Slot Tutorials

Slot Volatility: Lines vs. Line Multiplier

Golden Egypt Grand by IGT bet panel
Written by Joshua

In a recent post in the Extreme Low Rolling series, I talked about the ability on some games to lower the number of lines, but that can have an impact on volatility. Today, we’ll look at that volatility and how some people take the more modern style of more lines on a video slot machine, and turn it on its head to make a game as volatile as some of the less line games available.

Why Lowering Lines Increases Volatility

First, let’s review of why volatility goes up when you lower your line count. In the earlier days of modern casinos, many games were higher denominations like quarters, due to the need to use actual coins to play the games. As the video slot machine era came into being, and tickets more common, lower denominations were possible, by spreading the bets across more lines. So machines with 20, 30 or more lines became possible with modern, 5 reel video slot machines.

Having more lines reduces volatility because it increase the chance you can win something by having more lines that can lead to a win. Sometime may not be your full bet back, but a portion of your bet. You could win on multiple lines, etc. This gave game designers a wider berth in arranging the payouts and as such allowed for a smoother ride than a single, three-line or perhaps five line game that reel slots would allow in the past.

When you take some of those lines away, you remove the ability to win on those lines – but you also don’t pay for those lines. And since the slot machines must meet their overall payback targets regardless of the bet level, taking out lines doesn’t reduce or increase your overall payback – it just limits where you can find a winning line. The only time betting all lines matters is if there’s a special jackpot on a specific line, and some line bet choices exclude it – this can be a way for a manufacturer to encourage a max bet scenario.

Same Bet, Different Volatility

Let’s say you have a 50 line game, and you’re betting 50 cents a spin. You can bet one credit on all 50 lines. You might also be able to bet 25 lines, and put 2 credits per line against the 25 lines instead. Now, you’ve got half as many ways to win, but you could win double when it lines up. Line up those 25 lines often, and you’ll win more quickly – but if the winning pays don’t line up on those 25, but say the 25 you chose not to bet, you could lose quicker.

Now imagine betting 10 of the 50 lines and betting 5 credits per line. Those 10 lines will pay even better, but you’ve got 40 lines you’re missing. That means your hit rate (when you line a winning pay up) will be one-fifth the opportunity, but the pays 5x bigger. so if you get some good line-ups on those 10 lines, you’ll see your balance grow faster, and conversely missing those 10 lines will be felt more steadily as you go.

The Dragon Link Model

Dragon Link somewhat does this for you with the various bet levels it offers. On a standard penny Dragon Link, you can bet $5 on pennies and have a 10x line mutliplier across 50 lines. Or you can bet dimes at $5, and the game only has 25 lines, which you’re betting 2x the minimum line bet. At the $1 level, you can also bet $5, but you get 1x on each of the five lines.

It’s the exact same game, but you are betting various bet levels and line amounts to get to where you’re going. The $1 level is pretty volatile – lining things up on those five lines can get tough, but the pays if you win could be amazing. The pays could still be amazing on a pennies bet, but you need something like more lines matching up at once to accomplish the same thing.

How do you like to bet? More lines, or less lines? Share in the comments!

About the author


My name is Joshua, and I’m a slot enthusiast who works in tech as a marketer by day, and dabbles in casinos periodically during off-times. Know Your Slots will reflect my interests in understanding the various ways you can play slots, travel, casino promotions and how you can get the most out of your casino visits.


  • Josh thanks this blog definitely helped me clear up my confusion on volatility… I love your blogs!..

  • Risk Management is the key to every business in life and your clarification on volatility has broadened my understanding on this. Thank you.

Leave a Comment