Guide to Playing Real Money Online Slot Games
The best online casino experience is not complete without a spin on the slots. With stunning graphics, immersive gameplay and a super-smooth user experience there’s a game for every player.
Our must-read guide will help you to pick the right game and online casino for you, and avoid any first time mistakes when playing.
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Slots were invented back in 1887, and have taken the casino world by storm. Reels are the main unit of slots, as they hold all the different symbols that line up into ‘paylines.’
When slots were first invented, reels were actual physical things, while nowadays they are mostly digital representations of old-fashioned reels.
It is easy to play online slots, as the player only needs to determine the amount they want to bet per line and the number of lines they wish to bet on (if it isn’t fixed).
Then, you press the spin button and a few seconds later, random symbols will stop on the screen and, depending on where they land, the system determines if you get paid and how much.
History of Slots
There is a difference of opinion as to who came up with the first slot machine. Some believe that Charles Fey was the original inventor, with his Liberty Bell machine dating back to 1887. Others believe that two men, Pitt and Sittman, were the first to the market in 1891, and Fey only came later, in 1895.
Fey’s machine was much more similar to the slot machines we see at today’s casino, especially in the classic slots group. The other one featured 50 playing cards on five drums (reels), with each drum containing 10 cards.
Both machines had the same working mechanism, requiring players to pull a lever to initiate a spin. This is why original slots were quickly named ‘one armed bandits,’ a name that has stuck to this day, even though levers are rarely found with any of the modern-day slot machines.
What made the Liberty Bell machine more popular with players was the fact there were fewer combinations and it was easier to keep track of what was going on. Furthermore, Fey developed a system of automatic coin payments, which is said to have made all the difference in the world for the first slots players.
Seeing how popular slots were with players, many companies got involved, looking to build on the original system. Liberty Bell was fun, but it was pretty basic, and there was a lot of room for improvement.
In 1963, Bally Manufacturing (a company that still operates today) launched Money Honey, the first completely electronic slot machine. This game was the predecessor of video slots we know and love today. Video slots dispensed with physical reels completely, using computer software instead. These games easily found their way to the internet when the first online casinos started to become popular in the early 1990s.
How to Play Slots Like an Expert
Stick to these simple principles and you will be playing slots like a pro in no time:
Know the RTP
Every slot out there offers you an overview of different types of symbol combinations and their respective payouts. All of these different combinations are known under the common name ‘slot paytable.’ If you want to play slots properly and have the most fun, the first thing you should do when playing a new slot is checking out and understanding the paytable. While you can’t influence the outcome of any particular spin, knowing what pays what and how you get to the bonus feature is half the fun.
The term ‘RTP’ stands for ‘Return To Player’ and it is one of the most important pieces of information you need to know about a slot. In short, RTP determines how much money that goes into the slot machine will be returned to the players. For example, a slot with 96% RTP will return £/€/$96 for every £/€/$100 that goes into it. Of course, you need to understand that this number relates to a long period, and during any particular sessions, you can win heaps with your $100 or lose a few hundred without the slots ever paying you. However, if you want to play like a pro and play often, you should stick to slot machines with high RTPs (96%+).
Don’t Chase Losses
One thing people often do when they start losing at a particular slot machine is upping their bets to try and quickly make back what they had lost. You shouldn’t do this, as triggering the bonus game on a higher wager isn’t a guarantee of bigger wins. If you’re stuck and want to continue playing, just stick to your usual wager and grind it out. Eventually, the bonus will come and then it is down to luck how much you’ll win. Increasing the bet will only hurt your bankroll and help you lose faster.
Slots are based entirely on the luck of the draw, which means that once you press that spin button, the RNG (Random Number Generator) will determine the outcome of that spin based on a number of factors you have no control over.
This means that there is no actual strategy that will give you an edge over the slot machine, as it will always end up keeping the percentage of bets it was programmed to keep.
However, if you play smart and adjust your bets to the amount of money you have available for playing, you’ll give yourself the best odds to get lucky.
For example, if you have £/€/$100 and play£/€/$0.50 per spin, you’ll have plenty of spins to trigger the bonus or get a big payline. If you play £/€/$10 a spin with the same amount, it will usually be gone before you know it, and you won’t even have fun.
Every slot machine these days is governed by the Random Number Generator, which determines the outcome of every spin. Symbols that line up on the screen are the visual representation of that outcome and the paytable is your guide to how much you get to win for any particular combination.
Once you know this, there aren’t that many rules you need to know to play slots. Once you pay in the money, there are buttons at the bottom or on the sides of the screen, which let you determine the number of paylines you’d like to play, the amount of money you want to bet per line, and, in some cases, buttons to turn on extra features.
When you have everything set up to your liking, you can either press or click the spin button manually or, with most slots, you can use the ‘Auto Play’ function, which will spin the reels for a predetermined number of spins or until you manually cancel it.
