The most popular online gambling games
Nobody would deny that online slot machines represent the most popular online casino games on the net. They are certainly the most numerous, too, with thousands of potential games out there for you to play. Slots come in all shapes and sizes, with numerous themes, features, wagers, and much more for you to experience.
For instance, you can find slots with Irish luck themes, Ancient Egypt theme, Far Eastern and Asian themes, cops and robbers, heist, animal and sports themes. The list is nearly endless. Themes aren’t the only way you can break down your slots, though. You can divide them up into the number of paylines they offer, the features they carry, what type of prizes they have, and of course, how they are played.
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Some of the most popular types of slots you can find online include:
- Themed Slots: Slot machines which have a clearly identifiable theme.
- Branded Slots: Slots themed on a major brand, such as a Hollywood film, video game or music band.
- 3D Slots: Slot machines which feature 3D and often animated graphics.
- Classic Slots: Games which features just 3-reels and few paylines, reminiscent of the old one-armed bandits.
- Fruit Machines: Simple games like the ones you used to find in pubs in the 80s and 90s. They often carry simple features such as trail bonuses and offer nudges.
- Germinator/Cluster Pay Slots: Games which require players to win with clusters of symbols, rather than requiring players to land symbols on paylines.
- Video Slots: The most numerous type of slots, which contain multiple paylines, 5 or more reels, ample special features and special symbols.
- Jackpot Slots: Slots which have a jackpot which is not fixed and one which grows with each wager.
- Mobile Slots: Slot games which can be played on your mobile phone or tablet devices.
Before we get into the nitty-gritty of how to play slots, we should take a trip to the past, to see just how so many different slot machine games came into existence.
A brief history lesson
Online slots first appeared in the late Nineteenth Century, when the Sittman and Pitt company developed a game in 1887 which carried 5 drums (reels) and playing card icons. The game was improved by Charles August Fey and his Liberty Bell in 1891. It would allow automatic payouts and featured spades, diamonds, horseshoes, bells and hearts symbols, and was based on a 3-reel format.
Slots were banned in 1902, and with cash prizes no longer offered, the slots started to dish out chewing gum and sweets instead. Eventually, they would be reinstated a few years later, and cash slots would continue to grow.
By 1964, the first electromechanical slot was developed by Bally, and known as Money Honey. The first slot with a bottomless hopper, it spurned on development, and just over 10 years later, in 1976, the video slot appeared as the first true modern-day slot, operated electronically on a television display.
By 1996, people were starting to see the potential in internet slots, and the first was launched, as Reel ‘em was developed by WMS Gaming. Creating online games was a relatively quick process for manufacturers. The growth of the internet in people’s homes made sure that many new developers took advantage of this opportunity.
Since 1996, online slots have grown at a rapid rate, with thousands now in existence and new ones added on a seemingly daily basis. More recently, slots have made the jump to the mobile gaming world, too. The evolution of slots is far from complete, and if history teaches us anything, it is that slots will continue to grow and develop into the future.
How to play slot machines
Slots are one of the easiest games you can learn to play online. They are a game of chance (there is no arguing that, whatever some people might like to think). In a nutshell, players are asked to choose a bet and spin a few reels. They are ideally looking to line up identical icons on those reels on invisible lines known as “paylines”. The more identical symbols they land on these paylines, the greater the prizes will be. Slots online are very popular like roulette or blackjack.
Each slot has numerous symbols, and some are more worth than others. Video slots also work special symbols into their design, and these trigger special bonuses, but we’ll come to those in a moment or two. For now, how do you get started?
First, you need to understand how a wager works. In most slots, players will be able to choose the value of their coins and the number of coins they wish to stake per line. Those figures are then multiplied together and then multiplied against the number of lines you have chosen to play with, giving you your total stake. It works a little something like this:
Coin Value x Number of Coins Per Line x Number of Paylines = Total Bet
€0.01 x 5 coins x 25 paylines = €1.25
Of course, some slots have a fixed number of lines (which you cannot alter), and some break the formula altogether, such as those which offer 243 lines. It would be too expensive to use this formula to wager on 243 lines, so many games which have hundreds of lines such as this often provide fixed bets, some costing as little as €0.25/€0.30 a spin for all 243 lines, which makes them very ideal.
