Slot Machines – a Complete Guide to Playing Slots Online
There is no escaping the fact that online slots are by far the most popular casino game on the face of the planet – even more than roulette or blackjack. As a result, game makers tend to focus on this segment and punt out massive volumes of these games each month. There are, therefore, thousands of slots available on the market to enjoy at all the best online casinos.
They are very popular for a combination of reasons. Firstly, they are super easy to play. There is no reason to read in-depth strategy guides to learn to play well – you just need a few handy tips. This means that most people feel comfortable playing slots.
Secondly, there are so many themes and styles to choose from. You can literally choose a game theme and slot style to suit your mood on any given day. Lastly, unlike other casino games in general, slots provide fun features and bonus rounds to enthrall you and increase your chances of big wins.
Explore our online slot guide below to find out more about this specific game type, learn the lingo, and play like a pro.
What are online slots?
Original slot machines in the past were cabinets with mechanical reels that would roll when you put a few coins into their slot and pulled on a triggering arm. If the three or more reels lined up matching symbols across designated paylines, the machine would release coins into a tray feeder as your reward.
As things progressed, the older gaming cabinets were replaced with newer ones and the game interfaces changed from mechanical components to virtual ones. Now games play out with computerized graphics (like a video game), and you control the reel spins with buttons and toggles rather than mechanical arms. Visit a gaming floor in Las Vegas or any land-based casino and head to where all the lights and noise are to enjoy these options.
Online slots are an adaptation of the more modern gaming cabinets, but instead of heading to the casino floor to play them, you can load them up on your desktop computer or mobile phone, and tablet. The principle of playing the games remains the same, however, the convenience level of playing from home is invaluable.
Because you can bring your slots home, game providers don’t need to pay huge casino overheads. So, the return-to-player ratio on these games is generally far better than at a retail casino which is a real incentive to load up remotely.
Where can I play online slots?
Online casinos are the ideal place to find the best selection of online slots for your region. Be sure to check out some of these famous brands and make sure to use their lucrative bonus offers to get your gameplay off to the best start possible.
- Las Atlantis (USA players accepted): Read the review
- Bitstarz Casino: Read the review
- LeoVegas Casino
- Casumo Casino – Read the review
- Play Frank Casino
Enjoy all the slot games found on this list of stellar casinos with your mobile phone, tablet, or desktop computer. In most cases, you can load them up and play instantly from your internet browser without the fuss of downloading any additional software.
Step 1 – Learning the Lingo
Before we go any further with this helpful online slot guide, it is vital that you can identify some of the common terms associated with this game type. Most casino slots will include the same components in them to a varying degree, so once you understand the concept of each, you will better identify with the game style.
|Main Game Round vs Bonus Round||This is the standard round in the game that you start with. Any special round is called a bonus round. Bonus rounds usually provide added advantages and features to make the round more lucrative than the main game.|
|Jackpot||This is the highest prize offered for a single payline win. It is usually paid out for a full line of the highest paying symbol.|
|Wager/Bet||This is the amount of money you gamble on each spin. You can adjust the value of your wager with the betting toggles/arrows. It will usually show as the total bet in the display.|
|Paytable||The paytable is the key that displays how much you win if you manage to land symbol combinations. This can show as either a currency value or coin value or multiple of your wager per line.|
|Symbols||The goal of playing slots is to line up various thematic symbol images across the screen. These images line the reels with a different payout value. The more thematic symbols you can line up the more you stand to win.|
|Paylines||The game producer designates patterns across the reels. If you manage to land combinations of the same symbols along a set payline pattern you will win a prize according to the values displayed on the paytable. Paylines are usually fixed in most games. In others you can select the number of lines you want to play with. Payline numbers are set by the game provider and can range from a single line to 50 lines or more.|
|Line Stake||The game evaluates your wins based on how much stake you have set per payline. To obtain this value you can take your total wager and divide it by the number of active paylines in the round. If you placed a total wager of €100 on a 10 payline game then your line stake is worth €10 (100/10) per line. It is this amount that you multiply against the paytable multiple.|
|Reels||Reels are the columns that usually run vertically down the screen. They hold the thematic images. When you press ‘’spin’’ each one rolls independently in a vertical direction and then stops again after a few seconds. The symbols will line up randomly on the screen.|
|Rows||Each reel has a pre-determined number of symbol rows on the screen. This usually ranges between 3 to 7 rows of symbols.|
|Special Feature/Modifier||During the normal phase of play random modifiers or special features may land on the screen to raise the excitement level and enhance your chance of landing a big win. Things like wilds or multipliers or scatter wins and symbol upgrades all qualify as modifiers/special features.|
If you can remember these unique terms, then you will be able to relate better to the games when you read or watch slot reviews in the future.
