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Daniel King

How To Play Slots in 2021: The Complete Guide

Author: Daniel King | Posted on: 2021-05-31 | Last updated on: 2021-09-22

What do Will Smith, Disney cruises, and slot machines all have in common? They’ve all managed to be popular with both young people and older folks—an impossible task. Playing slot machines is accessible and fun for everyone, but they can be intimidating at first. Bright lights, spinning reels… it’s a lot.

Luckily, we’re going to break down all their features and varieties. So by the end of this 8-minute guide, you’ll know exactly hoe to play slots and how to win at slots machines at the online casino. Let’s go!

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How to Play Slot Machines—A Step-By-Step Guide for Beginners

There’s a reason that casinos get more than 65% of their revenue from slots—they’re really freaking fun. It’s also much easier to play slot machines than other table games. If you want to get started, here’s a step-by-step overview of how to play slots at a casino or online.

how to play slots

  1. Choose your slot game. There’s a huge variety of slot machines out there, each with different stakes, odds of winning, and themes. You can play slot machines with a progressive jackpot, $1 coin denominations, and a Wild Wild West theme—which is almost as fun as the Will Smith movie of the same name.
  2. Deposit your money. Different slot machines have different ways of doing this: older ones may require coins, but most modern video slots have currency acceptors. If you’re playing online slots, you can fund your bankroll through their system. Once you’ve done this, the corresponding number of credits will appear on the machine.
  3. Place your bets. Now we’re cooking. You place bets on slot machines by assigning coins to winning combinations called paylines. The number of coins that are bet on each line is up to you, as is each coin’s value. Depending on your slot machine, you could set each coins’ worth between $0.01 or $1.00.
  4. Push the big red button—you know you want to. To spin the reels and start your round, you might have to pull a lever (on much older machines), press a button (for more modern video slots), or click a ‘SPIN!’ button on your screen (in many online slots). If you hit a winning combination, the machine will know and add the right amount of credits to your bankroll. Sometimes, instead of real money, you might win bonus rounds. Here, you can get free spins or play mini-games to win more money.

How Slot Machines Work

Slot games have moved mediums a lot since they were first introduced to the world in 1894. But the core elements are still the same, whether you’re playing online slots or a Las Vegas casino machine.

Reels

The vertical spinners you see in front of you are the slot machines’ reels. During every round, you spin these reels hoping that the symbols they’re covered in will align in your favour—just like the stars! You may be familiar with the quintessential three-reel slot machine. In newer video slots, it’s common to see 5 or 6 reels as well.

Symbols

Symbols are the icons you see spinning on the reels. Each symbol has a different value based on how often it can appear. Those values will determine how much you win whenever those symbols appear in a winning combination.

Video and online slots will use a random number generator (RNG) to determine how the symbols appear on your screen. RNGs are computer algorithms that are constantly outputting thousands of random numbers. Whenever you press the button, it stops—the numbers that are there correspond to what symbols appear on your screen.

Paylines

We’ve talked about winning combos a lot so far—they’re also known as paylines. Early slots machines typically only had one payline: matching symbols across the center. Modern games typically have far more: zigzags, Vs, arrows, you name it.

The number of paylines you bet on is up to you, and how many coins you bet on each one is your choice as well. Generally, it’s best practice to bet on the max number of paylines to increase your odds of winning.

Rounds

Every time you bet and spin, you’re playing a round of the game. In online casinos, you can play as many rounds as you want; this will likely won’t be the case in a real-life casino. Occasionally, you might win on a payline that gives you bonus rounds, especially on video and online slots:

  • Free Spins On a free spin, you have the chance to win without actually betting any of your own money. Generally, the stakes will be the same as when you won the bonus round.
  • Bonus Wheels In earlier slots, getting the right symbols would trigger a bonus wheel on top of the machine. Today, video and online slots will simply shift to another screen. The wheel can spin to offer real money prizes, free spins, and mini-games.
  • Multipliers These bonus rounds can let you spin to see how much you multiply your winnings by. With a multiplier, your money can be doubled, tripled, even 10xed. It’s also common to win these rounds from a free spin.

Types of Slots and How To Play Them

In the hundred-plus years that slots have been around, they’ve jumped from formats and styles. Each variant is similar, and the core elements stay the same. But as you play more slots, it’s helpful to know their differences and how to play them.

How to Play Progressive Slots

Progressive slots will take a portion of each bet they receive and add it to a much larger jackpot prize. Earlier progressive slots would collect a percentage of every wager that had been placed on that specific machine. Nowadays, multiple machines are often linked to each other so that jackpots can get even bigger.

