Guide to SLOTS

Guide to SLOTS

Welcome to the only guide you will need to one of the pillars of the casino world, slots, also fondly known over time as the one-armed bandit or fruit machine. The first mechanical slot was built by a car mechanic in 1895 and named ‘Liberty Bell’.

A casino is a casino is a casino, right? How different can one casino be from another? All they do is exchange money for chips, offer games, and then exchange chips for money.

Well, no. No story goes, “Once upon a time, everything was simple, everything was the same, and everyone was happy. The end.”

Every casino – both brick and mortar and online – is unique. Yes, there are similarities, both legislative and game based, but there’s no way to summarise all casinos with just a few simple sentences.

Luckily for you, we have taken the time and effort to really get into the foundations of online gambling: what makes it tick, how it works, what players can expect, and so much more. Here, we offer you all the in-depth guides to online casinos and gambling you’ll need. And we take that promise seriously, which is why we are constantly working to add more guides that cover every aspect of the online casino experience.

In this series of guides, you will find information about jackpots, variance and volatility, online casinos, casino bonuses, withdrawals and deposits, and more.

Why should you use guides?

Casino guides like these can really help enhance your online casino experience. For example, jackpot guides don’t just tell you what a jackpot is; they explain the various types of jackpot, how they work, how to play to win, where to find games with different jackpots, and even who the game developers are.

Casino bonus guides are another super useful way to figure out which online casinos will work best for you. We don’t only look at the types of bonus offered, but explain how they work, the hidden pitfalls to look out for, and ways to make the most of your wagering requirements.

You’ll find enough information here to keep you busy longer than a great game of poker, so dig in, and come out the other side a little more knowledgeable. And if there’s anything you’d like to learn more about that you don’t find here on CasinoPlay, let us know. Happy reading!

It had 3 spinning reels with the traditional heart, spades and diamond symbols plus the image of a cracked Liberty Bell. 80 years later, the Fortune Coin Company invented the first electronic slot machine.

Zoom forward to now, and the range of slots at land-based and online casinos, with their mind-bogglingly beautiful graphics and imaginative themes, is enough to make you dizzy. Slots are among the most popular games for any avid gambler, mostly because they are abundant in options, infinitely fun and so easy to play.

Online casinos have hundreds of slots. You’ll see the most popular ones from the largest developers – RTG, Novomatic, PlayTech, Microgaming, NetEnt, Play’n Go, Wazdan and Pragmatic Play among them – popping up again and again across the biggest casinos. The basic game is the same, with variations in features and bonus games, which is what makes some slots unique and worthy of a loyal following. You can try for free at most casinos to get a feel for the ins and outs of the game and whether you want to stay and play for real money.

If you’re a newcomer to slots, the classics (like good old Liberty Bell) are a great place to start – they’re the most simple, with 3 reels, while a lot of video slots have 5 reels. A reel typically has 20 or more theme-related symbols, and you’re aiming to spin combinations of matching symbols. Symbol combinations often start from the left column and can be horizontal, vertical, diagonal or a number of other ways. Learning which combinations are winners is part of the fun of learning the individual slot. A variation that’s really fun to try out is the cascading slot, where winning combinations disappear to make room for new symbols to fall, giving you more chances of winning per spin.

We challenge you to think of a theme that you can’t find in a slot – the playing field is just dripping with creativity and some of the graphics are absolute show stoppers, so just perusing the game portfolio in search of the slot for you is great entertainment.

Slots use a random number generator (RNG) to spin the game, and this also works out your win, making the game fair.

Differentiation in slots often comes in the form of the game’s extra features, all incorporated to give you more thrills and excitement: the wilds, which often showcase the game’s theme or star character and give you an increased chance of forming a winning combination; bonus rounds – a quick, fun diversion from the main game that gives you a chance to win more; and free spins. Read more about bonus rounds and wilds in the Slots extra features section.

Then there’s the big audacious goal all slots players ultimately reach out for: the grand jackpot, which can reach huge amounts and change your life considerably. Progressive jackpot slots provide sometimes astronomical amounts as the prize accumulates over several plays and sometimes even across casinos. These are for the biggest thrill seekers at the casino. Just remember that it’s good to keep your head when playing slots and not let the promise of a chest of treasure lead you into bad decisions.

