Welcome to 10bet’s ultimate guide to playing slots. Filled with slot strategy, this is the most extensive and comprehensive guide to the games that you will find anywhere. Read on and learn how to play – and how to improve your chances of success!
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What are slots?
When you think of a Casino, one of the first images that comes to mind is likely to be a slot machine. Or, more accurately, row after row of slots with their spinning wheels, flashing lights and that handle just begging to be pulled by a player dreaming of dropping a life-changing jackpot.
There is good reason for that, with research from the UK Gambling Commission showing that slots accounted for 39% of Casino games played in 2016. slots come in all shapes and sizes with themes, bonus features and payouts all varying from each one to the next, but the common theme is that almost all of them offer the chance to win big from a relatively small bet.
A (very) brief history lesson
The first slot machine was created by Charles Fey in the 1890s, the San Francisco-based mechanic going on to design the world famous “Liberty Bell” in 1898. He installed and managed that game in saloons throughout his hometown, but because gambling was illegal in California, he could not patent the device.
That led to many imitations of that first popular slot. It had one payline, three wheels with just five different symbols on them and paid out 50 cents when three bells aligned. Given that modern online slots can have up to 243 winning combinations, it is safe to say that the look, gameplay and variety of slots has come a long way!
Slots continued to grow through the early 1900s with new symbols and more paylines added along the way until “Money Honey” – the first electronic slot machine – was introduced to Las Vegas back in 1964.
Little over a decade later, the first video slot was created, but it was a far cry from the games we know today. The screens were flat with low-resolution imagery, leaving these machines looking like poor imitations of mechanical slots, with no sound effects or bonuses to attract players to try them.
It must be remembered that this was a time before home computers and smartphones, meaning most people didn’t trust technology. Players believed these early games were rigged against them, and it wasn’t until the birth of video poker in 1979 that, finally, electronic slots began to grow in popularity.
Slots continued to evolve with the 1996 arrival of Odyssey which, with its oversized screen, high-quality animation and bonus features, was the first step towards the type of games we see today.
Why play slots?
So what is it about slots? Why are they so popular? Well following the birth of Odyssey, the next big hit was the 1997 launch of “Reel ’Em In,” the first big video slot hit in the US. The popularity of that game revolutionised the industry, becoming the moment that manufacturers realised they would need to move away from traditional machines and focus entirely on electronic slots.
“Reel ‘Em In was an alignment of the stars,” creator Al Thomas of WMS Gaming would admit years later. “It allowed us to find our identity: fun characters, entertainment, and more interactivity than other slot machines.”
It is those factors which continue to drive the popularity of slots today and, in many ways, it is easy to understand. First time visitors can feel daunted by a Casino: the complex rules of some games, the etiquette of playing Blackjack or Roulette, the nuances of interacting with a dealer or croupier.
But slots? Slots need no explanation. Sit down, drop coins into the slot and push the button or pull the handle for a chance at the biggest, most lifestyle-changing jackpots in the Casino. Why play anything else?
Types of slots
As technology improves, software providers are constantly looking for new ways to entertain players, meaning that the choice of online slots has increased massively in recent years. Let’s take a look at the different types of games on offer:
3 reel slots
These are based on the classic Fruit Machine games found in arcades throughout the world and are the simplest form of online slots games, 3 reel slots are easy to understand as a window shows 3 columns and 3 rows of symbols, with the middle row known as the payline.
The player bets, then spins the reels. If the symbols on the payline match up to any winning combination from the pay table when the reels stop spinning, then the player wins the amount of money stated.
5 reel slots
Also known as video slots, 5 reel slots are a more complex variation of the game. Instead of the traditional single payline, 5 reel slots can have up to 100 which gives many more winning combinations and increases the player’s chances of winning on each spin.
Due to those extra reels and the multiple paylines, the pay tables are far more detailed for 5 reel slots and also include special features such as wilds and scatter symbols to give you even more chances to win.
Here, the game play, rules and paylines are exactly the same as with 5 reel slots, but there are a variety of 3D animated characters that interact with the players during the game to drive bonuses and other incentives.
