Brick-and-mortar casinos have always been well known for their slot machine games, especially here in the United Kingdom (who doesn’t know about slot fruity!). It’s for all the fair reasons that whenever people talk about online slots, UK gets counted as one of the leading countries to provide them in such good variety! Visit any online or off-line casino in the UK, and you’ll find slot machines among the top draws, attracting plenty of traffic!
If we talk particularly about the online slots, UK gamblers love their straightforward gameplay, apart from the fact that almost anyone can win big at them, regardless of his/her skill level or experience. Another reason why a large number of online players get attracted to these slot games is because of their low stake levels. In fact, we won’t be exaggerating if we say that slot machines constitute the bedrock of almost every decent land-based and online casino these days.
A quick visit to any land-based or online casino of your choice would reveal how among a great multitude of roulette and blackjack games, you can find lines and lines of multiple online slot machine games. Just the sight of a glitzy slot machine is enough to get one’s adrenaline pumping, with the hope of boosting his/her bankroll greatly! That’s the same reason why online slots have quickly turned into a staple for a large majority of casino players everywhere, more importantly in the UK (slots are an integral part of our culture actually!)
However, considering their huge variety and all that bonus-related jargon surrounding these games, picking the right online slot game for your needs can sometimes become a very difficult task. This is where we step in and provide you with this detailed online slots guide, covering all important facts related to these games, whether it’s their pay lines, reels, bonus features or anything else.
As can be expected from any brick-and-mortar casino, an online casino is also very aggressive when it comes to promotion of its best slots. Such top-rated slot games are often packed with lots of attractive features and jackpots. What more, these games are preferred by both the casino-goers as well as the casino establishments, offering the former many chances of scoring huge wins, by placing relatively smaller bets.
It was in the mid-90s that the real money online slot games made their appearance for the first time, featuring just one pay line and a handful of reels. Fast forward to the present age, you can easily find online slots with 3 reels, 5 reels, 1024 pay lines and many good-quality animated sequences in them. In fact, if you research you’d find that there’s an online slot machine for almost every Hollywood blockbuster produced till late!
Looking at how online slots have evolved over the years, starting from the conventional physical slot machines (in land based casinos) to modern-day 3D slots, let’s tell you how you should play these games and profit from them. You should also keep in mind that a large majority of people opt for mobile slots nowadays. Such mobile variants of the conventional slot machines are actually the latest avatar of this age-old casino game. These mobile slots are creating new benchmarks in the online gambling industry.
If that wasn’t enough, you can even enjoy free slots, no deposit slots, free mobile slots or free online slot machines these days. We’ll throw more light on that later in this article.
How should you play slots online?
Online slots’ basics
As soon as you start an online slot game through a mobile app (on your tab or smart phone) or from within a browser on your laptop or desktop, you’d be taken to the main screen of the game, featuring multiple reels. The classic slot machine games consist of 3 vertical reels, while most internet-based new slots feature 5.
If we talk about the brick-and-mortar casinos, the slot machines situated there normally have the centre row as the winning pay line. Pay line is a term that is used to describe different ways in which you can win these online slots. However, as these online slots evolved over a period of time, designers gradually expanded these games both in terms of pay lines and the number of reels. The pay lines we see in the online slots of today can be in any shape and/or size, including straight lines, diagonals and/or other shapes.
Every reel of these online slot games has anywhere from 10 to 25 different symbols on it. These symbols correspond to the theme that the slot machine is based on. The main objective of spinning these reels is to arrive at certain winning combinations (of the symbols) after they come to a stop. Considering there are several different symbols on a slot machine’s reels, it’s normal to have millions of different combinations.
You can see a spin button located at the bottom left/right of the slot machine, which if pressed, spins the reels. Some online slots even have a button named ‘Skill Stop’ which allows you to manually stop the spinning reels.
Refer to the pay table
Before you spin an online slot’s wheels, you should click the ‘Pay Table’ or ‘Info’ icon on the screen and check out the pertinent details of the game (displayed on another screen). You’d be provided with the details on various winning combinations and their corresponding payouts. You’d also be acquainted with the different reel symbols and how to arrive at the bonus rounds. Many developers of these games also mention the theoretical RTP percentages (Return to Player percentages) on this screen.
