How To Play Slots Tutorial

HistoryHow To PlayRulesOddsStrategyPro’s Perspective

Slot machines are referred to as slots, pokies, 1-arm bandits, fruit machines and poker machines. Players will place wagers in the form of coins (or virtual coins if it is an online slot) in order to spin the reels of the game. Any slot machine will have a minimum of 3 reels and players can start spinning these reels by pulling a lever (or clicking on Spin). The symbols on the reels will start to spin until they stop. When they stop, players will be rewarded according to the combination of symbols they achieve on the payline. The payline is a virtual line on which players must get certain symbols in order to get paid.

Slot Wheel
Players will be paid based on the bet they have placed, the combination of symbols, and the paytable of the game. The paytable is a table that shows players the different combinations and their respective rewards. This paytable is usually found at the top above the reels of the slot machine or on the game screen itself – whether land or online-based. The symbols appearing on these reels are usually bars, cherries, bells, watermelon, and sevens, this is why they were called fruit machines. Other advanced slots might have a certain theme. For these games, the symbols will be inspired by that theme. For example, Thunderstruck is an online slot which is themed around Thor and the Norse gods. On this game’s reels, players will see symbols that include Thor, Thor’s Hammer, and Odin among other related symbols.

Slots History

The history of the first slot machine dates back to 1895. The father of the first slot machine was Charles Fey, whose original slot machine had poker symbols on its three spinning reels. The symbols also included hearts, horseshoe, bells, and spades. Since the game only had 3 reels automatically, it was easy to make the game payout for the winning combinations. The game paytable was available at the top and it showed players the different winning combinations. The highest combination paid 50 cents when players got 3 bells on the win line.

Slot Machine
In 1891, Sittman and Pitt invented another form of slot machine. This new machine looked a lot like the early version of slots that can still be found to this day. The game included five reels and 50 cards with a poker game theme since players were paid according to the poker hand they formed. This is why they were called poker machines. Players would start the game by putting a nickel into the game’s slot and by pulling the lever in order for the reels to spin so they could get a poker hand. Most of these machines used to pay players in the form of gifts such as cigars, drinks, or food or other things that were sold at the pub or bar where it was being offered. In order to increase the odds of the house and make it hard to get a poker hand like a Royal Flush, the game did not have a 10 of Spades or a Jack of Hearts.

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In 1907, Herbert Mills invented another machine that was called Operator Bell and by 1908 these slots were installed in every bowling alley, cigar store, or salon. One of these original “Liberty Bell” slots can still be found in a Reno Restaurant in Liberty Bells Saloon.

Another great development occurred in 1963 when Bally invented the 1st electromechanical slot machine called The Money Honey. This was the first slot to have a bottomless hopper and it offered automatic payouts as well. The biggest reward that could be claimed was 500 coins. This machine was one of the reasons behind the skyrocketing rise of electronic gambling. Reel Em was the first-ever video slot that offered players bonus rounds.

In the 1990’s multi-line slots made an entrance to the scene. These games had more than one winning line. This meant that players could claim payouts according to combinations on more than one line aligned on the game’s screen. With the emergence of online gambling, slots were one of the first games to be adopted and transformed into online games. They developed quickly and can now offer up to 100 lines and 1024 ways to win. They also offer players a lot of bonuses in the form of wilds, scatters, and progressive jackpots.

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How to Play Slots

Slot machines can be found at every gambling venue, whether online or land-based. The online gambling world has fewer restrictions in terms of technology and development, therefore players will find a wider array of slot machines than those found at land-based gambling venues. We are going to discuss the gaming procedure for both online slot machines and land-based slots:

For Land-Based Slots:

For land-based slots, players will have to buy bar-coded coins, quarters or other cash values the game accepts. Usually, players will see the cash value the game accepts written on the game itself. After players enter the coin or cash in the game’s slot, they will pull down the lever or press the spin button, causing the reels of the slot to spin. The symbols on these reels are usually themed around fruits that are accompanied by bells, sevens, and the usual one bar, two bar, and three bar symbols.

After the reels stop spinning, players will be rewarded if they have a winning combination on the game’s win line. Players can find out the combinations that would make them eligible for a win at the game’s paytable. This paytable can be found at the top of the reels, or these days on the game screen itself. It will show the different combos and their rewards.

There are also slot machines that resemble video slots that can be found online. (Some can even be found with the same features online.) These video slots usually have a touch screen that players will use in order to control the game like in video poker.

