SlotsSlot machines have always been a big draw in the land-based casinos throughout the world, including the UK. It’s not without a reason that if we talk about the online slots, UK is counted amongst the leading countries that offer them in such great variety! At almost every online casino in the UK, slots stand out as one of the top few games which drive plenty of traffic to the platform. The fact is, we just can’t get enough of them!
When it comes to the online slots, UK players prefer the straightforward gameplay offered by these games, and the fact that anyone and everyone stands to win big, no matter how experienced he/she may be or whatever his/her skill level may be. Another factor that pulls in a great number of online gamblers to casinos hosting such online slots is their low stake levels. Slot machines are the bedrock of each and every decent off-line and online casino out there.
Visit any brick-and-mortar casino establishment or load up the software of your favourite online casino, and you’re guaranteed to find among a great number of blackjack and roulette games, lines and lines of different online slot machines. The very sight of a slot machine gives you a feel of a highly efficient and slickest method of boosting your bankroll! It’s because of the same reason that online slots have rapidly become a staple for millions and millions of casino players all over the globe, more so in the UK. (Slots are a rage here!)
However, with a huge number of variations and all that bonus game jargon, selecting the best online slots can sometimes become a very daunting task. That’s why we wanted to step in and provide you with a detailed guide about all the facts you should know, as far as online slots are concerned, right from their pay lines, their reels to those huge progressive jackpots.
We have you covered!
As is the case with land-based casinos, the real money online casinos also aggressively promote their best online slots, a big reason why they’re so popular and are packed with top-of-the-line features. Furthermore, these games are profitable for both the casinos as well as players, offering the latter a chance to bag huge winnings, by betting relatively smaller amounts.
When the real money online slots appeared for the first time during the mid-90s, these games only had 1 pay line and a few reels. Nowadays, it is commonplace to find online slots with 5 reels, 3 reels, 1024 pay lines and a good variety of top-quality animated sequences. What more, there’s a high likelihood of finding an online slot machine based on every Hollywood blockbuster these days!
So, keeping in mind the way online slots have grown over the years, and how they have evolved from the traditional slot machine, let’s find out how to play these games, how to make the most of them and how to find the best places to play such real money online slots. It should also be noted that more and more people are switching to mobile slots these days. These mobile variants are actually the modern-day new slots in the truest sense; they are rapidly setting fresh benchmarks in the field of online gambling. What more, you can even play free mobile slots (essentially free online slot machines; more on that below) these days!
How to play slots online?The basics of online slots
Once you load up a slot machine at your favourite online casino, from within the browser on your desktop/laptop, or through a mobile application on your smart phone, you’ll be presented with the game’s main screen, filled up with multiple reels. While the classic slot machines feature 3 vertical reels, majority of the modern-day online slots have 5.
The slot machines in the land-based casinos used to always have the centre row as the winning pay line. The term pay lines was essentially coined to describe various ways in which an online casino player could win while playing online slots. The development of online slots allowed designers to expand the game both in terms of reels as well as pay lines. The pay lines in the present day online slots can be in all forms of diagonal, straight or other shapes.
Each reel of an online slot machine normally features 10 to 25 symbols on it (sometimes even more). These symbols are usually relevant to the theme of that slot machine. The aim of spinning these reels is to get the winning combination of symbols once those reels come to a halt. As there are plenty of symbols on these reels (apart from multiple pay lines), there are normally millions of different combinations you can get.
The slot machine most has a spin button situated at the bottom right (sometimes even left) of the screen, which when pressed, puts the reels into motion. Many of these online slots may also have a certain ‘Skill Stop’ button that enables you to manually stop the reels on your own.
Go through the pay table
Prior to spinning the wheels of an online slot machine, you must click on the ‘Info’ or ‘Pay table’ icon present on the game’s screen, which will take you to another screen, providing you with detailed information about the game. Here you’d be presented with the details related to payouts for different winning combinations. You’d also be able to see the different symbols on the reels and the pertinent details of the bonus rounds (if there are any). Some of the developers list out the theoretical RTP (Return to Player) percentages here too. (We’ll throw more light on that below)
Bet sizes and pay lines in online slots
Anytime you play a real money online slot machine, you’d be expected to set the bet size and the preferred number of pay lines. In case of online slots with lower variance (the ones which offer low stakes), you may find the bet amounts starting from as low as £ 0.01 per line.
