The Basic Rules of Online Slots Play
No matter what type of slot machine you are playing, the very basics remain constant. The ultimate aim is for groups of matching symbols to be visible when the reels stop spinning.
There are three main types of slot machines, classic slots, video slots, and arcade slots. The first two of these are by far the most common and are what most players will already be familiar with. Both classic slots and video slots are made up of reels, rows and paylines. The reels are essentially long strips of symbols that spin round and round. Rows are the number of symbols that are visible on an individual reel at any given time, while paylines are theoretical paths that can be traced through the reels, from the first to the last.
In these types of games, the aim is to land matching symbols along one of the paylines. In the most basic of classic slots, with three reels and a single row, there will just be one payline that passes through all three visible symbols. A slightly more complicated classic slot, which three rows of symbols on each reel may have a payline that begins at the top row of the first reel, goes to the middle of the second reel, and ends on the bottom row of the third reel.
The more reels and rows a slot machine has, the more potential paylines there are. While the number of potential paylines is set by the slot manufacturers, as a general rule, the more paylines there are, the more opportunities there are to land winning combinations on each spin.
In the vast majority of video and classic slots, if enough matching symbols land from left to right along a payline starting from the leftmost reel, then a payout is awarded. The size of the payout is determined by how many symbols land and the value of the symbol. There are exceptions to this, which shall be explored later on. However, at the most basic level, this is how classic and video slots work.
As mentioned, there is a third type of slot, arcade slots. These do not use reels and paylines. Rather, the game takes place on a grid of symbols, e.g. 5x5. In these games, payouts are won by landing groups of enough matching symbols on the grid.
More About Payline Rules
It is very important that you carefully look into how many paylines a slot has and exactly how they work before you play a game. This will be very straightforward with older style slots. They will have just a few paylines, and as mentioned, payouts are won by landing symbols from left to right along them, starting at the leftmost reel.
However, today slots can have a vast number of paylines that make all kinds of shapes across the reels. Most video slots will have at least 20 paylines, but some will have 25, 30, 40, 50, 100, and so on. Furthermore, they do not always payout in the way explained above.
Some games do not refer to paylines; rather they talk about the number of ‘ways to win’, such as 243 ways to win or 1024 ways to win. All this means is that the games have so many paylines that as long as you land enough matching symbols on adjacent reels, you will win a payout. In other words, you do not need to worry about paylines, just about landing enough matching symbols.
Furthermore, not all paylines only award payouts for left to right combinations. Some paylines are bidirectional, which means that winning combinations can land from left to right starting from the leftmost reel or from right to left starting from the rightmost reel. You will also come across games where winning combinations can start from any reel!
Regardless of which game you are playing, you will find all the information you need about the paylines in the paytable. There will be diagrams of the individual paylines where applicable as well as a sentence such as “Bet line wins pay if in succession from the leftmost reel to the rightmost reel”. It is important to check so that you full understand the structure of the game that you are playing.
Understanding Slot Betting and Payouts Rules
The way in which bets are placed on slot machines varies somewhat from game to game. In the most traditional of slots, it is very basic. First, you will have to set how many paylines you want active, and then set your bet per payline, which will give you a total bet per spin.
However, there are many variants on this. For example, in many games, when setting the payline bet there are two stages. First, you set a coin size, such as 0.01 or 0.10, and then you set how many coins you want to bet per payline, often from 1 to 10. This is also true in slots that have a fixed number of paylines.
Furthermore, in games with hundreds or thousands of paylines, you simply need to set your total bet per spin, and this will often be possible as multiples of a value such as 0.40.
It is important to grasp all of this in order to understand the slot’s paytable properly. In some games, the available payouts are shown as monetary values. This simply means that the paytable is showing you how much money is actually paid out for each type of winning combination. Other games will show the potential payouts as multiples of the line bet, e.g. 200x. In other words, you need to multiply your line bet by the value shows to understand the potential payout. For example, if you have bet 0.20 per payline and the potential payout is 200x then in monetary terms that is 40. Finally, some games will show payouts as multiples of the total bet. For instance, if you have bet 1 on the spin and the payout is shown as 8x then the potential winning is 8.
Rules Governing Slot Symbols
There are many different types of symbols found in online slots, regular symbols, wild symbols, scatter symbols, and more. It is vital that you understand the different rules governing these symbols before you start playing so that you can make the most of all the game has to offer. Here we will take you through all of the most common types of symbols found in online slots.