Different pay lines and bet sizes in the online slot games
Whenever you play an online slot game with real money, you’d normally be given the option to select the number of pay lines and bet size you’d like to go with. When it comes to online slots that have a lower variance (offering low stakes), the bet amounts can start from as less as £ 0.01. After selecting the pay lines and bet size, you’d need to decide the amount of coins you’d like to bet per pay line. Normally, you’d be able to bet anything from 1 to 10 coins per pay line. Upon deciding this bet amount, you’d have to pick the number of pay lines you’d want to bet on (from the minimum to maximum available depending on your earlier choice). All this is done in a matter of few mouse clicks.
Let’s say the online slot game you have selected has 25 pay lines, offering a bet range of £ 0.01 - £ 1 for every coin. In addition, you are allowed to bet a maximum of 10 coins on each pay line. As a result, you can allocate £ 0.01 per coin and opt for one single pay line, meaning that your bet would be £ 0.01 per spin.
At the other end, you can go for the maximum, which is allocating £ 1 per coin, 10 coins on each pay line and then betting on all 25 pay lines. This would imply that your bet would be a whopping £ 250 per spin! If you’re confident about your luck, you could simply select the ‘Max Bet’ option provided on all the online slot games., and go with the max.
Many online slots have fixed pay lines, that don’t let players decide the number of pay lines they can bet on. Placing max bets often means bigger spending and the need of a bigger bankroll, however, these bets also normally deliver more number of hits on the winning combinations.
Gamble or the Double Up option
After you have selected the number of pay lines and your preferred bet amount, you can go ahead and press the ‘Spin’ button on the screen, causing the reels to spin and coming to a stop when they’re done. In the event you land any winning combination, you’d get paid accordingly. However, certain online slot games provide players another option of doubling up their winnings.
Anyone who wants to avail this option must look out for the ‘Gamble’ or the ‘Double Up’ button on the game’s screen. The selection of this option leads to a different ‘Red or Black’ or ‘Higher or Lower’ card game (for doubling the wins).
The symbols in online slots
As mentioned earlier, you can have anywhere from 10 to 25 types of symbols on the reels of these online slot games. However, they can be even more depending on the theme that the online slot is based on. You may often see images of poker symbols (like ace, jack, queen, king, 10s etc.), mythological characters, cherries, Marvel superheroes, popular musicians, classic melons, cuddly bunnies, aliens, diamonds, bank robbers or anything else fancy, as the symbols on the slot game’s reels. In fact, there might be an online slot game for almost every popular theme you can think of.
Scatters and wilds
The winning combinations or pay lines in these online slot games are considered from the left to right, with every consecutive image/symbol making a winning pay line. But please note that sometimes you may even get some special symbols resulting in bigger prizes.
For instance, you could get a wild symbol, which is a type of joker that can be used as a replacement for any of the regular symbols on the reels, for creation of a winning combination. The online slot game may even offer you a win multiplier (for instance, doubling or tripling of wins) based on such combinations using the wilds.
On the other hand, you can even get a scatter symbol on the reels, which pays out in case you get two or more of them anywhere on the screen (even if not on the winning pay line). Majority of the online slots offer a bonus cash prize and/or a special bonus if you get three or more such scatter symbols.
About Online slots’ bonus rounds
Let’s say you’ve picked the online slot you wish to play at a certain online casino, and land three scatter symbols on the reels. The bonus you’d be awarded in this scenario would most likely be the Free Spins bonus.
When it comes to such bonuses, ‘Straight Free Spins’ is the one you’d normally find in majority of the slots in any online casino. Whenever you land such bonus, you’d be offered free spins ranging from 3 to 50 in number. Please note, the spins get executed in the auto mode by the online slot game’s software. It’s not uncommon to see such free spins getting re-triggered if you land 3 or more scatter symbols during any of these free spins (earning you another round of free spins!)
