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
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Adalene Lucas: is our jack of all trades here at DBC. She is a skilled coder, gambler, writer and webmaster. She lives in Manitoba where she enjoys the lush landscapes and camping near Tulabi Falls. Nature gives her inspiration to write. When she's not immersed in nature, her favorite words are "game theory". She lives with her husband and their two Labradors, Kophy and Whisper.