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In the world of e-gaming and online casinos, slots are a hugely popular option and it’s easy to see why when you consider the excellent graphics, engaging gameplay, payout potential and numerous ways to win.
You can get in on the action all around the world; slot titles are plentiful and outnumber games in other genres. Here’s a look at what’s involved with online slots and how to make the most of your experience.
The Advantages of Online Slots
From the slot machines in pubs and gambling establishments to the slots and table games in casinos, the real world experience is one of sound and colour and excitement.
Buttons being pressed, levers being pushed, coins hitting steel dispensers under machines.
But there are also some potential drawbacks, with travelling to a casino, needing some knowledge of the games, time constraints and so forth.
Online slots are increasingly replicating the tension and enjoyment you can find in a land-based casino but with greater convenience and more ways to win.
Quality is constantly improving as the technology evolves, bringing the best quality graphics and the most immersive, engaging gameplay.
They’re also typically very user-friendly and straightforward, cutting out the hassle and time-consuming aspects of going to a casino so you can get playing quickly and easily.
Online slots, therefore, offer incredible convenience, allowing you to play anywhere, any time, whenever it best suits you.
An array of Popular Slot Options
Gone are the days of basic graphics or minimal fruit machine style slots. Thanks to the advances in technology, the e-gaming world is blessed with excellent quality visuals, animations and features to keep players wanting more.
Among the most common types of slots are the slots with 243-payline options, 3D slots, those with progressive jackpots, video slots, virtual reality alternatives and themed offerings.
Should you wish to keep things simple and indulge in more of a classic or retro feel experience, typical fruit machine slots are popular choices.
For those wanting something more impressive on the eye and with more exciting elements, high-quality video slots come in a plethora of styles with great variability in terms of RTP (return to player ratio), bonus features, wager options, themes and pay lines.
In terms of the latter, while 25-payline slots still the most common, games are increasingly shaking things up with 243-paylines.
Where styles are concerned, providers are bringing out themed slots that cover everything from fantasy, Ancient Egypt and horror, to fairytale, historical and Oriental.
There are also games that reflect pop culture and those which licence different characters from TV shows, bands and films.
Playtech, for example, teamed up with DC Comics to bring about slots featuring characters from the DC world.
The workings of Online Slots
We’ll leave the inner workings of online slots to the developers and tech gurus, but getting a rough idea of the functions and different aspects of these games can help you feel more prepared and put you on a better track to successful gameplay.
Recognising the reels
Online reels are born from real-world slot machines, where painted symbols adorn metal drums; these spin to reveal different combinations when they naturally stop.
While online reels don’t use real reels, the term was retained and these are what you see spinning in the online slot world.
With the original, intriguing aesthetics increasingly being employed, you'll often find the reels adorned in line with the theme or style of the game.
The reels on online slots spin and provide unpredictable outcomes that cannot be manipulated, with symbol order not being limited to certain reels as is the case in the real world.
A random number generator (RNG) ensures that spins and outcomes are fair and entirely random, so outcomes can neither be predicted nor manipulated in any way.
The use of Slot Paylines
The term paylines originated with the birth of online slots to represent the variety of ways in which you can win on each spin.
This wasn’t needed with real-life slot machines, which only had one winning line.
With online slots, numerous paylines can be in play with up to 243 ways to win and different numbers of reels, wagers and paylines that can be activated in different games.
This results in an extra layer of intrigue as well as varied payout potential across each game.
What paylines and reels do Online Slots employ?
The typical, classic slot uses 3 reels and one winning payline running across the centre.
Online slots open up a wealth of opportunities and developers have built on the options, meaning that 5 reel slots have become increasingly popular and a myriad of paylines, from one to 243, can be in play.
What’s more, some slots take this further with even more paylines and therefore even more ways to win, although they’re in the minority.
Choosing your Slot Paylines
While some online slots will have set paylines that can’t be adjusted, meaning all paylines will be in play, most will allow you to adjust the number that are active.
For example, with 25 payline slots, you can typically select between 1 and 25 lines in varying increments so that you don’t have to play on all lines, allowing you more control over how you play and how much you wager.
To give an example, you may decide on a line wager of 5 coins across 25 paylines. This will result in a 125 coin bet.
The payout may vary between 10x the original bet up to 2000x. You could get lucky enough to score yourself two winning combinations on one payline, although the majority of slots will pay out only once, for the highest amount, per line.
