How to Play Slot Machines for Beginners

Ever since their introduction in the late 1800s, slot machines have been one of the biggest betting hits. Evolution into the online space in the late 1990s only built on this fame and acclaim, with software systems raising the potential of slots to new heights.

Now playing the biggest part in the online casino world, online slots cover every theme and concept imaginable. While we like to focus on the music, there’s enough out there that everybody can find a perfect slot to fit their tastes. From the bright and bold to the calm and collected, the slot world is dynamic and only growing, and on this page, we want to teach you how to play.

Online Slots Basics

Online slots are built on the element of random number generation, or RNG. This allows them to emulate the randomness of physical slot machines, to ensure play is always fair and based on luck. Other components tie into this system to create games that are exciting, reliable, and diverse.

Return to player is another term you’ll see used in slots, which refers to the amount of a player’s bet that is statistically likely to be returned over time. A high RTP slot might reach 97%, whereas a low RTP slot will appear in the low 90% range.

Slot volatility is also key to understanding what you’re in for. A high volatility slot will pay out less often but have bigger wins, while a low volatility slot will pay out more often, with small individual wins.

For more information, you can check our page on how do slot machines work for all the important details.

How to Pick the Best Slot and Place the First Bet

Choosing the best slot to place your first bet on means first weighing the different elements of slot games, and deciding which type of player you want to be. When you have a basic idea, you can then search for a slot with the theme (or band) that you like best, and jump in.

Once you’re in a game, there are simple buttons on the control bar that let you set your bet amount. When happy with your bet, press the spin button to begin a round.

It’s also important to understand responsible gambling, and how to ensure your play experience is a positive one. Head over to our responsible gaming section for what you need to know to stay a savvy spinner.

Best Slot Sign-Up Bonus

Slot games are famous for how well they integrate bonuses from casino websites. From a slot sign-up bonus with free spins, deposit matches, and more, claiming a bonus before spinning the reels is a popular approach.

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What is a Slot Paytable and How to Read it

When you first drop into a slot, it can be best to first investigate the paytable help section. This section of slot games includes information on the game’s specifics, and what each symbol means.


Paylines are the lines on a slot (usually running from left to right) on which symbols need to land to create winning combinations. The minimum number of symbols to create a match is usually three. Paylines can be as low as three or in the thousands, depending on the slot.

Slot Symbols

The different icons that can spin and land on the reels are called symbols. The most common low-paying symbols include playing cards. Higher-paying symbols will tend to draw from the game’s theme.

Betting requirements

These are the rules to which a player needs to abide to play a slot. This includes elements like minimum and maximum bets, which tie into coin values and active paylines.

In-Game Slot Bonuses & Special Slot Symbols

Slot games often include special symbols and bonuses that provide extra elements to the player. These can have huge effects on how a game plays out.

Wild Symbols

Wildcard symbols, usually called wilds, can substitute for any other regular symbol. Some games also combine wilds and scatters into one.

Scatter Symbols

Scatter symbols are most often the symbols that grant access to special bonus games. These don’t usually have to land on paylines, just landing the minimum amount will tend to activate their effects.

Free Spins

The most popular type of bonus game is typically awarded when a player lands at least three scatters in a single spin. These will act similarly to regular spins at no cost, and sometimes play with enhanced features like more wilds or higher-paying symbols added.

Bonus Games

Bonus games can also include a range of other imaginative mini-games like extra spinning reels, randomly selected prizes, and game boards.


As the name suggests, multipliers increase winnings depending on their multiplier number and how many of them land. Slots like Gun N’ Roses and Jimi Hendrix use these features to great effect.

Cascading Reels

Cascading reels remove winning symbols from the reels to be replaced with new symbols dropping in from above. This creates the eponymous cascade that repeats until no more matches are won.

Expanding Symbols

Expanding symbols can grow to take up more than one space on the reels, providing easier matches through crossing more paylines.

Locked Reels

Locked reels will remain in place, usually building on respins to make symbols on each round more often to match.

Stacked Wilds

Stacked wilds appear higher than one symbol. Covering more space makes them more likely to cross multiple paylines, providing more opportunities for symbol matches.

Random Features

Random features can activate independently of the reels. These can access bonus games, provide payouts, or modify game features.

Types of Slots Found at an Online Casino

Slots are available in several different categories. Each of these lets the player know what they’re in for before they spin.

Classic Slots

Three-reel slots that closely imitate the look of traditional slot machines. These tend to be the simplest, offering streamlined and no-frills gameplay.

Video Slots

Video slots extend classic slot gameplay with more paylines, more features, and greater complexity. These are the most common types of slots available online today, and our favorite musical slots are also in this category.

Progressive Slots

Progressive slots are different in how their jackpots work. Progressive jackpots are contributed by many players, often in many games, and can built to enormous sizes. Each spin adds to the jackpot, and each spin has a chance of winning the jackpot. This allows progressive jackpots to be higher than traditional jackpots. In regular gameplay terms, these are otherwise similar to video slots.

How to Play Online Slots FAQs

Slot games can be played on most systems capable of HTML5 support. This means desktops, laptops, smartphones, tablets, and even some smart TVs.

Not at all. Slot games require little processing speed and bandwidth, so you won’t need a fast computer or a fast internet connection to play.

Reading about the details of slots is a great way to start, but to get more from your experience we recommend trying out demo modes whenever possible.

As long as you play on a licensed and respected website, online slots are safe. Be sure to check out website reviews before signing up for an online casino!