How to play Slot Machines 101
Even somebody who has never played an online slot machine before, or any slot machine for that matter, will be familiar with the term “slots”. But let us say that you are going to dive into the world of slots for the very first time.
How do you know what kind of slot is for you? You could, if you wished, just dive right in and start clicking away. You might have some success, but the chances are that you’d be out of cash, or bored before too long. It is far better then, to know all about slots.
How they work, what they offer and how much they cost, before they begin playing. This How to Play Slot Machines 101 guide, will tell you everything you need to know about playing slot machines!
Time to play some slots now!
What kind of slot is for you?
First and foremost, like anything that you spend money on, you should know what you like. There are a number of things to consider here. You could just pick any online slot because you like the “theme” it has. But let’s not do that, let’s be more logical. Choosing what slot to play is possibly the most important decision that you will make, when playing online slot machines.
Ask yourself some basic questions. What kind of experience do you have playing online games? What about online slots? If you are new to the world of online gaming and slots in particular, then you might want to start small.
Classic casino-style slot games (known as classic slots), are the perfect way for an amateur slots newbie to begin. These slots contain just three spinning reels, and generally only have one payline, that is to say, a line which all your symbols must match on. It is often in the centre of the reels.
Classic slots won’t have tons of special features for you to get used to, so you will be able to play at your own pace and learn slowly, if you wish.
If you’ve had a bit of experience, then perhaps video slots are for you. These are more complex slot machines. They contain multiple paylines, and they have 5 spinning reels. There are many more icons and some of them do special things, such as award bonus games or free spins. Some even substitute themselves for other icons that you need to win.
We’ll talk more about special features later. But if you have some experience playing classic slots (like the kind you’d play for real in Las Vegas), then maybe it’s time you advanced onto video slots.
You might also want to ask yourself what you hope to get out of all of this. Are you playing online slots for leisure, or to pass the time? Or are you playing in hope of landing that mighty big jackpot. Another good question to ask is how much you are planning on setting aside to play. If you only have a shoestring budget, then the slot you choose should complement that.
If money is no issue, you can pretty much play what you like. Those questions should all be answered, in order to help you find the type of slot that you want. Only then should you be bothered trying to find the “theme” of the slot you want to play.
Slots come in many themes. Some have licenses and are based on Hollywood movies or television shows. Others are themed after comic books and video games, also licensed. A few are not licensed, but still themed after the above, and it shows!
Some slot machines simply have a generic theme, and they could be Irish luck themed, whilst others offer bank heist and gangster themes. Some slots have a lavish lifestyle theme, and others are just bizarre and wacky. The theme of the slot is down to you, but it should not be the sole deciding factor when you pick a slot to play.
Coins, Lines and Stakes
So, you’ve picked your slot, and now you are ready to play. How do you go about that? Firstly you will need to understand how wagers work. Coin denominations are worth what you decide them to be, in many slots.
You must first choose the value of your coins, before you do anything else. Coin values typically range from 0.01 up to 0.25, although they can go higher. Think of this step like putting coins into a real land-based slot machine. What value of coins would you put in? Pounds or pennies?
Once you have decided how much your coins are worth, you will need to determine how many of them you are going to spend on each payline. Some slot machines don’t allow you to do this step, instead having a fixed rate of 1 coin per payline. Others will let you add up to 10 coins per payline, or sometimes more. This is known as making a line bet.
You must then decide on the number of paylines that you wish to play with. Most classic slots only have the one, making this step redundant. Video slots though, have multiple paylines. Normally, most players use all of them.
Most video slots have 25 paylines, although some offer several hundred. A line bet is placed for every payline you select. When you play slots with over 100 paylines, it normally isn’t feasible to wager on every single one.
In this case, the slot will automatically have a minimum wager for all of the paylines to be selected. It is generally around 0,250-0.50 credits per spin. Remember that in most slots with less than 100 lines, your bet is going to be multiplied by every line you add.
If all of those steps are complete, you are ready to play. You will notice that your total bet (or total stake), is somewhat higher now. Your total bet is made up of the value of your coins, and how many you have chosen to bet per line, multiplied by the number of lines.
For example, if you have your coin value set at 0.01, and you wagered 1 coin per payline, with 25 paylines selected, your bet will be 0.25 per spin. If you choose a coin value of 0.01, at 10 coins per line with 25 paylines selected, your total bet is going to be 2.50 per spin.
The aim of the game
Once you hit the spin button, the reels in the game start to spin, and icons will go whizzing past on them. This is the same whether you play classic or video slots.
When the reels stop spinning, the aim is to match as many of the icons on any active payline as possible. Generally, you need three matching icons on the first, second and third reel to win. Of course, if you land 4 or 5 matches, you will win even more money.
Just because you have three matching icons on the first, second and third reel doesn’t mean that you will win though. Remember, they need to be on a payline, which is a route (literally a line that the symbols have to be on) across the reels.
Some icons are worth more money than others if you match them, and some of those icons have special features. Here’s a few you may encounter when playing video slots, which are generally absent from classic slots.
Wild icons are special symbols. These icons can replace any other symbol in the game. If you have a wild icon, it will automatically turn itself into the most required icon to offer a win. Think of it as a joker in poker.
Wilds come in many shapes and forms. Some award the jackpot, if you land 5 or more on a payline. Wilds can be found stacked (two or three on top of one another on a reel), expanding (covers an entire reel) or sticky (remains in place for a number of spins) There are many more types of wilds too, each specific to the game it is featured in.
Scatter icons are given their name, because it doesn’t matter where they appear on the reels, you will still win. Traditionally, in video slots, they are used to award bonus rounds.
Generally speaking, players will win the same amount as their bet, if they find two scatters anywhere on the reels. In most video slots, players will need to find three or more scatters, to activate a bonus round. The good news is, because they are scatters, they can appear scattered anywhere, and will still count!
A free spins round is just one type of bonus round. In a free spins round, the player can play for free for a number of spins. They will get to win real money, and it is even possible that they might pick up multipliers (your winnings multiplied by a certain amount) in the round. Free spins are a favourite of the slot community.
Bonus rounds can include a wide range of other features, though. Some are known as pick and win rounds (you must choose from a number of options to win a prize), prize wheels (spin a wheel to win a prize), and mini-games (play a small game to win prizes). Bonus rounds usually take place on a second screen, and are what make video slots wholly unique and separate from classic slots.
Progressive vs. Non-progressive jackpots
Finally, there are two types of jackpots in online slots. These are known as progressive and non-progressive jackpots.
Progressive jackpots are constructed when small amounts of every wager placed are added to a big pot. This will continue to rise until it is won, and has no limit on how big it can be. Progressive jackpot wins can be triggered randomly, by a specific set of symbols on the reels, or by winning a bonus round. Some slots even have 3 or 4 of them running at once, which are all worth different amounts.
Then, we have non-progressive jackpots. These jackpots are always fixed at the same amount. The player can never win more than the amount specified and it never rises. Non-progressive jackpots are never triggered randomly, and must be won by matching specific symbols on the reels, or in a bonus round.
The good news about non-progressive jackpots is that although they are smaller than progressives in total worth, they are always available. Even if one has been won two seconds before, you can still win it!