An unmistakable part of any casino is of course the slot machine, which is also known as a fruit machine, video slot or simply a slot. Even though they might seem the same from a distance, they come in a great variety and belong to the most popular ways to gamble in any casino. In this aspect, nothing has change much since the early days of the slot machine as they are still immensely popular, also in their virtual form at online casinos in their.
The popularity of slots can be put down to two main reasons. First of all, it is the simplicity of play. With most slots, you simply have to push the button or pull a lever to play, with the result of the game becoming visible on the screen without requiring you to do anything for it or to make any decision whatsoever. While not everyone might be as good in a card game like poker, literally everyone will be able to play on slots as it is all down to luck with no real skills required. Second, slots offer some of the highest amounts of money in prizes at every casino. While many table games have fixed payouts per game if you win, this is not always the case with slots as many have progressive jackpots which can run into the millions of dollars. What’s better than to win such a big amount with the single press of a button when you only bet a single dollar?
Differences between online slots and those in land-based casinos
It is impossible to imagine any land-based casino without a huge amount of slots. Those clinging sounds of spinning wheels, of people hitting the jackpot, of coins coming out of the machines – these are the sounds and sights which define the whole casino experience. Even though there will not be any coins bursting out of your laptop screen if you hit the jackpot with an online casino, the whole slots experience is certainly also available online as there are thousands of slot machines here as well you can chose from. Still, there are quite some differences between land-based slots and their online counterparts which are worth discussing.
The first differences we already shortly described above. There is a difference when it comes to the whole slot experience between playing online or in a real land-based casino. Some of us prepare the madhouse of all these sounds and sights, the people, the casino atmosphere of a night out with a drink in your hand, while others prefer to play at home in a more sedate and calm atmosphere. The advantage of the latter is that you can play from the comfort of your house. You do not have to dress up or travel a long distance to play in a casino, as slots at online casinos are accessible 24/7 wherever you are. Whether you want to play behind your computer, from bed on your laptop, or in public transport from your smartphone – all is possible.
Quality of slots
Although land-based casinos might have the old-fashioned slot machine charm which online casinos don’t have, online casino’s have often an advantage when it comes to the quality of games. There are nowadays state-of-the-art video slots which almost feel like playing a computer game. If you like such video slots with beautiful graphics, sound effects and in-game surprises, then you are better off playing online. The sheer variety of slots is also most often bigger online than in land-based casinos for the simple reasons that there are no real restrictions online when it comes to space. If an online casino can afford to buy a new online slot, they will offer it to you as a customer. In a land-based casino, there are restrictions when it comes to floor space, while these real-time slots are also often more expensive than their digital equivalent online.
There is no difference in the potential amounts of money you can win. Both land-based casinos as well as their online counterparts are regulated by the same gambling authorities demanding fair payout rates and honest gameplay, so you are as likely winning that big jackpot online as you would be visiting your home casino or one in Vegas. That said, there is a vast difference when it comes to spending your money in the best possible ways as online casinos have some benefits which you will not get at land-based casinos.
If you sign up for a new account at an online casino you often get a nice welcome bonus either at the moment you register or when you make your first deposit. This can be a monetary bonus on top of the amount you deposit which can be used for playing slots, as well as often a certain amount of free spins. This is of course great as you basically get free opportunities to earn a nice amount of money. Who wouldn’t say no to a free chance to earn the jackpot? Another great opportunity which you have at online casinos is that you often have the chance to try out slots in some kind of test or trial modus. This is great especially for newcomers as you can learn you way around all the options and plays on a certain slot before you start to wage your own money on it.
How do you play and win at a slot machine?
Most of the slots work in the same way, so if you understand the general idea behind them you will not face many problems to play on any kind of slot you encounter. The first slots which were invented were rather simple, and even though there are nowadays highly complicated slots, the principle is the same. All slots have a button (or a handle in case of physical slots at land-based casinos) which you can press to make the wheels on a slot machine spin. These wheels have different symbols printed on them – and the goal is to get matching symbols in the same row.
