How to Play Slot Machines: A Step-by-Step Guide

  • May 9, 2021

The blinking lights … the animations … the beeps and chimes …whirrs and clunks … slots dominate any casino, both land-based or online. They are easily the most popular casino attraction in history, accounting for 60%-70% of casino revenue.

Like multi-colored parking spaces, they form aisles and alleyways through the maze of a land-based casino, many with wide-eyed players pumping chips into them, immersed in their noisy, thrilling gameplay.

It’s notable that online casinos boasting hundreds of game offerings typically only offer a few table or bingo games, while the rest of that portfolio is frequently stacked with page after page of unique slots. And there’s a reason behind that; people of all ages simply love slots, for the variety, the nostalgia, and the complexity-free fun that slots deliver. With themes from ancient Egypt to popular reality situs judi HoGaming TV shows, and with choices such as 3-reel, 5-reel and progressives (with colossal jackpots), there’s a slot game for every taste.

On the surface, slot games might seem simple; you deposit money, pull a lever (or nowadays push a button). The reels spin and the machine tells you if you won or not.

There’s more to this classic casino game than meets the eye, however. If you don’t arm yourself with the basics of slot gameplay, you could feel lost playing the slots–even if you’re a winner.

This guide tells you everything you need to know about how to play slot machines, including slot machine terminology, gameplay, and betting strategies to get you spinning those reels like the slots pro you can be.

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Slot Machines: What You Need to Know

Stittman & Pitt, a New York-based company, designed the first slot machine in 1891 as a tavern game. Its five drums featured playing card icons. Bar patrons could play for a nickel, pull a lever to spin the drums, and win automatic payouts if the cards lined up to a winning poker hand.

Of course, because this was a casino game, 10 and Jack, two of the most useful poker cards, were removed from the deck to make it harder to land on a winning hand, thus increasing the “house edge.”

We have come a long way since these first simple machines, with slot themes having since expanded to encompass every genre imaginable.

However, whether mechanical or video-based, physical machines or computer programs, slot games have a few basic aspects in common–and you need to understand them if you want to learn how to play slot machines.

It’s All about Paylines 

A “payline” is an outcome of a slot spin that entitles the player to winnings. The signifier of the outcome is usually a specific arrangement of the symbols on the reels.

Old-school mechanical slot machines, especially the three-reel pub games and “fruit machines” (slots with fruit icons, popular in the UK) had only one payline—that is, one winning alignment of the reels. These one-payline machines are called “straight slots.” You can still find them on the casino floor, and they’re favored by old-school players who love tradition.

Modern slot machines, with five reels and digital interfaces that rely on random number generators, often have multiple paylines—in fact, up to 100 or more. Some slot games have as many as 243 winning combinations; these sure have come a long way past a row of lemons!

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Since the five reels usually display stacks of three or more symbols, these arrangements can be straight lines, or can zig-zag up and down the rows.

Most paylines have in common a requirement that there be two identical symbols in a row in the winning combination, with the first symbol in the first reel. Variations do exist, however.

Some slot machines only offer fixed paylines. There is a set amount of money you can bet on the slot, with any payline resulting in a win.

Other slots offer adjustable paylines. On these machines, you can pick which paylines you want to bet on. The more paylines you select for your bet, the more “coins” (the unit of slot betting currency) you will need to wager.

Coins

In slot games, the term “coin” refers to the minimum unit of wagering available on that machine. Depending on the game, a coin can be worth anywhere from $0.01 (“penny slots”) to $5 (or other unit of local tender).

The number of units a player bets are referred to as “coin in.” How much the player receives on a winning play is referred to as “coin out.”

Max Bet

The “maximum bet” or max bet is the most coin you can bet on a spin. Usually, it involves the highest coin bet on all paylines. In some slot games, particularly online slots, the max bet can stretch into hundreds of dollars.

Modern slot games often include a “Bet Max” button, which allows a player to wager the max bet with one click. It’s understandable why casinos would want to make this function easy!

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Many slot games, especially progressive slots, only offer players a chance at the top jackpot if they wager the max bet.

Bet Level

The “bet level” corresponds to how many coins you have bet, and how many have the potential to win.

If you bet fewer coins, you establish a bet level that entitles you to a smaller payout if you achieve a winning payline.

If you bet many coins, your bet level entitles you to a larger payout if you achieve a winning payline. The higher the stakes of the selected machine, the bigger the windfall if you establish a high bet level.

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