Types of Slots
Although slots can be categorized using different variables, the most common categorization is the one featuring three groups: classic slots, video slots, and (progressive) jackpot slots.
Classic slots were the first slot machines to appear in live casinos and some of them made it to online casinos as well. They usually feature three reels with one or three rows and between one and five paylines. The graphic and sound elements of these games are pretty basic, and bonus features, if there are any, are quite simple.
Video slots are the successors of classic slots and they came about with the advancement of technology, which gave game designers a lot of room to improve things.
Video slots don’t use actual reels but rather computerized graphic representations of reels ruled by the software. Video slots usually have at least five reels and three rows, and the number of paylines is between nine and several thousand in some cases. Additionally, bonus features are much more exciting, with cool animations and details, significantly improving the gaming experience.
Jackpot slots can be both classic and video slots, although most of them belong to the latter category. These are slots where players can win a big amount of money if they line up a certain combination, go all the way in the bonus game or, sometimes, just randomly.
The difference between standard and progressive jackpot slots is that standard jackpots feature a fixed amount of money that a player can win, usually directly connected to the size of their wager.
Progressive jackpots increase slightly with every bet played on that machine or any of the same-type machines across many online casinos. The amount you can win isn’t connected to the size of your wager, which makes progressive slots very popular. Many players have won millions playing $0.25 a spin on games such as Mega Moolah or Mega Fortune.
Win at Online Slots – Our Top Tips
“Keep in mind that you’re always playing against the odds when playing slots and only play for as long as you’re having fun.”
“Always stick to slot machines with high RTPs to give yourself the best winning chances over a long period of time.”
“Check out the paytable of a new slot before you start. It might not make a huge difference in terms of winning or losing, but you’ll have much more fun.”
There are no hot or cold slots, every spin is totally independent on the previous one, and whatever happened on the last spin has no bearing on what will happen on the next one.
Try switching your wager up and down, as you play to try and get lucky and win more, but don’t get carried away and play too high for too long.
Do people really win big with slot games?
The simple answer is – yes!
A slot player hit a jackpot of nearly $5 million just two hours after signing up online slots and depositing $25. That win came just five days after another player at the same online casino won another life-changing sum of $3.47 million.
They were not strategists using complex computer data to improve the odds, nor were they high rollers staking vast amounts of cash across a range of systems. They were just two regular people who happened to hit the right numbers in a few quiet moments.
The first player returned from a nightshift to play on the slot machines at his online casino before turning in.
When he realised he’d won the Mega Fortune online slot jackpot, he couldn’t wait to wake up his partner to tell her about the life changing sum of money they suddenly had.
He hit the $3.47 million jackpot soon after starting playing with a mere $2.67 spin. “I woke my partner up and said, ‘Hey, I think I’ve won £2.8 million (UK pound sterling equivalent),’” said the winner, from Sweden. “She had a bit of a shock there, in the middle of the night.”
Chatting with a Casumo representative he also spoke about thinking how nice it would be to win a big jackpot while walking home from his nightshift. After he had eaten, he decided to log into his Casumo account on a whim and the rest, as they say, is history.
The astonishing thing about Casumo’s second big winner, aged 30, was not just that he was two hours into his online casino experience before scooping the prize, but he also staked just a little over $1 for the spin. He wagered the money on Mega Fortune Dreams, where he not only won the prize, but broke the Casumo jackpot record.
The payout was in Euros, at €4,621,607.81, and he was playing mobile slots on what he must now refer to as the best online slots game around.
“Both winners said they couldn’t believe they had become millionaires overnight,” said the Casumo representative Sonja, who contacted the lucky winners. “I could hear sheer joy in their voices.”
We’ve heard a little about progressive slots already, but what exactly is involved? In terms of gameplay mechanics and appearance, these slots are the same as the everyday video (and, sometime, classic) slots you’ll find at any online casino out there. They are slot machines with symbols, paylines, bonus features, etc.
However, one thing that makes these slot machine games different from the common variety games is the jackpot that accumulates and grows over time. The more popular the game, the bigger the progressive jackpot, as with every wager placed, the amount to be won increases ever so slightly. While these are very small increments on their own, they add up quickly, especially with highly popular games.
Here’s how it works. Any slot can be deemed progressive by an online casino or a game supplier. Usually, there will be what is called the “seed” amount, i.e. the starting amount of the jackpot before any spins are played. For more popular games, the seed usually starts at around $250,000+, but there are many smaller games that seed at $20,000 or so.
Once the slot is made progressive, every bet that everyone plays on that particular casino (or a network of casinos when it comes to progressive slots by game providers), will contribute to the overall slots jackpot. As people play, the progressive amount increases, until it is won by a lucky player, at which point the jackpot resets to its seed value.
