How to play slot machines?
Slot machines are gambling entertainment, familiar to almost everyone. Devices with reels can bring a lot of positive emotions to any gambler. These are the simplest games that do not require a thorough knowledge of the rules, to learn the strategies or scrupulous analytics.
What could be easier rather than getting the winnings by simply rotating the reels of a one-armed bandit? Nevertheless, if you want to be prepared for the game as much as possible, we are ready to describe all the subtleties of the work of video slots for you. Our manual will reveal all the secrets of the slot machines, introduce you to the basic terminology, and offer knowledge that will allow you to win even more and more often.
Rules and interface
There is a number of basic concepts that unite almost all modern slot machines. Almost every player has heard about paylines, reels, and symbols. Let’s take a closer look at the rules and structural elements of video slots.
How to win when playing slot machines
The first thing that interests any potential player in video slots is what you need to do to win the jackpot. The task is very simple. In all gaming machines, the user wins when a combination of the certain number of identical symbols is generated on the prescribed section of the playing field. This is the basis of the rules of the game on video slots. Depending on a particular slot machine, there may be different subtleties, such as the minimum number of identical symbols (usually from 2 or more) and the principle of forming winning combinations (lines or directions). All these features will be discussed in this article.
What are reels?
The reel of the slot machine is a vertical row, on which symbols rotate during the spinning. The name of this element goes back to the origins of ground gambling. The first mechanical one-armed bandits used real coils with images on them. After the start of the mechanism, they began to rotate. If identical symbols lined up after stopping, the gambler would get a win.
In modern slot machines, only the visual image of the reels is preserved. A random number generator is responsible for their spinning. It should be noted that this situation is much more profitable for the player. In this case, the honesty of the game is guaranteed, and the result does not depend on any external factors.
Reels of video slots are divided into cells. Most often, there are 3–5 cells vertically in the game field. After the game starts, the reels begin to rotate. Some slots have a function that allows gamblers to stop the spinning at the desired time.
By the number of reels, there are two main groups of the most modern slots:
- Three reels
- Five reels
Three-reel slots are basically slots of the classical genre. Five-reel slots are the most numerous group. It includes the games of different subjects and varieties. In addition, you can find slots with 6, 7 or even 20 reels in online casinos. Players can always count on something new and original.
There are video slots, in which the avalanche technology is used instead of reels. During each spin, the symbols appear on the playing field. If they generate a winning combination, then they disappear, and the neighboring symbols are moved to take their place. Technically, there are no reels in such slot machines, but the principle remains the same. Even the gaming characteristics of slots of this type indicate the number of reels used. In the future, we’ll describe in more detail the principle of the operation of such slots, especially because modern developers have a huge number of such games in their assortment.
How winning combinations are generated: paylines and directions
By the principle of making up paid combinations, there are two types of slot machines:
- Slots with paylines
- Slots with ways of winning
The first type is games, which use the cell chains established by the rules. Their schematic image, as a rule, is present in the paytable. Usually, the lines start on the first reel and include adjacent squares on the playing field. The second type works according to a similar principle. But instead of lines clusters of adjacent icons are used. The rules for their generation are also shown in the paytable.
By controlling the number of lines or directions, there are the following groups of slots:
- Games with a fixed number of lines
- Games with an adjustable number of lines
In the first case, the number of lines or directions provided by the developer is not subject to change. They are active at any time during the spinning. In the second case, gamblers can set the number of lines up to the maximum established by the rules. It is regulated by a special button on the control panel. The more lines the player activates, the higher his chances of generating a paid combination. In some slots, additional functions are only active if all lines or directions are active. This is especially true of the progressive jackpot.
A symbol is an image that is displayed in each of the cells, into which the reels are divided. Each of them has its own payout coefficient. There are regular symbols and those that have additional functions. Regular icons simply generate winning combinations. Symbols that have additional functions allow you to generate prize combinations more often and get access to the bonuses of the slot. Read more about this in the appropriate section of the manual.
The interface of the absolute majority of video slots includes a paytable. This is a special reference section that usually indicates the following information:
- Payout coefficients or the final size of the winnings for each symbol
- Bonus features and conditions to access them
- The principles of generating winning combinations
- Rules of the game
Since this is quite an impressive amount of data, the paytable is displayed on a separate screen in most slots. To open it, there is a separate button (Info, Paytable, etc.). In some simple slots, the paytable is located directly near the reels.
A bet in gaming machines is the amount that is used during the spin. It is necessary to distinguish two basic concepts:
- A bet on the line
- A total bet
The bet on the line is the number of the game currency units that is bet on each of the directions used. It is multiplied by the corresponding coefficient during the win for the combination. This is how the amount of payouts is formed. To manage this value, you usually use a menu with a plus and minus, or simply a button with the Bet or Line Bet word. You can change this parameter at any time during the main game between the spins.