Land Based Slots

For Online Slots:

Players who want to enjoy this game at an online casino will have to follow another gaming procedure. For online slots, players will first choose the game, then they will choose their wagers. Choosing the wagers, whether a classical or a multi-line video slot, includes 3 options:

  • Choose the number of lines that players want to activate by placing their stakes on.
  • Choose the coin value that players want to use to place wagers and get rewards.
  • Choose the number of coins they wish to place on every activated line. All of this creates the wager. The total amount of their bet will be seen under the Bet Cell.

After placing the wager, players will be able to start the game by clicking on Spin. It is usually found under the reels in the game’s control panel in between or next to the wagering options that were mentioned above. The symbols will spin and, after they stop spinning, players will be paid according to the paytable, their bet, and the winning combination. The paytable can also be viewed at the top or as players click on “View Pays” or Paytable that is found somewhere on the game’s screen.

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Slots Rules

The rules differ from one slot machine to another. Each slot machine will have its own set of rules printed on the game itself or, in the case of online slots, players can view them by clicking on “Game Rules.”

Max Bet Only Triggered Bonuses:

Some bonuses and jackpots will not be triggered or activated unless players have placed the maximum wager.

Wild Symbols:

Wild symbols differ from one game to another and can substitute for any other symbol the slot machine has. These wild symbols will not replace other bonus or scatter symbols.

Triggering the Jackpot:

The jackpot is triggered when players get a certain combination of symbols on any of the winning lines of the game. It can be found at the paytable.

Scatter Symbols:

Scatter symbols are special symbols that reward players generously in the form of scatter payouts. They can also trigger free spins. Free spins mean players will get a number of spins on the slot for game free. They are usually triggered when players get three scatters on the reels or three of the bonus symbols on the payline.

Scatter Symbols
Apart from these rules, there are also some rules of etiquette that players should follow when playing at a land-based casino or a venue that is offering these slots.

Players can play on two slot machines side by side provided that the gambling venue or the casino is not crowded. If it is crowded and there are players waiting to be seated, the attendant will ask players who are playing on two slots to end one of the sessions.

Some players prefer to keep rapidly clicking on the buttons thinking that it gives them better luck. This is usually frowned upon because it causes the buttons to wear out quickly and causes a lot of disturbance to other players in the casino or the gambling venue.

Players who want to watch another player spinning the reels should leave one chair between them and the players unless they plan to play on the slot machine right next to that person. If they do not do that, an attendant will approach them and ask them to move away.

It is ok to celebrate when you get a big win or hit the jackpot, provided that you do not celebrate for too long. Also, when you get a big win, it is customary in certain parts of the world to tip the attendant who is getting the payout for you. It’s common etiquette.

Lastly, if you spot a slot machine that has a leaning chair on it, it is advised to leave that slot machine alone. It signals someone is still playing at the slot machine and he had to go to the bathroom or get something to drink and will be back shortly, it is courteous to leave it for a maximum of 10 minutes before you move the chair and take a seat.

Slots Odds

Slots are usually programmed to payout 82 to 98 percent of what was wagered in the form of winnings. This percentage is known as RPT (Return to Player) or the Theoretical Payout Percentage. The minimum RTP for every slot machine depends on the regulations and laws of the state or country. In Nevada, for example, the minimum percentage is 75 percent, in New Jersey it is 83 percent and in Mississippi, it’s 80 percent.

The winning combinations and patterns on a slot machine, the amount it pays, and the frequency of these payouts are carefully calculated and selected so they pay a specific fraction of money to the casino or the house while giving back the rest to the players. For example, a spin on a slot machine costs one dollar and it has an RTP percentage of 95. It can be calculated that over the long term, for example after one million spins, the game is going to give back $950,000 to players from the 1,000,000 dollars they have put into the slot. The house or the operator will keep the remaining $50,000.

Slot Payouts
The RTP is not the only important statistic in slots as the percentage of every payout on the game’s paytable is also important. For example, in any slot machine that has 12 different rewards in the paytable, the probability of every reward equaling 0 percent except the jackpot can be quite deceptive. If the jackpot win is 4000 times the wager, then it would happen 1 time every 4000 spins and would make the game have an RTP of 100 percent, despite being a very dull game.

The table of the probabilities for any slot machine is called the Paytable & Reel Strips sheer, also known as PARS. PARS helps players understand the psychology of the slot machine. For instance, if the game has 13 payouts that range from 1:10 up to 2400:1 it will show that the 1:1 payout would happen once every 8 spins, the 5:1 would happen once every 33 spins while the 2:1 payout will happen once every 600 spins. The PARS sheet is usually confidential and developers and manufacturers never post them; however, it is possible to find the PARS sheet of any of your favorite games posted online. Despite this, they are not of any real value to players as slot machines usually have 8 to 12 different programs that have varying payouts.

