8 May

Understanding Volatility in Video Poker Machines

Video Poker Volatility: The path to casino bankroll enlightenment.

Video Poker Volatility – The Path to Casino Bankroll Enlightenment

When we talk about volatility, or variance as some call it, we’re usually referring to slot machines. Slots are known to be the most volatile of all games, as they can pay any amount, ranging from less than the cost of a single wager, up into the millions, on any spin of the reels. But these aren’t the only games where volatility can greatly impact a player’s casino bankroll.

Video poker is another type of game where volatility can run from low to high. In the following text, you’ll learn everything you need to know about volatility in video poker games, and what games you’re better off playing, depending on your budget and preferred style of gaming.

Video Poker Volatility: What you Need to Know

Volatility refers to the swings a player can expect to experience in their bankroll, compared to the theoretical return to player (RTP).

Take, for instance, Microgmaing’s All Aces VP. It carries an RTP of 99.92%. This means that, theoretically, it will return 99.92% of all money wagered, and keep the other 0.08% as the casino’s profit. However, that’s doesn’t mean every $100 you wager will return $99.92. The amount you win or lose that’s not directly in line with that probability represents the variance.

Out of one million players, some are going to win more than they lose. Others will lose more than they win. When you combine all of them together, over millions of plays, the RTP should come in very close, if not exactly at 99.92%.

How much of a swing can you can expect to experience all depends on the game you play, and the range of variance involved.

Highs and Lows of Volatility

It’s important to understand the difference between a low and high variance. The lower it is, the less strain is tends to have on your betting budget. The higher it is, the higher the potential strain; i.e. the faster you could go home broke, or win enough to cash quit your day job.

This is important because, the less money you have to spend, the lower volatility games you should be playing. You’ll make that bankroll last a lot longer with smaller swings. If you have a large bankroll, however, you should be able to play long enough to hit some of the higher win amounts without going broke.

Low Variance Video Poker Games

Finding a low volatility video poker game is as easy as observing the pay table. You’re looking for one with a basic array of payouts that matches typical poker hand ranks. Games like Jacks or Better and Bonus Poker are perfect examples. You’ll receive a worthy payout for lower-ranking hands, like 1x for a Pair (JoB), 2x for Two Pair, and 3x for 3 of a Kind. These hands come frequently enough to keep your bankroll from dropping into the abyss while waiting for something more lucrative to come along.

High Variance Video Poker Games

High volatility games don’t strike worthy payouts nearly so often. They can’t because there are so many higher-paying combinations that award bigger prizes, the machine has to collect enough money to pay those out on occasion.

Bonus Deuces Wild is a perfect example. You’ll need a minimum 3 of a Kind or Straight just to win even money. A 5 of a Kind (requiring a wild Deuce) will pay anywhere from 18x to 80x the wager, or even more for a wild royal flush or 4 Deuces.

It’s these extra bonus payouts that raise the variance of a video poker game. They can be very enticing, and have been known to raise the RTP above 100% in rare cases (with perfect video poker strategy applied). But if you haven’t got a big enough casino bankroll to play them, odds are the volatility will beat you long before your ship can roll in.

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