All You Need to Know About Slots
Slot games are one of the most popular genres of casino games. They are simple to play yet offer a myriad of fun themes, interesting bonus features and a range of winning opportunities. Their simplicity, coupled with the fact that no real skill is involved, means that they can be played on the go, as a relaxing downtime hobby or just as something to pass the time. The fact that players can actually win by playing them is an extra bonus for many. For those who don’t know exactly what a slot game is and what it involves, it is, in simple terms, a number of different symbols that spin vertically on a series of reels. Its primary aim is to have matching symbols adjacent to each other when the reels have stopped spinning. There is no way for players to affect this outcome, so the game is purely down to luck, something that many people prefer. This way, outcomes cannot be blamed on anyone and any alternative moves would have made no difference whatsoever.
History of Slot Games
The very first slot machine was actually created in 1885 by a man called Charles Fey. Unlike the majority of slots today, this was a bulky contraption created from cogs and levers that made all the components work. Of course, we still have some slot or fruit machines in physical form to this day. The Liberty Bell, as this first slot machine was known, had three spinning reels with pictures of playing cards on them. Pulling the lever at the side set the reels in motion, with players waiting for the reels to slow and stop to see if they’d won. If three liberty bell symbols lined up when the reels stopped, then the player would win the jackpot of the few cents that had been placed in the machine. The game was a huge success and from this point on, slots became hugely popular. The US put a spanner in the works, however, in 1902, when slot machines were banned.
Fey was undeterred and, in order to get around the gambling ban, created machines displaying fruit and packets of gum instead. If the machine landed on the gum symbols, players would receive that as a prize. These slot machines were a huge hit and were used for years. In fact, it wasn’t until the 1960’s that the first electromechanical slot was created. Just twenty years later, these slots were replaced again – this time with fully electric ones. These slots with their fancy processors allowed bigger bets to be made and players subsequently won bigger payouts. Random number generators soon followed and this caused the popularity of slots to grow even more now that players knew they were unbiased. In the 1990’s, the online casino world was born and this saw slots really take off. The scope of online slots today is almost unlimited and the fact that players can enjoy them from their homes without setting foot in a casino only serves to propel them even higher in terms of popularity.
Classic and Video Slots
When it comes to slots there are two main types – classic and video. Classic slots obviously came first and are much simpler in their design. These slots have just three reels and three rows. They also tend to offer one single straightforward payline – match three symbols next to each other on the central row to win the prize. In addition, they are rather clean in their gameplay, with no additional bells or whistles attached. Classic slots also tend not to really have dramatic themes. Instead, they can usually be easily identified by their lower quality graphics and the fact that the symbols used are pretty much the same for all of them. These are usually objects like cherries, melons, plums, bars, bells and sevens. These games also don’t really have massive jackpots attached to them, though on the rare occasion they might be linked to a progressive jackpot. Despite their simplicity, though, classic slots are still highly popular both on and offline.
In stark contrast to classic slots, video slots usually have at least five reels (sometimes more) and three rows. When it comes to paylines, though, this is where things get dramatic! Video slots can have paylines from as low as nine right the way up into the thousands! However, wins are triggered in much the same way as their classic counterparts, that is, the slot requires at least three matching symbols on a payline. Video slots also offer a whole host of extra bonus features, including wilds, scatters, free spins, multipliers, gamble features and more, all of which are detailed later on. They usually come accompanied by a theme of some kind and the entire slot, including the symbols, will follow this theme. Themes can be anything from football through to the Greek gods. Video slots also have big jackpots associated with them and, as well as being able to trigger wins through their numerous paylines, some of these games will offer progressive jackpots, which can grow to massive amounts.
Progressive jackpot slots are the last slot type on our list. These slots have the potential to pay out huge amounts if a player is lucky. They are, for the most part, set along the same lines as video slots, with five reels, three rows and a number of paylines. In fact, they operate in the exact same manner as regular video slots, with one key difference – the jackpot. Unlike regular slots, though, the jackpot associated with a progressive slot, as the name suggests, grows. This means that players have the chance to win fantastic prizes with just one small initial bet. The way that these progressives can gain in value is simple. The online casino can offer the game to players across the globe. Every time a player places a bet, however small, a percentage of that bet goes towards the jackpot. Hence, with thousands of players across the world accessing the same game, the game jackpot then goes up pretty quickly.
These progressive jackpots will keep growing until one player is lucky enough to scoop the top prize. Most progressive slots will also have a number of smaller jackpots available as well, with the top one only available to those players who place the maximum bet on the reels. Once the jackpot is finally won, the game will then reset itself to a predetermined jackpot start point and the process will begin all over again. There are some truly huge progressive jackpot games out there, with some notable ones being NetEnt’s Mega Fortune, Microgaming’s Mega Moolah and, more recently, Empire Fortune from Yggdrasil Gaming. Each of these has already paid out in the multi-millions, with the first two mentioned proving to be particularly lucrative. Many of the winners have been lucky one-off spinners as well, so it’s not necessarily about the long haul – though that doesn’t hurt either. Even if players don’t manage to win the top jackpot on these games, they all offer pretty great payouts regardless.