‘Pick ‘em’ bonus
It’s a bonus feature that is triggered every time you land 3 or more scatter symbols after spinning an online slot game. The reason why it’s referred to as the Pick ’em bonus is because you are transported to a different screen inside the same game. You’re asked to select from different symbols, each one holding a unique prize or multiplier figure under it. The icons you come across in this bonus round are in line with the online slot’s theme, for example, you may unearth oxygen tanks while playing an underwater-themed online slot game, treasure chests in an Aladdin-themed slot and so on. The main objective of the bonus round is to keep collecting these icons until you’re provided the ‘Collect’ icon, enabling you to gather your winnings and return to the main screen. The amount won during this bonus round gets deposited into your bankroll.
‘Click me’ bonus
This bonus feature of an online slot game gets triggered anytime you get 3 special bonus symbols simultaneously after spinning the reels. Whenever it triggers, you’d be asked to click on and choose from 3 hidden icons, each one having a special cash prize.
Other commonly known bonus features
A good number of online slots games developers and best slot sites provide many unique bonus features based on their customers’ requirements. Although not present in every online slot, you might come across many of them while playing various online slots at different casinos. Let’s acquaint you with some of the popular ones among them.
Cascading or Avalanche Reels is one such very interesting bonus feature in which the winning combination disappears from the screen and gets replaced by the corresponding reels’ symbols falling immediately above. Those symbols drop-down and take the place of the ones in the winning combination. This leads to the possibility of more number of winning combinations and spikes up the excitement levels significantly.
You may even land the expanding wilds anywhere on the reels (one or more number of times), which often expand, filling up the entire reel, making it ‘wild’ in a way!
Then there are sticky wilds that stay in the same place, while the remaining reels continue spinning next to them. Some of the big money online slots also have Arcade bonus rounds where you can interact with the game and win more coins depending on your skills. These could be in the form of a battle sequence, target shoot or simply a puzzle round.
Return to Player (RTP) percentages and Random Number Generators (RNGs)
RNG or a Random Number Generator is basically a software program that ensures a certain predetermined payout percentage of the online slot games. This pre-decided payout percentage is certified and verified by a third party, to ensure that the corresponding online slots games run in accordance with the fair gambling practices. The rules suggest that every online slot game should pay back a certain minimum percentage to the online casino players.
RNGs that determine the payouts of the online slot games are exactly the same which are applied to online roulette, online blackjack and various other online slot games too. Putting it in simpler terms, these are software systems which make sure that the genuineness and randomisation of the casino games stays intact.
So, anytime you look at the pay tables and return percentages of the online slot games, involving different winning combinations, the listed amounts are the actual reflection of the chances/odds of those combinations. Hence, the bigger jackpot amounts automatically suggest lower chances of getting those corresponding winning combinations.
RTP or Return to Player percentage is nothing but an online slot’s payout percentage, that may be different from game to game and developer to developer. In general, the land-based casinos offer an RTP ranging from 80% to 90% when it comes to their physical slot games. In online slots, the Return to Player percentage is comparatively higher, and even bigger in the new-age mobile slots.
Essentially, these RTP percentages are an indicator of the amount you stand to win from an online slot game, over the long term. So, a RTP of 97% suggest that you’d be returned 97 out of every 100 coins you bet with in an online slot machine, over a period of time. The 3 coins’ difference is what the online casino earns for offering its services.
Online slots – The various kinds
Anyone serious about winning at online slots over the long term, should acquaint himself/herself with its various kinds. These games can be mainly classified into two distinct categories – the modern-day video slot games and the classic slots. The online slots you get to play today are nothing but the digital versions of the video slots available at brick-and-mortar casinos. The bonuses that get triggered in these online slots are also an extension of the corresponding bonuses of those live video slot games. Apart from that, the online 3-D slots that are garnering plenty of attention these days, are essentially the next-generation slot games. Let’s go over each one of them briefly:
3-reel or the classic slots
3-reel or classic slots you get to play on the Internet today are basically a tribute to the slot games of the earlier times, the ones you can play at any land-based casino. These slot games have been around for over 3 decades and normally feature 3 reels, few pay lines and classic symbols like BARs, cherries, melons and bells.