Thereafter, select the number of coins you’d like to bet on a particular pay line. In most cases, you’d be allowed to bet anything ranging from 1 to 10 coins on every line. Once you’ve decided the bet, you’d need to choose the number of pay lines (symbol combinations across the reels) you’d like to play. You’d be able to bet anywhere from one single pay line to the maximum available. All this can be done within a matter of few clicks on the gaming screen.
So, for instance, let’s assume that the online slot machine features 25 pay lines, and the available bet range is £ 0.01 to £ 1 per coin. Furthermore, the slot machine permits you to bet up to 10 coins per line. Resultantly, you’d be able to play one coin with the denomination of £ 0.01 on one single pay line, implying that your bet amount per spin would be £ 0.01.
On the other hand, you’d also be able to bet the maximum, which is £ 1 per coin, 10 coins on every pay line, and on all the 25 pay lines. It would mean that your total bet amount per spin would come out to £ 250.
You should ideally look out for the ‘Max Bet’ button on the online slots (all real money online slots have one), to instantly select this option.
Other online slots games may have fixed pay lines, implying that you’d have no control on how few on how many pay lines you’d be able to play. Max bet might mean a bigger cash spending and hence a bigger bankroll over a period of time, but you’d also enjoy more number of hits at winning combinations.
Option to Double Up or Gamble
Once you’ve decided the bet amount and the pay lines, and are good to go, you’d need to click the ‘Spin’ button. When you do that, the reels will start spinning and eventually come to rest. In case you get any winning combination, it’ll be paid out accordingly. However, some real money online slots also give you the option of doubling up your winnings. If you want to take this option, look out for the ‘Double Up’ or ‘Gamble’ button on the slot machine, usually in the form of a ‘Higher or Lower’ or a ‘Red or Black’ card game.
Online slots’ symbols
Normally, you may find anywhere around 10 to 12 different symbols on the reels of real money online slots. As mentioned earlier, the symbols may even go up to 25 or higher, depending on the exact theme of the online slot machine. These symbols may be in the form of anything like aliens, cuddly bunnies, diamonds, poker symbols (such as king, queen, jack, ace etc.), classic melons, gold, mythological characters, bank robbers, superheroes, musicians, cherries or anything else! In fact, think of any good theme and there’s a high chance that you’d find an online slot machine invented around it.
Wilds and Scatters in online slots
Whenever you get winning combinations of symbols, they’d be paid from left to right, with the consecutive ones contributing to the winning pay line. However, please keep in mind that there may be some special symbols or images which may lead to bigger prizes.
A Wild symbol, as can be made out from its name, is a sort of a joker which can replace the regular symbols in a slot machine, so as to create a winning combination. There may be a multiplier attached to wins too, implying that the wins may be trebled are doubled if the corresponding combination was formed using a Wild.
The Scatter symbol on the other hand pays out in case you get two or more of them anywhere on the reels (not necessarily on the winning pay line). In most cases, getting three or more scatter symbols on the reels triggers a special bonus, apart from a bonus cash prize.
About the bonus rounds in online slots
Let’s say you’re playing a real money online slot machine and you get 3 scatter symbols (or the ‘Bonus’ icons) on its reels. What type of bonus you think you’d get? The answer is - Free Spins Bonus
‘Straight Free Spins’ is one of the most commonly found bonus round in a large majority of online slots. You may be offered free spins ranging anywhere between 3 to 50 when you bag this win. These spins are executed automatically by the slot machine software, and many a times the spins get re-triggered (whenever you hit 3 more scatter symbols on the slot machine reels during any of those free spins, winning you another batch of free spins!).
