Even if you’ve never set foot in a bingo hall or casino, the chances are you’ve probably seen a slot machine before. Brightly coloured and making lots of jingly noises, slots often sit in the corner of pubs and bars.
If you're not accustomed to playing, the dizzying array of symbols on the screen might look like some kind of witchcraft. However, playing slots is surprisingly simple once you know what you're looking at.
The world has increasingly turned to digital entertainment - and slots are no exception. You can now summon a vast number of different slots machines with just a few clicks on a phone, tablet or laptop.
A great way to pass the time, slots also provide you with the opportunity to win some moolah. If you’ve never tried them before, what you need is a simple how-to guide - and that’s exactly what you’ll find below.
On the screen, you'll notice a grid that is filled with different symbols; these are the vertical reels that spin when you press the button.
You can win cash prizes by matching up the symbols from the left to the right. However, the symbols must land in a pattern known as a payline. Every slot machine has a different number of paylines; some have just a handful of paylines while others have quite literally thousands.
You can find information about the paylines in the information section, known as the paytable. Although it's helpful to know where the paylines are you don't really have to worry about them too much. The game will automatically recognise if you've won, so there's no need to stress about remembering hundreds - or thousands! - of paylines.
Everyone who knows how to play slot machines will tell you how vital the paytable is. It's a good idea to have a glance through it before you start playing a game.
The reels usually have 8-12 different regular symbols, and each one will have a different value. Landing three matching symbols of one slot may give you a small payout, or a big win, depending on what it's worth. Some slot machines will pay out on the higher value symbols for just two matches, while others will only pay out for three or more.
The paytable shows you the value of each symbol. In addition to the paylines and whether there are any bonus rounds or special features. The latter is why it's particularly important to check the paytable; these bonuses and features can be totally different for every slot, and if you don't know what's going on, it's harder to win!
Playing slots isn't a wham-bam-thank-you-ma'am kind of game; it's a slow burn that you can take your time over and enjoy. But you'll only be able to do that if you spread out your budget; if you blow it all at once, you won't be able to carry on playing.
The stake is crucial for how to play online slots; prizes are usually paid as a multiple of what you bet. The higher your stake is, the more you could win - but the more you could lose too…
Different slots machines provide different ways to set your stake. It's not a case of being able to pick any number you want, unlike going to the bookies and betting on the horses. Instead, there will be incremental amounts, with a minimum and maximum. You can choose any one of these amounts to play with. In most slots, you can change your stake at any time, so don't worry if you start off too low.
Some slots give you the option of setting the value of a coin and then also deciding how many coins you want to bet. This is typically the value per line, not the total bet - getting this bit wrong can be an expensive mistake! In other slots where there's just a single value, that's usually the total stake rather than a per line bet. Make sure you're clear on the difference before you hit the spin button!
Although the main goal is to line up matching symbols along the paylines, there are several different features and special symbols which you'll need to be aware of if you want to know how to play slots.
Some types of slots have more than others; some slot machines are straightforward and only have a few if any of these. This is where your personal choice of game comes in; if you're a player who loves all the bonuses and unique features, many modern slot titles are crammed full of these extras. Classic or retro style slots tend to have fewer bonus features and are simpler to play - great if you're a newbie and feeling a bit overwhelmed!
The symbols you’ll often find include:
The scatters often unlock a free spins bonus. This means that you will get a certain number of turns where you won’t have to pay. Free spins often include special features, such as extra wilds, jackpot symbols or multipliers.
There are an almost limitless number of bonuses and features that can be found on slots; these are just the most common. Take a look at the paytable, and you'll find the ones that apply to the slot game you've picked.