The different types of wild symbols you might see in slots

You don’t have to know anything about slots to play them.

The wilds expanding in Book of Ra.
The wilds they are expandin’ in Book of Ra.

Just click that ‘spin’ button and you won’t be doing anything different to the most seasoned player.

Sure, there are things you can do to improve your experience, like choosing the right slot, managing your bankroll, setting loss limits and time limits, for example, but fundamentally it is you versus the house via the click of a button.

But actually knowing what is going on is going to add so much more to your gameplay.

If you know what symbols trigger the bonus round, which symbols pay the most, or which combinations give you free spins, the sense of anticipation becomes greater as those reels land.

Wild symbols feature in most slots – so knowing what they can offer help you understand what’s going on so much more.

What are wild symbols

Let’s get back to basics.

Cleo’s Wish Wild
The wild symbol in Cleo’s Wish

The ‘wild card’ is a term that goes back to card games, and is one that can substitute for all other playing card symbols, such as to complete a run in poker, for example.

The ‘deuces wild‘ poker variant is a common example of this.

The wild symbol is usually a symbol which can substitute for another. So let’s take a classic three reel slot, that pays out if a row of ‘cherry’ symbols land on a reel.

If reels one and two land cherries, with the third landing a wild, then the machine will pay out as if three cherries have landed.

That usually is the fundemental purpose for the wild symbol. Not always – and some slots don’t even have wilds, but that is usually the core function.

If you only know that, that will take you far – but wild symbols can get more involved than that – they behave differently, they take a life of their own and offer interesting bonuses and perks.

Before we get in to the different wilds you might encounter, it is worth saying that for each slot there is information, clickable from the gameboard itself which details what the wild symbols do.

These paytables are not always the clearest at explaining how the wild symbols work, so if you can, it is always best to try the game in demoplay mode first to really get a feel for them.

The stacked wild

The stacked wild is a pretty common wild feature. The wilds stack on top of each other to fill or part fill the reel vertically. This leads to greater winning possibilities.

An example of a stacked wild in Steam Tower, by Yggdrasil.
An example of a stacked wild in Steam Tower, by Yggdrasil.

The wilds fill more of the reel, meaning that the modern video slots criss-crossing, zig-zagging paylines are more likely to be triggered by them.

Stacked wilds can also leverage free spins in separate bonus games, or generate re-spins when the wilds stay in place will the rest of the reels spin, with the chance of some wins.

WHERE TO PLAY: You can try Steam Tower at Mr Green Casino.

Expanding wilds

Expanding wilds are another common form of wild symbol.

Starburst Wild Symbols
Starburst has expanding wilds

These, as the name suggests, sees the wild expand across reels, to boost the win potential.

The wild will takeover symbols either to the side and/or above and below it – usually accompanied by some animation and sound effects.

Some games can see wild symbols expand to fill the entire gameboard – and if there’s multiplier in place which can boost the payline wins further – then expect a big payday.

WHERE TO PLAY: Starburst is available at a range of online casinos, but you can try Casumo or Power Spins Casino.

Sticky wilds

The final entrant to our common wild symbol types is the sticky wild.

As you might guess, the sticky wild stays locked in position while other reels spin. This is sometimes followed by more sticky wilds, and the win potential can really increase as more sticky wilds stay in place.

These tend to be more common in bonus rounds, like free spins round, rather than in the play of the base game.

Dead or Alive's sticky wilds occur in the bonus round - you can see the wild symbols static in place while the reels spin.
Dead or Alive’s sticky wilds occur in the bonus round – you can see the wild symbols static in place while the reels spin.

Many slots have sticky wilds, such as Yggdrasil’s Spina Colada, NetEnt’s Dead or Alive, or WMS gaming’s Black Knight 2.

WHERE TO PLAY: You can check out Spina Colada and Dead or Alive at Videoslots Casino.

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