Base Game – A base game in slots is simply the basic slots game that you will play most often. In some slots, you can win the jackpot from within the base game, however in slots that are more modern, you often have to land a specified pattern of symbols to unlock a bonus game in order to win the top prize.
Bonus Game – A bonus game is a continuation game on from the base game. In bonus games, players will often be awarded bonuses, such as free spins and/or multipliers which will increase their chances of a big win. Bonus games can be triggered randomly throughout slots, or when certain symbols, usually three or more scatter symbols, land across the reels. Free spins are usually one bonus game with other simple games of chance forming the basis for many others. A single slot machine can have none, one or several bonus games depending on the complexity of the slot.
Free Spins – Free Spins are often used in slot games to reward players for landing certain combinations of symbols across the reels (usually at least three or more scatter symbols). The player is then awarded a stated number of free spins, which can be a randomly selected number, or predetermined depending on the slot in question. During free spins, the player does not pay a stake and they can keep all money they win in this section. Free Spins bonuses also often offer the player a gateway to win the larger prizes on a slot and as such they are highly sought after by slot players.
Hot/Cold Machine – A slot game that appears to be paying out more money than it has done so in the past, or is expected by its payout percentage, is said to be a hot machine. The opposite of this, a machine that is not paying out much money, is called a Cold Machine. Slots may also be stated to be playing Loose (paying out frequently) or Tight (paying out little) in addition to these terms.
Jackpot – The jackpot is the largest amount of money that can be won in a single spin of the slot machine. Jackpots can vary from just a few dollars on some machines, to millions of dollars on the large progressive jackpot slots like Mega Moolah.
Multipliers – When a player enters a bonus round or free spins section of a slot, he may have his winnings increased by the award of a multiplier. A multiplier is stated in the form of an open-ended multiplication calculation 2x, 3x, 4x and so on. Multipliers can be increased by players landing certain symbols or combinations during their bonus round and the higher their multiplier the greater their winnings at the end of the round. When the end of the round is complete, the players’ winnings are then multiplied by the multiplier for a total win. So if a player wins 1,000 coins on a free spins round but also lands a 5x multiplier, they would win 5,000 coins.
Payline – A payline is the sequence of symbols read across the reels (usually from left to right but also on newer slots, from right to left) where if the player lands a winning combination and they have wagered money on that payline, they win. Slots can have from one to several thousand paylines depending on the game. A player must wager on a payline for it to become active. Slots may offer players the option to select which out of the available paylines on the slot the player wishes to wager on but in some slots the number of paylines is fixed for every spin.
Payout Percentage – A payout percentage is the amount of money that the slot typically pays out to players compared to the total amount of money it generates through play on the site. So for example, if a slot is advertised as having a payout percentage of 92.76%, this means for every $100 the machine takes in wagers, $92.76 of that $100 is paid out back to players on average.
Paytable – The paytable is simply the list of winning combinations and how much they will pay out for any given slot. It is usually displayed either on the same screen as the slot, or if space is too restricted, the paytable may be opened by clicking on a link to it from within the main interface of the slot.
Progressive – A progressive slot, or progressive jackpot slot, is a game where a player’s stake is split three ways. The majority goes towards the payout percentage, a smaller amount to the casino in profit and a small amount is contributed towards a central fund which all players contribute to for every spin of the slot across multiple casinos. This is the progressive jackpot fund and with every real cash spin on a chosen game, this progressive fund increases. Progressive games tend to offer bigger jackpots than non-progressive games ranging from a few hundred pounds, up to several million for the biggest progressive slots, such as Mega Moolah.
Reel – A reel is the name for the wheels which originally displayed the symbols in the traditional mechanised slots. Although in modern electronic online slots, the ‘reels’ are not physical reels, they are simply represented that way to complement the gameplay and give the software a slot game feel. Nowadays, all electronic slots have their symbols generated by a random number generator, rather than reels, but the name has remained in vogue due to the fact that games still display the results of the random number generator as symbols across reels. Wild symbol
Respin – There are two different kinds of respin features on slots:
- When a player hits a certain bonus or symbol or combination, the game is triggered to offer them a free spin of the reels without having to pay. Usually this follows the player having won a prize or similar. A respin is different to free spins in that a respin is a single event, and a player may have a large number of free spins.
- There are slot games that offer the option to respin single reels, e.g. Hot Ink or Reel Gems. This can work out to be a huge advantage whenever you feel like you’re very close to a win: Just respin the wheel that doesn’t fit into the winning pattern! Prizes for these respins usually vary and are determined by your odds of hitting a big win.
Scatter – A scatter, or scatter symbol, is a special symbol on a slot reel that when the player lands it, can generate them a guaranteed small cash prize. Scatter symbols’ main purpose however in many slots is to give players access to the Free Spins or Bonus Games from the Base Game. A player usually gains access to these games when they land three or more scatter symbols across the reels in a single spin.
Spin – Spin is the term that remains in use to this day to describe a single wager on a slot machine. It heralds from the days when mechanised slot machines actually involved the reels spinning before settling into their chosen pattern. While the software is programmed to make it look like reels are spinning on modern slots, it is only displayed in this way to maintain the feeling that this is a slot machine. Nowadays, the results of all modern slots ‘spins’ are actually the choices of the software’s random number generator. The results of this could be displayed in many other ways but slot players are most familiar with spins and reels, hence they remain in vogue to this day.
Stacked – In some slot games, a player can see a number of wild symbols stack on top of each other to increase the number of wild symbols on screen at any one time. This is known as Stacked Wilds and offers players a far greater chance of winning combinations. The more Wilds a player has stacked on reels, the more chances they have of hitting a big paying winning combination.
Volatility – Volatility refers to how a slot machine tends to pay out its customers. A slot that pays out its customers in small to medium amounts, but relatively frequently is known as a low volatility slot. A slot which does not pay out as often and only very small amounts is a highly volatile slot. Those also tend to award regular big payouts to lucky winners.
Ways to Win – Another name for paylines, ways to win describe the total number of possible combinations across the reels within a given slot that will give a player a chance to win. On recent slot games winning combinations don’t always have to be in a line anymore – so they are referred to as ways to win rather than paylines. Slots can have one Way to Win or Payline, or over 1,000, or anywhere in between those numbers.
Wild – A Wild symbol is a symbol on a reel that substitutes for any other symbol on the slot, bar a scatter symbol. A wild symbol can be used flexibly to produce winning combinations, it functions like a Joker. The more Wild symbols you have on screen following any given spin, the more chance you have of hitting one or more winning combinations. Wild symbols can also award the player other in game bonuses on some slots.