Depending on how the jackpot is triggered, there are different strategies for playing:

  • Multi-tiered progressive slot games: these machines have smaller but more frequent payouts. This may be an attractive option for you.
  • Jackpot triggered by threshold: some slot games will payout when the jackpot hits a certain value. While it’s not always possible to determine what that value is—or the current value of the jackpot—a machine that many people have been playing (but not winning at) may be a good target.
  • Randomly-triggered jackpots: for these machines, you typically have to opt-in to the progressive prize. You should absolutely do this! It’s the main reason you’re at this game.

How to Play Mobile Slots

Mobile slots are more popular than ever, and they’ve never been more secure. You can play on a smartphone app or through the mobile site of your favourite online casino.

In the last few years, the Apple Store and Play Store have eased restrictions on mobile casino apps, so providers have been offering free spins and bonus rounds to promote their new applications.

Simply search for the app of your favourite online slots website, download it and deposit some money, and start spinning!

How to Play Mega Spin Slots

Like traditional Vegas-style slot machines, the Mega Spin Fortune slot gives players the opportunity to wager as little as $0.01 or as much as $1.00 per coin.

The key difference with Mega Spin is that it allows you to play multiple games at once. At any time, you can have 9 sets of reels on your screen, all playing at the same time—one of them might even trigger a progressive jackpot. And who said humans can’t multitask?

How to Play Slots Tournaments

Online slots tournaments involve competing against other players to win cash or prizes. The only way to win the tournament is to be at the top of the leaderboard. Follow these tips to improve your odds:

  • Make use of the automatic spin feature.
  • The more paylines you play, the better.
  • Maximize your winnings by placing the maximum wagers.

Tips on How To Beat Slots Machines and Win Real Money

Random number generators make it impossible to game the system, so slot players have to adapt. There are a few things you can do to improve your eligibility and payouts:

  1. ❗ Check the payout percentage before you play. AKA return to player (RTP) percentage or payback percentages, this figure determines the average payout of a game in the long run. In many places, you’ll run into an RTP % of around 93% or higher. Ideally, you want one that’s as high as possible—97% and more.
  2. ❗ Play higher denomination games. Typically, slot games with higher coin values ($5 instead of $0.50) have higher payout percentages. But remember: bigger wagers could also lead to bigger losses. It’s a classic high-risk, high-reward play.
  3. ❗ Max out our paylines. You may have the option of only betting on the paylines you want, but this is a bad idea. In the event you get a winning arrangement but haven’t activated the payline… let’s say you’ll have enough angst to drop an amazing punk rock album.
  4. ❗ Check the paytable and place the maximum bets. The paytable tells you how much you can win from each combination. On older machines, you can find this above or below the screen, and in video and online slots, this would be in the help menu. In many buy-to-play instances, you may not be eligible for a certain combination unless you bet the maximum amount.
  5. ❗ Scout out other machines for a higher payout. If you’re playing progressive slots, it can be helpful to get a feel for the average jackpots that are paid out. If you know it’s usually between $5,000 and $6,400, you might want to start playing when the jackpot is around $5,000. This won’t increase your chances of getting the jackpot: it just means that if you do win, it’ll be a higher payout.

Playing Slot Machines Has Never Been Easier

The modern slot machine, online casinos, and mobile apps are making it possible to play everywhere: from Las Vegas lobbies to the home screen of your iPhone. They’re fun, approachable, and best of all—you can win big.

As you go forth and bet, remember to wager high, enjoy yourself, and play responsibly.

FAQ

What is the secret to slot machines?

While there's no definitive secret of the slots—which may be the title of the next Indiana Jones movie—there are a few things in your control that can make your slots experience more enjoyable.

  • Know the payout percentages. At least 93% and ideally 97%+.
  • Bet your max on all the paylines. Slots are random. Why hedge your bets? It's best to maximize your possibility of winning.
  • Stay calm and accept your losses. Slots are supposed to be fun! Make sure your bankroll can handle your plays. Because as soon as it can't, you'll start stressing out.

What is a progressive jackpot?

Progressive jackpots are prizes that increase every time somebody plays a slot machine. Until someone wins it, the prize amount continues rising. Slot machines that use progressive jackpots contribute a portion of each wager to the jackpot.

Are slot machines rigged?

Slot games are not rigged. Online, they use random number generators to ensure that you're playing a game of luck. Machines are programmed to give the house an edge in the long run (over hundreds of thousands of rounds), but when you sit down to play, it's all fair game.

How do you tell if a slot machine is loose?

Slot machines that payout large amounts of money are said to be loose. To be loose, it must also do so frequently. Therefore, a loose slot machine will have a high payback percentage and low volatility.

How do you win at slot machines?

Winning at slots is a game of chance. On a spin-by-spin basis, you can't influence your odds of victory. But there are things you can do to maximize your financial payout if you do win:

  • Bet the maximum amount every round. This will ensure you're eligible for every combination.
  • Bet on every payline. If you don't do this, you're reducing your odds even more.
  • Play high denomination games. A game where you can set your coin values to $1 and up will typically have a higher RTP. But prepare for bigger losses as well!