What are Slots?
Slots are a popular genre of casino games played on a set of reels and rows featuring different symbols. If you land identical symbols on an active payline, you trigger a winning combination and receive a payout.
Slots are known by a plethora of names, also depending on region. Back in the days of brick-and-mortar casinos, slots were usually referred to as ‘one-armed bandits’, while Australian and New Zealand punters casually call them ‘pokies’. Although slot has emerged to be the most commonly used term today, ‘online slot’ or ‘slot machine’ are equally popular. The term ‘fruit machine’ is also widely known and used, particularly among British players.
The History of Slots in a Nutshell
The first slot machine originated in the United States and saw the light of day in 1889. It was invented by brothers Adolphe and Auguste Caille from Michigan and called ‘Black Cat’.
In 1899, another one-armed bandit made waves: ‘Liberty Bell’ from German-born engineer Charles Fey. Liberty Bell introduced a new game mechanics and was the first slot machine making use of a 3 reels layout. However, the mechanical lever on the side of the “bandit” remained.
Over time, slots evolved into more and more advanced game units, eventually conquering the internet and becoming the online video slots we know today. Modern online slots come in all shapes and sizes and feature a wide variety of different themes, not just limited to fruit slots any longer.
Although new features such as special symbols, bonus or mini games as well as gambles were introduced, the underlying gameplay remained true to its origins: spinning the reels and creating winning patterns across the screen.
If you’re new to the world of online slots, or even if you have been playing them for some time, you may come across certain terminology that you don’t fully understand. The world of online slots features a lot of jargon, often with particular and specific definitions that don’t relate to the usual understanding of the words. At mybitcoinslots, one of our aims is to demystify the slots gaming world, so to help you get to grips with slots terminology, here is a quick guide to some common slots terms.
Most Common Slot Terms
- RTP stands for ‘Return to Player’ and indicates the average payout over the lifetime of a slot. For example, the Coywolf Cash slot has an RTP of 94.30%. This means that from a $100 wager, $94.30 is paid out in winnings. RTP values usually range somewhere between 92% and 98%.More…
- A spin is a game round. It dates back to when the first slot machines were invented and refers to pulling the lever to spin the reels and trigger a game round.
- A bonus is a special feature in modern online slots. There’s hardly any slot game without a bonus feature. A bonus can come in many different forms, from a free spins bonus to a scatter bonus to a pick me bonus. Each bonus is activated under certain conditions, which vary from game to game.
- Free Spins
- Free spins are what is says on the tin: a free game round for players to enjoy on the house. There’s no risk involved as you play for free but can make real winnings. Free spins are probably the most popular slot bonus among players as they are awarded either one or several free game rounds. Free spins either are in-game features to be triggered by scatter symbols or are given out by an online casino as a freebie, reward, incentive or thank you for old and new players.
- Along with reels and rows, paylines are an essential feature of each slot machine. The number of active paylines determines how many possibilities of winning players have in a given spin. Options range from a sleek 1 or 5 paylines to a solid 243 and up to a massive 1,024 and more paylines.
- Wild Symbols
- Wild symbols, often simply called wilds, are special symbols on the reels. Similar to a ‘joker’, wilds replace all other regular symbols, thus helping players to create winning combinations.
- Scatter Symbols
- Scatters are another special symbol on the reels. Unlike wilds, they don’t replace other symbols but usually trigger free spins or another type of slots bonus.
- Along with rows and paylines, reels are a basic feature of each slot machine. Put simply, a reel is a column displaying several rows from 1 to X including the different symbols of the game. By spinning the reels, you start the game and wait for the reels to stop in your favour.
- The payout is your win. After each spin, the payout is calculated based on your winning combinations on each payline as well as taking into account special features such as multipliers.
- A jackpot is the biggest win possible for a single spin on a given slot machine.
- Bonus Round
- A bonus round is a special game feature offering players the chance to increase their winnings. Bonus rounds are either triggered by a particular symbol combination, a dedicated bonus symbol or randomly. Bonus rounds come in all shapes and sizes, from free spins to respins, from wheels of fortune to click me bonuses, and from gamble features to jackpot rounds, only to name a few.
- Coins Range
- Coins are the virtual currency you play slots with. As per the settings available, coins can have different values. The coin range determines the minimum and maximum bet for each spin, based on the coin value. Your total stake is then deducted from your balance.
- In online slots, coins refer to your stake. Online slots are played using standard stakes, and these are often represented as coins. Some online slots will also refer to their payouts in terms of coins. For instance, if your payout is x5,000 coins, that means you will receive x5000 your original stake.
- Max Bet
- Sometimes known as the maximum wager or maximum stake, the maximum bet is simply the highest amount of money that is possible to wager on a particular slot game for one spin.
- Bet Per Line
- Some slots, often those with a small number of fixed paylines, will simply display your stake per spin when you play. Others will enable you to adjust both the number of paylines you play and the amount you can wager on each pay line. Care should be taken to ensure that you know the total amount you are wagering for each spin, which should be displayed in addition to the bet per line figure.
- Pay table
- The pay table provides details of the potential payouts for each combination during gameplay. It should also include details of the maximum potential payout, and the game’s RTP figure. Checking out the pay table is an important first step before you begin playing any slot.
