A GUIDE TO VIDEO SLOTS
Visit any casino from Vegas to Macau, or go online and search for one, and you will find thousands of real money slot games to test your luck on. Indeed, since the early days of basic one-armed bandit machines in Nevada, the humble slot has been the most popular form of gambling thanks to its simple, fast and fun mechanism of delivering a bet and a totally random outcome. They come in all shapes and sizes, from classic 3 reelers to feature-packed multi-line blockbusters.
To get the most out of these games and enjoy your time on the reels you must understand how they work and what to look for to hit the maximum payouts. This can be as simple as lining up 3 identical symbols on the reels along a payline, or maybe triggering a special free spins round and adding multipliers to the paytable. In this guide we take you through the mechanisms behind video slots, the different types of games, the features, and help you to decide what is the best game for your budget and playing style.
Keep reading and you will become a slots pro by the end of the page!
HOW DO VIDEO SLOTS WORK?
Whether you are playing at the Mirage on the Vegas Strip or on your mobile phone at home, one thing you can be sure of is that the video slot you are spinning will have be using a complex mix of software, graphics programs and algorithms to make it work. These games are not ‘mechanical’ in the traditional sense, but rather driven by computer programs that create a random outcome for every spin and display the result as a combination of symbols on the reels.
Of course, over the years these programs have become more sophisticated, as have the graphics programs and software that are used to create the on-screen experience. This has led to more sophisticated and compelling slots that deliver layers of features and weave animations and video clips into the narratives. The best examples of sophisticated video slots are the Megaways™ slots produced by studios like Big Time Gaming, or the movie-themed games like Jurassic World, produced by Microgaming.
Video slots will also have different reel formats. The old games used to play out on 3 reel engines but now there are 5, 6 or even infinite reel games that you can play. And the number of rows on each reel can change too. Whilst there used to be just 3 or 4 rows per reel, now you may have as many as 7 or 8 in the best Megaways™ games. And as game developers have increased the number of reels and rows in a slot, they have also changed the number of paylines from 9 or 10 to over a million in some games!
Whatever the size of the reel set, the basic gameplay is always the same though.
The player places a bet, the reels spin, and if when they land there are matching symbols appearing consecutively on a payline, then a payout is triggered. Of course, not all symbols have the same value, and whenever you play a slot you will need to consult with the paytable to find out what each icon is worth. The aim is to land as many high value icons as possible along a payline and hit the biggest payout available.
5 STEPS TO PLAYING VIDEO SLOTS
- Join a casino
- Deposit to claim your welcome bonus
- Browse the list of video slots
- Choose a slot
- Set your stake then SPIN THOSE REELS!!
VIDEO SLOTS FEATURES
On a simple level slot games are just about lining up identical symbols. However, game developers are always adding features to the gameplay to make it more fun, to add tension and to crank up the thrill factor. Here are some of the most common video slot features you will find today.
Special Symbols – the most common feature in a video slot is the special symbol. This is one that triggers an event or enhances the payouts when it lands. Common specials include Mystery Symbols which all turn into an identical standard symbol when two or more land at once, Wild Symbols which substitute for any other from the paytable to complete a winline, and Scatter Symbols which trigger the free spins round.
Multipliers – a multiplier is a figure applied to the value of your win after a spin. It is usually displayed to the side of the reels, or sometimes it appears as part of one of the special symbols, like a Wild. Multipliers may be as low as 2x or as high as 100x or more. With a 5x multiplier a $10 win becomes a $50 win.
Free Spins Rounds – the free spins round is the holy grail of slots play for many people. This is a session within a session where all your spins are completely free. The round is usually triggered by 3 or more scatters landing simultaneously. The more scatters that land, the more spins you get. During a free spins round, often extra enhancements are added to the gameplay, like extra wilds or progressive multipliers that increase with every consecutive win.
THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN VIDEO SLOTS AND CLASSIC SLOTS
By now you may be thinking, so what’s the difference between the slots you are talking about and the classic fruit machine slot games I know. Well, video slots are a kind of next step in the evolution of the slot game. They are more sophisticated and more fun than traditional slots. But that doesn’t mean some people don’t still prefer the old-style games, and indeed you can still find those fruit machine games on Vegas Casino floors and online.
Here are some of the characteristics of old-skool slots versus the new video slots.
OLD SKOOL SLOTS
- Typically use 3 reels and 3 rows
- Standard payline number are between 3 and 10
- Design and graphics will be retro using fruit machine icons like cherries, 7s and bars
- Simple gameplay with few additional features except for nudges and holds
- Accept very low stakes of 1c or 5c
- Top prizes are lower
- Dynamic, interchangeable reel sets with up to 8 or 10 rows and 6 reels
- Many more paylines – even over 1 million in some cases
- Infinite themes and highly sophisticated graphics and animations
- Feature-packed gameplay with multiple special events interacting to trigger payouts
- High stakes – as much as $500 per spin
- Very high value jackpots – progressives can be well over $1,000,000
CHOOSING A VIDEO SLOT FOR YOU
Ok, so now you know what video slots are and how to play them, lets help you decide which is the best slot for you.
Here are the important points to consider:
RTP – The RTP (Return to Player) tells you how much a game will pay out on average. Typically, slot RTPs are set around 96% which means for every $100 wagered you’ll get $96 back in prizes. So look for games with a high RTP.
Variance – This is important because it tells you the kind of experience you are likely to get. High variance slots are high risk- typically you may be waiting a long time to get any payout, but when the wins arrive they can be big. Low variance slots deliver a much steadier experience with regular, lower value wins. Which you prefer will depend on your attitude to risk and reward in gambling.
Bonuses and Features – do you prefer a slot game with lots of features and escalating wins with plenty of animations and sounds? Or do you prefer slots with simple gameplay and few features? Not everyone likes an all-singing all-dancing Megways™ experience so think before you choose.
Game Provider – as you become a more experienced slots player you will get to know the game providers, from long-time industry favourites like NetEnt to smaller, newer studios like Nolimit City. Each will have their own style and often produce games with similar maths models. So, if you like one slot by Push Gaming, you may like them all!
Stake and Payouts – keep in mind that each game will have different minmum and maximum stakes and top prizes. So always check what they are before you start spinning. You’ll want to know what you can win and some games have much higher jackpots than others, but different odds too. Check the paytables and information screens to find out.
VIDEO SLOTS BONUSES
So now you are ready to start playing video slots, before you go, make sure you claim yourself a juicy bonus from one of our trusted casinos. Slots bonuses come in all shapes and sizes too. The best value are the no deposit bonus promotions that are triggered on registration, but you can claim much more slots money from the deposit bonuses that come in the welcome packages of all our recommended casinos. Typically these will be 100% extra on anything from one to five deposits. Keep checking back as we regularly update this page with new bonuses.
That’s it for now. Good luck and have fun on the reels!