An introduction to casino slots
As you probably know, slots aren’t something that came with the internet and online gambling. Variants of slot machines have been around since the late 19th century, but those early games can barely be compared to today’s modern video slots. In the beginning, they were simple mechanical machines with limited functions and meagre payouts. That didn’t stop them from becoming immensely popular, however, and by the early 20th century, slots were scattered all across America. Today, you can find a great variety of slots in betting shops and casinos, but the best selection is available at online casinos.
There are thousands of different slots available on the internet, and they all have their own unique themes, bonus features and payout structures. They let you immerse yourself in all kinds of universes and settings, and the selection online is so big that it’s nearly impossible to try them all. However, they all have the same basic function: you place a small bet, and a Random Number Generator determines if you win or lose. The RNG ensures that every spin you make on the slot machine is completely random, and it’s not possible to predict the outcome of the next spin. Although it might seem like it sometimes, slots do not have a memory. That means that each spin is individual and the result is not based on any of the previous rounds.
Most of the slots you’ll find at internet casinos these days are video slots. Unlike classic slots that generally have only three reels and a few paylines, video slots can incorporate amazing 3D graphics, thrilling bonus games and hundreds of paylines to offer a deeply engaging gambling experience. The possibilities and variations are endless, but most slots have the classic five reels and three or four rows. There are online slots that can give you wins that are thousands of times of what you bet, and that potential is the essence of the excitement they bring.
In this extensive slots guide, we will take you through the enchanting world of online slotting. With so many games to choose from, some newcomers might have a difficult time knowing which games they should play. Or maybe you’re just looking to discover some great new slots to try out. Either way, we’ll cover the best slots and how they work in this comprehensive article.
Most popular slots and slots providers
All of the casino games and slots at online casinos are made by third-party providers. Some game studios are more known than others, and some of them have been making real-life slot machines for brick and mortar casinos in Las Vegas and elsewhere for decades. Since there are so many game providers, we can not cover all of them here, but we have listed some the leading game makers that you will come across at online casinos, along with some of their top slots. If you are a new slots player, these are excellent games to get started with.
- NetEnt: NetEnt is an award-winning slots maker that has been pioneers in online gambling for more than 20 years. The Swedish company experienced a staggering growth, and they now have many offices worldwide. NetEnt is known for making high-quality videoslots with innovative bonus features. Many of their games have a low variance, which makes them an excellent choice for beginners. Among their hit games is Starburst which you will find in nearly every casino’s top list. This is a simple yet entertaining slot that features stars that turn the three middle reels into wild reels. Games like Gonzo’s Quest, Twin Spin, Jack and the Beanstalk and Vikings are other NetEnt classics that every player should check out. But if you’re really hunting for a big payday, you can check out some of NetEnt’s huge jackpot games such as Mega Fortune, Mega Fortune Dreams and Hall of Gods.
- Microgaming: With one of the most significant games portfolio in the world, Microgaming is a prominent game provider that has had a massive impact on online casino gaming. The company is based in the Isle of Man, and it was one of the first companies to release a real online casino. Casinos that host Microgaming slots often have hundreds of their games available, with new titles being released every single month. Microgaming have quite a few slots that are based on well-known licenses such as Terminator, Jurrasic Park, Game of Thrones and Playboy. Some of their most beloved games include Immortal Romance, Hot as Hades and Titans of the Sun. The best jackpot slot from Microgaming is Mega Moolah: its progressive jackpot often climbs to millions of pounds!
- Greentube: Greentube, also known as Novomatic, is an Austrian games studio that was founded in 1980. The company quickly found success in brick and mortar casinos around the world, and most of their classic portfolio has been ported to the internet. Greentube famously makes high volatility slots with exciting free spins games and bonus features. Their most played slot is Book of Ra. This beloved game has a unique free spins game with expanding symbols, and a full screen of the explorer, which is the top symbol, is worth 5,000 times the bet stake. Some of their other popular games include Lucky Lady’s Charm, Sizzling Hot Deluxe, Captain Venture and Katana. You won’t find Greentube’s vast selection of games at every online casino, but more and more sites are finally getting access to their fantastic slots.
- WMS: Founded in 1994, WMS is a prominent slots provider that has been producing slots for over 20 years. You will find WMS slots at most UK casinos, both live and online. The company was acquired by the casino giant Scientific Games in 2013, making it part of a family of several well-known game studios. Although WMS doesn’t release that many online slots per year, they have many classics that are loved by thousands of players every day. Games like Raging Rhino can pay out massive wins if the multiplier wilds link up in the bonus game. Several WMS games are based on popular brands and names such as Monopoly, Clue, Tetris, Bruce Lee and Elvis. There are several other classic WMS games that you definitely should check out such as Zeus, Kronos and Red Flag Fleet.
