Understanding the terminology of slots

Volatility, variance, spins, free spins, scatters, wilds, sticky wilds – the list goes on and on. These are just some of the few most common terms that you encounter when playing slot machines. Most of the times we just ignore them, as we don’t fully understand what they mean – however, we can guarantee that if you memorize even just the few of the examples we’re going to go through in a minute, you’ll be enjoying your gaming sessions more in the future.

These terms are also good to get to know of, as it can even shape your decisions based on what volatility the game holds etc.


Volatility and variance usually refers to the same thing, but volatility is the more “official” term when explaining how different slots work. It’s pretty easy concept to understand, and it will definitely help you making decisions when choosing new games. Volatility is something that not all game providers like to announce through the information board (usually found on the navigation panel on the slot), but it is basically always available through online sources, blogs, gambling sites etc.

High volatility : When the slot machine is designed to give less winnings overall, but the possibility of a bigger win is greater than usual. Highly volatile slots often have higher payouts in the lower sections of the paytable, but the winnings are not as frequent as you would see on a slot that has lower volatility levels.

Medium volatility : It combines the best of two worlds. It gives even options to score big, or score lower cash prizes more often than usually

Low volatility : Low volatility slots are quite rare, and they offer smaller win / bet -ratios than other slots. If you’re looking to minimize your risk of losing money, choose a low volatile slot with smaller bet sizes.

Sticky Wilds

You see the term “sticky wilds” quite often when playing on different slots. It’s a universal term of saying “these wild-symbol will stay where you see them for X -amount of spins”. A good example for Sticky Wilds is a NetEnt powered slot called “Dead Or Alive 2”. If you manage to hit a wild-symboli on your bonus game, the wild will stay at the same place you got it, for the remaining spins you still have available.


Scatters are referred as “trigger” symbols, that usually gives out moderate winnings, but almost always triggers a some sort of an bonus game, or free spins. You usually need three scatters to activate a certain functionalities, but this may differ between each game. Some games even require 6 of them, but these kind of games usually have more reels than the basic 5×3 -slot.