Mastering the Art of Playing Online Slots

A basic understanding of how online slot games work may be enough for some but if you don’t belong in that group, this guide will definitely interest you!

As we’ve mentioned before in our introduction to online slot games, it’s incredibly easy to learn how to play this particular casino game. In fact, someone can play and even potentially win a tidy sum from it without really knowing how it works or what they’re actually doing. This speaks to the accessibility of slots in general and is proof that you don’t need a complex strategy to enjoy a nice round of reel-spinning action.

Of course, just knowing what’s going on every time you start a slot game will go a long way to helping you increase your chances of winning… but why stop there? While it’s true that there is no means of predicting or even creating the results you want since they’re completely random, this doesn’t mean you’re completely at the mercy of the slots. The easiest and most straightforward thing you can do is further increase your knowledge so that you can make smart decisions and that’s exactly what you can do on this page!

As the word suggests, ‘payouts’ refers to the money from all the wagers placed on a casino game that is ‘paid out’ to the players in the form of winnings. All slot games whether they’re online or offline are usually programmed to do this at a set percentage which varies from game to game. Unsurprisingly, this percentage is referred to as the ‘theoretical payout percentage’ or ‘return to player’ which is more often than not referred to as simply RTP.

If this seems a bit confusing to you, here’s a quick and straightforward example to clarify what this means:

A slot game has a payout percentage of 95% and a set bet value of $1. Over a sufficiently long period of time, players wager a grand total of $1,000,000 on the game. Based on these calculations, an average of $950,000 will be paid out by the game to its players over a sufficiently long period of time.

However, take note that payout percentages do not affect how much you can win much less your individual chances of scoring a win in the first place; these numbers take into account all the players who have played the game, not just you. In other words, a high payout percentage does not mean you’re more likely become a big winner by playing that particular slot game as opposed to another game with a lower percentage.

While most slot games do not actively promote their payout percentages, it is relatively easy to find out this bit of information. Casino game reviews are the easiest way to achieve this but a bit of sleuthing in the game’s information pages or the gaming providers’ websites should also yield the intended results.

At the most basic level, both paylines and ways to win are essentially how you get those slot game wins you want… but that’s where their similarities end. For starters, something you might have noticed is that payline slot games usually have a much smaller number attached to them compared to ways to win slot games. This is actually what separates the two as paylines never go higher than 40 so anything above that number constitutes a way to win.

However, that doesn’t mean their differences are merely superficial; this limit actually ties into how each system operates. Paylines are lines that run from left to right and you get a win if the same symbols land on at least one of those lines. Meanwhile, ways to win games don’t require identical symbols to form end-to-end lines or even for said symbols to be close to one another in order to award a win.

So which system should you choose? It’s actually a matter of personal preference based on what you’re after. Payline slot games tend to have bigger payouts compared to ways to win slot games and allow you to choose how many paylines you want to bet, allowing you better control of your bankroll. Because of the way they work, ways to win slot games tend to award payouts more frequently and can thus be rewarding without the need to bet the maximum amount allowed.

If it helps, ‘volatility’ has less ominous alternative names like ‘variance’ and ‘dispersion’ but all these words still refer to the same relatively innocuous thing: the amount of risk involved in playing any casino game. In the context of slot games, it tells players how often they can expect a payout and the expected size of said payout should they score a win. There are three levels of slot volatility which are high, low and medium.

High volatility slots are all about big risks and big rewards; whenever you hear about a massive win on a slot in the casino news circuit, there’s a very high chance it was on a high volatility slot. All jackpot games therefore naturally fall into this category since their jackpot amounts tend to be in the millions. This is why most high volatility slots surprisingly have high payout percentages; there may not be many wins throughout a short run but someone will win big with just one spin or through a bonus feature in the long run.

