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Active Paylines and Volatility Explained

David Burgundy | 17 Oct 2017

Active Paylines and Volatility ExplainedActive Paylines and Volatility are two terms you may come across quite often when playing online, and both of them are rather important! To give you the edge, we’ve explained more about them below, what they do, why they are crucial, and how you can use them to boost your wins.

What is an Active Payline?

Paylines is a term used in slots games. It describes the series of positions on each reel that need to be filled by symbols in a specific order, to create specific patterns. These paylines can run horizontally or diagonally, or even cross to different levels on different reels.

If you are lucky enough to land all the right symbols in all the right places on one of the pre-specified paylines in a slot game, you win a multiple of whatever you bet. But you only win what the payline in question awards if it was active at the time.

Active paylines are paylines that you have activated by betting money on them, or they may be automatically activated by the game. The more paylines active, the better your chances of winning, and some games feature fixed paylines, where all paylines are active at all times. In some games, such as progressive jackpot slots, you need to ensure that you activate the maximum number of paylines in order to be eligible for a jackpot payout, so these lines are very important.

Understanding Volatility & Active PaylinesUnderstanding Volatility

Volatility is also often used in relation to slots games, though not exclusively so. Essentially, the word refers to the ups and downs of winning and losing. High-volatility games could see you being very up, and winning a lot at one moment and then very down, or losing a lot at the next. The ups and downs of low-volatility games are much less extreme.

High-volatility casino games also include Baccarat and Caribbean Stud Poker as they pay out huge amounts irregularly, rather than smaller amounts relatively frequently. With regards to slots games, this means that classic slots which have smaller wins that are often won, have low volatility while video slots that don’t pay out nearly as regularly but award a lot more when they do, have high volatility.

Volatility is the natural swing in the results of a game over time, but there is also an element to it that you can control, which is how much money you spend. If you are betting progressively, and increasing the amount of money you put down every time you win, you are increasing the volatility of the game. Volatility can be thought of as the game’s house edge, plus whatever your betting pattern is.

The thing to remember about volatility is that it goes both ways. Games that pay out a fortune can also lose you a fortune very quickly, while those that pay you out less will also lose you less in each round. It all comes down to how much time and money you have to spare. High-volatility options require you to play the long game more than low-volatility games do because they pay out less often. And of course, the most important concern is what you prefer as a player!