The total bet is the amount bet on the line and multiplied by the selected number of directions. This is the value that is subtracted from the gaming account of the gambler at the beginning of each spin. In some cases, the winnings are based not on the linear but on the total bet. This happens when a combination of scatters appears, as well as during bonus functions.
Some video slots in addition to the bet amount require the user to set the value of the game currency unit. These are games where not real credits are used for betting and calculating winnings, but additional virtual chips. Usually, these are coins. The value of such a coin in real money is set in an additional menu. It is marked as Coin Value, Click to Change, and others. Such slots have two lines reporting the balance on the player’s account. One line shows the balance in credits, and the other line shows the balance in units of the game currency.
Buttons and controls
As you’ve probably noticed, we’ve covered some of the common control elements. It is also worthwhile describing other buttons, which are often present in the interface of video slots. Many slot machines have the Bet Max key. This is a button, with which the player can set the highest acceptable bet in one click. In some games, the maximum number of lines is also activated. In most slots, after clicking the button, the spinning of the reels with the new settings automatically starts.
Another frequently used control is responsible for the automatic play. This can be a menu or one key. Clicking on it, the gambler starts a series of spins, which begin automatically. In many cases, you can set the exact number of spins that will be started automatically. It should be noted that many video slots don’t allow you to run a risk game between automatic spins.
The spin trigger button is present in each video slot. Clicking on it, the user starts the spinning of the reels. In desktop versions of many slots, you can also start the spin by pressing a space on the keyboard. Usually, the button that starts the game is marked with the inscriptions such as Spin, Start, etc. In some classical slots, it is designed as the arm of the first one-armed bandits.
Bonuses and additional features
It would be too simple and boring if the slot machines offered winnings solely for generating winnings on the lines. Developers perfectly understand this and generously offer additional functions. This makes the gameplay more interesting and profitable.
A risk game
A risk game is one of the very first extra features that appeared in slot machines. It allows you to increase the winnings for the last spin. If a player wins a risk game, he gets multiplied funds. According to the rules, the last winning amount is used as a bet in this round. Nevertheless, it can be adjusted in many slots, choosing, for example, 50% of the last win. The very risk game in most cases is a cards game. Users are required either to guess the color of the suit of the card or the color of the suit itself or choose a card that would be of a higher value.
A gambler may also be offered to throw a coin, press a button on the screen in time, help one of the game’s characters choose the right direction, etc. One thing remains unchanged – if the player makes the right choice, the set sum is doubled, and if the player makes the wrong choice, he loses all the money. In the case of a loss in a risk game, often more attempts are given up to the moment when the player does not make a mistake. Most often, the Gamble key (or Risk, Double Up, etc.) is used to activate this round. You can press it only after the winning spin.
A multiplier is a coefficient, which multiplies the bet in the case of a win. Many slots have additional multipliers. They can work during free spins, bonus rounds, and are activated randomly. Also, some slots have a special symbol, which introduces an additional multiplier into the game.
We have already mentioned icons that have special functions. The most common of these is a wild symbol. This icon can replace the missing icons in the winning combinations. Most often, this symbol also brings the highest winnings in the game. In some slots, the combination, supplemented by a wild symbol, is paid in double size.
A scatter is an image that is paid even when it falls outside the lines. In this case, not a linear, but a total bet is multiplied by the corresponding coefficient. In many games, it is the scatter that allows access to free spins.
In some modern games, special icons appear not one by one but in bulks. They can occupy the whole reel, several cells in a vertical direction or a whole square 2×2. Usually, these are a scatter and a wild symbol. Special icons can be expanded depending on the game situation.
Among the symbols that have additional functions, there are also icons that open access to the bonus features of the video slot. All the special characteristics of individual icons are almost always described in the paytable.
According to the basic rules of playing slots, at the beginning of each round, the total bet amount is withdrawn from the player’s account. But a huge number of slot machines offer free spins of the reels. In this case, there is no withdrawal of credits from the account. Moreover, during the free spins, all wins are multiplied by an additional coefficient in many games. It can be set in advance or determined immediately before the start of a series of free spins.
Most often, free spins start after the corresponding number of certain icons (usually scatters) is generated on the reels. This is true about most games from Novomatic (for example, Greentube). In the slots, three scatters generated anywhere in the playing field launch a series of free spins with an additional multiplier. In most games, a risk game is not available during free spins.
Another common prize function is respins. It allows you to respin the reels without withdrawing funds from the game account. There are different conditions to access this bonus. In some slots, it is activated after the winning combination. In other slots, on the contrary, it starts after a spin that has not brought any winnings in order to give the player another chance.
