and longer sessions to smooth out some of the swings, and you definitely have a lot of options to do that here.

The book itself is a scatter symbol with a scarab on it, and since it is the title of the game, it’s obvious that this is a critical symbol. While it acts as a wild symbol and shows up anywhere on all five reels, it also acts as a scatter bonus symbol. Three or more of the scattered Book of Dead gives players a set of 10 free spins. Having so much value tied up into one symbol raises the volatility considerably.

While five of the book gives you a 200x win (multiplied by your total bet), the real value comes in the free spins bonus round. One symbol is chosen to randomly expand on the reels, which will give you a chance to get even more winning combinations. The potential multi-line payouts from this feature is incredibly considering five of the explorer pays 5,000x and five of Ra pays 2,000x.



Raging Rhino (WMS)With six reels, four rows and 4,096 ways to win on every single spin, Ragin’ Rhino by WMS is anything but typical in the video slot world. However, you only have to deal with bet sizes that start at $0.40 and go up to $120 per turn, so you have a lot of flexibility to choose a wager size that you’re comfortable with. While there are a lot of ways to win in this game, the distribution of the payouts and the structure of the pay table give this game a fairly high variance overall.The main feature that drives the gameplay is the free spins. Three or more of the scattered diamond symbol are the key to this feature. Three of them give you eight free spins, and four will give you 15 free spins. However, a total of five on the reels at the same time will give you an overwhelming 50 free turns, which contributes greatly to the volatility of this slot. Picking up two or more diamonds during the free turns adds even more free spins to the lot as well.

The tree symbol is also important because it’s wild. Not only that, but it acts as either a 2x or 3x multiplier. They combine as well, so getting multiple wilds on the reels at the same time can mean some serious payouts.

It’s clear that this game has a high volatility, but one thing that helps to smooth it out slightly while giving players more value is the Bonus Guarantee feature. If you don’t win at least 10 times your total bet during the free spins bonus round, you’ll automatically be awarded a 10x win. This is a cool way to make sure players don’t leave the bonus feature without something to show for it.



Immortal Romance (Microgaming)Immortal Romance is a very popular online slot by Microgaming that’s known for being one of the first games they made that gave you a degree of control over which bonus features you earned. It uses five reels and three rows, and it also uses the 243-ways format to give you several ways to get paid on every spin. With that having been said, there’s so much value packed into the features that it still retains a high volatility overall.One feature happens during random gameplay, and it’s called the Wild Desire feature, based on the game’s theme of a vampire love triangle. The game will stop with the reels spinning at an ultra speed, and extra wilds (up to five total) will fall on the reels, giving you extra pays sine they expand to cover the reels they’re on. With the all ways format, it’s clear that this feature gives you a lot of value.

If you pick up three or more of the scatters, players to get choose between up to four bonus features depending on how many times they’ve triggered the feature. Amber’s feature is the first one you get with 10 free spins with a 5x multiplier. Troy’s is up next with 15 free spins with random 2x and 3x multipliers that can combine to up to 6x with special bat symbols.

Michael’s bonus feature is the third, and it gives 20 free spins with the Rolling Reels feature. This is essentially an avalanche feature with multipliers that go as high as 5x for consecutive wins on the same spin. The last bonus feature is based on the character Sarah, and she pays 25 free spins with a special wild vine feature that gives you extra wins.



Montezuma (WMS)The Montezuma online slot by WMS is based on the Aztec warrior by the same name, and as such, this game has an Aztec theme set in the middle of a deep jungle. The basic format of this game uses 30 paylines with five reels and three rows, and it has a wheel that peeks out above the top of the reels that players will notice as soon as they start playing. This wheel is the key to the bonus features in the game, and it’s one of the main reasons the volatility is so strong.Wild symbols in this game show up on the middle three reels, and they give you better chances to hit winning combinations. However, they don’t have their own winning payouts because there aren’t five of them on the reels. What’s also pretty important in this game is that you can pick up three or more of the scatter symbol to get free spins and an instant payout. Three of a kind pays three times your total bet, and either four or five of a kind pays 10 times your total bet.