Most of the slots you get to play at any online casino these days are 5-reel slots, with 3-4 rows. Such configuration enables them to offer many different pay lines. However, a 20 pay line and 5-reel configuration is considered a standard in almost every online casino today.
3-D video slots
Many video slots offered at any online casino nowadays feature high-end animations, interactive graphics and complicated intro sequences. Such features are normally seen in the modern-day computer games, the reason why these slots are referred to as video slots. Although seasoned slots enthusiasts don’t appreciate the distraction of such animated sequences, these games work very well with the modern-day computers and tablets, that are well equipped to handle such memory-heavy software. Regardless of what anyone might think, 3-D video slots are the future of online slots, and are going to be here for a long time! They’d be counted amongst the best slots in the coming years.
Having a very high variance, these online slots don’t give players the option to select the number of pay lines. Rather they are made to automatically bet on all 1024 pay lines. The bet amount is normally 30 times of the chosen coin size. The winning combinations are adjusted and offered accordingly.
As is evident from the name, 243-ways online slots come with 243 distinct pay lines, and you are made to bet on all of them.
Considered the best slots at online casinos, these are also the most played slot games on the Internet. Only the biggest casino game developers and best casinos for online slot machines offer such games. In progressive slots, every time you spin the reels, a percentage of your bet amount gets allocated to a centrally maintained progressive jackpot. This Jackpot is fed by every online casino that hosts that particular progressive slot game.
Please note, you normally get a chance to win a progressive Jackpot only if you bet the max amount. Therefore, it’s pretty rare and expensive to land the jackpot in such games. You may also be taken to the progressive jackpot round through a bonus feature or just randomly. In addition, it may already bag thousands of pounds for you, before actually getting hit. If we talk about the records, the maximum amount won from a progressive jackpot slot is $ 24 million, won by a Finnish guy, on January 20, in the year 2013. He won this Jackpot playing in online progressive slot known as Mega Fortune (supplied by Net Entertainment or NetEnt). What made that win even special is the fact that the jackpot was won through a 25-cent bet amount!
As specified earlier, many developers of online casino games are actively launching the mobile versions of their popular slot titles. These mobile slot games are compatible with the new-age smart phones and tablet PCs. You can download them on your device in the form of a mobile app, which replicates an online casino. Please note, all basic aspects of online slots are retained in the mobile format, including the graphics, jackpots, bonus rounds etc. Only the buttons and the gaming screen may be slightly different in appearance. It would be safe to say that mobile slots are actually the future of online slots, and their rapidly increasing popularity is a testimony to that fact!
Free slots or free online slot machines – Important facts
Regardless of the online slot you go ahead with, please note that each one of them deliver their wins in exactly the same manner, no matter how different they may be in terms of their features (varying from developer to developer).
The reputed online casino establishments allow you to try these slot games (including their best online slots) for free before spinning them with real money. There are various reputed casinos that allow users to play these free to play online slots, also commonly referred to as free slots, (no download slots) without depositing any money. Not only are these free slots available for the mobile platforms, they can be indulged in directly at the new slot sites, within their browser environment too.
Some of the other popular names that these free slots are referred to by include: no deposit slots, free no deposit slots, free mobile slots, free slot games, free online slots, free online slot machine games, free slot machines, no deposit slots and more. Please keep in mind that these games are considered new slots in the world of online casino platforms. Back in the days, when there were only land-based casinos, there was no option to try any slot game without making an upfront payment.
However, things changed significantly post the advent of online casino platforms. They didn’t need to worry about any real estate for accommodation of such games. There was no pressing need to make every square foot of the casino floor count. Therefore, every good online casino worth its name, allows its prospective players to try their hand at their online slots for free. This is done in the hope that these prospects would develop likeness for those free slots, and play them with real cash at a later time/date.
Although there’s nothing wrong in trying such free slots, to learn more about the games and to get familiarised with their software, before committing any real money, you must not get into the habit of sitting around and playing these free slots round-the-clock! The whole point of playing these games is to risk some money, to win big amounts. If you take money out of the equation, then there is nothing left for you to win! It would get reduced to an activity of watching just pretty lights on your smart phone or laptop. You’d be better off watching a movie or a television show if you are after that kind of entertainment instead!