Among the many casino games, slots have always had a special place for players worldwide. And rightfully so, as these games offer eye-catching fun for everyone, and no skill is required. An online slots player doesn’t have to be a rocket scientist – these games can even work automatically!
However, just because the entry barrier is so low, doesn’t mean these games have to be mindless reel-spinning. Stick around to find out how to play online slots like a champ and start making some profit as well – if you’re lucky. We’ve split this guide into several levels of increasing difficulty to cover every aspect of playing online slots.
Here, we’ll introduce you to the basic functionalities and core gameplay so you can understand slots in general. With this knowledge, you’ll theoretically be able to play these popular casino games on every casino site.
The Control Layout
Once you select the slot game you want to try out, look at the main game screen. Spinning the reels or columns filled with symbols is the long and short of playing slots online. Individual slot games vary by their visual flair and theme, number of available reels, and number of rows with each reel symbol.
You’ll notice a betting bar at the bottom of the screen where you can place bets manually or press the Maximum Bet to go all in. Next is the Spin button that – obviously – gets the reels spinning, followed by an assessment of your potential winnings. In the corner of the screen, you’ll find your bankroll – the funds you have available. You’ll also find a paytable, the list showing the value of each symbol.
Payline and Winnings
The payline is at the center of any guide for how to play online slots for money. In a fair casino, once you press the Spin button, the reels stop at random, and you win when you have more than three symbols on a payline. Every slots machine has a payline; traditional paylines go from left to right, but nowadays, they can go in all sorts of directions, be in zig-zag form, or complex forms in 3D slots.
All available paylines are usually visible after you press the spin button, so you’ll know where to look to see if you’re winning in online slots. You can also check available paylines on the help screen.
Spin and Gamble
After you press the Spin button and see the results on display, a slots game might offer you to gamble a bit more. You can continue pressing the spin button for as long as there’s money in your bankroll, but you should always quit while you’re ahead, or at least before you lose everything.
Slot machine rules are precise, but the spin results are always random. The absolute randomness of these games is the main reason for their lasting appeal. Everyone starts on equal footing, and there is no way to affect the spin results without a cyberattack.
People say that there is much more to this game than simply pressing the spin button constantly. Whether you’re playing on sites with crypto slots or in fiat casinos, you’ll find folks who flaunt their “tactical planning” for the game. Let’s see if there’s something to that:
All slots have special symbols that play by specific rules. When you play slot games online, you’ll encounter a wild symbol or a Joker, which can replace another symbol to make a winning combination. For example, three green diamonds and a wildcard on a payline can turn into four green diamonds.
There’s also the scatter symbol: If this symbol appears in enough instances anywhere on the reels (i.e., not necessarily on a payline), you might be in for a treat. These can either unlock bonuses – for example, free spins – or a bonus round of play.
This is one of the most significant differences between mechanical slot machines and an online game (aside from the option to learn new ways to use crypto for gambling, for example): Sometimes, the player gets the chance to score extra winnings by making the right choice in mini-games. These can be anything from picking the correct treasure box from several, to interactive gameplay where you shoot specific objects to claim a prize.
Autoplay and Free Spins
The autoplay function is right next to the Spin button and, as the name suggests, spins the reels for you automatically. You can interrupt this process at any time and continue to play manually. Using this option to play slot games online is meant to free you from repetitive clicking, and allows you to focus on studying the winning combinations or do something else entirely. On the downside, it can drain your bankroll fast.
Free spins are fairly self-explanatory: They allow you to play the game without wagering any funds. Casinos usually give out free spins as part of regular promotions or welcome bonuses. You can also get them by achieving game objectives, at random, or when a bonus symbol shows up.
This element of the slots gameplay brings excitement to the game by providing you with the opportunity to multiply your winnings. They are shown as symbols similar to wild and scatter symbols and can completely change the game’s flow. Multipliers can increase your pot anywhere from two- to over tenfold.
What we described above should be enough for most players to enjoy the game and make a bit of cash on the side, too. However, some self-proclaimed slots “pros” claim there’s even more to this game. Let’s check out what they have to say:
Paylines Are Key
When you play slots online, you can change your betting funds and number of paylines on each spin. To maximize your chances of winning, betting on as many paylines as possible is recommended. However, since most players are on a budget, here’s a good rule of thumb: It’s always better to pick more paylines with lower wagering amounts instead of putting down more money on fewer options.
One of the most significant benefits of slot games is that you’re playing against the computer instead of other players, so you can take as much time you need to hit the Spin button. In other words, speed plays no role in winning an online slots game, so the worst thing you can do is burn through your bankroll quickly, without taking time to figure out the most profitable course of action. The reels aren’t going anywhere!
Double Check the Rules
Different slots often modify the basic rules slightly to keep things fresh and exciting. For example, a game might have a minimum deposit requirement if a player wants to qualify for jackpots and bonuses. As with everything else, always study the rules before you begin playing.
RTP Is King
Often overlooked when playing slots online, the RTP or return-to-player ratio is the percentage of the total wagered cash that the slot machine returns to the player over time. It’s always under 100%, so, in other words, the RTP signals how much of an advantage the casino operators have over players. The longer you play, the more prominent the RTP effect will be in the game.
Every game with an RTP over 96% is considered fair to the player, leaving only 4% of the casino advantage. Typically, it is best to choose slots with the highest RTP possible. You can find information on both that and betting requirements by looking up the specifications of a slot game.
Classic or Progressive Jackpot Slots
An online slot guide is not up to snuff if progressive payouts are not mentioned. Slot machines with a progressive jackpot have wins that grow bigger over time. Betting on maximum with all paylines in a progressive jackpots game can yield tremendous rewards – and it’s also tremendously risky.
On the other hand, classic online slots rely on a fixed prize, which is excellent for players who don’t want to gamble more than necessary. Always judge your knowledge and bankroll before deciding which type of slots you want to play. If you’re wondering how to play online slots for real money, and you can afford to splurge, progressive jackpot games might be a good idea – just stick to the ones with the highest RTP.
Promotions and Tournaments
A welcome offer will often match your initial deposits, thus giving you more funds for playing slots. You can also gain free spins with specific promotions by simply opening an account on a site and being active on specific days.
Tournaments often have great prizes, and last from a week, up to a month, with the results of participating slots players displayed on leaderboards. Usually, the top three, five, or ten players get to share the cash prize. Hence, always check tournament roundups, or contact other players and customer service for more info.
How do you start playing online slots?
You’ll have to open an account on a casino website to gain access to these games, unless there is a demo mode you can try out. Then check the games section for slots titles.
Can you win money playing online slots?
You can win small but steady money on classic slots games or try out tournaments and games with progressive jackpots for riskier and potentially more profitable ventures.
How do online slots work?
Online slots work similarly to their physical counterparts, except with more possibilities. You have several reels per game – from three to five, usually – with multiple symbols per reel. You press the ‘SPIN’ button, and hope the symbols on a payline (a line connecting three or more symbols across the reels) are the same. All this and more is described in our “How to play online slots” article.