When you get three or more of this wheel scatter symbol, the wheel behind the reels spins to determine how many free turns you get (up to 25). Then at the beginning of each free spin, it’ll spin again to give you a multiplier ranging from 2x to 10x. On top of that, getting at least two more scatters on the reels will give you even more free spins continuing along these lines. It’s a cool way to determine how much value you get, but it also gives the game a high volatility because of the value packed into the multipliers.



Cazino Zeppelin (Yggdrasil)With a somewhat steampunk theme, you’ll be taken back to the Victorian era in Cazino Zepplin, an online slot produced by Yggdrasil. A big airship hovers over a city covered in steam and haze in the background, and the entire theme centers around this steampunk motif. There’s a bit of a casino slant to the theme as well, and the graphics are outstanding. Along these lines, the game has an above average volatility that gives players chances for some pretty significant pays.The gold coin is a free spin symbol, and it appears on all five reels. Two or more awards a 40x payout, and three or more gives you 10, 15 or 20 free turns for three, four and five of the symbol, respectively. The wild symbols, which appear on all reels, are sticky during this free spin round, so if you get one on the reels, it will stay there for the remainder of the feature. This also includes wilds that were on the original layout of the symbols when the feature was triggered. As you can imagine, this leads to a tremendous amount of value being packed into the feature.

If you end up with a wild symbol on each of the five reels, then you get even more value with five extra free spins added on. This might not seem like a big deal until you realize that this is five spins with some major wins that come from all of the extra sticky wilds on the screen. You can only trigger this set of extra free spins once during each feature, but it’s definitely worth it.



The WishMaster (NetEnt)NetEnt is known for making games with a really wide range of themes and concepts, and The Wish Master is a slot based around a genie in a bottle. It has a very high-quality visual approach with solid animations, and the Wishmaster Bonus Feature is based on this same theme. This feature is what causes the majority of the variance in this five-reel, three-row and 20-payline affair.The scatter symbol is the lamp, and when at least one shows up anywhere on the reels, it activates a feature for the next 10 spins. If another scatter appears, then a new feature is added, and the set of spins for the features is increased by six. A third scatter can appear while these features are going to add another six to the list and to add yet another feature. This is a different way to add value to the game, and because it packs so many features together at the same time in a way that’s really easy for players to get, it jacks up the volatility quite a bit.

The available features include extra wilds, completely wild reels, expanding wilds, multipliers of 2x or 3x (which can combine into 6x), two random floating wilds, and more. Overall, it’s a really atypical approach, but it drives the gameplay to give players chances to get some pretty big wins considering the largest regular win is 750x, and you can win several times that thanks to the wilds and multipliers. The Wishmaster slot’s theme and feature work together really well, and it has a high variance as a result.



Jurassic Park (Microgaming)Based on one of the most popular film franchises of modern times, Jurassic Park is an online slot by Microgaming that features real video clips and images from the Steven Spielberg production. It was also the first online slot to use Parallax Scrolling to give the game a completely different visual feel. They completely jam-packed this game with features, which means a high volatility and chances to come away a big winner if you trigger them at the right time.Something atypical for high-volatility slots is having a lot of ways to win on any individual spin, but that’s the case for Jurassic Park. With five reels, three rows and the all-ways format, every symbol is essentially a left-to-right scatter with 243 ways to win on every spin. The outstanding graphics provide a backdrop for bet sizes that run from $0.30 to $15 per spin in a very high-volatility environment.

During the regular game, you can trigger the T-Rex Alert feature, which gives you six spins with a T-Rex showing up behind the reels. You’ll essentially get random wild symbols added to the reels during those spins, which increases the volatility and gives you a ton of value all at one time. Alternatively, you can pick up three or more of the scattered dinosaur symbol for a set of free spins.

The thing about the free spins features is that there are actually five to choose from. You can get different options depending on how many times you’ve triggered the features, and they give you different combinations of wild symbols and stacked symbols with multipliers as high as 6x in some cases.



