The How-To Guide for Online Slots

Are you looking to spin and win on the best online slot games today? Our comprehensive guide to online slots has you covered!

Slot machines, or fruit machines, as they are also known, are almost synonymous with the concept of casino. What would a casino be without the bright lights and loud music of the beloved slot machine? The same goes for online casinos, and the great thing about online slots is that there is something for everyone, from the classic fruit machines to the hottest new video slots, which all vary in ease of use. Don’t worry about understanding how to use them though, this guide will make everything clear.

How Do Online Slots Work?

Before we get into how to play slots, it’s useful to understand some of the fundamental aspects of the game. Online slot machines are gambling machines with three or more reels, which spin once a virtual button, or lever is triggered. They work much in the same way as traditional slot machines: you deposit your money, hit the spin button and wait for your symbols to match.

Some online slot machines have the same three reels, but other online slots feature five and sometimes even over nine reels. As with traditional slot machines, you must match symbols. While some online slots require a single match straight across three reels, others allow multiple symbol matches across different lines in different directions, and symbols needn’t necessarily be next to one another to win. These lines are called paylines, and you can choose how many different paylines to bet on, and how much you wish to bet.

Your bets will take the form of coins, which can be worth as little as £0.01 in real money, but you can adjust their value as you wish. Minimum and maximum coin values will differ between casinos. Symbol meanings, bonus features, winning combinations and win amounts will vary across games and details of these can usually be found in the paytable for each game.

How Do I Play Online Slots?

Now that you understand the basics, it’s time to learn how to play. We’ve broken down a standard online slots game down into these five straightforward steps:

  1. Pick your game and wager
    Choose the slots you want to play, and decide how much you wish to bet per line. Do remember, though, the bigger your wager, the bigger the potential win. Tip: Start betting small until you get to grips with the game.
  2. Pick your lines
    The lines you bet on are called paylines, and the symbols will appear along these lines. The more paylines you bet on, the higher your chances of getting a winning combination. Bear in mind that, if you set your coins at 1p for each line, and bet on ten lines, you will bet 10p on every spin. This money will be debited from your online balance automatically. Tip: Increase your chances of getting a winning combination by experimenting with your bets between each spin. Increase and decrease the number of lines you bet on, as well as the amount you bet on them.
  3. Click spin
    This is arguably the most simple part of playing online slots, simply click the spin button. Different sites will offer the choice between manual spin and ‘autospin’, which will continue to spin for a specified amount of time. Tip: You can stop the spin whenever you like, as RNG will have already predetermined the outcome.
  4. Win.
    Once the reels have stopped spinning, you will see if you you have matched any symbols. Your winnings, in line with the hit-rate for that game, will be credited to your online balance automatically. The hit-rate is the amount you can win on each spin. You may be given the option of playing a bonus reel or ‘free spin’ to boost your winnings. Tip: Wilds and Scatters can also be winning symbols. Wilds can stand in for any other symbols, and Scatters will generate different rewards, depending on the game.
  5. Spin Again.
    If you got lucky, why not repeat the process and spin again? Raise your wager if you are feeling adventurous. If it didn’t work out for you last time, try changing the number of paylines you are betting on. Tip: A winning streak won’t last forever, so be sure that you are betting responsibly.

What are the Types of Online Slots?

The UK’s top online casinos cater to everyone with their collection of slots games, but what exactly can you expect to find? Let us take you through the different types of online slot games.

3 Reel Slots

These are most similar to traditional slot machines. For these slots, paylines usually form across the middle of the reels.Typically, a payline on a 3 reel slot will require three matching symbols.

5 Reel Slots

5 reel slots have the potential for a larger number of paylines around the screen, giving you more of an opportunity to get winning symbol combinations.The paylines on these slots will often light up in different colours to mark out your winning combinations clearly.

Bonus Slots

Though not available at all online casinos, bonus slots have just one possible payline in the middle of the screen. You will need to achieve the bonus symbol to win your bonus payout on these slots. These bonus symbols will vary from casino to casino.

Feature Slots

Some online casinos provide users with the chance to play feature slots, which include special symbols (often called ‘scatter’ symbols). You will need to get a specific combination of these symbols to achieve a bonus win -  these will differ from game to game.

Progressive Slots

Progressive slots can work alongside any of the slots mentioned. These slots will have a jackpot that increases gradually as you play the game, which means there is more at stake the longer you play.

Mobile Slots

These have been specifically designed to give you the same slots experience on the move, whether you choose to play in a mobile web browser or download an Android or iOS app. If you’re looking for some of the highest quality Flash and HTML5 mobile slots, the award-winning Play’n Go slots might be for you. Alternatively, if you’re into classic, retro-style slots, reminiscent of Vegas real-world casinos, with the option of playing branded slots on occasion, IGT casino slots are the way to go!

What Are The Odds of Winning?

In comparison to other casino games, such as blackjack or roulette, when it comes to online slots, odds have less of an impact on your potential success, and calculating odds can become difficult, taking features that increase your winnings, such as jackpot, multiplier and bonus rounds into consideration. Having said this, it is possible to work out the odds of getting a winning combination.