- These are bonus features within online slots that can boost your winnings. A multiplier will typically multiply a win by a set amount, ranging from x2 up to x10 and more. Depending on the game, multipliers may appear during the base play or during any of the bonus features.
- Click Me Games
- A popular feature of some online slots, Click Me Games are a form of bonus, often triggered by landing a set number of Scatter icons on the reels. They involve picking from a selection of symbols to earn rewards or to launch new bonus games.
- Progressive Jackpot
- A progressive jackpot is made up of a number of online slots that are linked in a network. Each spin on each of those games contributes a small amount of money to a central jackpot, which has no upper limit. Progressive jackpots can pay out prizes worth millions.
- At the heart of every online slot is the Random Number Generator or RNG. This is a piece of software that ensures each spin is truly random and independent. RNGs are tested by independent auditors to ensure that they are functioning correctly.
All About the RTP Figure
Among the many terms associated with the slots world, you may come across the abbreviation RTP. This is commonly quoted in reviews of slots games and is widely used in the industry. RTP stands for Return To Player. It is always quoted as a percentage, invariably in the mid 90s, and it provides an essential piece of information, namely, how favourable to the player is a particular slot game.
RTP is related to the house edge that exists on a particular game.
For example, an RTP of 96% means a house edge on that game of 4%. Essentially, if you were to play that game, in the long term, you would expect to win back around 96% of your stake money. Since all online slots will have a house edge, you will never see an RTP of 100%, though the higher the figure, the better.
A typical slot with an RTP of 95% is Solar Temple. Produced by Playson, it has an Ancient Mesoamerican theme with five reels and 20 paylines and an RTP of 95.22%. It is important to remember that this RTP figure applies in the long term. In the short run, you may find that a slot like Solar Temple delivers a higher or lower return.
Identifying the RTP of a slot is therefore an important aspect of choosing the right slot game for you. Fortunately, the most reputable games developers and online casinos will make the RTP of their slots games available for the public.
When you’re playing online slots, you want to be sure that you are playing with a transparent and fair casino operator. Europa Casino, for example, indicates that all of its games are tested by Gaming Laboratories International (GLI), one of the world’s leading auditors of game fairness. Knowing that a slot has been GLI tested provides some reassurance. Another well-known game auditor, eCogra, certifies the games at many sites, including Roxy Palace Casino. At mybitcoinslots.com, we will only ever highlight or discuss trusted and reliable casinos that have earned this level of approval.
The average RTP of online slots has been creeping upwards over the years and these days, is in excess of 96%. Emerald King Rainbow Road is a good modern example. This is a high volatility slot by Reel Kingdom, and a sequel to the original Emerald King, with an RTP of 96.7%. Some slots can even exceed the 99% level, such as Ugga Bugga by Playtech with a 99.07% RTP.
When considering RTP figures for slots games, it is also important to note that these can change due to ongoing testing by new independent auditors. Online casinos will publish details of the new RTP as the figure changes, so it is always a good idea to check this figure out before playing a slot.
As you can see, RTP is an important aspect of understanding how to get the most out of your slot play, and in the next article we will be taking a closer look at an equally essential element in the slot gaming equation: slot variance.
What is Slot Variance?
If you play online slots you will come across all kinds of terminology and jargon. While it is not necessary to know what all of the terms meant, there are some exceptions, and one of those is variance. This is a term that you will likely see used along with the words high, medium or low. Variance simply refers to the balance between size of payout and frequency of win associated with that particular slow.
A high variance slot will offer bigger payouts but less frequent wins and a low variance slot is the opposite. Occasionally, the word volatility will be used rather than variance. Technically, these words are not synonymous but for practical purposes, they are the same.
It is important not to mistake variance for RTP or payout. All three terms can be useful for an online slot player and tell you much about a particular slot but they refer to different things. Payout usually refers to a game’s biggest payout or its average payout. The RTP or Return To Player figure tells you how big the house edge is. For example, an RTP of 96% means a house edge of 4%.
A typical high variance slot is Thunderstruck II, which is available at the Mr Green site. This popular slot was actually a sequel to the 2004 title Thunderstruck, and came out in 2010. Based on a Norse mythology theme, Thunderstruck II combines impressive presentation with the popular 243 ways to win format, but although the payouts are big, the wait between wins can be a long one.
For an idea of a low variance slot, check out Monopoly You’re In The Money. This slot, based around the popular board game, combines an innovative gameplay structure with 30 paylines and a healthy RTP of 96.8%. If you like the combination of smaller but more regular wins, combined with some entertaining gameplay, this could be a better option for you.
Which style of game you should choose will depend on your preferred approach to slot gaming and your aims. For example, if you have a small bankroll and are aiming to have a relatively long slot gaming session, you shouldn’t consider playing one of the high variance slots out there, such as Immortal Romance, a vampire-themed slot from 2011, with a maximum payout of x12,150.
Generally speaking, high variance slots are more suitable for high rollers, who have the bankroll and the patience to wait for the bigger wins. That said, all slots, whether they are high variance or low variance, will lose you money in the long run. This is why it is always important to bet only with money you can afford to lose and always play responsibly.
Not every piece of jargon associated with slots will be useful to you, but knowing the difference between high and low variance is important. Understanding what these phrases mean and how they relate to a particular slot game can be a crucial component in helping you to get the maximum enjoyment out of your slots play.