Each spin will cost you a certain amount of money. You first thus have to make sure you put enough coins or tokens into a physical slot at a land-based casino, or make sure you have enough cash on your online casino account if you happen to play online. Most slots have a minimum and maximum amount you can bet with each press of the button. This can vary wildly for each slot, so if you are looking for a slot with low limits if you have a tiny budget or if you are a beginner, or rather want to bet big as a high roller, you should look for something that fits your needs. You can determine with each spin how much you want to bet. Of course, the more you bet, the more you can potentially win.
Pressing the button
After pressing the button and watching the wheels spin, you will them slowing down in speed until the moment when they come to a standstill showing the outcome of the game. If these symbols match, you will win a certain amount of money!
Back in the days of the first slot machines the same symbols were used over and over again. Slots were often called ‘fruit machines’ back then due to many of the symbols being fruits, such as cherries or lemons. Even though slots are nowadays vastly different in appearance, having thousands of different themes and symbols, the name stuck as slots are often still referred to as fruit machines. Fun fact: most online casinos still have one or two of these old-fashioned fruit machines if you like to play in true retro style.
The rules of slot machines
Besides the generic explanation above which basically runs true for every slot machine, it is hard to detail more specific rules as the details can vary a lot between slots. This is why we always suggest to first read through the game rules of each specific slot before you start playing as there might be vital information here which is important to know, such as which symbol combinations earns the highest payouts and what the exact possibilities are to get such combinations. Some casinos do have a free trial mode where you can play for fake credits or just for fun – which is a great way to learn the rules of a new slot.
Especially when it comes to the modern slots this might be sound advice. While old fruit machines most of the times only had three wheels and you just had to make sure that on the middle line the symbols would match, new slots might even have up to ten wheels and also allow for diagonal combinations instead of just one horizontal line which must be filled with matching symbols. These modern slots also often include bonus games which you can unlock and where you can earn extra credits, cash or prizes. If you suddenly unlock such a game, we advice you to carefully read the rules as well so you know what to expect.
The one term which is key to understand when it comes to playing slots is the payline. This is the line on which you must have matching symbols in order to earn a prize – or to say it better: to get paid out. It is by far the easiest to explain this using an example. Below you see a simplified, schematic version of the screen of an old-fashioned fruit machine. As you can see it has three wheels which spin vertically. If you spin the button, the wheels will spin and when they come to a standstill, symbols will appear in your screen.
The yellow line is what is a payline. In this example it is the most basic payline you can get when playing slots, as it is just the middle horizontal line on which you need to try to get matching symbols. On this simplified example of an old-fashioned fruit machine, you will see that you have a 7, a lemon, and another lemon. As these are not three matching symbols, you will not win anything.
Most slot machines allow you to lock one wheel or multiple wheels and take one extra spin. This can be helpful in the above case if you might need one more symbol to complete a payline full of matching symbols. Opinions whether or not this is a good thing to do differ, although most people would say it depends on the possible payout you can earn. If the lemon is the lowest-ranked symbol on your slot it might not be a smart idea and you are better off starting to spin all three wheels again. If it is a symbol where three in a row gives you a high payout, it might be worth it.
If for example you might have bet a single euro on the above slot to come to the situation in our example, it means you need to wage another euro if you want to lock wheel 2 and wheel 3 and spin wheel 1 again in the hope for a final lemon. If you lock symbols, you cannot alter your bet and have to place the bet at the same height as your previous spin. If you will have sufficient credits on your online casino account this will all happen automatically.
If you go for this option, you will see that only wheel 1 will spin while 2 and 3 remain locked and will not move. If wheel 1 turns out to be a lemon, congratulations, you win! If it is not a lemon, then bad luck! You cannot try a third time with the two wheels locked, and with the next bet, all three wheels will spin again.
Let’s assume in the above case that after you have managed to get three lemons in a row, either at your first attempt or on your second bet after having locked the wheels.
Your payout will depend on two things: the amount of money which you have bet, and the payout rate. In this case your bet was one single euro. You know have to look up the payout rates for three lemons in a row. Let’s say that for our example the payout rate is 20 to 1. So for every euro bet, you earn 20. In this case, the slot will automatically deposit 20 euro back in your account, either in money or in the equivalent of playing credits.