If the slot has three reels, which each have twenty symbols, the calculation would be 20x20x20, which reveals that there are 8,000 different potential symbol combinations. Providing you know how many times the same symbol appears on each reel, you can then calculate how likely you are to match that symbol.

If the symbol only appears once on each reel, the calculation would be 1/20 x 1/20 x 1/20, which reveals a probability of 1 in 8,000 on gaining a three symbol match.

In general, the most simple slots have better odds of winning, but this is usually accompanied by smaller payouts.

Can I Increase My Chances of Winning?

Given that online slots are controlled by random number generators (RNG), which ensure that the results of all spins are completely at random, there is little more you can do to improve your chances of gaining a winning combination than betting on more paylines and spinning more times.

You might also consider return to player percentages (RTPs) and slot variance when it comes to your understanding chances of landing a win. RTPs, sometimes called payout percentages, refer to the amount you can win back from an overall spend, and are usually between 90-99%.

These are different to hit-rates, in that they are averages which are calculated over millions of spins. Slot variance (also known as slot volatility) refers to how the slot is programmed to payout. Low volatility slots will give lots of small payouts often, whereas high volatility slots give larger payouts less often. In general, low payout percentages can cause you to lose money faster, while higher payout percentages maximise every bet you make. Similarly, if you are playing slots that pay bigger but less often, you will score winning combinations less frequently than on slots that are designed for smaller, more regular payouts.

Ultimately, though, the house edge means that casino will always have the advantage over the player. The house edge is the percentage of money that a player will lose to the casino overall, and can be calculated in line with the RTP. If the RTP is 96%, for example, the house edge will be 4%.

How Does a Win Translate into Real Money?

So you've been getting lucky on the online slot machines, but what is the relationship between these online coins and real money?

In most cases, online slots will not refer to specific currencies, but rather coins. These coins will correspond with your local currency, and their value will depend on on how much you wish to bet each time. You will often have the opportunity to change the value of your coins, depending on how much you wish to bet, and possible coin values will vary between different online casinos. When it comes to NetEnt, for example, coins will automatically be valued at £0.01, and players have the option to increase this value up to £1.00 per coin.

If you managed to get a rub of the green and land a winner, you won't always be able to access your funds right away. If you're using bonus funds to play, you'll often find that you have to meet wagering requirements in order to make your funds available for withdrawal. Wagering requirements are simply the amount you will need to bet in order to release your bonus winnings into your main account balance. Of course, there are plenty of no wagering bonuses available, too. While these offers don't provide the same huge bankroll boosts that matched deposits often do, they're a great option for players looking to get their winnings quick. It's simply a matter of finding what works best for you.

When your funds are ready to withdraw, you'll be able to cash out using a range of different payment methods at the UK's top online casinos. You can rest assured knowing transactions are secure too, if you stick to playing at a licensed site. Popular payment methods include major debit and credit card providers, as well as e-wallets like PayPal.

Is There Anything Else I Should Know About Playing Online Slots?

We’ve covered everything you should know to start playing online slots. Here is a summary of how you should approach the game:

  1. Start Simple. There are many of complex, multi-reeled online slot machines, but we recommend that beginners stick to simple 3 and 5 reel slots.
  2. Bet More, Win More. While the amount you win will vary between casinos and from game to game, the more you bet, the more you can win.
  3. Slots is a Game of Luck. Unfortunately, there’s little skill involved when it comes to online slots. Playing a game that you’re comfortable with and fully understand is the best way to do well.
  4. Choose Online Casinos Wisely. Be sure that you are playing with trusted online casinos that use RNG. Choose from our list of recommended UK regulated casinos.
  5. Bet Responsibly. Remember that a winning streak will not last forever - even when you appear to have a ‘failsafe’ strategy. Set a budget before you begin playing and stick to it. Never bet more than you can afford to lose and, most importantly, enjoy it!

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I play online slots for free?

Yes. Most online casinos provide users the opportunity to play their games without using any real money. You may need to create an account first, though.

Is there ever a better time to play?

No. All regulated UK casinos determine their probabilities using RNG, which means no time of the day is better to play online slots.

Is it safe to play online slots?

Yes. As long as you are playing with a licensed UK casino, you and your money will be protected under UK laws and regulation.

Is it fun to play the progressive online slots?

All online betting should be fun! You should always be playing for enjoyment, rather than simply chasing the highs of winning. If you think you might be playing for the wrong reasons, there are plenty of ways to seek support.

Are slot machines fixed?

No. When it comes to UK regulated casinos, random number generators (RNG) determine the probabilities of winning, as well as payout percentages. These RNGs, which are checked by a third-party, mean that all results are determined at random. The RNG has no memory of previously generated results, nor any way of predicting what is to come next.

Which online casino is best to play slots?

This will depend on the game you wish to play and your specific requirements. Check out our list of recommended UK online casinos, all of which are regulated according to UK law.