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How to Play Slots for Beginners

There’s virtually no learning curve in figuring out how to play slots. Still, when real money is on the line there are a few things you should know before you start playing slots online. This page will cover:

  • A step by step look at understanding slot game rules
  • How to differentiate between slots variants
  • Understanding slots terminology
How to Play Slots for Beginners

Slot Rules - A Step by Step Guide

Individual slot game rules will vary depending on the game you’re playing, but the step by step guide below should give you a feel for the basics. The good news is that for most games, they’re very simple. Here’s how the process might look when you play slots online:

  1. First things first, you need to choose the game that you’re going to play. When doing so be sure to consider things like both the variance of the slot and its prizes.
  2. If the game has multiple paylines, select how many you wish to cover. We recommend using as many paylines as you can afford.
  3. Most games offer a wide range of bet sizes, so you need to think about how much you can afford to bet per spin. Using Bet Max will cover all paylines and bet the maximum number of coins.
  4. One thing to think about is whether you’re willing to end a session before you trigger a bonus round, so take this into account when you’re determining your bet size too.
  5. Once you’ve taken care of the above steps, there’s nothing left to do but hit the Spin button and keep your fingers crossed that you land a big win!

Key Slots Terms You Need To Know


This refers to the amount of money you’ve played (including what you’ve won or lost) during a single session

Bonus round

A special feature, often comprised of free spins with a multiplier, that gives players more chances to win


A slot that does not pay out often is said to be "cold"

Flat top

A game with a fixed jackpot that will not go above a certain value

Fixed jackpot

A jackpot that is “fixed” at a certain value

Free spin

A spin that doesn’t cost players anything


A win


A slot that pays out regularly is said to be "hot"


This is the maximum amount a game will pay out on a single win


Slots with multiple paylines are known as “multi-line” slots


This is a line across which symbols line up to trigger a win

Progressive jackpot

A supersized jackpot that continues to grow until it’s randomly triggered

Progressive slot

Any slot that builds its jackpot using a small percentage of every bet on the machine

Random number generator (RNG)

Technology that generates numbers at random


These are the columns that make up the interface of a game

Scatter symbol

In addition to granting small payouts, these usually trigger bonus features

Staggered payout

This is a payout that’s released in instalments over time


A mood of frustration/anger that often results in burning through cash chasing losses


The pictures on the reels of a slot machine are known as symbols

Video slot

A slot powered by RNGs instead of physical reels

Wild symbol

These will substitute other symbols to generate wins

Winning combination

When matching symbols line up across a payline

Zig zag

A ‘system’ for identifying when slots are about to get hot. Players should look for symbols in V, diagonal or diamond patterns

Tips from Our Slots Experts

Whether we’re talking about spinning the reels offline or checking out the latest online slot game, our team has a ton of invaluable knowledge that we’re happy to share with our readers. The following tips are what we think everyone should know before they hit the slots:

Tips from Our Slots Experts
Check the rules

This might sound obvious, but you’d be surprised by how many people don’t read the rules of a game before they start playing. For example, a few games offer quirky slots rules like paylines that run forwards and backwards. Make sure you know what you’re in for when you play.

Bet as many paylines as possible

Seeing a spin that looks like a huge payout, only to realise that you haven’t won anything because you weren’t playing the right paylines, is extremely frustrating. We’d recommend using all of them when you can! Some games even have bonuses for using more paylines.

Become familiar with the concept of variance

In simple terms, a high variance slot is one that involves a lot of risk. That means that although jackpots are high, wins during play are few and far between. Meanwhile, a low variance slot will pay out lots of smaller wins. It’s good to figure out your appetite for risk and try to find out about a game’s variance before you play.

Practice with free games

Playing online slots with practice cash is a great way to get an idea of a game’s variance, not to mention a better understanding of the rules and intricacies of the game. Just remember that, while any losses made in practice mode don’t count, we’re sad to say that wins don’t either!

Be wary of progressives

The lure of enormous progressive jackpots is undeniable, especially when a single spin is all that separates you from a huge sum of money. Unfortunately, big wins are very rare; progressive jackpots may only pay out once every few months. Play with caution!

Don’t count out smaller jackpots

The smaller the jackpot, the more often a software provider can afford to pay it out. Whether progressive or standard, there are many smaller jackpots out there that could still make a difference to your life. Don’t be put off by a jackpot just because it doesn’t rank in the millions.

Playing Different Types of Slots

There are several different varieties of games out there, each with their own set of slot game rules you’ll need to become familiar with. Let’s take a look at some of the key types you’ll encounter:

Three Reel Classics

These very simple games have much in common with the games you’d find in pubs and clubs about a decade ago. They’re sometimes known as “one arm bandits”, named after the lever on one side. They typically have a small number of paylines and fairly modest jackpots.

Video Slots

When you’re playing an online slot game, you’re really using a web recreation of an offline video slot. Like their land-based equivalents, online video slots are powered by random number generators (RNGs) instead of physical reels.

Progressive Slots

The key difference between standard slots and progressive games? The latter takes a small percentage of each bet made on the title, adding it to a jackpot that grows until it’s randomly triggered by one lucky player. Progressive jackpots represent the largest of any casino game.

Multi Reel Slots

Multi reel slots allow you to spin multiple sets of reels at once. If you’ve ever played something like online multi hand blackjack, this will be a familiar concept. Be aware that it’s pretty easy to quickly burn through your bankroll when you’re playing multiple sets of reels.

Play Slots Online

Real money play is very different to playing with practice money so it’s wise to start slow. But you’ll likely feel comfortable quickly, especially if you’ve used an offline slot.

Once you’re in the groove, you may want to look at the range of titles and formats offered by different software providers. Be sure to check out our recommendations of the best places to play slots online!

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