Paylines at modern slot machines
Our above example is an extremely simplified version of a slot. Nowadays slots are much more complex than the old-fashioned fruit machine we put in the simple scheme above. There are slots that can have up to 10 spinning wheels and perhaps a hundred different symbols. That might seem a disadvantage at first as you might think you now need 10 matching symbols in a row, but that is really not the case. The great thing about these modern slots is that there are often multiple paylines and that there are much more payout combinations aside from just basic matching symbols.
Let’s have a look at the following example of a slightly more complex slot machine which has four wheels instead of three and also three payout lines instead of just one.
In this example of our fictitious slot machine you need to try to get matching symbols on a payline as well, with the big difference of course that here you have three possibilities for that. There are two horizontal paylines (shown in simplified view in red and green horizontal lines), as well as one diagonal payline (yellow). In this case, you would win and get a certain payout for having four cherries in the diagonal payline.
Playing different paylines
Most modern slots which have multiple paylines have the option to preselect how many of them you want to include. With some slots you automatically pay on all paylines, while other slots you must select in advance on how many (and which) paylines you want to play. Such slots are different from others in the way that here you have to pay for each payline separately. For example, if a slot has 10 paylines, you can select to play with only five of the ten paylines with 0.50 EUR per payline. This means that every push of the button to spin the wheels would cost you 2.50 EUR in total. You can also put the settings of this slot to play all ten paylines for 0.25 EUR per payline, or just one payline for 2.50 EUR. Even though in all examples you bet the same amount per spin, the payouts and chances of winning will be different.
Do think in advance what best suits your style of play and what you want to achieve. If you have a small budget, you might want to play with a smaller number of paylines in order not to get through your entire gambling budget too quickly on an evening of gambling if you happen to hit a bad streak. If you really want to earn the jackpot and play for high stakes, you might want to maximise your bets and play on as many paylines as possible.
Lots of the slot machines which you can play online a world apart from the old-fashioned fruit machines. Besides the beautiful graphics and smooth gameplay, many offer a number of additional bonus games which you can unlock during the game. Some might simply appear automatically, while for others you need to get a certain combination of symbols.
You have to see these game as a fun extra. They are basically mini games which might last only one or two minutes and which allow you to earn for free – thus without betting an additional amount – some extra credits or cash. These games can differ vastly between slots. Some might be a game of skill similar to games you can find on your computer, think for example a mini game of Tetris which require your full active attention. Others might be more simple, for example a virtual dog race in which you need to guess in advance which one will win, with the only thing you need to do is to sit back and relax while the dogs race each other on the screen until they reach the finish line.
When such games are over, you get paid out extra credits or cash if you managed to complete the bonus game. If not, nothing is lost and nothing will happen. In all cases, the normal slot machine dynamics will continue after the short interruption. If for whatever reason you are really not fond of such games, there is often the possibility to skip this, but why would you when it is a free chance to win some extra? As with slots in general, we advice you to read the rules of each bonus game before you start playing to maximise your winnings.
Fixed payout slots
About a third of all casino income comes from slots, so it is not a surprise that casinos also spend a huge amount of their profit in payouts at these machines. The biggest earnings in casinos can be had playing slots. There are basically two categories of slots, those with a fixed maximum payout limit, as well as those called progressive or jackpot slots.
The first category has a fixed payout scheme and upper limit. For example, a slot machine can have a maximum payout of 10,000 EUR if you might hit five diamonds in a row. Other combinations would also earn lower amounts, for example five gold bars giving you 5,000 EUR, all the way down to the lowest category of five bananas earning you just a payout of 5 EUR. These slots are a favourite of many as you know exactly what to expect.
It might however depend on your bet if you can earn the full amount in earnings. If we take the same example and assume that the maximum bet is 1 EUR and minimum bet 0.10 EUR, then you might only be able to get the 10,000 EUR prize if you get the five diamonds while betting 1 EUR. If you would hit the diamonds while betting only 0,10 EUR – it automatically means you earn just 10 percent of that, so just 1,000 EUR instead of 10,000 EUR. By all means, if you have a small budget go for lower bets, but do take into account that payouts will be lower as well.
