Online slots are by far the most popular casino game, and there are thousands of slots available by dozens of developers. Online slot games were developed from land-based slot machines that have been in casinos worldwide for a very long time without going through any significant changes, and upon moving to the online medium, slots have flourished and lots of new genres and game mechanics have emerged. Now players can choose from hundreds of excellent slots, and slot machines are the most vibrant part of online gaming.
Slot Game rules
Slots are a game of chance where a combination of symbols on reels - most commonly five reels - award wins, bonus games or a jackpot. In almost all slot games, a player is hoping to land combinations of three-, four- and five-of-a-kind of the same symbol, perhaps with some Wild symbols that substitute for all others, and Scatters that either award a free spins game or some other type of bonus game. Jackpots can be awarded either completely randomly, or through some specific combination that lands during the game.
Developers have been very creative in the last decade or so, and have used this seemingly simple platform to implement all sorts of bonus games, wins, jackpots, progressive jackpots, and have made slots based on movies, musicians, TV shows, historical periods, and anything else they could think of. This gives slot players a huge range of slots to choose from. Some of the most esteemed developers are NetEnt, Playtech, Microgaming, Realtime Gaming, Novomatic and Betsoft, though many others exist and the competition is fierce, leading to a lot of innovation.
All slots, without any exceptions, are set up in such a way that the house wins in the long run. The house edge will in most cases range from 2% to 8%, and with an infinitely large number of spins the player would always lost that percentage of his bankroll. However, all players hope that shorter playing sessions will benefit them and that they’ll catch the slot game at the peak of its variance, when more wins are paid out and the player actually has the edge. This is true - there are many stories about winners who won a lot of money on slots.
An important difference between slot machines and online slots is that most online slot game developers choose to publicly release the house edge of every individual game, and the random number generators (RNGs) are externally audited to make sure they’re fair. This is a key trait of online slots that gives them a huge edge over mechanic slot machines that may or may not be fair, so most players opt for playing online.
How to play Slot Machines
The player only has to find a slot he likes and wants to play, and plan his betting strategy according to his available bankroll. After that it’s all simple, clicking Spin or other applicable symbol spins the reels, deducts the bet amount from the available bankroll, and after the spin the possible winnings are immediately paid.
While most slots may seem like a game of chance where the player can’t do anything to affect the outcome, the player can implement a strategy that increases his chance of winning. This is most commonly done through stake manipulation, where the stake will be increased after a longer period of non-winning spins, as the win is overdue and will come soon. Alternatively, many players choose to play a certain number of spins of their favorite slot machine with money they can spare, and then they play out these spins and hope the game will pay out during this period. This particularly applies to jackpot slots, as the jackpot can be awarded anytime.
The player can greatly affect the chances of winning by choosing a good slot that fits his playing style and his expectations. One of the most important traits of a slot is its variance. Low variance slots will be handing out small wins often, and are very easy to play so casual players prefer this kind of slot. High variance slots are what more experienced players prefer, as these slots have potentially very high wins, sometimes even life-changing, but they are really rare. Most players who’ve played slots for a while prefer this type of game, as they’d rather take their chances with a high variance slot than play low variance slots in which there is no way to get that big win.
Theoretical return to player (RTP) of a slot game determines how much does the slot game pay out and how much of players’ stakes does the house keep. This is calculated over an infinite number of spins, and smaller sample sizes may look very different, sometimes with a much higher house edge, or even with a player edge! Theoretical payouts usually range from 92% to 98%, with 95% being a level below which a slot is considered low-paying. Jackpots sometimes affect this calculation, as in progressive jackpot slots the percentage of all bets contributes to the jackpot and will therefore not be paid during normal play. Jackpot slots have lower RTP during normal play.
Most slot games have a base game, where the player just spins the reels and hopes to land a winning pay-line with one of the symbols according to the pay-table, and then there’s a bonus game or games that get triggered when a specific condition is met. Almost universally, there will be a Scatter symbol and you need to land three of them to trigger a free spins game. The free spins game will usually offer increased payouts, either through a win multiplier or some more innovative game mechanics. Many slot developers took this to the next level and offer really interesting ways to win that barely resemble slot machines.
Slot games have paylines, and the number differs from slot to slot. Some common values are 10, 20 or 25 paylines on a reel set that consists of five reels with three symbols on each reel, and there is a popular version of that that’s called 243 ways to win. This basically means that the entire reel set is covered in paylines. Most players have their preferred number of paylines they want the slot to have, as this greatly affects how the slot plays. A common misconception is that larger number of paylines means more wins, but all slots are set up in a similar way that doesn’t award wins too often.
There are exceptions to this, of course, as developers always look for a wrinkle that would make their game more interesting. There are 3x3 fruit machines with 5 or 9 paylines, and there are slots with uneven reels, where some reels may have only two symbols while others have as many as seven. There are also slots with bigger boards, slots with more than one board, and slots where the base game has one type of board and the bonus game has a different one.
Online slots for real money
It is simple to play online slots for real money. This is done by signing up with an online casino and depositing money to the player account. After that, any slot from the casino’s offer can be played for real money.
It’s the developers that actually own the slot game, so when a developer publishes a game it will be found in many online casinos, and it’s always the same version of that slot. That means the player can choose his favorite slot game, and it doesn’t matter if he plays it in one casino or the other. One exception to this rule are slots that are set up in such a way that their theoretical payout is configurable by the casino. Best example of this are Realtime Gaming slots.
Players usually go to casinos that host slots by their favorite slot developer, and casinos that offer good welcome bonuses and other perks that may make that casino more attractive than the others. All casino welcome bonuses can be used on slots, and casinos also often offer free spins, sometimes even for a specific slot game that’s very popular with the players.
This means players are spoiled for choice when it comes to choosing a casino to play at, perhaps even more than with the vast choice of slots to play. In any case, playing online slots at an online casino is the most popular thing in gambling that far surpasses anything else.
Most players try out the slot game in demo mode, for free, before committing to it and actually depositing money at an online casino and playing for real. But even the casual players can just go ahead and choose a slot game that’s advertised the most by the casino, as this is always a good game, either one that has proved to be very popular with players worldwide, or a very anticipated new release.
This makes it simple for a player to choose a good slot, especially as the ones that are in the spotlight today are always quality slots. By signing up with an online casino and choosing one of the slot games that are in the first positions in the lobby, a player can’t go wrong.