- IGT: International Game Technology (IGT) is a gambling titan that has been the number one physical slot machine distributor in the world for decades. Today, you can find IGT games wherever you go, and the company offers everything from bingo to poker and lottery solutions. If you are an online slots UK player, you’re bound to know about some of their hit games such as Cleopatra, Black Witch, Golden Goddess and Pharao’s Fortune. IGT has also made several popular licensed slots such as Family Guy, Ghostbusters, Transformers and Wheel of Fortune. There is a tremendous number of IGT slots to try out, and we’re sure that you’re going to fall in love with a few of them immediately!
- Quickspin: Quickspin is a Swedish game provider that is known for producing colourful slots with smooth animations and fun bonus features. The company was acquired by the casino giant Playtech in 2016, and they launch at least one new title every month. Although Quickspin isn’t the most famous games provider, their games are getting more and more attention as their portfolio increases. Most of Quickspin’s slots are quite low volatility, making them suitable for new players who are just getting their feet wet. If you come across a casino that has slot games from Quickspin, make sure to try out some of their best games such as Divine Dreams, Eastern Emeralds, Dwarfs Gone Wild, Sakura Fortune and Spinions.
- Play’n GO: Play’n GO is yet another Swedish gaming company that you will encounter everywhere on the internet. Play’n GO is perhaps one of the most innovative games studios in the world, as their games often have unique features that can’t be found anywhere else. They offer a gambling platform for casinos, table games and video poker games, but their slots are where they really shine. If you’re looking for a fresh casino experience, you can’t go wrong with any of the fantastic games from Play’n GO. We recommend having a go at some of their grid-based games such as Reactoonz, Sweet Alchemy, Viking Runecraft and Moon Princess. Some of their other popular games include Book of Dead, Legacy of Egypt, Sizzling Spins and Grim Muerto.
- Big Time Gaming: It’s one of the smallest companies on this list, but Big Time Gaming has established itself as one of the greatest slots makers in the world. The company was founded in Australia in 2011, and they are known for producing truly innovative slots can pay out massive wins to lucky players. Big Time Gaming only releases a few games a year, but they usually are well worth the wait. Some of their most popular slots have the Megaways concept that can activate several thousand paylines. Bonanza, Who Wants To Be A Millionaire and Extra Chilli are among these special Megaways slots. Other superb Big Time Gaming slots include White Rabbit, Danger High Voltage, Queen of Riches and Dragon Born.
- Pragmatic Play: Pragmatic Play was founded in 2015, but they have already released more than 100 games. Today, they have become one of the leading online casino games providers in the world. Their slots are easily recognisable, and they offer special features such as a turbo mode that lets you spin the reels in a lightning fast speed. You can play Pragmatic Play slots at most UK online casinos today, so make sure to try them out when you get the chance. Wolf Gold is one of their most played slots as it has both a jackpot game and a thrilling free spins mode. Some of their other great games include Da Vinci’s Treasures, Great Rhino, Gold Rush and Chilli Heat.
- Yggdrasil: Yggdrasil is an acclaimed games studio that was founded in 2013, and today the company has four offices across Europe. The company has a wide selection of high-quality games with innovative bonus modes, in-game missions and collect features. Yggdrasil has something for everyone, so whether you are an experienced slot player or just starting out, you’ll find slots that are perfect for your tastes. We recommend checking out some of their best slots such as Cazino Zeppelin, Vikings Go Wild, Golden Fish Tank and Super Heroes. If you’re feeling extra lucky, you could give their jackpot games Empire Fortune or Joker Millions a spin.
We have listed ten of the best slot providers in the world, but there are many more that deserve a place on this list. Have a look around, and you will be able to enjoy some fantastic games from providers such as Blueprint, Thunderkick, Push Gaming, iSoftBet, Betsoft and many others. Check out the slots from the different providers for yourself, and you’ll soon be able to build your own favourite list!
What kind of slot player are you?
The first thing you need to know is that all online slots come from third-party providers. The casinos themselves have absolutely no control over the games, which means that they can’t adjust the payouts or how they play. All slots have a specific RTP which stands for Return to Player. The RTP is the percentage that theoretically will be paid out to the player over the course of billions of spins. If a slot has an RTP of 96%, you are expected to win £960 for every £1,000 you bet on the slot. However, slots are highly volatile, which means that you can lose everything or win thousands of pounds in just a few spins. The RTP is only the theoretical expected payout. Most slots online have an RTP of between 94% to 98%, and we generally advise our readers to stay away from slots that have lower RTPs than this.