Regular Symbol Rules
The regular symbols make up the vast majority of symbols found in a slot machine. In traditional fruit machine style games, these include bells, cherries, lemons, watermelons, and so on. In games with themes such as nature, travel, history and so on, these symbols normally relate to the theme. For example, a slot with an Irish theme may have symbols including a four-leaf clover, a rainbow, a pint of stout, and a leprechaun.
The aim with regular symbols is to land them along paylines as described above and they award standard payouts. Most video slots will offer payouts for three or more matching symbols along a payline, but you do find a few games with symbols that will payout for just two symbols in a combination. As explained, the payouts are usually expressed as multiples of the line bet or of the total bet.
Scatter Symbols Rules
Scatter symbols take their name from the way in which they payout. While regular symbols need to land along paylines, scatter symbols will payout as long as enough of them land on the reels. In other words, they can land scattered around and still award payouts. In nearly every slot that you come across, scatter symbols offer payouts of multiples of the total bet rather than multiples of the line bet, which makes them particularly valuable. Furthermore, very often they will be linked to additional bonus features, such as free spins or picking games.
Wild Symbols Rules
Wild symbols are there to help players form more winning combinations. They are able to substitute for the other symbols to fill in gaps on the reels or to extend winning combinations and make them more valuable. In the vast majority of slots, wild symbols will only substitute for the regular symbols, but you will find a few games in which they can also substitute for scatter or bonus symbols, and it is always worth checking for this in the paytable. Furthermore, in most games, wild symbols are the most valuable and offer the slot’s top payout for combinations of five of a kind.
Bonus Symbols Rules
This is an area where every game will be a bit different. Essentially, a bonus symbol will be linked to triggering a bonus feature. However, as there are many different types of bonus features, the symbols will work in different ways. As such, it is important that you refer to the slot’s paytable and rules before playing in order to understand how the bonus symbols work.
Slot Bonus Feature Rules
There are many different types of bonus features found in slot machines and each type of feature has its own rules. Common bonus features include free spins, expanding symbols, picking games, and payout multipliers, and many games will combine all of these in fun and exciting ways. Here we shall explain the basic rules of the most common bonus features, so that when you look at a game’s paytable, you will already have a good understanding of what you are reading.
Free Spins Rules
Free spins are by far the most common form of bonus feature. These are simply spins that the player does not pay for, but still award real money wins. In most games, the free spins are triggered by landing at least three scatter symbols on the reels. For example, three scatters may award 10 spins, four scatters 15 spins, and five scatters 25 spins. However, in some games the free spins may be triggered by a different symbol entirely. Furthermore, the way in which the number of spins awarded is determined can vary greatly. After triggering the round, some slots may then have a fortune wheel that spins to award a number of spins. In many games, it is then possible to retrigger the free spins by landing another set of symbols; however, this is not always the case and should be checked in the paytable.
It is becoming more common for free spins to be combined with additional bonus features. For example, they may come with a payout multiplier, such as x2, which essentially means that all payouts from the round will be doubled. Sometimes they will feature expanding symbols, or it may be possible to trigger additional bonus games from within the free spins. You will always be able to find details of this in the paytable.
Stacked, Expanding and Sticky Symbols Rules
This type of bonus can be found both in the base game and in free spins round. A stacked symbol is simply one in which a reel will contain multiple adjacent instances of the same symbol. This means that it is possible to fill an entire reel with that symbol, which can help to form more winning combinations. It is very common to find stacked wild symbols.
Expanding symbols are symbols that can grow when they land on the reels to fill more rows. For instance, if you land an expanding symbol on the middle row of a reel, it then may be able to expand up one position, down one position, or both. Once again, expanding wild symbols are very common.
Today, a number of slot’s offer a special type of expanding symbol in free spins rounds. Before the free spins begin, one of the regular symbols is chosen to become an expanding symbol. Then, in the free spins when the symbol lands it will expand to fill the entire reel. This is often combined with a special payout bonus. The symbol will award payouts as long as enough of them are on a payline, even if they are not on adjacent reels. For example, landing the symbol on the first, third and fifth reel, would award a payout for a three of a kind combination.
Sticky symbols are those that remain in place on the reels for subsequent spins after they have landed. For example, very often free spins games will come with sticky wild symbols. This means that each wild symbol that lands will then remain in place on the reels. The symbols may remain in place for the duration of the feature or for a specified number of spins.