How to Play Slots – A Quick Guide to Play Optimally
Playing casino slots optimally requires two components. First, you need to know the mechanics of how the machine works. Secondly, you need to arrive with a bankroll strategy.
The mechanics of playing a slot game is very simple and usually require only two things from you:
- Adjust your wager to suit your budget
- Press ‘’Spin’’ to find out the game outcome
Doing this each time might become tedious for some, so we advise that you use the AUTOPLAY tool that is available on most game interfaces. Here, you can set the machine to automatically roll the reels for you a pre-determined number of times at a set stake. You can set loss limits and win limits for the feature so that it ceases rolling once you have either won a lot or lost a predetermined sum of money.
The outcomes of slot games are completely random and no degree of skill will ever tilt the advantage in your favor. As a fixed-odds game, all you can do is play cleverly with your bankroll and select games that suit your budget and style of play best.
It’s always best to try and play through the main game at a slightly lower wager and then try to raise your bet before you trigger a special feature as you will want to be best positioned to claim the jackpot when that happens.
Fluctuate your bets between high and low limits every 50 or so spins to give yourself the best chance of hitting it big.
How to Choose the Best Slot to Suit You
The key to making the most of your slot gaming time includes finding a game that suits your approach to playing. The maths model determines the temperament of a game. By looking at the RTP percentage and volatility/variance of a slot in the game specs, you can tell more or less how the game will treat you. You can then decide if you are in the mood to play risky, high-stakes games or low-risk options.
1. Slot Variance or Volatility
Variance refers to the streaks or arc patterns in the gameplay that affect the performance of the slot. Low variance games have small swings between winning and losing streaks. This means that you will win more frequently, but your rewards are generally on the lower side. This type of game is ideal for beginners or for those who don’t feel like playing at high risk.
High variance slots are sought after by high rollers because they traditionally hold the highest jackpots. Losing streaks are longer, but when you do win, it’s usually a big prize haul. These are more suitable for experienced slot players who know how to run a smart bankroll strategy.
2. RTP – Return to Player
This is the average return that a machine will payout over its lifetime. The standard average for slots lies between 95% and 96%. Anything lower may not pay as readily. This means that a machine will average out a return of €0.95 or €0.96 for each Euro spent on the game over its lifetime. It does not mean, however, that you will experience this return in each game you play. If you find a game with an RTP of 97% or better, you’ll find that it is far easier to land wins.
However, you should consider the variance factor alongside the return ratio when choosing a slot. For instance, a game may have a high 98% RTP but is set to a low variance. This means that it will payout fairly regularly, but with smaller wins. If you want a better potential for big wins, seek a high RTP together with a medium to high variance.
3. Game Types
Selecting a suitable slot type plays a big part in your enjoyment of a game. There are four basic stylistic options. These include:
This is more traditional in its format. Often with fewer reels and paylines than video slots. Often you can tell a classic slot apart from the others because of the fruity reel symbols, red sevens, bells, bars, and stars. While traditional classic slots are light on the feature side, modern versions can offer free spins, wild multipliers, and other bonuses.
These come in various themes with multiple reels, rows, and paylines. Video slots usually come packed with special features and bonus rounds and boast great visuals, animations, and sounds.
These are typically classic fruit games or video slots adapted from top-selling land-based machines. Providers like IGT, Aristocrat, Scientific Games, and Merkur Gaming provide many of these top game options.
These are probably the most sought-after of all high roller slots because of the sheer prize potential they hold. Jackpot slots traditionally accumulate in size progressively as people play them on the network around the world. Many of the top jackpot slots, like Mega Moolah, are reputable as life changers. They have made many instant millionaires in the past.
Popular Special Features
Players love casino slots because of the exciting bonus features available in most of the games. These traditionally provide riveting entertainment. Most players know that the bonus rounds are where the real money comes from. See our table below for the most popular features to look out for when playing slots.
|Wilds||A Wild symbol is an icon that has the ability to substitute for all other standard game symbols. These may come with multiplying powers and can often expand to cover more than place on the reels. There are various adaptations for Wilds in slot games
|Pick Features||Once triggered these exciting bonus games will allow you to pick mystery items for instant cash prizes
|All ways pays||Some slots do not use traditional paylines to determine wins. Line up matching symbols in adjacent reels from left to right for awards. All ways pay slots have a set number of pay ways that range from 243 ways and up.