Common Bonus Features
Whilst each individual slot will differ in its in-game features, there are a number of options that appear consistently throughout most slot games. The first, prevalently popular feature is free spins. When a player is lucky enough to trigger these, they get to enjoy a specific number of spins without having to use any of their own money. The number of spins depends on the game but, regardless of how many a player is given, they make a welcome break in the overall game and potentially provide some good wins as well. Another commonly offered feature is that of multipliers. These can be won in all manner of ways, again depending on the game in question. What these do is multiply the win that has just been landed. In some cases, this will be just double, but in others, it can be as many as ten or twenty times the initial win. Players should definitely keep an eye out for slots that offer these!
Often, slots will also have a gamble feature. This is usually slightly more external to the game and is an option for players to double their money once they have made a win. Players will be presented with the gamble option, which they can then choose whether to accept or not. It usually involves a simple fifty-fifty gamble on something like a coin toss or whether the next card in the pack is red or black. Winning this will double the win; losing sees the player lose it all – so play wisely! The Pick A Win feature is another bonus. This usually takes players to a new screen where they can choose from various options in the hopes of winning cash, more free spins or something else. Similarly, the Wheel of Fortune sees players spin the wheel for additional prizes. The accumulator bonus requires players to collect certain items in order to activate more bonuses. There are a number of other in-game features as well, such as wilds, which will be discussed later.
Understanding the Bonus Symbols
Each slot game has different pictures to represent the bonus icons and other options that are available. To know which is which in any game, players should just check out the paytable that is attached to the slot. However, there are some general symbols on offer that are available in most slot games and it is these which we will discuss now. The first important symbol is the wild. In its most basic form, the wild symbol can replace any other symbol on the reels – barring other bonus icons. This means that it can fill
the gaps in a winning combination, making it more possible to get some wins. This feature has since been removed from this basic form and developed into many other options, including expanding wilds, which can cover entire reels; sticky wilds, which will remain stuck in place whilst the game re-spins; and even nudge or walking wilds, which see the wilds moving across the reels to find and create new combinations.
The other, really important, icon is the scatter. This is the symbol that will, most often, trigger any free spins that are on offer within the game. Usually, the game requires at least three of these to be landed on the reels in order for the free spins to occur, though in some games it’s less and in others it’s more. Depending on the game, players will be awarded varying numbers of free spins to use. Moreover, some games will allow additional free spins to be won if the right number of scatters lands on the reels during a free spins round. There are often other bonus symbols available and these can trigger all sorts of other games, including mini-games, picking a feature games, other free spins, multipliers and many more. As these will differ between slot games, players can find all the specific details on the paytable information attached to each slot. We recommend that players always give this a quick readthrough before jumping into play.
How Can You Win?
Slots are really games of luck, all monitored by random number generator software that ensures there is no bias in play. Because of this, there is nothing a player can do to influence the outcome of a spin, short of hacking into the online casino! There are of course a number of tips that players can utilize to increase their winning chances, putting them in a better position to get ahead. One of the first things players should do is to be careful when choosing the slot game in the first place. We recommend that players look at the RTP, or return to player rate, of the slot as a starting point. The higher this is, the better the chances are of earning some money back over a lengthier period of play. As a general rule, we recommend choosing slots that have an RTP above 90% – anything less than that would be considered a waste of time. The next thing to look at is slot volatility.
The volatility or variance of a slot game shows how often a player can expect a win, besides what kind of size that win will be. Now, this is really down to the preference of each individual but, in essence, a low variance slot will offer regular wins of fairly low value. On the other end of the scale, we have the high variance games and these will pay out massively if the player can trigger a win. Sitting in the middle are the medium variance slots, which offer the best of both worlds – relatively regular wins with the possibility of big payouts. While impatient players might do well with low variance games, those with a bit of patience and a larger bankroll could reap some serious rewards if they make it through a high variance game. No matter what the slot, though, players should always be mindful of their bankroll and pay particular attention to which are the highest value symbols.
Where to Play Slot Games
Everyone has their own preferences when it comes to gameplay, so it’s really hard to say exactly what a person should look for when choosing a slot. However, what we can say is that the place a player chooses to play at is of utmost importance. Not all online casinos are created equally and to that end, players should be aware of what the casino they are joining with is like. Many casinos will offer the same games, so players don’t need to jump at the first casino they see. Casinos should be reputable and trustworthy – having a gambling license is a good indication of this. In addition, players can check out reviews from other players in order to see what bonuses are offered and whether payouts are made in a timely fashion. To get a head start on playing, we also advise players to check out the casino bonus offers that are available, as well as looking at the entire game collection as a whole.
As we’ve discussed, slots are a hugely popular gaming genre. There’s nothing quite like placing a bet, hitting that spin button and waiting to see if fortune is about to favour the bold. Slot games offer so much variety in comparison to other casino games that it’s easy to see why they have only gained in popularity. There are literally thousands of themes and hundreds of extra bonus features available. Almost every month, a new slot is released, with developers constantly trying to outdo themselves and their competitors in their bid to create the next big hit. Slots also cater to a huge range of player types, offering low to high
budget wagers, and are also available on a global scale. The lure of being able to place a small bet yet win big is probably the biggest draw and, with the evidence that they can be won, this drive probably won’t be lessening any time soon. So get out there and try one now.