These games have more of a narrative-driven feel, with each 3D slot offering a different setting and storyline, the visual and audio effects combining with different themes to give a unique and modern twist to players.
i-slots are interactive and allow players to develop their own storyline by taking part in an adventure to advance the game and spinning different combinations of reels provides alternative ways to finish the game.
This type of slot machine offers special features such as extra spins and bonus rounds which are unlocked via Wilds and Scatters – random symbols that act like wildcards – to give players many more chances to win on each spin.
Normally, each type of slot has a set jackpot which is individual to that game but with a progressive jackpot, every player playing that particular game – no matter which Casino they are playing at anywhere in the world – is playing for a steadily increasing jackpot.
Every time someone plays, the jackpot increases and the games are linked to each other so that the more players that play, the higher the jackpot goes. Once the jackpot has been won, it resets and starts again, meaning these games can provide players with huge payouts such as the €10.7 million won by a single player on the aptly named Mega Moolah.
The main difference between a Fruit Machine and a slot machine is the ability to “Hold” or “Nudge” reels to give themselves an advantage. After the reels have spun, players have the option of holding them in place for the next spin, increasing their chances of hitting a winning combination on one of the paylines.
How to play slots
Playing slots can lead to hours of fun, but before you get started it is worth taking time to understand how you should approach the games. After all, you want to maximise not just your level of entertainment, but also the profit you make.
Slots come in all shapes and sizes, with a vast range of themes, bonus features and payouts. What makes them all so popular is that many of them offer the chance to win a big jackpot from a relatively small bet, but don’t let all the animated graphics and flashing lights distract you.
Let’s take a look at the basic features that you’ll find on almost every slot:
From the very first slots, the basic symbols have remained the same with cherries, lemons, 7s, and liberty bells found on those original machines and still used today. However, while the range of symbols you’ll find on online slots is almost limitless, there are also a number of features to be aware of such as:
These transform into any other reel symbol (not scatter) to create a winning payline.
As the name suggests it multiplies your bet. They start at 2x your win and can go as high as 5x.
Allows you to spin for free but still keep any winnings you receive. These can be triggered as a bonus or randomly during a spin, often when three or more scatter symbols appear.
These provide wins multiplied by your total bet and trigger features such as free spins, bonus rounds and jackpots. They often don’t need to be on the same payline to create a win.
Usually on a second screen, these are often arcade style games where you can win large amounts.
The symbols on slots are printed on spinning mechanisms called reels, with a typical online slot containing three reels. However, there are some with four and you will also see an increasing number of novelty slots – often referred to as Big Berthas – with as many as eight or ten reels.
Most reels contain 20 to 24 steps or stops, each containing a symbol, such as a cherry or lemon, or a blank, a step with no symbol, just a blank. Blanks don’t help.
The most important part of any online slot machine is its payline, which is one or more horizontal or diagonal lines marked on the window in front of the reels. Basically, this is the visual display that shows if you have scored a winning spin or not as winning combinations which line up directly behind a payline are winners.
The payout display
This is a crucial part of any slot because it shows what combinations are needed to have a winning spin and how much each of these winners will pay. On a straight slot machine, all winning amounts will be posted on the display itself, usually expressed in the number of coins to be won as opposed to specific currency amounts.
For example, a winning combination might show a payment of 50 coins or 100 coins. On progressive jackpot machines, “Progressives” might be indicated next to the payout for the big jackpot hand. The progressive jackpot total is usually posted above the slot machine and is continuously rising.
There are any number of buttons on an online slot, but here are the most common ones that you will interact with at the machine. We’ll take a brief look at them here.
Play max credits / Bet max coins
Pressing this bets the maximum amount of coins allowed and automatically spins the reels. If the machine accepts five coins as a bet, pressing PLAY MAX CREDITS will deduct five coins from your credits. Similarly, if three coins were the maximum bet, then three coins would be played and that amount would be deducted and so on.
Play one credit
You can also play one coin at a time by depressing this button. In this case, the reels will not spin until the handle is pulled or the SPIN REELS button is pressed. You can also play two credits by pressing the “PLAY ONE CREDIT” button twice, or three coins by pressing it three times, or the maximum number of credits by pressing this button until the full allowance of coins is reached.