About the ‘Pick ‘em’ bonus
This is another bonus feature that gets executed whenever you hit 3 scatter symbols on the online slot machine. It’s called the ‘Pick ‘em’ bonus round wherein you’re taken to a separate screen within the game. You’re expected to pick from a provided selection of symbols, with each one having a different multiplier or prize underneath it. The icons presented to you would normally be in line with the theme of the online slot machine, for instance, oxygen tanks in case of slots based on underwater theme, treasure chests in case of a slots based on Aladdin theme and so on. The idea is to continue picking these icons till the time you get the ‘Collect’ icon and return back to the basic game screen. The total win amount earned in this bonus round would get added to your bankroll.
About ‘Click Me’ Bonus
The ‘Click Me’ bonus gets triggered in online slots whenever you land 3 relevant bonus symbols simultaneously on the reels of a slot machine. Whenever it happens, you’re required to select from the 3 hidden icons on the slot’s reels, and win the corresponding cash prize.
Other commonly noticed bonus features
Many developers of online slots offer their own unique features in these games. You may often come across one or more of them while playing different slots on the internet. Let’s tell you about a few popular ones among them.
Avalanche Reels or Cascading Reels is a highly interesting bonus feature wherein the winning combination completely vanishes from the screen and is instead replaced by the reel symbols immediately above, which fall down and take its place. It facilitates even more winning combinations and takes the excitement to an altogether new level!
You may also witness Expanding Wilds on one or more reels of the slot machine, which when appear on the screen expand and fill up an entire reel, basically making it Wild throughout!
Sticky Wilds on the other hand stay in place on the corresponding reels, as the rest of the reels and their symbols continue spinning alongside. Some big money online slots feature Arcade Bonus rounds that are more interactive in nature and may even have some skills involved; it could be a puzzle round, target shoot or a battle sequence! To give you an example, in the IGT’s Reel Edge slots, the bonus rounds are in the form of Arcade games allowing the players to win prizes based on how they perform.
About RNGs and RTPs
Random Number Generator (RNG)
A Random Number Generator is a software technology responsible for ensuring that the pre-decided payout percentage in the real money online slots is adhered to strictly. Such payout percentage needs to be verified and certified by a third party authority, in order to make sure that the online slots operate in accordance with fair gaming practices. As per rules, there’s a certain minimum percentage that should be paid back to the casino players.
Random number generators work in exactly the same way whether they’re applied to online slots, blackjack games or online roulette. Putting it another way, they’re fair software systems that ensure the randomisation and genuineness of the events. Whenever you refer to the pay tables of online slots, showing different winning combinations and their corresponding payouts, the amounts shown are the true reflection of the odds of those specific combinations. So, the higher is the Jackpot amount of an online slot machine, the lower will be the chance of getting the perfect winning combination.
Return to Player (RTP)
As evident from the name, ‘Return to Player’ or RTP is the payout percentage of an online slot machine, which may vary from one developer to the other, and game to game. However, in general, it has been seen that brick-and-mortar casinos have an RTP in the vicinity of 80% to 90% for their physical slots. On the other hand, in case of online slots, the RTP normally increases significantly, and even more when it comes to the new slots (which are also available in the mobile versions).
Essentially what it means is that if an online slot machine offers an RTP of 95%, it implies that out of every 100 coins played at that machine, 95 are returned to the players over a period of time. The remaining 5 constitutes the online casino’s margin.
Different types of online slotsAnyone serious about playing at only the best casinos for online slot machines, for instance, Bet365, Slot Fruity etc., should not play without gaining a solid understanding of what all’s there on offer. Online slots can be broadly classified into two major categories: the classic slots and the modern-day video slots.
Online slots of the present day are actually nothing but a variation of the popular video slots played at the casino floors everywhere. The bonus events of these online slots too are an extension of such live video slots. Furthermore, 3-D video slots (online) are the next generation versions of these slot games. We’ll discuss them briefly below.