Bonus features to shake things up
Online slots ramp up the tension and excitement with the range of features and bonuses included in the games, from typical winning combinations of classic symbols to multipliers, scatters and wilds.
Here’s a rough idea of what the latter three involve:
Scatters don’t always have to grace the payline to be triggered, as most slots will offer a payout or bonus feature upon three or more appearing on any reels.
These wilds typically substitute most other symbols, typically all except the scatter or any bonus symbol.
By providing their services as a substitute, they can help generate winning combinations and therefore boost your chances of winning.
These can arise in various ways but typically result in either multiplied wagers or payouts during the standard game or bonus rounds. Multipliers can really boost winnings so these are worth keeping an eye out for.
Each of these take things up a notch and up the ante, making gameplay both more exciting and more potentially lucrative.
The Perks of Online Slots
With the varied features integrated in online slots, there are a plethora of ways to win and plenty of opportunities to scoop smaller, more regular payouts on some and less frequent but more generous payouts on others.
Compared to real-world casinos, online slots actually provide more chances to win.
The RTP of slots varies, but you’ll find many online slots are around 96%, compared to the average payout return of the most 5 cent machines in Las Vegas being 93.42%.
The worst payouts for online slots are roughly as high as the better real-world offerings, with the top RTP percentages being around the 97 to 99% range.
What also helps online players is the number of paylines that can be active, in addition to the variety of features, scatters, wilds and bonus elements to up the ante and boost the ways in which you can play and to win.
Online slots can take the hassle out of playing, with many featuring an autospin function, enabling you to select a predefined number of times for the reels to spin or for them to continue spinning until you turn off the feature.
Another perk of online slots is the ability for players to keep on top of their gameplay. You can track how much you’ve wagered and how much you’ve won.
Online casinos typically have functions in place for responsible gambling, too.
For example, there are often options for taking time out, for setting maximum bet allowances and for periodic reminders as to how long you’ve been playing.
Unravelling the Myths around Online Slots
As their popularity has grown and their quality has markedly improved, the false impressions and misconceptions about online slots have also remained to some degree.
Let’s clear up the questions and myths to get a better idea of what slots are and how they work.
Big winnings aren’t available
The payout potential varies from slot to slot, but of course, there are enough financial incentives to play, otherwise, slots wouldn’t be as popular as they are.
Check the variance of the slot prior to playing; those with low variance will have lower, but more frequent wins, whereas those with higher variance will offer up less frequent but more generous payouts.
The higher the wager you can place, the higher the winning potential, especially where progressive jackpots are concerned.
More playing means more chances to win
Random number generators (RNGs) and software result in random outcomes and the payouts you receive.
Practice doesn’t make perfect nor does more gameplay mean better chances to win because players are unable to predict or manipulate outcomes in any way.
That said, there are ways of considering the chances of winnings, such as with the return to player (RTP) percentage, effectively indicating the ratio of payouts compared to the wagers.
The higher this percentage the more profitable the game is likely to be because the odds of payouts are better the closer this is to 100%.
Winning is a piece of cake
The more straightforward the slot, the lower the chance of winning typically is.
The sophisticated, sleek graphics and streamlined gameplay make slots a straightforward as well as more enjoyable experience, but that’s not to say winning is easy as all slots will vary in terms of their payouts, variance and RTP percentages.
They do offer good opportunities to scoop winnings and a major benefit of online slots is that you needn’t have prior experience or gambling knowledge to enjoy them and get stuck into playing.
Progressive and regular slots compared
Progressive jackpots are a gamer's favourite as they can pack in big payout potential. You could even be looking at millions if you’re lucky enough.
But what are the differences between progressive and regular slots?
Each of these types works differently when it comes to the payout structure.
Regular slots are quite straightforward, with cash entered, the reels are spun and the software will calculate a random outcome. If you don’t get lucky, you have to enter more cash to keep playing.
Progressive slots, on the other hand, retain a small portion of every coin wagered, where it is added to a growing jackpot.
Winning the progressive jackpot may be a rare occurrence, but the potential payout could be eye-watering and other wins can also be temptingly generous.
With online progressive slots, there may be thousands of players hoping to score themselves a winning combination and walk away with a large pot of accumulated cash.
Of course, this means that the chances of winning this jackpot dwindle with more players in on the action, but the more people that play, the larger the pot will be.
With progressive slots, it’s common for more players to place higher or maximum bets because the return is going to be larger.
The more you invest, the larger the jackpot and the bigger the win if your spin gets lucky. In comparison, regular slot offerings will have a payout with a predetermined jackpot.