The cash out button
You can use your credits by either playing them through until the total is down to zero – which means you’ve lost them all! – or hitting the CASH OUT button, which will convert credit into actual coins and send them tumbling into the well below and into your virtual account.
Picking the right slot
Before you even get to press those buttons, there’s the process of choosing which slot to play. Here at 10bet we have over 900+ different slots to choose from and the temptation for many online slots beginners is to select a game that they recognise the name of.
Whether that’s Street Fighter II or Lord of the Rings, it is worth considering the following factors before you start playing:
Pick a slot that suits your budget
This should be determined by the minimum and maximum bet allowance.
Select the number of paylines you want to use
The general rule is that as the number of paylines increases, so do your chances of winning, but some players prefer to stick to the traditional one payline slots.
Find a theme that entertains you
You want to enjoy your online slots, so pick one that you find exciting, fun and amusing!
Don’t be afraid to dive in
With the huge choice on offer it’s easy to get bogged down with looking for the perfect slot. However, sometimes you need to just dive in and give it a try and if you don’t enjoy it, then stop playing and try another one.
So now you have found a slot you want to play, the only thing left to do is start playing, so here’s a step-by-step beginner’s guide playing slots online:
Check out the paytable
When you start playing an online slot, take a moment to familiarise yourself with the paytable, taking note of scatter icons, wild symbols and what you need to land on in order to launch bonus features.
Set the number of lines and the bet per line
While the amount you bet is entirely up to you, we recommend that you play the maximum number of lines, even if this means decreasing your bet per line.
Select whether or not you want the slot to play automatically and leave you to watch it all take place. If you don’t, then:
1. Click on the “Spin” button or your game’s alternative.
2. Watch as the reels come to a stop and reveal any payline wins and triggered bonus features. If you do receive a bonus feature then instructions are usually displayed so simply follow them and enjoy.
3. Following the completion of your bonus feature or spin, repeat the process.
One of the best things about playing online slots are the bonus features, and it is here where much of the creative, interactive fun comes into play. Whatever game you choose, there are a number of popular bonuses that you’ll regularly come across and this chapter will explain each of them in turn.
Wheel spinning bonuses
These are a holdover from the original slot machines which had a mechanical wheel at the top with various amounts displayed on it. When a player won a bonus, the wheel would spin and when it stopped, the player won whatever prize was displayed on the payline.
That was expanded with online slots, with wheels used to select the actual bonus event as well as to award prizes. Just like the slot reels themselves, these wheels are driven by random number generators and the segments don’t always share equal proportions of the wheel which weighs certain prizes more heavily.
Pick ‘em bonuses
Also known as “pick-a-prize bonuses,” these have been part of video slots since the late 1990s and can be as simple as touching one icon on the screen to collect bonus credits. They can also be longer events where you keep picking until you touch an icon that ends the event, something which began with the original “Reel ‘Em In” discussed previously in this guide.
There you pick one fisherman to reel in the fish on his or her line and the bigger the fish, the bigger the bonus. “Deal or no deal” is also a perfect example of this as, just like the TV show it was based on, you’d need to try to eliminate the briefcases with the lowest cash amounts in so you could win the biggest prize.
Free spin bonuses
The most commonly used reward among the best online slots, free-spin bonuses are exactly what you’d expect; you get a number of free spins of the reels, during which you collect payoffs on any winning combinations without having to pay for those turns.
Some free spin bonuses add extra like wild symbols or stacked symbols not available on the main game, and you can even win more free spins if the right combination hits during your original bonus spins.
While the bonuses mentioned previously are triggered by symbols landing on the reels, mystery bonuses are awarded randomly at various intervals during games. One of the first examples came in the game “Money Time” in 1997 and when the bonus hit, flashing lights and sound effects would signal the arrival of a “Money Time” period.
During this, all active players would receive random awards until a full, randomly selected amount had been paid. This system is still used today, usually on games with multi-tiered progressive jackpots, but some non- progressive slots still have mystery bonuses and these are always good fun for players.
With online players used to games of skill in other formats, some providers have begun to add skill-based bonuses to their games in order to attract bettors who might have otherwise avoided playing slots.