How to win with slots online
Players will win on a slot if they can land identical symbols on one of the invisible paylines. In some games (Cluster Pays) a player wins if they land groups of clusters of symbols together. Cluster Pays slots contain no paylines because of this, but most games stick to the payline format.
The amount you can win really does vary depending on your bet, the symbols you land, and the prizes available in a slot.
Slots have two types of jackpot prizes available – non-progressive jackpots and progressive jackpots. Non-progressive jackpots are fixed. The same figure is always available to be won, and it is won if players can land the maximum number of identical symbols on a line.
By contrast, progressive jackpot prizes are not fixed. These prizes rise with each new wager that is made. They can sometimes be worth millions of dollars’ worth of cash. Unlike non-progressive prizes, when a player (any player) wins a progressive jackpot, that prize disappears from the internet. It defaults back to its base minimum after which it slowly starts to grow again. It is not uncommon to find multiple progressive prizes in a jackpot slot. How they are won also varies. Some progressive jackpot slots pay out prizes based on payline combinations (like their non-progressive cousins). Others dish out their progressive prizes entirely at random, and some only pay out their prizes via a bonus round.
Slot bonus features explained
Video slots come with a host of different features, and these vary from game to game. Let’s have a look at some of them now…
- Wild Symbols: These act as substitute symbols and can be used to replace any other symbols in the slot, apart from other special icons. Wild symbols can sometimes be rather special, too. They might appear stacked (one on top of the other), they may expand (cover an entire reel), they could walk (move from reel to reel) be sticky or frozen (remain in place for several spins) or offer a multiplier (boost your winnings by several times the stated amount) amongst other things. Mystery symbols are like wilds, although they can only turn into one predetermined symbol, not any.
- Scatter Symbols: So-called because they count no matter where they appear on the reels, scatter icons often provide simple winnings. They can also sometimes be used to trigger bonus rounds. When they do, it is likely that you will need 3 or more to trigger such a feature.
- Bonus Symbols: Like scatter icons, bonus symbols can trigger bonus rounds, though they only appear on specific reels, and you will need to land them on all the reels on which they appear to trigger a bonus. Unlike scatters, these seldom offer cash prizes.
- Bonus Rounds: These are triggered via scatters, bonus icons or at random. They can often consist of a free spin bonus (several spins offered freely with other special features), a click and win bonus (where players can click icons to win cash prizes), or a money wheel bonus (which sees players spins a wheel to win prizes), amongst other formats.
- Base Game Modifiers: These occur in the base game at random, and can see special wilds, instant win prizes, re-spins (like free spins though fewer in number), duplicated symbols on reels, symbol shuffles (symbols are shuffled around to guarantee a win), colossal symbols (big blocks of 2×2 or bigger symbols) or even an extended number of paylines appear on the reels.
- Reel Features: Even the reels themselves can often contain several different formats. Collapsible, Cascading, Tumbling or Avalanche Reels will see winning symbols removed when a win occurs, and new ones drop down in their stead, often with a multiplier, offering players the chance to play several rounds with the same stake. Meanwhile, Synching or Linked Reels (they also go by other names) can see several reels sync together to display the same symbols, giving you ample chances to win.
- Variances: Even the rate at which a slot pays can vary. Slots can be either low variance or high variance. High variance slots can see players go through long winless streaks, but when they do win it tends to be a fortune. Low variance slots pay out frequently, but the winnings tend to be much smaller in value.
Ready to play slots?
If you’re ready to play slots online, there are a few things you should know. Firstly, play slots for free, to ensure that you understand the game and you are comfortable with it before you wager real money on it. Secondly, if you’re operating on a budget, play low variance slots. You are likely to win smaller sums more frequently. Lastly, always, if possible, play a slot with a high RTP (return to player) rate, which you can view on its paytable, play a slot which has ample special features, and play one with flexible wagers. These represent the best kinds of slot games out there on the net. Or maybe you like to play bingo or scratch cards.