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The ins and outs of a slot machine

Slot machines are very simple, which is why they are so popular at both land-based casinos and online casinos.

To play, you first select how much you want to wager and then spin the reels. Typically, you must match two, three, or more symbols in a row to score a win. Generally, there are a number of different ways to win, known as pay lines, and various symbols that will award different prizes. Regardless of whether you’re accessing slot games with real money or in free play mode, the interface will be the same. And if you’re playing at one or more real money casinos, then you’ll always have the possibility of spinning the reels in demo mode as well as with real cash.

You’ll be able to see the value of the different symbols on your game of choice by consulting the slot paytable. Have a look at this page to see how slot machines work.

Paylines

Paylines essentially refers to the number of ways in which symbols can land and secure you a win. Different slot games will have different numbers of pay lines installed into their setups. These pay lines can differ between a single one in classic slots up to many thousands of ways to win. That’s another reason why playing slots online can be one of the most exciting activities – because of the multitude of ways to win that some casino games have included in them.

It’s the traditional fruit machine games that tend to only have a single pay line running through their reels. In these three-reel slots, on which each reel displays three symbols, the pay line will be a straight line from left to right. If you hit a three-of-a-kind in the middle of the reels in most of these types of casino games, you win.

In real money and free online slots, you’ll find the majority of games have at least 10 pay lines and in many cases, a lot more. This is because the pay lines in online slot machines do not necessarily run straight across from left to right. In many games, pay lines will still run from left to right but via all sorts of paths. A winning pay line might zig-zag over the reels or form a ‘V’ shape. Some games pay in any direction and have over 1,000 ways for you to win. In fact, it’s our opinion that the best online slots have multiple ways for you to form wins.

You’ll be able to find out the number and shape of the pay lines by accessing the paytable menu. Many games have fixed pay lines. This means you must bet on all of the pay lines. Some, however, allow you to bet on any number of pay lines from one up to the maximum number, so if you have a preference for being more in-depth with your customization of slots online, then you may want to seek one out with adjustable active pay lines.

Wild symbols and scatter symbols

As well as the regular symbols you see in an online slot, there are also special symbols. These are wild symbols and scatter symbols. When it comes to playing online slots, real money or not, these symbols will often be seen in action.

Wild symbols act exactly like wild cards in certain poker games. They take the place of any other symbol. This means that four consecutive symbols followed by a wild symbol count as a five-of-a-kind win rather than four of a kind. Wilds can therefore be very helpful when it comes to forming wins in some of the best online casino games of this type.

Scatter symbols typically pay out higher than average wins for three of a kind or higher. They can often pay a win for just one or two symbols, too. They usually pay scattered, which is where they get their name. This means they don’t necessarily payout from left to right and don’t have to start their winning pay line combination on the leftmost reel. Often, a set of scatter symbols will launch a feature round as well, so online casinos that host slots with scatters included in their reels can be very much more appealing a lot of the time.

Slot machine bonus rounds

Feature rounds, or slot bonus rounds, are the best part of online slots gameplay in the eyes of most online casino players. Again, regardless of if you’re playing with demo funds or opting to play real money rounds, slots will still allow you to see their bonus rounds unfold.

These perks have become quite the added favorites with many players, and that’s because it’s in these feature rounds where you can make the biggest profits. Typically, feature rounds will award prizes many times higher than ordinary pay line wins during regular slots spins.

A feature round may take one of the following forms:

  • Free spins: receive one or more free game spins, affording you the chance to build up your win balance without any of your balance being used.
  • Pick and win: you are presented with a series of blind choices. Choose from a number of random prizes including multipliers, instant wins, and other bonuses.
  • Instant win: immediately receive a cash prize.
  • Re-spin: one or more re-spins of one or more of the game’s reels will occur, presenting you with more opportunities to win.
  • Mini-game: play an interactive game to win prizes. This may be a skill-based, chance, or a mixture of both.

Feature rounds, especially re-spins and free spins, may also feature additional incentives. These include winning combinations being held and extra wilds added to the reels. So, it goes without saying that you can play these slots online, win real money and much of the reward you get could come from bonus rounds like those mentioned.

Progressive jackpot slots

The biggest real money slot prizes and slot machine wins payout via progressive jackpots. Progressive jackpots are so-called because the jackpot increases gradually with each wager from players. Often, especially online, several or even dozens of machines are hooked up to the same jackpot in a network jackpot. Real money casinos will frequently incorporate these types of casino games, as they hold a huge incentive for many players with their huge pay-outs.

Each wager adds to the jackpot until it’s triggered. Then, one lucky player wins it all. At the time of writing, the largest online slots jackpot win in history is $19.6 million. The largest land-based slot win was in Las Vegas in 2003. An anonymous Los Angeles gambler won over $39.7 million at the time.

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