Most of the bonus features of video slots are activated when the appropriate game situation is generated. At the same time, many games have prize functions that are activated randomly. For example, after any spin, some of the game characters turn some symbols on the playing field into wild ones. Such prize features are widely represented in the games from Playtech, NetEnt, and other manufacturers.
Thematic prize games are a feature of modern video slots. They launch on a separate screen. Such rounds are based on the main story but not related to the spinning of the reels. The user may need to select symbols on the playing field, directions of movement or perform other actions. In the prize rounds, there are high winning odds. Often, it is the bonus game that gives the gambler a chance to win a progressive jackpot. Some developers, for example, NetEnt and BetSoft, give the player the opportunity to preview the prize round by clicking on the appropriate button. On our website, there is a description of each slot where you’ll find explanations of the bonus round if it is included in the video slot gameplay.
The jackpot is the biggest prize in the slot machine. Initially, it is won when the maximum number of the highest paid symbols on the line or direction is generated. These are classic rules, which now have a lot of variations. The jackpot can be played in a separate round or be won randomly at any point in the game.
A progressive jackpot is the most desirable prey for any experienced gambler. It is a cumulative game fund, which is accumulated from players’ bets on different slots. It can be separate slot series (for example, Marvel or Age of Gods), bets in a particular online casino, jackpots from the manufacturer, etc.
There are several ways that allow you to get a progressive jackpot in video slots:
- The maximum number of corresponding icons on the line
- A win in the bonus round
- A random win in the main game
- A draw in the special round
Many manufacturers promise gamblers the opportunity to win a progressive jackpot randomly at any point in the main game. It is important to consider that this is possible only with the activation of the maximum number of paylines. The higher the bet, the more likely you are to win the jackpot. This is not a stereotype or an advertising trick, but information provided by the developers themselves.
A progressive jackpot can be played in a separate round. Such rounds are also usually launched randomly. The same applies here – the higher the bet, the greater the probability of winning. In many games, the progressive jackpot is divided into several levels. The gambler wins it if he opens several identical symbols in a special game.
Types of slot machines
There is a great number of types, varieties, and genres of slot machines. Knowing their classification, you can easily choose the games to your taste. Video slots are divided by the structure, genres, and other parameters. Let’s discuss some of them.
Types of slots by the structure
As we have already mentioned, most of the slots are reel-type video slots. These are three-reel slots (with 3 vertical rows), five-reel (with 5 vertical rows) slots, etc. There are also slots where symbols appear on the playing field from above. Most often after generating a paid combination, the icons that are part of it disappear. Their place is occupied by the neighboring icons. Moreover, in many games the coefficient of the additional multiplier of winnings increases. For example, Gonzo’s Quest (NetEnt) and Rook’s Revenge (Betsoft).
Slot machines also differ in the number of ways to generate winning combinations. The most common are slots with 9 and 21 paylines, but this is not the limit. As for ways to win, they are usually 243. The number of paylines and ways to win can always be found in the characteristics of the game, as well as in the reviews on our website.
Slots can be different by a set of functions. For example, the games of the classical genre rarely have bonus games or free spins, but they can have a risk game. Another subspecies are slots with a risk game and free spins. Novomatic, Greentube and Amatic have many such slots. The most interesting type is video slots with prize rounds on a separate screen. For example, the majority of games from NetEnt, Betsoft, and Playtech.
A separate category is 3D slots. These are the most modern developments. Manufacturers such as NetEnt and BetSoft specialize in them. Slots of this genre are distinguished by high-quality three-dimensional graphics.
Genres of slot machines
Slot machines are also different by the theme. For example, fruit or classic slots are one of the most extensive and popular genres. Another popular topic is slots on the sea theme. They use symbols designed as images of underwater inhabitants, as well as chests, ships, and other attributes. This genre should not be confused with pirate slots. Almost every manufacturer has them and they are different in their original storyline.
Many genres of slots are based on various cultural phenomena:
Slots related to these themes have symbols designed in the form of portraits of characters. There are also plot bonus games. There are musical, fairy, and fantastic games.
We have already talked about the basic concepts that will help you navigate the whole variety of slot machines. Now, we need to discuss a few terms that are used by more experienced gamblers. Knowing these features allows players with experience often to receive large payouts, using their own strategies.
Volatility is the ratio of the frequency of winnings to their value. The higher the volatility, the less often the winnings happen and the higher their value. And, on the contrary, the lower the volatility, the more often the user can win, but the sizes of wins are lower.
RTP or theoretical return percentage
The theoretical return percentage is an indicator that shows how much the slot returns to players in the form of a win. Most manufacturers indicate the RTP of a slot machine. It is believed that the higher the theoretical percentage of return, the higher the chances of the user to win the jackpot.
So, you have gotten acquainted with the basic concepts associated with slot machines. If you still have questions, you can contact our support team.