Classic or 3-reel slots
The online version of the classic slots is basically a tribute to the slots of the earlier days, the kinds you’d get to play at the brick-and-mortar casinos. They’ve been around for more than 30 years and usually feature minimum pay lines, 3 reels and classic symbols such as bells, cherries, melons and BARs. They are quite akin to the slots of the early 20th century, the ones that would dispense chewing gums!
Majority of the slots you find in online casinos today are generally 5-reel slots, featuring 3 or 4 rows. Having such configuration allows for a good number of pay lines. However, if we were to talk about the norm, a 5-reel and 20 pay line slot game is considered the standard at the online casinos of today.
3-D video slots
Some of the video slots you see at online casinos these days, feature extensive intro sequences, interactive graphics and high-end animations; all these features are actually an integral part of the modern-day computer games (and hence the name video slots).
Although slots purists may dislike the distraction of long animated sequences (whenever a winning combination is hit) in video slots, keeping in mind the compatibility of the modern-day tablets and computers, which can easily handle memory-heavy games, this trend (of 3-D video slots) is expected to continue for quite some time.
So, 3-D video slots are here to stay!
These online slots have high variance, but rather than providing the option to select pay lines, you’re automatically made to bet on all the available 1024 pay lines. You’re expected to bet 30 times the selected coin size, and the winning combinations are spread out accordingly.
As is obvious, like the 1024-ways slot machines, the 243-ways provide 243 different pay lines.
Progressive slot machines
Often referred to as the best online slots and one of the most indulged in slot gameslotss at online casinos these days, progressive slots are generally offered by only the biggest developers in the iGaming business. In these slot games, a percentage of the bet amount is allocated to the progressive jackpot, which is distributed across all the online casinos that offer the same game. A progressive Jackpot is normally triggered only when you bet the maximum amount, and hence is quite expensive and rare to hit. You can head to progressive jackpot either randomly or through a bonus round. Furthermore, before being finally hit, it may already win you thousands of dollars. The world record win from a progressive Jackpot slot stood at $24 million at the time of writing this piece. It was won by a Finnish man in his 40s, on January 20, 2013 through an online slot game from Net Entertainment called Mega Fortune. What’s even better is that he won that jackpot with a mere 25-cent bet!
As also mentioned earlier, a large majority of online casino game developers are launching the mobile friendly versions of their best slots, which are specifically tailored to the new-age devices like tablets and smart phones. These are normally in the form of mobile applications that replicate the environment of an online casino. All the essential aspects of the online slot games remain the same, including the bonus rounds, jackpots, graphics etc. Just the gaming screen and buttons may vary slightly in appearance. In essence, mobile slots are the most-updated and new slots games that are rapidly defining the future of slot machine games.
Tips to help you make the most of online slotsPlaying online slots at an online casino is nowhere closer to the furious button-slamming you may often witness at a brick-and-mortar casino! Considering the wide variety of themes and options available on the internet, it can get pretty hard to pick the right online casino and then develop the right strategy to win at online slots. Let’s acquaint you with a few tips that can make things easier for you.
Bet the max – Although betting the maximum may seem counterintuitive to you, if you have ample deposit in your bankroll, pick all the pay lines that are available and go with the maximum coin bet; there’s a high chance you may come out with big wins. It’s simple mathematics. When you bet more pay lines, you get more chances to score big wins, and trigger more of those high-paying bonus rounds. Although the conventional 9-pay line slot machines may seem great fun and simple to play, they can get boring after some time. You’d be better off playing 20 to 30 pay line slot games to increase your winning chances.
Pay attention to the RTP – Make sure that you refer to the RTP percentage (if provided) before playing any online slot machine. Ideally, you should look out for anything over 95%. Please note, some online slots don’t even get closer to 91%. It may not make much sense to play such low payout games unless you’re highly attached to its theme.
Don’t play just one slot machine – When you’re playing online slots games, you must build a portfolio of at least 3 to 5 best slots and then stick to them. Go with the ones that offer a good number of free spins, plenty of Wilds (such as Expanding and Sticky Wilds), another low variance game and one progressive Jackpot. Having such best slots in your portfolio is a very good way to increase your winnings, without allowing the monotony to set in.
