Slots 101: Your Guide to All Things Slots

Find out all you need to know about slot machines, both land-based and online 


Introduction to slots

Have you been wondering about slots? Are you a long-time land-based player looking to have more fun with online slots? New to the world of slot machines or have never been to a casino before? 

This article will tell you everything you need to know about slot machines. We’ll start with the history of classic slots before discussing the evolution of video slot machines, and online slots. Next, we’ll jump into a description of different types of slot machines and a glossary of important terms for slot machine players to know. By the end you’ll be a slots expert.

777 illustration slot machine


Land-based versus online slots

Simply put, land-based slot machines are those that you find in casinos that you visit in person. Whether you’re taking a weekend trip to Las Vegas or Atlantic City with friends or bigger trips to far off gambling centers such as Macau, the slot machines you play in casinos are land-based. 

Land-based slot machines go all the way back to the late 1800s in San Francisco, where they were first kept in store entrances to entertain people who were passing by. Early slot machines gave winnings in the form of chewing gum and golf balls before cash prizes became common. 

The earliest slot machine technology was made of mechanical reels powered by random number generators. As computer technology became more advanced, computerized video slots have changed the slot playing experience for the better. Game play has become richer and more diverse with complex game themes. Moreover, the jackpot potential is bigger because machines aren’t limited to how many reels can physically fit into the back of the machine.  

As the years went on and technology has become more advanced, slot machines have become popular in casinos all over the world. In many places, they have become even more popular than table games such as poker and blackjack. Not only are they fun and entertaining, but they often offer the opportunity for big jackpots on small wagers without too much skill.  

Online slots have taken slot machines to the next level. First of all, they offer players the opportunity to play 24/7, whenever, wherever. It is not always easy to travel to a casino to play the slots, but players who are interested can now get the same experience from the comfort of their only living room. Whether you want to play on your computer or phone, online slots offer a thrilling entertainment experience from anywhere in the world.  

Online slots are based on constantly evolving technology that engage players with new changing themes and fun features. Play experiences online are more varied, which means that you’ll never be bored with the same thing twice. That’s why millions of people all over the world love to be entertained by online slots.  

Fruit machine mobile slot


Get to know different types of slots machines

3 reel classic slots – This refers to the traditional slot style of three analogue reels, without many of the thrills of more modern slot machines. This style appears to many veteran slot machine users who are looking for the simple and classic experience. 

5 reel slots – 5 reel slots build on 3 reel slots with an additional two reels. Having more rows ups the potential for available paylines. On the other hand, it is not unusual for payouts to be smaller. However, many 5 reel slots have at least one bonus feature or a wild symbol which replaces regular symbols.  

Progressive slots – Progressive slots tend to have high volatility. In other words, there is potential for a massive jackpot, but it may be hard to achieve.  Furthmore, often the maximum jackpot can only be achieved with a maximum bet. Online slots are programmed with random number generators, meaning it is impossible to predict a win – but higher volatility can mean that if you win, you win big.  

Video slots – This kind of slot machine has more graphics and diverse gameplay than a classic slot because of virtual animation. Many on the higher end of the spectrum have quality sound effects, graphics and animation, and have become the norm in many casinos online around the world – in addition to being the only kind of slots online.  

Mega spin slots – This feature means that a machine has more than one set of reels in a single machine – more variety, more entertainment. Mega spins slots are made so that players will never get bored of seeing the same content twice.  

Slots multipliers – Multipliers work to increase player winnings by multiplying bets, line wins and total wins. The multiplier symbol lands during either the base or bonus game to signify the amount which is multiplied.  

Jackpot slots – Many slot machines feature different kinds of jackpots, that can range from a few dollars to a few thousand dollars. In general, smaller rewards are easier to win, while larger rewards are rarer and require higher bets.  

Multi-payline slots – Multi-payline slots are a product of technology’s ability to add more features in slot games, which have become more diverse in terms of animation, sound and graphics. Multi-payline slots means that that there are multiple payouts on winning combinations across reels. If a game has more paylines, then a player is more likely to score a win.  

3D slots – 3D slots are designed to make a user feel as if they are having a 3D experience, without needing the glasses. If you enjoy lots of stimulation from sounds and animations, then this kind of slot is for you.  

Vegas slots – This refers to the classic, unbeatable style of slot machines from Las Vegas. Nowadays, many online slots are designed to recreate the Vegas experience for those looking to enjoy it from the comfort of their own homes.  

Vegas slot machine


Glossary of slots: your complete guide to slots terminology 

RTP – Return to Player: the percentage of money a player earns back compared to how much they have wagered 

Pokies – the Australian term for slot machines 

Multi Spin – available on online slot machines only, these slots feature multiple sets of reels 

Fruit Machines – offshoot of a classic slot machine featuring only fruit symbols, and typically less complex graphics than many modern digital slots 

High Roller Slots – as opposed to penny slots, these slots offer higher payouts for those willing to wager higher pets 

Bonus Games and Features – extra games or features within online slots 

Auto Play – feature on online slots that enables a player to choose a preset number of spins without having to press spin each time 

Bet Max – the maximum amount a player can bet on a slot machine 

Coin Size– available in penny up to $5 slots – Coin Size allows players to vary the increments of money the wager  

Fixed Jackpot – jackpot always stays the same  

Free Spins – a bonus feature offered on many slot machines  

Loose Slot – slots that offer players higher payback percentages 

Mechanical Slots – classic slot machines whose reels operate mechanically rather than digitally 

Traditional slot machines that have physical reels rather than the video equivalents. 

One-Armed Bandit – refers to early slot machine mechanisms whereby a player had to pull down a large lever to operate the machine 

Pay-line – a straight or zigzagged line that crosses a particular symbol across reels 

Payout Percentage – the percentage of money a slot machine should return to a player over time 

Pay Table – a reference for players on a slot machine to show players different winning combinations and how many credits each combination is worth 

Progressive Jackpot – the jackpot continues to grow until it is won 

Random Number Generator – mathematically based computer program that randomized slot machine results from all possible number sequences 

Reels – the strips that spin inside the slot machine screen. When symbols on reels match up, the player wins 

Scatter – a scatter symbol that appears on a reel unlocks free spins, special features and bonus games 

Symbol – the different icons on slot machine reels – popular ones include fruit, dollar signs, number sevens, and money bags, but can be many other signs as well 

Tight Slot – less frequent payout than loose slot machines 

Wild Symbol – wild symbols substitute for winning symbols on the reels if they land in their place Winning Combination – casinos decide winning combinations in advance, and a player can win by getting one 

Slot spin win money


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