The slot machines, or fruit machines as many call them, have been a favorite among players for over 100 years. And looking at statistics, more than 70% of players prefer slots over other traditional casino games such as roulette, poker, baccarat and punto banco.
Now, the glory days of the humble fruit machine are long gone and many modern slots are a fusion of slot, movie and video games, with every slot developer pushing the boundaries hoping to be the one that comes up with the next big thing, like Big Time Gaming did with their Megaways technology.
We love slots and we honestly believe that innovation is never wrong, especially when we are talking about slots. Innovation has given us world class slot machines such as Jack and the Beanstalk from NetEnt (the world’s first 3D slot), Bonanza from Big Time Gaming (first ever Megaways slot) and Mega Moolah from Microgaming (first ever progressiv slot to make it into “Guinness book of world records”).
The list goes on, but no matter what the likes of NetEnt, Yggdrasil and Playtech come up with next, the classic slots live on. Not only do they live on, but players love them so much that new “modern classics” are still being developed by some of the biggest developers in the iGaming industry.
How to get started with slots
Since you are still reading, it seems clear that you have a passion for slots and you would like to learn more. So let’s get started with a short dictionary.
- Reels: Classics often have 3 reels, whilst more modern slots have 5, and some special slots have 6 or even 7
- Symbols: The pictures on the reels, which often consists of different types of fruit and jokers on classic slots. On modern slots it can be anything, often related to the theme of the slot
- Paylines: The lines that similar symbols must land on to secure you a win. A slot can have from 1 line (classic slots), to more than 100,000 lines (Megaways)
- Wild symbol: A symbol that can replace any other paying symbol
- Scatter: A special symbol that often hides free spins or bonus game
- Bonus symbol: A special symbol, often the logo of the slot, that hides a bonus game
- Min wager: The minimum number of coins you can play for on a single spin
- Max wager: The maximum number of coins you can play for on a single spin
- Max bet button: A button that automatically sets your wager to the max amount of coins
- Heads or tail button: Comes on classic slots and lets you gamble a win in a “double or nothing” game
- Auto play: The slots spins a number of spins automatically without you having to push the spin button. On some slots you can set a max win limit and a max lose limit that will stop the auto play
- RTP: Return To Player. The theoretically return to the player. I.e. if the RTP is 96.5%, which is sort of the standard these days, the slot will in theory pay out 96.5% of all wagers in winnings. Note: The RTP is calculated over the slot’s lifetime and not for a single session.
- Jackpot: A set amount of money that can be won by any player either randomly or by landing a specific combination of symbols.
- Progressive Jackpot: A jackpot that grows constantly as players from all over the world plays the same slot in different online casinos
- Pay Both Ways: Most slots count a win from left to right, but Pay Both Ways slots also count wins from right to left
- RNG: Random Numbers Generator. This insures that the result of any spin is completely random (RNG is also used on virtuel table games like roulette and baccarat)
The first thing we recommend that you do is start playing classic slots such as Joker 8000 and Wheel of Wealth from Microgaming, Jackpot Jester 50,000 from NextGen Gaming, Fire Joker from Play’n GO and the immortal Mega Joker from NetEnt.
Some of these slot machines are quite old (such as Mega Joker and Wheel of Wealth), whilst others were launched in the last couple of years (such as Fire Joker). The importance of starting off with slots like this is to give you somewhat of a soft beginning. That way you can appreciate and understand where modern 3D slots with Disney like graphics and wins of more than 10,000 x wager, come from.
The classic slots also come with few functions, so they’re easy to understand when you’re a newbie. The slots we have recommended are all 3 reel slots with fairly low wagers. That way you don’t risk too much money when you are still learning the ropes.
Getting to grips with the 5 reel slots
After getting to know the classics, you should move on to the 5 reel slots which offer a lot more functions, paylines and of course much bigger wins. The 5 reel slots are the basic of most slots online today and even though we have 7 reels slots and Megaway slots with expanding reels and more that 100,000 paylines, the 5 reel slot is still the mac daddy and the one you are likely to play the most.
The biggest difference between classic slots and 5 reel slots is the number of paylines and the special functions that are a lot more common on the 5 reelers. So what are all these functions and what exactly do they do?
- Wild symbol: The most common function on any slot. The wild symbol takes on all sorts of designs, but always works in the same way. The symbol can fill in for all normal symbols and help you make winning lines even if you don’t have three of the same symbol on one payline
- Sticky Wild: A wild symbol that gets stuck to the reels. Often seen during re-spin and free spins
- Walking wild: A wild symbol that will “walk” from one reel to the next during re-spins or free spins
- Random wilds: Wild symbols are randomly added to the reels, often after a no-win spin
- Stacked wilds: Wild symbols that land stacked on the same reel
- Free spins: Normally hidden behind the scatter symbol. Land three or more scatter symbols on the same spin and you will win a set number of free spins. A free spin is simply the same as any other spin, except it’s free
- Re-spins: Basically the same as free spins, but you don’t need the scatter. Often you will get a re-spin when you almost had a winning spin
- Bonus game: Usually you get to play the bonus game if you land three or more scatter symbols or three or more bonus symbols. The bonus game can be a variety of games such as “double or nothing” or “click and pick”. We always recommend that you read the instructions so that you know what to do in the bonus game before you start
- Multiplier: The multiplier is a great function that will multiply any win. The multiplier can be random or connected to free spins or bonus games. Normally the multiplier will be between x 2 and x 10, but you can also find slot machines with progressive multipliers that have no limit!
- Nudge: A cool function first seen many decades ago that has made somewhat of a comeback lately. Land an almost winning line and the slot will “nudge” the reels so that winning symbols fall in place
- Cascading reels: A function that has been a massive hit ever since NetEnt launched the slot Gonzo’s Quest. Known as cascading reels, drop symbols and avalanche, all winning symbols will in one way or another be removed from the reels before new symbols fall in place and you get a chance to create another set of winning paylines without wagering. It’s a bit like getting a semi re-spin
- Expanding Reels: Two functions in one. The first one is where one symbol, often the wild symbol, will expand and cover a whole reel. The other one is where all reels expand horizontally and vertically, adding numerous new paylines. The latter is often combined with cascading reels
A last tip from us would be that you don’t get too cocky when you’re still learning to play slots online. It will take time, but if you stick to it, start off slow and use this little checklist to understand all the different functions and how they work, you will be a slot pro in no time.