Gonzo’s Quest (NetEnt)Often referred to as their most popular game that does not offer a progressive jackpot, Gonzo’s Quest offers a high-volatility experience that gives you a lot of excitement in the quest for Incan gold. The graphics are outstanding, and you’ll feel like you’re in the middle of a real jungle while you shoot for the huge prizes available in this game. The gameplay is a little atypical because it all centers around an avalanche feature, but it does create opportunities for infrequent, but very large, payouts.This slot has the equivalent of five reels and three rows, but they don’t function like normal reels. Instead, the symbols fall into place like large, square stones. There are 20 paylines, and when you get a winning combination, the symbols explode to let other symbols fall into place for what functions like a free re-spin. However, there’s also a series of multipliers that go from 1x to 2x to 3x to 5x, and each time you get a win on the same spin, it increases by one.

So you make a regular spin and win, and the stones explode with the multiplier increasing one spot along the meter. New symbols fall into place, paying out based on their values multiplied by the given multiplier, and if you get new wins, it increases again and continues. The volatility really comes from the times you get several turns on the 5x multiplier and the fact that these are multiplied by three during the free spins bonus feature for total multipliers that run up to the 15x level.

The huge level of action in this game is the reason why it’s so popular, and it’s been the model for a lot of other software companies who have tried to recreate the same type of gameplay experience in their own titles.


What is slots variance?

Variance is a statistical measure that, for our purposes, essentially describes how bad the swings will be in a game. This is separate from the house advantage or payout rate of the game, and you can have multiple games with the same payout rate with different levels of variance. You’ll also see it described as volatility in many cases.

For example, suppose we play a coin-flipping game. We flip a fair coin so that if it’s heads, you’ll win $2, and if it’s tails, you’ll lose $1. Your average win in this game would be $1 per flip, and the variance will be very minor. However, suppose you have a game where you roll two six-sided dice. If you roll a total of two, then you win $71, but if you roll anything else, you lose $1. In this dice-rolling game, you would still average winning $1 per roll, but your variance would be much higher. This example will help you to understand what variance is on an intuitive level.

The difference between variance and RTP

In the online slot world, we use a measurement called RTP, which means the return to player percentage. For example, a game with an RTP of 98 percent would mean that for every $100 wagered on the game, players get back an average of $98 over the long run. What’s important to notice is that variance and RTP are two separate things, and while they’re both important to know, they affect your overall experience in completely different ways.

For one, RTP essentially determines your chances of winning over the long run. For example, a game with an RTP of 99 percent will obviously be better for you over the long run than one with an RTP of 90 percent. On the other hand, variance will tell you how likely you are to have a significant win or loss. Sessions in high-variance games tend to leave you as a significant winner or mild loser on an individual basis, but you’ll only sometimes end up as a slight winner or breaking even.

Variance and the payout percentages also apply to other types of games. While there are both low-variance and high-variance slots, games like blackjack are inherently low-variance. In a game like roulette, an even money bet is extremely low-variance, and a bet on a single number is fairly high-variance. The key thing here is that in many table games, there are bets that run the entire range of different available levels of volatility/variance, much like there are low-variance and high-variance games inside of the slot genre.

Why do players prefer high-variance online slots?

Some players really prefer high-variance online slots and won’t play anything else. The reason for this is that these games tend to have a much higher level of excitement than their low-variance counterparts. The basic idea is that they know they could end up as a huge winner at any time, and that becomes the main drive behind their experience.

Having a chance to win big is a significant motivator, and for the players who prefer these types of games, it’s pretty clear to see that it’s enough of a motivator to keep them in this particular sub-genre. While not everyone has this preference, a lot of players do, and it’s completely reasonable for them to feel this way.

No matter what types of themes and layouts you prefer, there’s something available for you in the high-variance slot sub-genre. While the general idea is that a value-hogging feature or top set of payouts can cause this high level of volatility, what you’ll find in virtually all of these top ten options is that they have other characteristics that make them stand out. Whether it’s an atypical layout, top-tier graphics, unusual ways of triggering features or other unique aspects of the experience, no game can get popular and stand out on its own just for having a high volatility. Instead, it needs enough to give players a complete overall experience that they will want to come back to over and over again.