Unlike table games, which can involve complex playing strategies, slots share the same general rules. What makes each one unique, besides the obvious design and theme of the game, is: the symbols and their value; what constitutes a winning combination; the number of paylines; minimum and maximum bets; and, of course, those wonderful special features – the bonus rounds, wilds, scatters and free spins.

While you might pin your hopes on lady luck rather than your skill to get you a winning combination, it would disadvantage you to place bets on any slot without understanding that game’s paytable and specific set of conditions, symbols and features, as well as its RTP – what percentages it pays out to all players over time.

When we say strategy, we’re not talking about ways of assessing how to get a winning combination or manipulate the game in any other way that you might be able to with other games. Slots are all about the luck factor, and with the RNG determining all outcomes, there’s no side-stepping the system to get your win.

So when it comes to playing slots, the strategy we advise focuses on some of the bigger picture decisions you can make before you lay down your bets:

  • Choose an online casino where you feel at home, having done some research on whether it is credible, fair and offers a good player experience. (Remember that, on CasinoPlay we have strict criteria for our online casino reviews, so you can depend on information you find on this site to help you choose.)
  • Check the casino’s and the slot’s RTP – aim for upwards of 95%
  • Try the slot for free first – most good online casinos will let you play most slots for free so that you can get a feel for whether it’s right for you first
  • Look for a free spins bonus to get extra time playing without putting your rands in
  • Try the classic slots if you’re new to the game because they offer you a simpler inroad, but the newer 5-reel video slots are really where it’s at for extra features, bonus rounds, cascades and generally more ways to win.
  • Again, read the guidelines and paytable on your slot of choice to understand how to play, how to increase your win and, most importantly, how to maximise your fun during play time

The main types of slot are the classic 3 reel, the newer 5 reel and progressive slots. Besides those three main categories, there’s a world of variation in how you play. And, in case you hadn’t noticed, we are blown away by the creativity to be witnessed in today’s game graphics and themes – from ancient worlds to space adventures and from tropical islands to kitchen antics, you can find a slot around pretty much any theme you can think of. There are even slots about beer and heavy metal.

One thing to keep in mind is that the three main types of slot vary more than anything in their ways to win and potential prize size. While the 3 reel is the easiest to grasp, it also has a lot fewer paylines and, shall we say, accessories – the extra bling that keeps you titillated. 5-reel slots have a lot more variation in terms of their extras, and the potential to win is greatly increased, with many more paylines and opportunities for bonuses.

Bet per line:

This is how much you bet per payline. When you multiply your bet per line by the number of active paylines you’re playing, you get the total amount you bet on one spin.


A payline is a combination of symbols in a game that results in a win

Payout percentage:

Also known as the RTP (return to player), this is the percentage of all bets that a particular slot will pay out to all players over time (usually more than a million spins). 

Winning combination:

A set of symbols that gets you a win 


This is a list of all the paylines in a slot game. It should include the direction of paylines, too.

5-reel video slots are laden with extra features to keep you delighted as you play. Here’s a rundown on some of the common features and how they work.

Bonus games

Some slots give you opportunities to take a little vacation in a side bonus game. Typically, this means you will be taken to a separate screen, where you’ll play a mini game that allows you to win extra prizes or free spins. You access bonus games by accumulating certain symbols on the side as you spin the reels. This accumulation of symbols during your game can happen in ingenious ways that give the game provider a chance to really showcase the theme of the game.


A wild in a slot game is always a welcome sight: it stands in for all other symbols, beefing up your chances of winning – as well as the amount you win – in any combination. It usually comes in the form of the game’s main character or central symbol to the theme, and sometimes you even get wilds that take up several normal symbol spaces.

Scatter symbols 

Scatter symbols don’t follow the normal paylines, so they can give you a win wherever they fall, as long as there are a certain number of them. Scatter symbols are important to find out about before you play, so that you know why you’re winning or not.


At CasinoPlay, our job is to bring you up-to-date and comprehensive information in all things gambling. Check out the rest of our site, and let us know if you have any questions we haven’t answered yet. We appreciate your feedback and would love to help you with whatever you want to know to become an accomplished gambler.

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