Enter the lobby of any casino, regardless of whether it is land-based or online, and one type of game dominates the surroundings. Ask somebody to describe a casino and they may come up with images of spinning roulette wheels and glamorous croupiers and clients, but the reality is that slot games are king in every casino.
The reason for this is quite simple. Slot games tend to provide better margins for the casino than traditional casino table games. This is why the slots are placed front and centre where they aim to attract players with their colourful designs and lively sound effects.
When it comes to physical slot machines, they can be either reel or video slots. Reel slots use actual mechanical reels whereas video slots are animations powered by a random number generating software.
Of course, in the online casino world, only video slots are available. So now the important question: how do you play video slot games? Many players gravitate towards these games without really understanding how they work, which is a good way to get through your bankroll in a hurry. We are going to take you through exactly how these enticing games work and what is the best way to win on the slots.
The truth is that playing video slots is not difficult, but it is important to pay attention so that you don’t waste your money by making rookie mistakes. One thing that catches out a lot of newbies is betting the wrong amounts by mistake.
Before you start playing, it is important to make sure that you have selected the right figures. Not every game defaults to the minimum bet amount, so you may discover too late that you have been betting pounds on every spin when you wanted to bet pennies.
Most online video slots will have minimum bets per spin of between 10p and 50p, although there are games which go above and below these figures.
Many slots will have two buttons to choose your bet amount per spin. One of these is the coin value, which does not show the total bet but instead displays the bet per payline. The payline is one of the lines which winning combinations can be formed on; you can check these by clicking the information button to see how they are arranged.
Commonly games might have 25 paylines but modern games have many variations on these and some don’t use paylines at all. So, if you choose a coin value of 1p for a 25 payline game, you are going to be betting 25p per spin. As we mentioned, some games also have a second button which is the ‘level’.
Basically, having two buttons rather than just one allows you to be more selective about exactly how much you want to bet on each spin, since there are more amount variations.
Look out for the Max Bet button which is available on many slots. Hitting this button will not only choose the highest possible per spin bet, it will also spin the reels so make sure you are actually willing to risk this amount. Otherwise, you will be able to choose the Play button or (usually) the Autoplay option.
Hitting ‘Play’ spins the reels once, hitting Autoplay allows you to select an amount of times for the reels to spin by themselves, often between 10 and 100 times. A standard slot game pays out if you get three or more of the same symbol next to each other on a payline going from the leftmost reel to the right.
However, many modern slots are moving away from the standard model so again check the information section to find out exactly how the individual game mechanics work. For example, some games pay out in both directions (‘each way wins’ games) while others pay if you get clusters of the same symbols next to each other on any of the reels.
Apart from the basic games symbols, there are some special symbols which are important to recognise. Most – but not all – games will feature one or more of these special features. The first of these is the wild symbol, which can replace any of the basic symbols to help construct a winning line.
The scatter symbol is arguably even more important. Finding enough of these magical symbols will unlock a bonus game, which is often the key to big wins. The most common game is a free spin round, where according to how many scatters you find you will earn a set amount of free spins. Often there will also be an added feature thrown in such as extra wild symbols or increased multipliers to boost any winnings.
Occasionally games will have a secondary bonus game besides the free spins round. The ever-popular Bloodsuckers game is a good example of this. Here if you find three bonus symbols you are taken to a new screen where you pick coffins to reveal cash prizes.
Pick the wrong one and the bonus game ends. Plus there are jackpot games where prizes in the millions can be won. Here the special jackpot game can be unlocked by collecting symbols, or it can be randomly awarded.
The record for an online jackpot payout stands at over £13 million so these prizes are not to be sneezed at. Note that in many cases it is required that the player chooses the maximum bet to give themselves a better shot at revealing the jackpot game.
Let’s finish with a useful tip. There is no element of skill in slot games so there is no technique which can improve your chances of a win. However, that doesn’t mean that you can’t affect your winning potential in other ways.
Every slot game is designed to pay back a certain percentage of the money that is bet on it over time. This is called the theoretical ‘Return to Player’ (known as the RTP) which for most slot games ranges between 94% and 97%. This means that over hundreds of thousands of spins if a million dollars was put into a slot with a 96% RTP that $960,000 would be returned to the players in winnings.
Although this is a guide rather than a guarantee over short-term play, it is always worth doing a quick online search to find games with a higher RTP.
Another factor to search is whether the slot game has high or low variance. Games with high variance pay out bigger wins, but less of them, while low variance (or volatility) games pay lots of small wins.
If you are trying to complete the wagering requirements to cash out a bonus, it is a good idea to choose low variance games with a high RTP so as to maximise your chances. Again, entering the name of the slot game and the word ‘variance’ should get you the necessary information.
Now that you have understood the basics, it’s time to choose a favourite online and start playing. Video slots are some of the most entertaining games you will find at the casino, and with a bit of luck they can lead to some big wins as well.