About finding a good online casino with best slotsAlmost every online casino that hosts a good number of top-rated online slot machines, sources them from among the biggest developers of online casino games. While some of these developers have exclusive arrangements with casinos, making it mandatory for them to offer games only from their portfolios, on the whole, not every online casino is created equal. And you must do ample due diligence before signing up with any of them.
Visit a few online casino portals before making your final selection – Losing money is never good! You must spend ample time studying the online casinos you’ve shortlisted and make your final decision very wisely. If slot machines are high on your list, you must go with the one that offers the widest range of online slot machines. Many of these casinos will allow you to try the slot games for free, before signing up (free slots). Furthermore, please keep in mind that not every online casino features progressive Jackpot slots. So, if progressives are high on your list, you must look around and ensure the one you’ve finalised has all the popular ones.
Pay attention to the signup bonus – Online casino business is such that these companies can’t do without offering handsome signup bonuses to their first-time and repeat customers. Considering the number of casinos that are vying for your business, you must study their offers carefully and go with the one that has the most attractive welcome bonus. While you’re comparing these welcome bonuses, make sure that you go through the play-through requirements as well; these should be relaxed enough to help you make the most of such bonuses.
Availability of mobile gaming – A major plus of signing up with any online casino is that you can easily play their games while being on the move. These casinos go out of their way to offer the most updated and smartest technology to their gamers, updating their mobile apps and sites on a continuous basis, and offering a wide range of titles including the best slots games.
Safety and security – One of the quickest ways to check the safety and security of an online casino is by looking for an eCOGRA (e-Commerce Online Gaming Regulation and Assurance) seal on its homepage. eCOGRA is an internationally recognised testing agency based in London, which is responsible for certification of online casinos and for ensuring that all player protection and other standards are adhered to by them. The authority audits various games offered by online casinos and regulates those websites (including purely slot sites) to ensure fair gaming overall. Playing at an eCOGRA certified online casino means that your money is safe and you’re offered completely fair games.
Customer support – Any good online casino worth its salt would offer highly professional and 24/7 customer support to its players. Such customer support is often made available through live chat, phone and/or email.
About free slots or free to play versions of online slotsNo matter which online slot machine you go with, all of them work and deliver wins in the same way, despite having slight differences in their features, which may vary from one developer to the other.
However, please note, you can always try these games before playing them with real money. A good number of reputed and best slot sites offer free to play versions of online slots, also known as free slots, these days. Almost every well-known developer of online slot games provides such free slots versions of its real money offerings on its website as well.
Free slots, no deposit slots or free no deposit slots (some of the names they’re known by) are all a relatively new development in the online casino world. Back in the times, when you could only play at brick-and-mortar casinos, there was no option to try out the slot games without putting in real money. After all, why would any land-based casino offer such slots for free?
But things changed when online casino platforms came around. They didn’t have to worry about the real estate required to accommodate such games. There were no worries about making every square foot count! Hence, almost every reputed online casino allows potential players to try their online slots for free, in the hope that they’d develop fondness for those games and play for real cash later.
Although there’s no harm in trying out the free slot machines, to gain a better understanding of the actual games and their software before making any real money deposits, you should refrain from becoming the type of person who only sits around and plays free slot games all day long!
The entire point of playing online slots is to risk some money in order to win big money! Taking money out of the equation means that you’re left with nothing but an activity which is only about watching some pretty lights on your computer or smart phone screen (not to forget the amazing sounds!). If that’s the kind of entertainment you’re after, you’d be better off watching some television show or a movie instead!
On the whole, free slots must only be used as an effective means to gain familiarity with the gameplay and mechanics of a particular online slot game; and nothing more. Once you gain that familiarity, you should start playing with whatever real money you can afford. There are many UK online casino portals as well as new slot sites that offer free online slots for their most popular slot games. What more, to play these free slots, no download may be required as well! Just sign up and start playing from within a compatible browser on your desktop, laptop or mobile device!