Slots easily claim the title of being the most sought-after game in both landbased and online casinos. This is anything but surprising since the rules of play are quite easy to master, so practically anyone can join in for a few spins of the reels and potentially hit a lucrative cash prize. Being an extremely dynamic type of game, slots attract both seasoned and inexperienced players with their high entertainment value and have a plethora of exciting features to offer.
The history of slots can be traced back to 1895 when American car mechanic Charles Fey devised the prototype of the first slot machine in his San Francisco workshop. The machine was named the Liberty Bell after one of the symbols Fey used on the three spinning reels. A few years later, Chicago entrepreneur Charles Mills teamed up with Fey to make a few improvements to the Liberty Bell and introduced the vibrant fruit symbols we are familiar with today. And the rest, as the saying goes, is history. Slot machines quickly gained popularity and became the most widespread game in brick-and-mortar gambling venues throughout the world.
Thanks to the rapid advent of technologies, slots made it to the portfolios of hundreds of web-based gambling operators, allowing enthusiastic players to spin the reels on their desktop computers from the comfort of their homes. What is more, there is a mind-blowing variety of quality slot titles to choose from, and each one offers a range of great features which aim at rendering players’ gaming experience even more rewarding.
Some of the available slots even offer colossal progressive jackpots that can truly change players’ lives. Furthermore, leading casino software developers have made it possible for slot fans to bag a prize while on the go since many of the games have been adapted for mobile play.
Basics to Online Slots
Prior to betting on any online slot, players should first learn the basic rules of play, which, thankfully, are quite simple to master. The first thing you need to do is adjust your coin value, which usually ranges between 0.01 and 1.00 but it all depends on your slot of choice. Then, you need to adjust your multiplier, or how many coins to bet per active payline. So if you choose to bet 2 coins of 0.05 value on 20 paylines, you are practically betting a total of 2 credits per spin.
The number of paylines corresponds to the number of ways players can win in a given slot. Modern online slots typically have multiple paylines that sometimes can exceed 50 in number. These paylines run across the reels horizontally, diagonally, vertically, or even take on zigzagging or V shapes. The greater the number of active paylines, the bigger your chances of landing a winning combination on the reels. The available paylines are usually explained in the slot’s paytable alongside the payouts for different winning combinations.
Another thing worth mentioning is that the paylines can either be fixed or adjustable. On slots with adjustable paylines, players are enabled to select which lines to play and bet only on the activated paylines. This is not so on slots with fixed paylines as in this case, you are required to play all lines on each spin. Thus, if you play a slot with 25 fixed paylines at the lowest coin denomination of 0.01 and bet one coin per line, you will spend £0.25 per spin.
Once players have adjusted their coin value, the number of coins per payline and which lines to play, they simply need to click the Spin button to set the virtual reels in motion and wait for the outcome. Speaking of outcomes, the result of each spin of the reels is decided by programmes, called Random Number Generators (RNG), producing long sequences of random numbers which determine the combination of symbols players land on the reels. Practically the RNGs determine the outcome the very moment players hit the Spin button. Predicting the outcome is impossible as each spin of the reels is random and is not affected by previous or subsequent spins.
Types of Slots to Play Online
Originally, casino enthusiasts were presented with the opportunity to play only 3-reel slots, which have now attained the status of classics. Such classic slots have only three vertical sections or reels that rotate whenever the player pulls the lever of landbased slots or hits the Spin button when playing online. These classic slots often offer a single payline that is spread across the middle of the reels, but it is possible to find online 3-reel slots where the number of paylines varies between three and nine. Fruits like lemons, plums and cherries as well as lucky sevens and single, double or triple bars are the most common symbols, used on 3-reel slots.
Naturally, adding more reels to the slot will increase the number of possible combinations, which is why most advanced online video slots feature five reels. This has now become the standard, although it is possible to find online slots where up to seven reels are used. The symbols on 5-reel video slots are no longer restricted to fruits and bars only.
Each video slot has a unique theme and symbols that relate to it. But more importantly, advanced 5-reel video slots can offer a greater number of paylines which form all types of shapes across the reels, allowing players to complete more winning combinations. It is possible to find 5-reel slots with 20, 25, 50 or even 100 paylines. The popularity of 5-reel slots is immense as they offer additional features like mini games, free spins, wild, scatter and bonus symbols.