Some game providers are more played than others, and as a result, you will often find the same slots everywhere you go. NetEnt, Play’n GO and Microgaming are examples of staple slot makers that nearly every casino have in place. These providers create magical games that are known for their high quality, exciting bonus games and innovative features.
As a new player, you might want to stick with slots that are beginner friendly. Slots with a simple layout and low volatility are under this category, and especially slots from NetEnt and Quickspin are known for those factors. But at the end of the day, it’s up to you to find your favorites – so keep exploring the slots section and try out as many as you can, and you’ll quickly find games that you’ll love!
One of the reasons that we love slots is because they can turn any spin into an enormous win. There are slots out there that can pay out wins that are several thousand times the size of your bet stake. Unlike most table games, you don’t need to bet big in order to win a lot: even a bet of £0.50 can be turned into thousands. The variety of games these days is incredible as well, and there is something for everyone to enjoy: from classic slot machines that you know from back in days to volatile video slots with dozens of paylines, 3D graphics and exciting bonus games.
Getting into slots is very straightforward. Once you have found a slot you’d like to try out, you just need to adjust the bet size and click the spin button to make the reels go. How much you’d like to bet is up to you and your gambling budget. Smaller bets will give you more game time and more chances of hitting big wins, while bigger stakes can pay even more enormous wins. Each slot has a game sheet that lets you see the paytable, the rules of the games and sometimes the RTP. Most slots also have a practice mode that you can use if you want to try it out before playing with real money.
The slots glossary: what you need to know
Before you begin your own casino adventure, it’s a good idea to learn some of the slotting terminologies. If you’re a new player, you might have some basic questions about slots and how they work. If so, this is the glossary you need. Below, we have collected and made a summary of the jargon that you will come across when you play slots.
- Video slots: These are the modern slots that you’ll probably play most of the time. They often feature high-quality graphics, a lot of animations and effects, and exciting bonus games.
- Classic slots: Classic slots are typical traditional slots that often only have three reels and five paylines. They usually feature familiar symbols such as cherries, bells, sevens and BARs.
- Paylines: Paylines are the lines on the reels where symbols of the same kind can land in order to generate a win. A typical video slot has between 10 and 20 paylines, but some slots feature several hundred or even thousands of lines. Some slots let you adjust the number of active lines.
- Scatters: Scatters are special symbols that activate a particular feature such as a bonus, free spins or an instant coin win. Not every scatter slot have scatters that lead to a bonus.
- Wild: Wilds are special slot symbols that can replace any other symbol on the reel.
- Free spins: Many video slots have a free spins feature. In the free spins bonus, you don’t pay for the spins, and there are often special modifications such as multipliers or extra wilds available.
- Bonus: Just as free spins, bonuses are usually triggered by getting scatters or bonus symbols. The bonus game could be anything from instant wins to picking coin wins.
- Multiplier: Multipliers increase the player’s winnings by multiplying the win. Multiplicators are usually available in free spins modes or as special wilds, but not all slots have them.
- Autoplay: Most slot machines let you use an autoplay feature. Just as the name indicates, this makes the slot spin by itself without you having to press the spin button every time manually. You are required to set a loss limit in order to activate the autoplay feature.
- Paytable: The paytable is a list of all the symbols that are in the slot, and how much a line of them is worth. You can use the paytable to learn the value of the different winning symbols and the rules of the game.
- Hit frequency: The hit frequency determines how often you will get any type of win by playing the slot machine. If a slot has a hit frequency of 30%, then every 3 out of 10 spins will be a winning spin – on average.
- RNG: The Random Number Generator is what controls the slot and makes sure that every spin is random and independent from all other spins. Therefore, it’s impossible to predict the outcome of any spin on a slot machine.
Getting the hang of slotting isn’t very complicated, and you will quickly learn the terms above once you start playing. A bit later in the guide, we will explain how RTP and volatility works, so make sure to stick around to learn about some of the most important things to think about when choosing a slot to play.
Win big with jackpot slots
We touched a bit upon jackpot slots a bit earlier in this article, and now we’ll go a bit more in-depth about these potentially life-changing slot machines for those who are curious about them. Jackpot games are slots that have a type of jackpot available: a special cash prize that is paid out randomly and infrequently. There are several types of jackpots, ranging from smaller player specific jackpots to enormous progressive jackpots that are worth hundreds of thousands or even of millions of pounds. Jackpot slots are different from any other casino game, as they have the power to change your life in a single spin.
