What are reels and paylines?
Reels and paylines are what video slots are built from. The reels are the vertical strips of symbols that you see spinning. Furthermore, each reel will have a number of visible rows, most often three. The number of reels a video slot has is not fixed, but the majority of games have five. This means that there are five reels of three rows, which makes a grid of 15 symbol positions. Paylines are paths that you can trace through these reel positions from the first reel to the last. For instance, a payline may go through the top row of all five reels. When you spin a slot machine, the aim is to land matching symbols along these paylines, and if you land enough of them, then you will win a payout.
What is a scatter symbol?
As described above, in the majority of slots to win a payout you have to land enough matching symbols along a payline to win a payout. A scatter symbol is perhaps the most common type of bonus symbol and it takes its name from the way in which it awards payouts. Scatter symbols do not need to land along paylines, rather than can land scattered around the reels and still award a payout. Furthermore, in many slots, scatter symbols award payouts of the total bet rather than the bet per payline.
What is a wild symbol?
A wild symbol is a special symbol that can substitute for other symbols in order to help complete winning combinations, just like a joker in a pack of cards. In most games, the wild symbol can substitute for all of the regular symbols but not the bonus or scatter symbols. Furthermore, it is not unusual to find additional bonus features associated with wild symbols. For instance, some will come with a payout multiplier while others may be able to expand and fill a reel when they land.
How do bonus spins work?
Many video slots offer you the chance to win a number of bonus spins, i.e. spins of the reels that you do not pay for. In the vast majority of games, bonus spins are won by landing enough scatter symbols on the reels. Furthermore, many bonus spins come with added bonus features, such as payout multipliers, sticky or expanding wilds, more paylines, and so on. Bonus spins work as a great incentive to keep playing and because many of them come with extra bonuses, they sometimes offer the biggest payouts.
What do I have to do before spinning the reels?
This varies slightly depending on the game. If you are playing a game with a fixed number of paylines then very often you just need to set your total bet per spin. This may either be expressed as a total bet or a bet per payline. Remember if it is a bet per payline, then your total bet will be equal to that multiplied by the number of paylines. If you are playing a game that has a variable number of paylines then the first thing to do is to set how many paylines you want active and then set your bet per payline. In some games, when setting a payline bet you will have to set a coin size first and then how many coins to bet on the payline, in other games, you will simply need to set the payline bet. Once this is done, all you need to do is click on the spin button. In many slots, there are additional buttons such as Auto Play, Turbo Mode and Bet Max, to help and speed up the play. You will also find a button that leads to the paytable where you will find details of the game’s features and how much each symbol can payout.
How do progressive jackpots work?
Every time that you spin the reels of a progressive jackpot slot, a small portion of your bet is contributed to the jackpot fund. This way, the jackpot pool is always growing and the more players of the game, the larger it will grow. Some progressive jackpot networks stretch across multiple casinos, and these jackpots can grow to staggering amounts, other jackpot networks are local to one casino and these jackpots tend to be a bit smaller. The way in which a jackpot is won will depend on the game, often it is either by landing five of a particular symbol on a payline or through a dedicated jackpot bonus game.
Are there video slot strategies?
Video slots are games of pure chance so there are no real strategies that you can adopt. However, there are two things that you can do to try to improve your enjoyment. The first is to make sure that you are always playing with all paylines active, even if you have to bet less per payline, as this way you will have a better chance of landing a winning combination. The other thing is to be aware of your bankroll and make sure that you are playing at a bet per spin that you can afford to maintain for the duration of your playing time.
What are cascading/tumbling/rolling reels?
These are all names for exactly the same feature that has become hugely popular in video slots. In these slots, every time that you land a winning combination on the reels, the symbols in the combination are removed to allow more symbols to fall and take their place. With some luck, this will form another win and the process will then repeat itself. There are a few games where this process is inverted, i.e. all the non-winning symbols are removed and more symbols fall to try to improve on the winning combination.
What is a Return to Player percentage (RTP)?
The Return to Player (RTP) is the theoretical percentage of money paid out by a video slot to players over time. For example, a game with an RTP of 98% will return €98 of every €100 that is bet on it. However, it is important to remember that this is over a huge number of spins, so you can never be sure of receiving the RTP percentage of your money back.
What is slot volatility and variance?
These terms are often used interchangeably and they essentially mean the same thing. They refer to the nature of the way a game pays out. If you are playing a low volatility/variance game, then you can expect to hit small wins on a very regular basis. If you are playing a high volatility/variance slot, then the payouts will be less frequent, but they will be bigger. There are also mid volatility/variance slots, which are somewhere in the middle. You can often find information about a slot’s RTP and volatility in the paytable.