Some games have used the classic 1970s arcade game “Pong” – a two- dimensional table tennis game – as a bonus, with “Breakout” from Bally Technologies adding coloured blocks that players must hit to increase their bonus.
In order to bring a feeling of togetherness to slots, game makers have begun to use community bonuses that place multiple players into a free bonus event at the same time. These can come in the following formats;
- Bonuses where all players win together
- Bonuses in which players take turns building credits for each other
- Bonuses where players compete against each other
Depending on which type of community bonus your particular game offers, you’ll either be cheering for other players to succeed because that means you’ll win big too or hoping they fail and leave the best prizes for you!
So now you understand how they work, let’s look at ways you can maximise your chances of winning while playing slots online.
The first thing to understand when building a successful strategy for slots is the term ”Casino’s edge.” Also known as “House Edge,” it’s something you will hear a lot about while playing and, basically, it’s the mathematical advantage that the casino has in a particular game.
This results in an assured percentage return over time for the house and, in turn, an assured percentage loss for players based on the size of the bets they make. Obviously for the casino – whether an actual one or an online one – this return is to cover the cost of providing the games, paying staff and other overheads and ensuring that the business runs at profit.
With games like roulette or blackjack, the odds of winning are taken into account and a percentage is calculated. The roulette example is the easiest to understand as the wheel has 37 numbers – 18 red, 18 black and the green zero – which means there is a 1-in-37 chance that a player would choose the right number. With payouts set at 35-1, the casino’s edge is 2.7%.
However, with each spin on slots controlled by a random number generator (RNG), the game depends entirely on chance so the short term outcome is completely random. It is for that reason that the House Edge in slots is displayed as the RTP rate (return to player rate).
The RTP rate varies according to which game you choose to play. Make sure you take a look at the stated RTP rate of any given game before you start playing because some are far tougher to win at than others.
As an example, if the slot you have chosen has an RTP of 98.74%, that means that for every £10 wagered on the game, you will win £9.87 back.
Tips for playing slots
Even though the outcomes are completely random, you can still approach the games with a smart strategy. Here are our five key tips for playing slots.
Choose slots with the highest payouts
One of the biggest factors with slots is knowing how to pick the right game. We’ve already learned that there are an almost endless number of choices available, but knowing about the RTP will help you to make the right choice and it is relatively easy to find out what it is for each slot.
Most slots have an RTP of somewhere between 92% and 97%, so obviously choosing a game at the higher end of that scale will work in your favour and is a good strategy to follow because it gives you a better payback percentage..
Find a website you can trust
No matter how impressive an online casino looks, you need to do some research before you start to spin reels and try to win at slots. To ensure your safety and the fairness of games, it is crucial that you do so at a legitimate and regulated online casino, with regulators like the United Kingdom Gambling Commission (UKGC) working hard to eliminate dangerous companies from the industry.
Their licensing systems are the best way to ensure that you are playing slot machine games on legitimate sites which use audited and verified random number generators that pay out fair winnings to the players.So don’t start playing until you know the site you are considering holds the correct permits and never play online poker or pick slot machines on unlicensed casino sites.
Let’s make this simple: while many get tempted to try and land their wins on penny slots, every guide to playing slots, every collection of slot machine tips and every guide to casino strategy – including this one – will tell you the same thing:
You cannot win a progressive jackpot with a minimum bet.
It just doesn’t happen. To qualify for the biggest prizes, you’ll need to have a bet or bets on every payline so put aside that dream of becoming a multimillionaire from a one penny bet. In slots, the higher the bet, the more you can win and the smaller the bet, the smaller the win.
That is because slot machine payouts are proportional to what you wager in the game. If your slot machine strategy is to play small bets, that’s absolutely fine and you shouldn’t change it, just don’t expect to see unreasonably huge wins.
That’s why higher denomination slots are riskier than lower denomination slots, so keep this in mind if you enjoy playing slots with progressive jackpots. Risk is always an essential factor in gambling, and you must decide what level of risk you are comfortable with in order to ensure that playing slots is always fun.
Trust other players
Unlike online poker or roulette, this tip is one you should definitely pay attention to because you can trust other online slots players to point you in the right direction or at the very least steer you away from the wrong path.
