Anyone who’s played at an online slots site knows there are thousands of slot games available, but what makes one slot different from another?
There are different themes to pick from, different mechanics to choose between, and different prizes to aim for, amongst other things. OhMyBingo take a look into what differentiates one slot from another, and how to choose a game you’re sure to love…
What are reels? You may have seen the word in slot game descriptions; reels are the vertical columns in a slot game. This goes back to the proper old-fashioned slot machines, which were giant mechanical things. You pulled a lever, and physical reels would spin around, stopping and displaying your symbols.
Old-fashioned slot machines used to have three reels, but with the advancements in technology and the move to digital games, slots can now have three, four or five reels, with five being very popular for online slots. There are still some online slots that are designed specifically to look like classic three-reel slots, for the die-hard fans of the old times!
The number of reels will change how a game plays, because on almost all slots, you’re aiming for three of the same symbols in a row. On a three-reel slot, you have to get three out of three reels the same, but on a five-reel slot, the chances are different, because now you have five reels to play with. That’s where paylines come into play.
A classic-style three reel slot game
Paylines are the horizontal patterns on which your symbols have to match. It’s no good having three symbols the same all scattered across the reels (except for certain special symbols); they need to be on a payline in order to count as a win.
Old-fashioned, three-reel slots used to just have one payline- straight across the middle. You had to get the same symbol three times on this line; nice and simple, but not very easy to do. Nowadays, with five-reel slots being popular, there are games offering as many as 243 ways to win. You’ll be able to see the paylines of a particular slot by opening the game and looking in its information section.
Examples of payline patterns
Although the paylines shown will be across all the reels, you almost always need just three or more in a row to win.
Winning: three ‘10’ symbols in a row on two different paylines
When you match three or more symbols on a payline, the lines will be marked to show you that you have had a win. On the example shown above, there are three ‘10’ symbols in a row on two different paylines. It is possible to line up symbols on lots of different paylines on a single spin; this will result in a bigger win.
Some slot games will only pay if the pattern starts at the left, like the example above. Others will pay ‘both ways’, which means the three matching symbols could follow the pattern from the right or from the left. Slot paylines always go horizontally; there are no prizes for getting three the same vertically on the same reel.
You can also choose how many paylines you want to bet on when choosing your bet amount. Increasing the number of paylines means you’ve got more patterns to aim for, but it will cost you more, so balance carefully.
Bonus Rounds and Special Symbols
As well as matching standard symbols on a payline for a win, most slots will feature special symbols to make your game more exciting. Hit a few of these, and your wins could really rack up.
Wild symbols can count as any standard symbol to help make a pattern, and sometimes they’ll do something special, like changing other symbols to wild as well.
Check in the slot information to see which symbols are wild
Scatter symbols can be anywhere on the board; usually you have to get three or more to activate their special effect. Often this will be a bonus round, with the chance for some mega wins.
Scatter symbols can be anywhere, and three or more will activate their effect
A bonus round triggering can be the sign of a big win to come. Not all games have bonus rounds, so if it’s something that interests you, have a look in the slot game’s information to see what’s on offer. Bonus rounds vary hugely; some will let you choose a mystery prize, some will give you free spins- it depends on the slot. The prizes on offer vary too- you could snag a prize multiplier, or maybe a cash bonus, depending on the game.
This bonus round gives free spins, racking up a cash bonus to add to your total
Jackpots and Progressives
Speaking of big wins, high rollers will be familiar with jackpot slots and progressives. These are slots with the added incentive of a big prize up for grabs. Progressive jackpots increase each time the slot is played, meaning that they will grow and grow until they pay out. Some slots will have more than one jackpot sitting ready to be won.
This progressive jackpot slot has three jackpots on offer
You can still play and get regular payline wins on these slots; the jackpot is just the ultimate prize. Be aware- some progressive slots will have the condition that the jackpot can only be triggered if you are betting the maximum coins, so make sure to check this if you’re playing for the big win.
Scratch Cards and Instants
A little different to your usual slot, scratch card games and instants are just like physical scratch cards. Some games will let you choose how many tickets you’d like, and for some, you get one ticket per game. Once you click start, your tickets will be scratched to reveal if you’ve got matching symbols for a win.
You’ll find any scratch card games a site has to offer in the games lobby with the slots. They might even be featured in their own section! There are also specific scratch card sites.
Choose up to 7 cards in this game, then scratch them off to see if you’ve won
Slingo is a relatively new game that is designed to be a mix between slots and bingo. It is longer per round (and per stake) than slots, but is far more engaged and active that just watching a bingo game run.
Set your initial bet amount, then click to spin the reels! If the numbers on your card come up when you spin, they’ll be covered over. Joker symbols put the power in your hands and let you pick which tile to cover! Match up a whole line for a win- the more lines you get, the more you’ll win! Got to the end of your spins, and super close to that next line? You can buy a few extra spins at the end if you’d like.
If you’re still asking yourself, “But what IS Slingo?”, we have the perfect article just for you! Check out our handy guide to all things Slingo.
Slingo Riches is one of the most popular Slingo games
Slots games have evolved over the years from huge machines where you pull a lever to match three symbols, into complex digital masterpieces. They can have beautiful artwork, exciting bonus rounds, and some are even themed around your favourite TV shows.
Because of the massive variety available, it can be easy to feel overwhelmed and spoiled for choice, but when choosing a slot, it’s important to just pick a mechanic and theme that you like. You can always try one out and then decide you want a change!
Now that you’re all brushed up on the different types of slot, maybe you’re curious how slots actually get to that winning combination of symbols that spells a jackpot? If you want to know more about how slots work and if they can be beaten, take a look at our article, “How Do Online Slots Work?”