Progressive jackpots are jackpots that grow bigger as players play on the slot. A small percentage of every bet you make on the slot goes directly to the pot, and it doesn’t stop growing until one lucky winner takes it all. Some jackpots are limited to one casino or network, but most progressive jackpots are the same across every casino. Because of that, the biggest jackpots can become enormous within just a few days or weeks, often adding tens of thousands of pounds to its pot every day. Winning a jackpot far from easy, but every spin you do have a theoretical chance of taking it down. In some way, you can look at each spin you make as a type of lottery ticket into a huge lottery.
The list of players who have turned into millionaires with the help of online slots is quite long. NetEnt’s Hall of Gods has an average jackpot payout of over a staggering £5,4 million, and their classic Mega Fortune jackpot has reached an incredible £17,8 million in the past. NetEnt is probably one of the best game providers when it comes to progressive jackpots, as their jackpot slots such as Cosmic Fortune, Divine Fortune and Mega Fortune Dreams are wildly popular among players.
Microgaming is another heavy-hitter when it comes to jackpots, as the jackpots on Major Millions and King Cashalot frequently reaches well above a million pounds. The best Microgaming jackpot is however up for grabs in Mega Moolah and Mega Moolah Isis, as the pot can go above ten million pounds. Many other providers such as Yggdrasil, Playtech and Red Tiger have their own set of fantastic jackpots, so you have a lot of great games to choose from. It mostly comes down to your taste, but you should also check a jackpot’s size and payout history if you’re serious about your jackpot hunting.
Many jackpot slots have more than just one jackpot in place. You will find that there typically is one major jackpot that is worth hundreds of thousands of millions, and a few smaller ones that are paid out more frequently. It goes without saying that the smaller jackpots are easier to win so you might catch some extra luck while going for the big one. In the casino lobby of most online casinos, you can filter out all the jackpot games to quickly locate them.
RTP and volatility - what does it mean?
You now know the basic functionality of slots, and it’s time to dig deeper into how slot machines really work. One thing you should definitely know about is how RTP and volatility have an effect on the games you play. The RTP is especially something you should always take into consideration when looking for a game to play, as it can massively increase or decrease your chances of leaving the slot with a profit. Although every slot has an edge against the player, the difference from one slot to another can be huge.
So what does RTP mean? It stands for Return to Player, and it’s also known as the payout percentage. Basically, as you probably figured out by its name, the RTP determines how much the slot pays out to players. It’s important to state that the RTP is theoretical: a slot machine can pay way below or above its theoretical RTP over a short period. However, in the long run, the RTP will even out and be at its exact percentage.
This is how it works: if a slot machine has an RTP of 96%, it means that you theoretically will win back 96% of what you bet on it over the course of billions of spins. In other words, if you put £1,000 into the slot machine, you are expected to get £960 back. Naturally, it rarely works out like that, as slot machines have an incredibly volatile nature. You could lose everything over a few hundred spins, or triple your money in just one spin. The slot providers test every new slot by simulating billions of spins on it. The payout of those billions of spins determines the theoretical RTP. In the short run, the slot could have 10% RTP or 1000% RTP – it’s the overall RTP that matters. We generally advise our players to stay away from online casino slots that have an RTP lower than 94%, and you should always aim at playing games with an RTP of 95% or above.
The RTP brings us to volatility. Most slots have a high variance compared to certain table games such as blackjack, but there are significant differences from game to game. A slot with low volatility will give you wins at a steady rate and have a high hit frequency. Your balance will, for the most part, stay quite stable due to the stream of small and medium-sized wins that the game pays you. Slots with high volatility are the complete opposite. There will be many more “dead” spins between each winning spin, and the payout frequency can be super low. In return, once you do win, you often win much bigger than you would in a low volatility game.
Some slots have low variance, others are highly volatile, while many are somewhere in between. What you prefer to play is entirely up to you as it mainly comes down to the RTP anyways. Many experienced players prefer to play slots with high volatility, as they like going for those really huge wins. But if you’re a new player who is looking to play for a while, low or medium variance games might be your best bet. Just remember one thing: don’t fall into the “gambler’s fallacy” trap. Regardless if a slot has been “hot” or “cold”, it won’t impact the upcoming spins and increase the RTP or your chances of winning.