|Gamble Feature||Some slots will allow you to gamble the wins you make in the base game for a chance to double your rewards. This usually entails you needing to guess the colour or suit of the next card dealt to you in a mini-game.|
|Colossal Symbols||These are symbols that take up more than one standard space on the reels. This will either be a high-paying icon or a Wild in most cases.|
|Multipliers||This feature is very popular in slot games. Multipliers do what the name says – multiply your wins if you manage to muster any while the multiplier is active.|
|Megaways™||This is an iconic reel modifier developed by BTG but is found adopted by many other gaming studios under license. With Megaways any number of paylines can randomly land on the reels on each spin. This ranges from 243 ways up to over 117000 ways. Wins are conjured when symbols land on adjacent reels to one another and there are no set payline patterns.|
|Free Spins||We lead with free spins because this is the most popular feature in most games. Some players won’t play casino games if they do not offer free spins. In most cases you will need to trigger them by landing scatters or special symbols in the main game. You will then get the chance to play a set number of rounds for free.|
This is not a concise list of special features, as new ones are being added all the time, but they sure are some of the most well-received ones. So, look out for titles with these features in them, to be assured of an engaging game time.
Our Recommended Slots
If you are new to the slots-playing world, you may need a helping hand when choosing the best slots to play. In the sections that follow, we would like to introduce you to a range of highly recommended games.
Iconic games are always a pleasure to play. Below is a list of 5 of the most well-known casino slots in the business. These have been crowd-pleasers for a long time, so we are sure you would find some solace playing them.
1. Gonzo’s Quest by NetEnt
Join our favorite conquistador on his search for the hidden riches in the city of Eldorado and experience one of the first 3D slots to ever hit the market. The mark of quality is inspiring for its time. Though it came out in 2013, it still competes with the best modern slots when it comes to visuals, sounds, and animations.
Experience the original magic of tumbling reel wins and progressive multipliers. Trigger the free spin round to ignite a trail of glorious wins that could end up in rewarding you up to 3,750x your bet in a single spin.
2. Starburst by NetEnt
Starburst is probably one of the most popular online slot games ever introduced to the market. Its simplicity combined with its attractive design has proved a winning recipe time and time again.
Roll the reels to land space jewels over 10 paylines that pay in both directions and rack up to 50,000 coins in prizes, if you’re lucky.
The low variance of the game means that your bankroll can remain quite steady while you enjoy the action of the Starburst Wilds, which expand and remain sticky while the reels re-spin. Land more wilds to trigger more spins.
3. Book of Dead by Play’n GO
Though the concept for this game borrows from Novomatic’s ‘’Book of Ra’’ slot, many argue that this slot has seen greater success across the world. In fact, it is the go-to game for many top-tier casinos when promoting their free spin bonus offers.
The Egyptian theme is admirable, but it’s the special expanding symbols in the free spin round that are iconic to this and other ‘’book’’ slots. Its high variance and ranging RTP means that you can win some great prizes of up to 5,000x your total stake if you are patient enough to play through the base game spins. Of course, you can use the risky gamble feature to add spice to the main game.
4. Avalon by Microgaming
This online slot game is one of Microgaming’s most iconic classics. While the visuals may be severely dated by today’s standards, those of you looking for a trip of nostalgia may want to revisit this 20-payline game for wins of up to 3,000x your stake.
The math model is a solid 96.01% RTP with a medium variance temperament. The base games can churn delight, especially when you double your wins with the gamble feature or when the Avalon symbols substitute for other icons to reward wins. But the height of fun comes when triggering the 12 free spins.
5. Cleopatra by IGT
Cleopatra is a testament to the fact that popular land-based Vegas games will do well in the iGaming sphere. The Egyptian-themed classic pays a little better online with a 95.7% RTP and a medium variance for wins of up to 1,000x your total stake.
While there is nothing majorly special about the features in the game, it does have a free spin bonus. Its popularity has led to many spin-off games, such as Cleopatra Plus, Cleopatra Mega Jackpots, Cleopatra Diamond Spins, and Cleopatra Gold.
New and Unique Games
While the classics live on, the online slot segment is evolving in leaps and bounds to keep up with the demand for more innovative gaming options and ideas. As such, we’d like to introduce you to 5 contemporary slot games that boast a more unique entertainment experience. If you want something fresh, a title from this list will do the trick.
1. Finn and the Swirly Spin by NetEnt
This quirky Irish-themed game sure does push the envelope on innovation and fresh concepts. Play over a 5×5 grid for wins of up to 50 000 coins and delight in a math model that incorporates a 96.62% RTP and low-medium volatility.
The spiral reel set is the most alluring feature in the game, as it challenges the traditional reel mechanics found in most other titles. Land clusters of the same symbols together for wins and move keys closer to the keyhole in the center of the screen to unlock the free spins. That’s only where the fun starts, as there are several unique reel multipliers present in the game to add extra excitement to every spin.
2. Sweet Bonanza by Pragmatic Play
Not only does this hot slot feature mouth-watering candy visuals, but you can rack up some mighty sweet wins too. Bet to the max and you earn over €2 million in cash with a maximum exposure of 21,175x stake, if you are lucky.
