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How to Play Slots

21 Sep 2023

Updated: 19 Nov 2023

How To Play Slots

Online slot machines are casino games that can come in many different shapes and sizes - there are thousands of different slot games out there, although they tend to follow the same basic idea. The slot game will present a set number of symbols on a fixed layout. When you place a bet, random symbols on reels will appear on the screen and these produce a winning or losing outcome. 

Slots are the most common games you'll be playing when you're doing casino offers, although they're not always the best. Blackjack and Roulette have very low variance and tend to have a very high RTP, making them ideal however, for most offers, they're simply not eligible - meaning you have to use slots.

Quick Tip

Every casino game will have an RTP (Return to Player) which is displayed as a percentage. It is the theoretical percentage of wagered money that will be paid back out to the player over time.

For example, we have a slot with an RTP of 95%. This means that in the long run, for every £100 that you play through the game, you will receive £95 back (95% of £100 is £95). From this you can clearly see that the higher the RTP, the more money that will be paid back out to us on average. High RTP games are ideal when making money from casino offers.

Since the RTP is assuming an infinite amount of spins (slot machines are tested with billions of spins), you aren't always guaranteed to get exactly the RTP amount back from your wagering. This is because of something called variance.

Most slots tend to have an RTP of around 96%, although this can vary from 90% up to 99%, and the variance can also vary a lot as well. The variance is typically a lot higher than with blackjack or roulette, which means you can go many spins in a row without winning anything, or you could win a lot from a single spin. The high variance of slots can yield higher value for some medium/high risk offers.

The main thing to know about slots is that there's no real strategy to them, you just hit spin and wait to see if you win.

Quick Tip

Variance reflects the random nature of casino games in short bursts. Let's consider flipping a coin.

If we flip a coin once, we have no idea if the result will be heads or tails. 

If we flip it 10 times in a row, we might guess that around 5 would be heads and 5 would be tails - but the realiy is we might get heads 6 or 7 times out of the 10, and we wouldn't find that particularly surprising. And if we did it again we might get tails more often than heads. This is called variance.

But if we flip the coin 1000 times in a row, it is extremely likely that we would get heads around 50% of the time, give or take. Essentially this means that variance becomes less of a factor the more flips you complete, and the RTP becomes the thing that matters. 

How slots work

Slot games are often a series of reels or columns, usually 5 or 3, with pictures or symbols along each reel. As you hit spin, the reels randomly spin and then stop. If you get enough matching symbols in a line the slot pays you out. Slot machines usually pay out from left to right, and usually require you to get 3 or more matching symbols to get a payout.

A payout line on a slot isn't necessarily just a straight line through the middle though, most modern slots have a lot of different pay lines. Along the side of the slot, you can preview all the pay lines by mousing over them. Getting matching symbols along any of those pay lines will result in you being paid out.

The amount you get paid out is dependent on the size of your bet, and the symbols that you get. Every slot has a paytable that shows what each symbol is worth. Some symbols are worth a lot more than others, and generally speaking, getting four or five symbols in a row is worth a lot more than getting just 3. These amounts represent a multiple of your line bet.

Some slots also have "Wild" symbols that act as any symbol, allowing you to get paid out even when you don't have 3 of the same symbol. And whilst I said most slots only pay for matching symbols in a row from left to right, some of them also pay from right to left.

In addition, most slots have some sort of special "bonus round", which when triggered, can result in a fairly large payout. You'll encounter a lot of these as you go through, but again they don't usually require any skill.

Warning!


Regardless of what happens visually on the slot machine, the picking decisions it may make you choose, the amount you've won in the past, every single spin is independent. This means that the slot has no memory, it doesn't know if you've been on a winning streak or a losing streak, it just randomly generates a payout for you with each click of the spin button.Regardless of what happens visually on the slot machine, the picking decisions it may make you choose, the amount you've won in the past, every single spin is independent. This means that the slot has no memory, it doesn't know if you've been on a winning streak or a losing streak, it just randomly generates a payout for you with each click of the spin button.

Here are a few things you will come across on slot machines that are useful to know about:

Win Lines

  • Most slots have an option to change how many lines you play with. Win lines go from left to right across the slot reels and matching symbols on one of those lines will give a win. The more lines you have the more possible combinations will give you a win. We always recommend playing with maximum lines as it means per spin you win more often and thus are lowering the variance/volitality. 
  • With some slots, you can adjust the number of lines, and the line bet amount. If you lower the number of lines, you'll see that the number of payout lines decreases. If you set it to 1, then this means it would only pay out on matches along that middle line. If you raise it back up to the maximum of 20, you can see all of the different payout lines of the slot.
  • Coin Value/Bet Level – Some slots won't just have a single button to change how much you are betting per spin, they will have a coin value and a bet level. Coin value is how much you are betting per line and bet level is the amount of coins you are playing per line. This is just a fancy way of changing the stake size and you can just adjust both of these to give you the overall stake you want. Coin Value/Bet Level isn't important, it's your total bet size that is.
  • Paytable – You can find the payout of a slot and how much it pays for each symbol usually by clicking on a Paytable/Info/Help button.

Different slots let you adjust your bet amount in different ways.

Warning!


You'll see there is a bet max button. Don't ever press this, as it will perform a spin using the maximum amount that you can afford; you don't want to do that.You'll see there is a bet max button. Don't ever press this, as it will perform a spin using the maximum amount that you can afford; you don't want to do that.

When starting out, always go for the maximum LINES, and the minimum stake. This gives you the safest strategy to complete the offer and the reason for this is it gives the lowest possible variance. You can increase the stake if you want to, which will make it go faster and could mean you win more money, but it also increases the risk that you'll lose. 

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