How to Play Slot Machines at Online Casinos
Slot machines are an awesome means of relaxation. They are accessible, very easy to grasp and overall awesome fun. Even though the rules are basically very simple, slot machines may seem a little bit chaotic when not familiar with all of the features and the complexity of rules. They are still playable, but knowing what to look and cheer for makes playing them a lot better experience.
How to Play Slot Machines
Older slots were very simple. One push of the button, wait for the reels to stop and three symbols in a row means winning. No bonus features, extra symbols or graphic effects. You can still find these slot machines at land-based casinos, but even those are often replaced by their modern digital little brothers.
The core of the game remains the same, but the complexity of rules has increased and it is often great to know exactly what symbols can appear on the reels and what to do next. Game providers do a great job in telling you exactly what to do and when to interact with the machine, but it is a much more relaxing and pleasurable experience to know these things beforehand to fully immerse yourselves in the game.
Slot Machine Layout
Slot machines may look a bit differently each time, but 99% of them have this basic anatomy:
- Symbol: Symbols are placed on the reels, which spin vertically during each round. The rarer the symbols the more valued they are and the prizes from making a winning combinations are that more profitable.
- Reel: A vertically moving group of symbols. The reels are moving for the duration of every spin and then randomly stop to create winning combinations made of symbols placed on them.
- Payline: A path going across the symbols. When the same symbols are aligned correctly on the payline, they create winning combinations. You can usually choose the number of paylines depending on the slot machine, but some machines have a fixed number of paylines. The more paylines are in play the more of a chance of winning, but every spin is more costly.
- Bet amount: This shows how much you pay for each spin and it is usually in the form of coins. The Bet amount is split into more variables - Coin value, Bet level and Number of paylines. Coin value simply states how much is one coin valued. Usually there are coins valued £0.01, £0.02, £0.05, £0.10, £0.20, £0.50, £1.00 and £2.00. Bet level is there to make a range of bets more flexible and it multiplies the value of coins. Number of paylines then specifies on how many paylines we can align symbols to make winning combinations. Bet amount = Coin value x Bet level x Number of paylines.
- Paytable: The list of every possible winning combination and how many coins it will credit a player upon hitting.
- Spin button: The button to spin the reels and start a game. Sometimes the Spin button is replaced with Stop button when the round is in progress to make the reels stop and end the round.
How to Align Symbols on Paylines
After each spin, symbols end up on paylines. To make a winning combination, at least 3 symbols of the same kind must be placed on a payline from left to right starting at the left edge.
There is no limit of how many winning combinations you can make per one spin and the winnings will simply add up for a total win. If you hit more than three symbols, your prizes will be more valuable. See Paytables on every slot machine for detailed prizes of each winning combination.
- Winning both ways: Some games, for example Starburst, have a "Win both ways" feature, meaning that the symbols can be placed on the payline from left to right and from right to left. Effectively one payline counts as two, because you can make more winning combinations.
Jackpots and Cash Prizes
There are many ways you can win. The most frequent way is hitting at least 3 symbols of the same kind on any of the paylines. If there are more winning combinations in one spin, the prizes of each will simply add up.
- Jackpot: Another way is hitting a Jackpot. This is the best possible prize per one spin and it is expressed in coins. The amount in cash depends of how valuable was your coin in that one spin. The Jackpot is usually fixed at certain value and can be found in the paytable of each game.
- Progressive Jackpot: This is where the real fun begins. While standard Jackpots have fixed values, Progressive Jackpots do not and can in theory be unlimited. Progressive Jackpots are created by players on certain slot machines (Mega Fortune or Mega Moolah for example). A small portion of every bet of every player playing on Jackpot games goes into Progressive Jackpot until someone hits it. Progressive Jackpots are the biggest Jackpots online and players frequently win millions or pounds. The biggest hit was £14 million pounds in one spin.
Slot Machine Game Features
- Gamble: Some slot machines offer a gamble feature. Every time you hit a winning combination, you can click on the Gamble button, which lets you double your prize, or lose it all. The result of the Gamble feature is usually decided by a coin toss or a very similar type of randomness.
- Free spins: These can come either in a form of a bonus (for depositing, winning a tournament etc.) or are won by hitting bonus symbols. You can then spin for free, but the prizes coming from these spins are real money. Free spins are of the value of the spin that resulted in winning them.
- Exploding symbols: Sometimes they are named Tumbling symbols, Avalanche reels, Dropping reels etc. If you hit any winning combination, the symbols then disappear making space for more symbols and more possible winning combinations. The most famous slot machine with this feature is Gonzo's Quest
- Multiplier: This often comes with Free spins and every prize from those free spin is multiplied x2, x3, x5 etc. depending on the exact rules of the game.
- Re-spin: This feature lets you spin just one (or more) of the reels, keeping the rest in place. This helps you move only that one reel that doesn't suit the rest. This feature comes in many different variations and it is best to read up on the details in the rules.
Bonus Symbols on Slot Machines
- Colossal symbol: These are the blocks of symbols that take a lot of space, usually 2x2 or 3x3. They increase the chance of winning and can be found on the slot machine Spinata Grande.
- Scatter symbol: These symbols usually trigger bonus rounds, win Free spins or multiply prizes. They can usually appear anywhere and not necessarily on the payline. Hitting 3 or more Scatter symbols means winning. There may even be many types of Scatter symbols and each types accomplishes something different. We recommend that you read up on the rules of Scatter symbols in the rules of each slot machine.
- Wild symbol: There are many different types of Wild symbols, but they usually do the same thing - they are a substitution for any other symbol, usually except for Scatter symbol. These make awesome winning combinations and create huge prizes. Some slot machines even feature Expanding Wild symbols, that spread across a part or entire reel to increase the chance of hitting a winning combination. The Wild symbols may expand, move or stack differently. Again, we recommend that you read on Wild symbols and how exactly they work in the rules.
Return to Player, Hit Frequency and Volatility
- Return to player: This expresses a percentage of what a game pays back in the long run. Slot machines at the land-based casinos have a RTP around 80% and games at online casinos around 90-99%. If you have a slot machine with RTP 95%, then out of every £1 you bet, you will get £0.95 back. You can hit a Jackpot and win a lot more, but RTP counts with a long run results.
- Hit frequency: How often you hit a winning combination. Some slot machines let players win a little bit with almost every spin, others only hit occasionally, but the prize is much more valuable.
- Volatility: This measures the swings in your bankroll. If you play games with a low Hit frequency, you will experience higher swings. You may lose for a long time, but then get it all back in one spin. Games with a high Hit frequency will let you win often, so you won't experience severe downswings or upswings.
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