Leading software developers have introduced the so-called 3D slots on the market. Usually, such slots also feature five reels and impress with unprecedented visual depth, more complex storylines, a greater number of paylines, and amazing animations. 3D slots usually start with short animated introductory clips and offer more features, like additional bonus games and free spins with multipliers on all wins. Some of the advanced video slots utilise the 243-ways-to-win format where players collect payouts as long as they land identical symbols on adjacent reels.
The rapid technological progress has brought about the launch of the so-called virtual reality slots. The rules of play coincide with those of regular slots. This new technology allows players to explore a virtual online casino and take a seat at one of the slot machines available. It is recommended to plug in a virtual reality headset in order to fully immerse yourself in the gaming experience.
Features of Online Slots
Most players prefer to engage in advanced 5-reel video slots which offer them more paylines and thus, a greater number of possible winning combinations. In addition, advanced video slots come with a number of special features, such as wild and scatter symbols. The wilds are indeed special because they can substitute other symbols and help players form more winning combinations. Scatter symbols are also quite helpful since they can unlock other features like mini games and rounds of free spins. In addition, scatters often have multipliers attached to them to boost players’ profits on winning combinations. In some instances, the bonus games are triggered by a given number of special bonus symbols.
The said bonus games can be very lucrative for players. They usually load in a separate screen and require players to pick from a number of items which unveil guaranteed cash prizes. The rounds of free spins are another special feature, which can be triggered in various ways, but usually players need to land three or more scatter symbols to unlock it. Sometimes, it is possible to re-trigger the free spins. It all depends on the slot you play, so it is recommended to check the paytable because it contains information on all features your preferred slot offers.
Understanding Online Slots Payouts
The information concerning the slot’s payouts is readily available in the game’s paytable. Each symbol used in the game is listed in the paytable, but more importantly, there are high paying and low paying symbols, which also influence the payout players will collect. Some online slots render a payout only for winning combinations that are read from left to right, but there are games that pay out in both directions.
Please note that the payouts on winning combinations also depend on the number of coins you have bet per payline. For example, if you hit three identical symbols and have bet only one coin, you can collect £10, whereas if you bet two coins and land the same combination of symbols, your payout will be £20.
Online slots are programmed to return a specific amount of money, depending on their input. This is usually expressed in percentages. For instance, if the payout percentage of your preferred online slot is 98.10%, this indicates the slot is programmed to return £98.10 per every £100 wagered. However, these percentages, while accurate, represent the average return of the slots only over prolonged periods of time, where hundreds of spins are involved.
Online Slots and Bankroll Management
Slots are played at a very dynamic pace, which can result in reckless players wasting away their entire bankrolls after a few spins. Because of this, adequate money management is essential as it can help you protect your bankroll and extend the duration of your gaming session.
Managing your gambling money is a complex process that comprises several important aspects. These include determining the size of your bankroll, dividing the overall amount by the number of betting sessions you have planned, choosing your coin value and number of coins to play per line carefully, setting win and loss limits for the session, adjusting the bet size depending on whether you are winning or losing, and playing at a slower pace so that your bankroll lasts longer. All of these aspects will be discussed in more detail in the following guide.
Popular Developers of Online Slots
Since slots are the most popular casino game in the world, they greatly outnumber other options like table games and video poker and dominate the gaming catalogues of most web-based gambling operators. Of course, it is leading software suppliers that are responsible for the development of the slots on offer.
Players are always recommended to first check which developers their online casino of choice has teamed up with as this will indicate the quality and fairness of the games. It is always a good idea to open an account at an online casino that runs on software, developed by trusted, leading names in the gambling industry. So, if you come across a casino operator that utilises software created by suppliers the likes of Playtech, Microgaming, NetEnt, IGT or BetSoft, this certainly can be interpreted as a good sign as these companies have helped shape online gambling as we know it today.
Microgaming is deemed the frontrunner of the industry and the developer, responsible for the launch of the first ever online casino. Playtech and NetEnt follow closely, while IGT started out as a manufacturer and distributor of landbased video poker and slot machines in the 80s, but transitioned to the web-based gambling scene after the acquisition of online slot developer WagerWorks. BetSoft is another respected developer, which gained popularity in 2008 with the launch of the first 3D slot series in the industry.
