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Introduction To Online Slots

Online slots are the most popular casino games played globally and are the digital version of the old physical slot machines, sometimes known as one-armed bandits, found in casinos or in the pub some years ago.

Unlike their physical counterparts, slots found at online casino sites are also known as virtual slots or video slots and are much easier to play. The games require very little interaction or knowledge of how the 'machine' works prior to playing.

However, for newcomers to the online gambling scene, there are a few basic principles to learn, such as how online video slots work, which you need to understand in order to maximise your playing experience and not feel like you are throwing money away.

Online Slots Terminology and Functionality

Before loading up your first online slot, it is wise to equip yourself with the knowledge of how all slots function so that you are not left frustrated, or out of pocket.

Firstly, every slot game comes with its own theme, such as fruit, animals, movies, gems and so on, which generally does not affect how the game plays and is simply for cosmetic purposes.

Secondly, slots are developed by third party software providers and are not created by the online casino itself.

Thirdly, there are a number of factors that are present in every slot machine game found online. These include:

  • Reels: are the vertical columns you see in video slot machines and typically move downwards, similar to that of a physical slot machine. Modern slots tend to have 5 reels (most common), but also come in variants of 3, 6, 7 and 8 reels.
  • Paylines: run from left to right and come in multiples, also known as multi-line slots. In 2020, very few online slots have less than 10 paylines. Paylines correspond to the symbols on the reels and indicate how much you can win based on which combination the reels stop on after spinning. Payline combinations can include; horizontal lines, diagonal lines, zigzag and V shapes. The amount that is paid out in the event of a win is shown on each slots' pay-table in the game rules.
  • RNG: is the abbreviation for 'Random Number Generator' and is the term used to describe the algorithm, or pre-programmed system, which is built in to each slot machine that determines the motion of the reels, including where each one stops. The RNG system produces a new random number, from a choice of thousands, every time you press the spin button. This is how you know that online slots and the outcome is completely random.
  • Volatility: describes how volatile the game is to paying out. There are typically 3 volatility levels: low, medium and high. Low volatility means that the game will pay out more frequently, but the amounts will be smaller. High volatility pay outs will be less frequent, but when they do occur the amount will be larger.
  • TP: stands for 'Return To Player' and is the phrase used to indicate how much money is likely to be paid out by the game if played continuously. The RTP value is represented by a percentage and most modern online slots are within the range of 90%-98%. For example, for every $100 wagered on a slot game that has a RTP of 96%, it will return $96 on average if played continuously over a set period of time.


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