How to play online slots (And win real money)

Confused about online slots? Let us show you what they are all about.
How to play online slots
Online slots are rewarding, fun and easy to pick up and play. And a single spin can make dreams come true. There are near-misses, the fist-pumping moments and that exhilaration of a big bonus round win. 

But it's not all about those huge jackpot prizes. There's elaborate characters, exciting stories and unknown worlds to explore. If you are looking for an adventure, then a slot machine is a good place to start.

For the beginner, these games may seem intimidating. There are many components at work when you press that spin button. But in truth, learning how to play online slots is easy. We're going to show you how these games work - and present some choice strategies you can use.

How do online slots work?

Before we jump into advanced strategies and ways to win, let's look at the basics of what a slot machine is. At a glance, these games look like a mess of random pictures and confusing lines. But all of these systems play together.

  • Symbols: Every online slot will come with 10+ symbols. And when you spin the machine, these symbols will fall in random order. Match these in a specific sequence and position - and you may win something. You will also find special symbols like Bonus, Scatter, Free Spins and Wild. These all interact with the game in unique ways (more details below).

  • Paylines: To win on a slot game, you need to match symbols on paylines. The number of winning lines varies by slot - with some games only having 10 - and others having over 50.

  • Bet Level: This shows how much you are spending per spin of the slot. You can alter this value by adjusting the number of coins per payline - or how many paylines are in play. Each slot comes with a different maximum bet level. 

  • Jackpots: These are large prizes that are available to win on certain compatible slots. You will find two main jackpot games: progressive jackpots - and fixed jackpots.

  • Fixed Jackpot: When you hit a certain combo of symbols, you will win a fixed prize. This prize won't change in value over time and is unaffected by external factors.

  • Progressive Jackpot: These are jackpots that build over time. Each time a player bets on these games, a portion of the stake goes towards the pot. Winning the jackpot depends on the game - but some are triggered randomly, while others need a special combo of jackpot symbols.

  • Bonus Features: Matching specific symbols will activate a special bonus round. These mini-games often produce the biggest rewards and come in many different flavours.

  • Return to player or RTP: This percentage shows you how much a house edge the casino has over you when you play the slot. As a rule of thumb, a bigger return to player is more beneficial for you. But an average RTP is calculated over thousands of simulated spins. Shorter sessions can mean the game pays out lower or even higher.

  • RNG: The RNG (or random number generator) isn't something you will come into direct contact with as you play. RNG is a piece of code used by the game developer to keep results random on every spin. 

Quick Summary: The aim of playing an online slot is to match winning combinations on paylines. Certain features can activate that can also grant you access to bigger wins.

Online Slots Symbols

The core of any online slot is the symbols. Each slot you pick will have different symbols. And the way these fall will dictate if you win and how much you win. Certain symbols will trigger features that can boost your winnings significantly. Symbols can fall into three categories: low-value symbols, high-value symbols and special symbols.

  • Low Value Symbols: These are traditionally represented by playing card suits like 10, Jack, Queen, King and Ace. 

  • High-Value Symbols: These are the top tier symbols that will award the biggest wins. You will find these take on the form of special pictures which may link to the slot's theme.

  • Special Symbols: There are a variety of special slot symbols. And when these land on the reels, certain mechanics can come into play. Here are the most common symbols to get you started.

  • Wild: Also known as the wildcard. When this symbol lands, it will substitute for other symbols on a payline. A common rule is that the wild can't substitute for scatter or bonus symbols.

  • Scatter: As the name suggests, these symbols don't need to fall on a certain payline to activate. They can be scattered all over the reels. Land two scatters will usually award a win - while landing three may activate free spins or another bonus.

  • Bonus: Another common special symbol - hitting a certain number of bonus symbols will trigger a mini-game feature. 

Best Online Slots to choose

There are thousands of online slot games out there. And it would almost be impossible to play every single one. When looking for a game to play, it's shrewd to ask yourself a couple of questions first of all. These can help you narrow down the types of games you are looking for.

Do you want the best returns possible?
Then keep an eye out for games with high RTPs. Theoretically, this means you will be getting the most money back from each of your bets. Remember: the higher the return, the less of a statistical advantage the casino has over you.

Do you want to play for big jackpots?
To play for the biggest prizes available, you will have to sacrifice RTP. Jackpot games have lower returns because the prize potential is huge. Mega Moolah slots for example only has an 88.12% RTP - but it is also the world record holder for biggest online slot win.

What kind of game themes do you enjoy?
Mythology, horror, fantasy, adventure - there are dozens of stories and themes to choose from. If you enjoy TV and movies - why not choose one of the hundreds of licensed slot games available.

What kind of features do you enjoy?
Once you start playing slot machines for a while, you will get a feel for the features you like. Free spins, wilds, multipliers and bonus rounds can all be drastically different depending on what game you play.

Pro Tip: Use demo mode slots or casino free play to zero in on what games you want to play. This removes the need to spend your own money on trying hundreds of different games. By playing for free - you risk nothing. This option is only available outside the UK due to regulation changes.

Online Slots Strategies

The randomness of online slots leads many to believe that there is no room for strategy. And this is true to a degree. But there are strategies you can use when it comes to selecting the game. And you can make decisions around bonuses that can affect your enjoyment.

  • Focus on high RTP online slots - Theoretically, these games give you the optimal chance of winning. With a high RTP slot - the casino has less of an edge over you. Remember: the return shown on the game is an average - you could experience much better returns. Or you could experience much lower.

  • Use bonuses to boost your bankroll - There are plenty of online casinos out there that will give you bonuses for signing up. And some sites will reward you for continued loyalty. Bonuses can range from free spins to straight-up bonus cash. Before you claim any bonus, look into the terms and conditions of the offer.

  • Bet the maximum for bigger wins - You can't win the biggest prize by playing the smallest bet. Each time you up your stake, each symbol win will get bigger. There's a misconception that you can win life-changing amounts of cash with a small bet. But unless you are playing a jackpot - this isn't true. 

  • Bankroll management is crucial - It's essential to manage your casino bankroll when playing slots. You need to have a solid spending budget. And anything you win over that should be withdrawn. It's, of course, tempting to see what those winnings could turn into. But its much smarter to try and keep what you win.

Online Slots FAQ & Glossary

Are online slots rigged?

As long as you are playing at regulated casinos that use RNG based slots - then no. The random number generator algorithm ensures that each game result is random and fair for you.

Can you cheat online slots?

No, you can't. There are several factors as to why you can't cheat an online slot machine. Advanced security, server-side hosting of game files and RNG make cheating slots virtually impossible.

Can you win money playing online slots?

Yes, you can. As long as you are playing with real cash - your winnings will also be paid in cash. You can also win money by meeting the wagering of certain casino bonuses.

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