Each slot title that bears the brand name of one of these developers impresses with rich and crisp graphics, attention-grabbing animations, provocative sound effects and seamless gameplay. The interface of the games is so user-friendly that even those, who have never played slots before, will experience no difficulties in finding their way around.
Progressive Online Slots
Many players prefer to engage in progressive slots as these carry a massive winning potential and can truly change the lives of lucky fellows. These slots have huge progressive jackpots attached to them, which grow incrementally meaning that each player’s bet contributes to the accumulation of the jackpot pools. As soon as somebody wins the progressive prize, the jackpot starts accumulating again from a predetermined amount, called a seed, so that the slot never loses its appeal. In some cases, this starting seed amount is provided by the software developer that has created the slot, while in others, the online casino operators contribute to it.
We can distinguish several types of progressive slots. For instance, the slots from Playtech’s Marvel series and Microgaming’s Mega Moolah series are linked together to a progressive jackpot network, which means that several titles, available in a number of online casinos, contribute to the accumulation of the pools. Thus, such wide-area jackpots reach mammoth heights over a short period of time.
There are the so-called standalone slots which are not linked to other titles in the jackpot network, but their jackpot accumulates across one or several casinos that use the same software. Online slots with “boiling point” jackpots also enjoy a great popularity among players – whenever the jackpot reaches a predetermined amount of money, the progressive prize is bound to be paid out to one lucky player.
There are a few things players need to bear in mind prior to betting on progressive slots. First of all, such slots are said to have a higher volatility to compensate for the huge jackpots, meaning that they offer more lucrative prizes, but pay out regular wins less frequently. And second, players are often required to bet the maximum amount allowed per spin in order to qualify for the progressive jackpot.
Playing Online Slots on the Go
Undoubtedly, one of the greatest advantages of playing online slots results from the fact many leading software developers have adapted their most popular slot titles for mobile play. This grants players access to their favourite slots from all locations, allowing them to make bets with a few taps on their smartphones’ touch screens.
Apart from convenience and flexibility, mobile slots offer a more interactive and engaging gaming experience because of the greater responsiveness of touch-screen devices. The animations and graphics appear to be brighter and more vibrant due to the higher-resolution screens of smartphones and tablets.
If you want to play on the move, there are two options you can choose from. One of them is simply loading your preferred online casino in the browser of your phone. All established casino operators are compatible with portable devices, so you will be automatically redirected to the mobile version of the website. Many casinos have already adopted the universal HTML5 markup language, which means their websites can be accessed via all widespread portable devices, including those that run on iOS, Windows and Android.
The second option involves downloading and installing the dedicated mobile application of your online casino of choice. Many casinos offer apps for iOS and Android devices that can be downloaded free of charge either from their websites or from the official App Store. Regardless of which option you decide to go for, having a stable WiFi connection is an absolute must if you want to avoid lags and enjoy your betting session to the fullest.
Casino Bonuses for Slot Players
Yet another advantage of joining the vast online gambling community and enjoying your favourite slots on the web is that you get to claim a variety of casino bonuses. This way, you can boost your casino balance, extend the duration of your betting session, and test the available slots without risking your own funds.
Free spins are among the most suitable bonuses for slot fans. Keep in mind these differ from the rounds of free spins the slots themselves feature. Casinos practically award players with a specific number of free spins, available on selected slot titles. Sometimes, the free spins are granted simply for completing your registration. In other cases, a given number of free spins are included in the Welcome Bonus package of the casino and newly-registered members are required to first make a deposit and then claim the bonus spins. The best part of all is that you get to keep what you have won with your free spins. However, players are often expected to wager a specific amount of their money at the online casino before their free-spins winnings become withdrawable.
Comp or Loyalty points are awarded to players for each real-money bet they make at the casino. These points can later be exchanged for more free credits to play the slots (or other casino games) with. Some casino operators are quite generous and reward players with Reload bonuses each time they make a deposit via a specific payment method. Others offer refer-a-friend bonuses to registered customers, who bring in new players to the casino. Claiming one or more of these bonuses is a great way to maximise your profits when playing slots. Just make sure you read your preferred casino’s terms and conditions in regard to bonuses to see what wagering requirements are at hand.
If you are new to playing online slots, we strongly recommend you read the following guide prior to placing your first real-money bets. It contains more detailed information on all of the above-listed aspects of online slots as well as overviews of some of the most popular slot titles you can find at the websites of renowned online casino operators.