The second category of slots are the jackpot slots, which are also called progressive slots. These slots are different from the ones with a fixed payout we described above in the way that the highest prize you can win – the jackpot – is constantly growing. This is perhaps best compared to the lottery, where the main prize also rise with each consecutive draw as long as nobody guesses the winning numbers right. With progressive slots this is not much different. Remember that with every casino game – slots included – the house will win more on average than it has to pay out to gamblers. Sure, there are many gamblers earning smaller amounts from these slots, but the majority of people will lose more money than they win. The money which goes into these slots will be added to the progressive jackpot of the slot, which will continue to rise until the moment when someone wins it.
These jackpots can often be really high. There are online casinos where the online jackpot runs into the tens of millions of dollars. Most casinos have one or two of such progressive slots besides the array of standard slots, which form the bulk of all slot machines at every casino. Needless to say, they are extremely popular with gamblers due to the high amount of money you can potentially win.
Which slot should I play?
This does not automatically means that you should only play at such progressive jackpot slots. First of all, to win the jackpot you often have to place bets of a minimum size. It can be the case that a jackpot slot has the rule that you can only win the entire jackpot with bets of 5 EUR for each spin. Any winning combination with a lower payout will not grant you the jackpot in this case but just a substantially lower amount. While many might be tempted to hit the button a few times just for fun or for a short attempt at the jackpot, not many gamblers can afford to play an hour on such sluts if they need to cough up five euro for each spin. If your budget is small, you might be well-advised to check the regular slots as they often have lower minimum betting limits.
It can also be that such progressive jackpots pay out to less people that regular slots. While of course it is nice if you would win the jackpot, the chance of it is extremely low. Compared to normal slots, these jackpot games might at times pay out much less in the middle category, say payouts between 10 and 100 EUR, while normal slots might frequently earn you small bits of money while you play.
Slots are regulated by the gambling authorities in such a way that they are approved with a fixed return-to-player (RTP) percentage, which means the amount of money they need to return to the player which is waged in total. For example, if a slot has a RTP of 80%, it means that for every 100 euro waged at the slot, 80 euro needs to be returned in winnings to the players. Of course this does not mean that if you bet 100 euro you will have won 80 euro. Perhaps you might walk home with 1,000 EUR after betting 100 euro. Perhaps you might have bet it all and not won a single penny. Don’t forget that the RTP is an average which is based over all gamblers combined!
It can therefore easily be that some of the slots which look like having higher jackpot prizes might actually have lower RTPs than the slots with lower maximum prizes. However, a higher or lower RTP does not necessarily make one slot better than the other. This would depend entirely on your goal. Sure, a slot with a higher RTP might be better in general if your goal is just to have some fun and to earn a decent sized amount. But if your goal is only to have a shot at a high progressive jackpot, then this doesn’t matter much at all to you.
Another factor often overlooked with slots is the fun factor. Of course, you ideally want to earn lots of money and play on the slot with the highest RTP and the best payouts. It can be that those slots are the more boring ones at a casino, while the high profile ones with universally liked themes have slightly lower RTPs. These slots are however generally considered as much more fun to play. You would have to make a decision here!
There are so many slots to select when you visit an online casino. There are online casinos on the internet which have a database of more than 1,000 slots! Your choices are literally endless. There are retro fruit machines, but also highly futuristic slots with dozens of paylines and amazing bonus games. Then there are slots which have special themes, such as for example those designed after a famous film or after a celebrity or event. Think for example a Jackie Chan slot, or one themed after Home Alone, Jumanji or James Bond. Then there are the ones themed after the Egyptian pharaohs and Cleopatra, or the Romans or Aztecs. There is for sure always something to your liking when you search through the catalogue of slots at every online casino.
And why not try out multiple slots? You are free to try out as many as you want until you found one which you like best. Is the medieval knights slot disappointing? Perhaps try the Japanese samurai slot. Do you like the Japanese samurai slot, but do you so simply not win enough times to make it worth? Try another one to see if you have more luck at that one! The sky is the limit.
Try it out!
Want to try your hand at slot machines? We have listed the best online casinos which offer a variety of slots, from those with fixed payouts as those with high progressive jackpots offering the chance to become a millionaire. All these online casinos offer great bonuses as well as free spins for new customers, so take a look and sign up!