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Slot Machine Basics for Beginners
Want to learn the basics? Here are the key things you need to know about slot machines before you play, either in a casino or online.
Every slot machine is composed of a series of reels. The number of reels is always odd, with machines having three, five, seven, or even nine reels. Each reel has various icons or symbols on it. You win money if, after the reels spin, they stop and align in a manner that results in a winning combination on one or more paylines.
The payline of a slot machine is composed of rows going across the reels from left to right. Paylines may be comprised of symbols that are all in the same row, or they may be in rows that fluctuate across the reels. Machines have from one to more than 50 paylines.
The symbols on a slot machine, which in essence align to make a winning combination of images across a payline, are in some way related to the theme of the machine. As an example, a machine with an adventure movie theme will include characters and other images from that movie, while one that is based on a sport will include images associated with the particular sport’s theme.
Some symbols have specified properties and include free spin, scatter, wild, and bonus symbols. Often machines will offer a certain number of free spins if two or three of the designated free spin symbols appear on one turn. Wild symbols are used to complete paylines, as they can become any other symbol that’s associated with the payout table.
Bonus symbols will usually send you into the bonus round and scatters may work in various ways. Scatters often influence the start of bonus rounds or your ability to win free spins.
In order to qualify for the maximum payout on a progressive slot machine, you have to make the maximum bet. It’s unwise to play a progressive if you cannot afford to make the top wager.
For many players how much they can win on one hit is a big factor. The size of the elusive jackpot can certainly attract a slot lover. Usually, the higher the jackpot, the less often a machine pays off and the more expensive it is to play. Thus, the size of your bankroll once again becomes a factor.
If you are driven to win a progressive jackpot, you will need the cash to do so. That’s because with most progressive machines you must make the maximum bet in order to qualify for the progressive. If you don’t make the max wager and you do manage to get the winning combination, you’ll win a smaller amount.
Before playing any slot machine, read the associated payout table that tells you what combination of symbols will result in you going to the bonus round, hitting a winning combination, or capturing free spins. It will also inform you of how much you will win on a given turn depending on the combination of symbols and how much you bet.
How Can You Win at Slots?
While there is no singular ‘magic trick’ that can result in a huge payout, a good start is understanding the way slots work. It’s also essential in helping you make smart gaming decisions, and ultimately getting the most out of your money.
Every slot machine has a paytable that explains winning combinations, how multipliers and bonus symbols work, and how to qualify for the big jackpot. Read a machine’s paytable before playing it for real money and when you hit a winning combination refer to the table again, so you understand how you won and how much you won.
Pay attention to the paytable on the slot you are playing. It’s easier to understand how you can win, and easier for you to pick the more lucrative slot.
Coins In/Coins Out
‘Coins in’ versus ‘coins out’ refers to a very important - and often misunderstood - fact about slot machine payout numbers. Payout tables list the number of units you may put into a machine, the coins in, and the number of units or coins you’ll receive if you hit a winning combination, the coins out.
As an example, if a certain winning combination for slot machine offers 400 coins out for one coin in, 800 coins out for two coins in, and 1200 coins out for three coins in, how much cash you make depends on the size of coin you’re using.
If you use a cent when you play and you bet the maximum of three coins and win, you’ll get 1,200 cents or $12, but if you play the same number of coins but instead of cents use dollars, you’d win $1,200. The size of the unit used increases your risk, but it also increases your potential payout.
What are Random Number Generators?
A major slot machine element that influences how you win at slots is the ‘random number generator’ or ‘RNG’. For many players, the RNG is a slot machine secret they simply do not understand. Some basic knowledge about how RNGs work will certainly help you become a better player.
All slot machine outcomes are controlled by an RNG that is pre-set at the factory where the machine is made. RNGs are constantly running even when a slot machine is at rest; they don’t just spring into action when you spin the reels.
What is Return to Player Percentage?
A major difference between land-based and online slots is the ‘return to player percentage’, which is usually called the return to player’ or ‘RTP’. Knowing about this percentage is an important factor in determining how to win at slots.
The RTP percentage is an important factor when it comes to choosing which slots you play. Would you rather play a machine with an RTP of 92% or 99%?
The answer is 99% because that machine is offering back to players $0.99 of every $1.00 bet.
Slot Payouts and Bonus Rounds
Payout rate (variance)
Knowing the payout rate is also important, as this will help you know what to expect from a certain machine. A slot machine that pays out often, that has a low variance, will usually offer players many small prizes.
On the other hand, a slot machine that is stingier with the number of times it pays out, which is said to have a high variance, will often offer up bigger prizes.
As far as winning at slots is concerned and extended playing time, low variance slows, those that offer more but smaller payouts will usually extend your playing time. Playing high variance machines, because they pay out less often, may reduce the amount of time you spend at a machine, but they offer more potential for a big payday.
Not all slot machines have bonus rounds, although these rounds are quite common with newer machines. A bonus round is triggered by a specific combination of symbols, often when three or more bonus symbols appear on the reels.
When this occurs, you’ll be awarded with free spins and taken to a new screen where you’ll use these spins. The number of spins you’re rewarded with is determined by how many bonus symbols come up.
The more bonus icons you hit, the more free spins you’ll receive. When you’re in the bonus round prizes are usually multiplied by two or three times the normal amount. In some bonus rounds, you can earn even more free spins! To win at slots, play machines that offer bonus rounds as these can pay off in a major way.
Qualifying for progressive payouts
If you are going to play a progressive online slot machine, you’ll want to know that the secret to winning the jackpot is to bet the maximum amount. Most progressive machines will not pay the full jackpot amount unless the player has wagered the max. If you cannot make the big bet, then you’re probably better off playing a slot with lower stakes and a lower variance.
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