Multipliers do exactly what the name suggests; they multiply the winnings. Multipliers can appear in a variety of different contexts within a slot machine. For example, in the base game there may be a symbol that comes with a multiplier attached, such as a x2 or x3 multiplier, and if that symbol then forms part of a win, then the payout is subject to the multiplier. Sometimes entire free spins rounds are subject to a multiplier. You will also find games that have increasing multiplier features. For example, in a round of 10 free spins, the first five spins may have a x1 multiplier, the next three a x2 multiplier, and the final two a x3 multiplier.
When you read a slot’s paytable, be sure to keep an eye out for information about multipliers, as often they are the key to unlocking the biggest wins.
Bonus Picking Game Rules
Picking games are a very common bonus feature. Essentially, they require players to pick from objects to reveal rewards. The objects available to choose from will usually relate to the theme. For example, in a nature themed slot you may be asked to choose from various different plants and animals.
In some games, you will be awarded a specific number of picks, such as three, and each of them will uncover a cash prize. In other games, you may receive unlimited number of picks and each time you choose an object it may award a cash prize or end the game. You will also find picking games where it is possible to uncover multipliers or additional bonuses. Some slots have multi-level picking games in which you are given unlimited picks and advance through levels to more valuable prizes until you find ‘Collect’. Once again, just check the paytable before playing to find the specific rules for your chosen slot.
Tumbling/Cascading Reels Rules
This is a bonus feature that has become very popular with players. There are two forms of it. In the most common version, after a winning combination lands on the reels, the symbols in the win are then removed to allow more to fall from above. This has the potential to form another win and the process can repeat itself indefinitely. Furthermore, in many games, each successive tumble or cascade will increase a payout multiplier, which is only reset when no more wins land from the initial spin.
The second version is rarer, but can be just as rewarding. It sees all symbols other than the winning symbols remove from the reels. More symbols then fall on to the reels and if it improves upon the existing win or forms another, then the process repeats itself until no more wins are formed.
Hold and Win Rules
This type of bonus game can be found in an ever-growing number of slots. It is very similar to a free spins game but with a number of crucial differences. The game takes place on special reels where each position spins individually, i.e. each row on a reel spins independently from the rest of the reel. Usually there are just three things that can land, a cash value symbol, a jackpot symbol, or a blank. Players are usually awarded three spins to start with and each time that a cash or jackpot symbol lands, it becomes sticky on the reels and the number of spins resets to three. When the spins run out, players are then awarded the total of the cash value symbols and possibly a jackpot prize if enough symbols have landed.
Progressive Jackpot Rules
Progressive jackpots are hugely exciting as they can grow to be worth millions. When you play a progressive jackpot slot, a portion of each bet is contributed to the jackpot pool. Some jackpot pools are local, which means that they are only contributed to by players at the casino you are playing at while others are network wide, which means that they are contributed to by players at every casino where the game is available, and these can grow to truly life-changing sums.
The way in which a jackpot is won will vary from game to game. In some slots it may be as simple as landing five jackpot symbols along a payline. In other games, there may be special jackpot games that are either triggered by landing the right symbols or at random. You also need to be aware that some games will have criteria that you need to meet in order to qualify for the jackpot. For instance, there may be a minimum bet. As such, it is vital that you carefully check the slot’s rules before playing.
Gamble Features Rules
Some slots offer gamble features that give you the chance to increase your payouts after each winning spin. The most common form of gamble feature requires you to guess whether the next card drawn from a pack will be red or black. If you guess correctly then your payout is doubled, and in many games you can then repeat this a number of times in a row. Some games will also give you the chance to quadruple your payout by guessing the correct suit.
This isn’t the only form of gamble feature, you may be asked to pick head or tails for a coin toss, or something similar. However, this is a bonus feature that should be treated with caution, as one incorrect pick will result in all winnings being lost.
Slot RTP and Volatility Rules
A slot machine’s RTP and volatility are two things that are vital to understand. The RTP, or return to player percentage, is the theoretical percentage of money that a game pays out to players over time. For example, if a game has an RTP of 95%, then €95 of every €100 bet on it is returned to players. However, this is calculated over a vast number of spins, so there is no guarantee that you will win that much money. Of course, it also means that you can win more than 100% of the money you bet on a game, and this is what makes gambling exciting.
The term volatility refers to the way in which a slot pays out. A low volatility game is said to payout small amounts on a regular basis while a high volatility game pays out larger amounts but less frequently. Of course, a medium volatility game lies somewhere in the middle. This is important to understand as it will affect your style of play. When playing a high volatility slot you may want to bet smaller amounts so as to ensure your bankroll doesn’t run out before you hit some wins.