The colorful and vibrant game comes loaded with special features to help you make the most of your bankroll. With a highly volatile math model, you’ll probably need to wait to trigger the free spin bonus round for the big wins or you can pay 100x your total stake and buy the feature.
Each win will cause a tumble of the reels for added chances of earning rewards. Double your chances of triggering the free spin round by boosting your bet. Once you trigger the bonus round, keep a lookout for the multiplier symbol to increase your winnings by between 2x and 100x.
3. Trump It Deluxe by Fugaso
Everyone likes a little political satire, but what happens when a reputable iGaming brand takes Donald Trump, Vladimir Putin, Kim Jong-un, and other notable world leaders and puts them all together in an online slot game? Well, you get ‘’Trump It Deluxe’’ by Fugaso. Spin through the reels to land wins over 30 pay ways and lap up the laughs as you recognise some familiar satirical caricatures on the screen.
This low to medium variance game offers rewards of up to 1000,000 coins and inspired players to carry on playing with its innovative features. These include re-spins, 3 different free spin bonus rounds, the last chance trigger feature, and an engaging battle of the scatter symbols to assert dominance.
4. Jammin Jars 2 by Push Gaming
Tap your feet to the tunes and get yourself ready for a fruity adventure with this up-tempo slot. It comes packed with the potential to increase your wealth significantly with a top prize of up to 50,000x your total stake.
This highly volatile ‘’cluster pays’’ slot pays out handsomely when you manage to group matching symbols together vertically and horizontally. When symbols form winning combinations, they fall from the reels and more icons fill the reels to provide extra chances for collecting rewards.
Keep a lookout for Wild jars, as these multiply your wins significantly in the base game. You can look forward to several exciting bonus rounds too. Let the free spins, fruit blast instant wins, and massive Giga jar feature keep your hopes alive as you play for the potential of life-changing wins.
5. The Incredible Balloon Machine by Crazy Tooth Studios
While it’s not a traditional slot machine with reels and paylines, the experts still classify ‘’The Incredible Balloon Machine’’ in this gaming genre. It’s set to pay well thanks to a 96.75% RTP and medium variance where you can bet anywhere from €0.20 to €40 per round.
Hold the spin button to inflate the balloon. The longer you hold it, the higher the win multiplier will climb, up to a whopping 3,082x. Beware though, as the balloon could pop at any moment, in which case you lose your bet. If you ‘’collect’’ before it pops, you can claim the multiplier on the screen. The success or failure of this game depends entirely on your level of greed at the time of playing.
Top Slot Providers that You Should Look Out For
There are thousands of games out there. For this reason, it’s vital that you are able to discern between titles that may be worth your time and those that won’t be. Every now and then we are surprised with providers that bring exciting offers from left field, but in most cases, you can rely on a handful of providers to consistently introduce top-selling games.
The best names in the slot business include NetEnt, Microgaming, SG Digital, NextGen, Yggdrasil, Thunderkick, Fugaso, IGT, Play’n GO, Quickspin, Elk Studios, Crazy Tooth Studios, Big Time Gaming (BTG), High 5 Games, NoLimit City, Betsoft, iSoftbet, Wazdan, Playtech, Novamatic, Merkur Gaming, Real Time Gaming, Bgaming, and more.
The PokCas Slot Studio Choice Award – Novomatic
Our search for the best iGaming entertainment is an ongoing one. While there are many tremendous new gaming studios doing a stellar job in providing great innovation and cutting-edge design, we believe that a real shout-out needs should go to those who have helped cut the path and set the foundation in the slots industry. As such, we believe that Novomatic deserves our ‘’Accolade of Excellence’’.
The Austrian-based gaming group has been around since 1980. With over 40 years of experience in crafting some of the most identifiable games in the land-based retail casino market, the group took to the internet in 2010 after they acquired London-based GreenTube studios. Since then, the company’s integration of these games into the digital arena has been met with resounding success across the world.
Players love games like Book of Ra Deluxe, Lucky Lady Charms Deluxe, Lord of the Ocean, Ring of Fortune, Captain Venture, Dolphins Pearls, Rumpel WildSpins, and Sizzling Hot Deluxe because they boast a recipe that works with a maths model that pays.
THE POKCAS WAY
At PokCas, our goal has always been to provide you with the best insight and help when it comes to playing online poker and other online casino games. That’s why we cover such vast markets for our readers, including the worldwide Crypto Casino industry, the European and Asian markets, and the currently exploding US online casino industry. You’ll always find the full package with us!
Be assured that you’ll come across casino slots everywhere you go. So, familiarise yourself with the helpful information, tips, and tricks in this guide. Soon you’ll be able to hit the world stage and enjoy some awesome slot fun wherever you are.