Slot machines are also known for the “Taste.” The Taste refers to a small amount of money the game pays every few spins to those who are seated at a slot machine to keep them engaged in the game. The logic is simple: if players keep losing their bets without winning any back, they will eventually grow bored and leave the game. The taste is usually the 1:1 or the 2:1 payout.

Slots Strategy

Slot machines are games of luck, so there are no strategies or techniques to implement. On the other hand, there are some tips and suggestions that may be quite useful for any player who is looking forward to spinning the slots:

Slot Jackpot

Stick With Slots With a Low Jackpot:

If you are a land-based casino player, you will notice that the slot machines that offer millions in jackpots are not that popular because the chances of hitting the jackpot are very slim. This is why you should stick to slot machines that have a jackpot in the $1,000 range since you have a better chance of triggering it. These smaller jackpot slots are known for paying out better rewards and more frequently, too.

Know When You Should Move On:

Like any other casino game, you might find yourself on a losing streak. When that happens you should just move on or stop playing or perhaps go to another slot to change your luck.

Quit While You Are Ahead:

If you have been on a winning streak or have just hit a jackpot, it is a good idea to cash in your winnings and leave. The more you play the bigger the chance you might lose what you won (or at least a big chunk of it). Like any casino game, you should quit while ahead.

Work According to a Betting Pattern:

You should always follow a wagering pattern that will help you earn rewards. For example, always start with the minimum wager possible and, if you lose, up it up a notch and keep increasing the bet after each spin. When you win, do the opposite. The + / –  betting pattern is not guaranteed as there are no guaranteed betting patterns for slots because it is 100 percent random, but this can help increase your odds.

Placing the Maximum Wager:

Although this contradicts the last tip, it is another way of playing. The aim is to place the highest wager so you can earn high rewards. This is essential in online video slots as some bonuses cannot be triggered if players do not place the max bet.

Slot Strategy

There are also some misconceptions we have to clarify:

  • Playing the game faster will not increase the chances of winning.
  • Clicking on the spin or pulling the lever rapidly will not affect the outcome of the slot. They are all the same.
  • Each spin is independent, so the game will never be “due to hit”.
  • When someone wins a great payout on a slot machine that you left does not mean that you missed that payout. There is a big chance that you wouldn’t have hit the same payout because you would not have pulled the lever at the same fraction of a second that the player did.

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Pro’s Perspective: Slot Strategies and Tips

With John Grochowski

Modern slot machines are multimedia technological marvels complete with animation, sound effects, and sometimes even video clips from movies and television shows.

While three-reel slots still exist, the majority in both live casinos and online casinos have five reels, and sometimes have six, seven, or more. Instead of one payline, modern video and online slots usually have 20, 30, 40, or more pay lines. Some don’t even use pay lines at all, making any combination of the same symbols connecting from left to right a potential winner, even if they’re not on a line as such.

During regular play, you may win a trip to a bonus event during which you have a chance to win money without making any additional wagers. Here are a few of the most common bonus types.

Free spins

You could win a specified number of free reel spins. Many free spin bonuses are played on the same reels as the main game and it’s possible to win any of the usually available prizes. Sometimes, the main reels fade from the screen and are replaced by bonus reels with different symbols and different winning potential.

For example, in the last few years, games have been introduced in which the lowest-paying symbols are removed from the bonus reels. It’s still possible to win nothing on a bonus spin, but the frequency of big winnings are increased.


The original wheel spin game, Wheel of Gold, was introduced in the mid-1990s and it led to the ever-popular Wheel of Fortune slots. Since then most slot manufacturers have incorporated wheel spins.

In a wheel spin bonus, you see a wheel divided into prize segments. On some, all prizes are credit amounts, but some wheels offer credit multipliers, progressive jackpots, and trips to other bonus events. You start the wheel spinning, then hope it lands on a big-paying space.

Pick’em events

The reels are replaced by a different scene. Some have included aliens in hiding spaces, dancing gift-wrapped boxes, dishes on a Chinese menu, fishermen on a pond, and much more.

You touch the screen to choose an icon, and the item then reveals a credit reward for you to collect. On some pick’em events, you make just one choice. On others, you keep picking until you choose a bonus-stopper symbol.

Personal preference

All these bonus events are designed to make the games interactive and fun to play. How much they contribute to the overall payback differs from game to game and manufacturer to manufacturer, but as much as 40 percent of the overall return may come from bonuses.

Free spin games tend to be more volatile with the potential for bigger wins offset by the possibility of spins that bring no credits. Pick’ ems are used in what the slot industry calls “entertainment” games in which it’s larger goal is to add fun and extend your play rather than to offer big wins.

Ultimately, which is best for you comes down to personal preference. Do you like pick’em entertainment or do you want to keep those reels spinning?

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