If an online slot doesn’t pay out as regularly as it should, players will call it out.
With that in mind, use the information you can easily find on casino blogs and guides to your advantage. Browse through forums and search Reddit threads to see what other players think about a game, join Facebook groups and ask for help, people will quickly let you know if you’re considering a bad choice.
Take advantage of free spins
When it comes to playing slots, what could be better than playing for free? You can try out the game you like the look of, hone your strategy and enjoy all the fun of your favourite slots machine without it costing you a penny!
Take your knowledge
to the tables.
Manage your risk
Managing your money wisely is the most important part of playing any casino game, and that makes it arguably the most difficult part of playing slots. Even on the cheapest games, the amount of money a player spends can run up quickly as you can easily reach a point where you’re playing 600 pulls an hour.
If you play a slot that costs just 50p per game, you’re already spending £300 in 60 minutes. Still, most of that money is recycled back to you in smaller payouts because of the RTP – Return to Player rate – discussed earlier.
Choosing a slot with a 95% RTP would mean you’d lost just £21 out of that £300 and you can come out ahead more regularly if you teach yourself to pocket some of those smaller payouts instead of continually putting everything you get back into the machine.
One successful method for managing money is to divide your slot bankroll into smaller-session bankrolls. Let’s say for example you have £100 to play with and you want to play for two-and-a-half-hours, then you should allow yourself to only spend £20 for each 30 minute interval. Play through that amount once and if you’ve received more than £20 in payouts, pocket the excess and play through the original amount again. When your 30 minutes is up, pocket all the money and start a new session with the next £20.
If at any point the original £20 for that session is gone, that session is over. Finish that half-hour by walking away from the game for a while – go get a drink or fix yourself a snack until it is time for a new session.
Do not dip back into money you’ve already pocketed!
That may seem constricting, but players who do not use a money management technique all too frequently keep pumping money into the machine until they’ve lost their entire bankroll. The house edge ensures that the casino will be the winner in the long run, but by putting away a portion of the money as you go along, you’ll walk away with at least a small profit on a more regular basis.
What is a classic slot?
A classic slot is the simplest form of slot and includes the more basic three-reel or five-reel games. They involve little to no additional features and are regarded as the first types to appear in online casinos.
What is a progressive slot?
A progressive slot is a game which offers a progressive jackpot, which means that for each stake wagered, a small percentage will go towards that game’s progressive jackpot prize pool, often resulting in a massive win.
Does the amount of money deposited have an effect on the outcome? No, the amount of money you place in your account to play slots does not have an effect on possible outcomes. However, the amount of money bet per spin will and the different denominations will have higher payout percentages, meaning that placing the maximum bet per spin results in higher payouts compared to the minimum bet.
What are free spins?
A free spin means that the reels will spin, a turn will take place and a potential win will be revealed, without any of your credits being used. They are typically awarded in increments for receiving a certain pattern of symbols on the reels.
Additionally, a jackpot can typically only be triggered when betting the maximum amount.
Are the outcomes really random?
Simply put, yes. Online slots use a Random Number Generator (RNG) which means that the results are produced based on random mathematical algorithms. However, players are still advised to seek out reputable casinos which have received positive reviews and display their licenses clearly.
What is play money?
A lot of online casinos allow you the option to play “for real” or “for fun.” The second option will enable you to utilise what is known as play money, essentially a fake currency which allows you to try out a game or games at no cost to you.
However, this means that any accumulated wins are void and simply for your entertainment.
Is playing online slots legal?
Different countries have different legal ages at which an individual can participate in online gambling. This is typically between 18 and 21 while there are countries that do not permit online gambling at all, so be sure to check on the laws of your current country and always be aware of the rules.
What is a wild symbol?
A wild symbol is an icon on the reels – which usually has the word ‘WILD’ emblazoned across the front of it – that has the power to substitute for other symbols in order to help create winning combinations.
What is a scatter symbol?
Scatter symbols can typically appear anywhere on the reels of a slot and do not have to appear on any particular payline to give you a win. However, the number of these symbols required to give you a win usually varies from game to game and they often reward free spins to players as an added bonus.