On the other end of the spectrum are low volatility slots which have much lower payout amounts but a higher frequency of winning among its players. This means that you will more than likely win quite a few times as you keep playing but probably won’t be seeing any jaw-dropping numbers when that happens. In other words, it’s the low-risk option in the world of slot volatility, making them ideal for new and casual slot players.

Meanwhile, medium volatility slots naturally occupy the middle ground between both the above categories and offer players a balanced mix of the two. With this happy compromise, you will see small- and medium-sized payouts on a relatively frequent basis and still have the chance to score that coveted big win. (Just don’t expect to become a millionaire overnight.)

To summarise, the three slot volatility levels appeal to three different slot player mind-sets which are:

High: “Go big or go home!”

Low: “I’m just here to have some fun.”

Medium: “Enjoy the ride but dream big at the same time.”

Unlike payout percentages, finding out the volatility of a slot game is a little harder but the information can be unearthed with a little digging. Ads produced by gaming providers and casino game reviews are your best bet.

To put it simply, slot game features are your ticket to those wins you want to get no matter whether they’re big or small. The added plus is they’re more often than not accompanied by entertaining visual effects and music so you’ll feel even more excited when you trigger them. There are quite a few of them thanks to gaming providers exercising the full range of their creativity when creating their offerings but here are the most common ones:

Wild Symbols

The joker card of slot games, Wild symbols can serve as substitutes for any paying symbols on the reels and thus help form winning combinations. Thanks to gaming providers experimenting with new ways of using this mechanic, the Wild symbols in many games have additional dynamic effects that could lead to even bigger wins.

Scatter Symbols

Unlike the other symbols, Scatter symbols don’t need to fall on a payline in order to grant you their promised reward; as long as there are enough of them scattered across the reels, they’ll trigger. (That’s where the name comes from.) What you get as a result varies from game to game with the common rewards being a straight win, free spins or a bonus game.

Free Spins

Everyone loves free things and when it comes to slot games, that naturally means free spins which are… well, spins that are on the house. Slot games tend to award free spins when a minimum number of the relevant Scatter symbol populates its reels. Any wins achieved during these free spins are typically calculated based on the bet value of the spin that triggered them.

Bonus Games

Exactly as advertised, bonus games are mini-games within slot games which are usually triggered when enough Scatter symbols appear on the reels. These tend to be designed to closely follow the slot game’s theme and can be immensely rewarding if you’re skilled or lucky (or, in some cases, both).

Progressive Jackpots

Just like how a group of slot machines in a brick and mortar casino can be linked together to create a large shared jackpot, some slot games apply the same concept using the internet. In cases like these which are called progressive jackpots, every player spinning away at that specific game is contributing to the pool and any one of them can win it regardless of where they are.

Gamble Features

Ever wanted to see if you can push your luck just that little bit further after you’ve already scored a win? Then you’re looking for the gamble feature which allows you to gamble your winnings and potentially double them. Most gamble features will have you choose red or black and typically allow up to five consecutive such gambles (provided you were successful the first four times, that is).

Multiplier Symbols

When they help form winning combinations, multiplier symbols do exactly what you would expect them to do: multiply your winnings based on the number displayed on them. Now that’s a good reason to start loving math!

Cascading Reels

Who says the action has to stop when the reels stop spinning? Or even that they have to spin in the first place? Some slot games have their symbols fall into place from above instead, hence the ‘cascading’ in the name of the feature. Several titles make things even more exciting by having the symbols that form winning combinations disappear, allowing the symbols on top and new ones to fall down and fill the newly emptied spots. If you’re lucky, they’ll form more winning combinations and you’ll find yourself experiencing an avalanche of a big win!

You’re pretty much set at this point but you should know that the world of slot games is constantly evolving so there’s always something new and novel out there waiting to be experienced. If you’re feeling adventurous but don’t want to use real cash just yet, you’ll be happy to know that almost all slot games have a ‘play for fun’ mode where you can try them out for free!

Not sure where to begin? Don’t worry, we’ve got a few slot games you can play for free to recommend to you. Go check them out!

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