There are multiple ways a progressive slots jackpot is awarded. Sometimes, it is given out randomly; sometimes, a player needs to trigger a special feature during which the jackpot can be won. It is up to the game developer to determine how they want this to happen.
How to Play Progressives Like an Expert
Stick to these 4 simple principles and you will be playing progressive slots like a pro in no time:
Check the RTP
The RTP (Return To Player) denotes the percentage of all wagers taken in by a slot that are returned to the player. Slots usually only keep a small amount of money, while the rest is distributed back to the players. With these slots, however, this number is usually a couple of percentages lower than with regular slots, because the huge jackpot amount skews the numbers. Even if the RTP isn’t particularly low, the bulk of winning potential is contained in the jackpot, which means these games are often very volatile and require a bigger bankroll.
Play Bigger Bets
Although you can win progressive jackpots playing the smallest of bets, your chances of winning will usually go up as you increase your wager. This isn’t to say you should play beyond your means, but if you are chasing a progressive jackpot, you should play as high as your bankroll allows.
Target High Jackpots
As a lot of value from playing progressive slots comes from the potential of scoring the huge win, you should play the most when the jackpot amount is very high. There are many progressive jackpot slots out there, so you can almost always find one that hasn’t hit in a while and have at it. Don’t stick to just one game because you like the way it looks. After all, your primary agenda is winning money.
Win at Progressives – Our Top Tips
“Progressives are usually more volatile than the regular casino slots.”
“Playing bigger bets isn’t required, but it will increase your chances of winning a progressive jackpot.”
“The time to play the most is when a jackpot hasn’t been won in a while and has grown big.”
Live Progressive Jackpots
How to Improve Your Chances of Winning
We won’t pretend there is a secret formula we’ll give you that’ll let you win a progressive jackpot every few months or so. However, if you are intent on winning, there are ways to increase your chances.
We’ve already mentioned it, but here it is again. If you are chasing a progressive jackpot, play as high as you can afford it. Although this gives you only a slight boost, that’s pretty important if you are after a $1,000,000+ amount. Don’t go crazy and burn through your bankroll in a matter of minutes, though – keep it balanced.
As for the bankroll, get your casino account well-funded. The slots aren’t particularly famous for paying small and frequently, so you can expect some volatility coming your way if you plan on grinding a particular progressive slot for a while. Have your money prepared and don’t sweat it. Try to keep it fun and don’t put in money you can’t afford to lose. As long as you’re playing within your means, you are fine.
Another thing you could do is look for less-known progressive jackpots. Everybody grinds games like Mega Moolah, Mega Fortune, and Hall of Gods. If you can find a few slots that aren’t as popular, you’ll have much less competition. The downside is that the amount you stand to win is usually smaller as well.
Progressive Slot Rules
If you’ve ever played regular casino slots, progressive slots are exactly the same in terms of rules. Before you start, you’ll choose the amount you wish to wager per line, the number of lines (although progressives often come with a fixed number of lines), and you’ll be good to go. You can either play by pressing the spin button every time or playing in the auto-play mode.
On each spin, the slot will randomly generate the combinations of symbols which may or may not create winning paylines. All wins are paid according to the paytable.
The main difference between progressive and traditional slots is the jackpot element. Every slot is different in the way it awards the jackpot, and you should probably get familiar with these rules – if nothing else, it will help you have a better time while playing.
Sometimes, you’ll need a special combination of symbols or certain number of scatters to land if you want to trigger the jackpot games. Sometimes, the slot will randomly decide to award you the progressive jackpot without any hint beforehand.
Types of Progressive Slot
All progressive slots are similar in the way they operate, but there are a few different types you need to know about if you’re serious about claiming that big win one day.
Standalone progressive slots are usually only found at land-based casinos, as digital casinos let players play an almost unlimited number of online slots on the same machine.
With these slots, the jackpot accumulates over time but it only adds the money from wagers placed on that particular machine, which means these usually don’t grow as big as the other types.
Often, these types of slots have to pay out once they reach a certain number, so if that number is closing in, it might be a good idea to put your grinding shoes on.
Local (or in-house) progressive slots are slots that accumulate the jackpot from the wagers placed on the particular machine type located at the property or at an online casino. For example, at an online casino, all the different instances of the same slot will contribute to the progressive jackpot.
Wide area or network slots are the most lucrative ones, as they gather money from all the wagers placed on a particular slot type across the network of land-based casinos or all online casinos featuring a particular slot. Many of the most popular games by NetEnt, Microgaming, and Playtech belong to this category.
History of Progressive Slot
Casino slot machines started their climb to stardom during the 1980s, becoming the leading source of revenue for casinos around the globe. With slot games becoming increasingly popular and casinos on the lookout to appeal to their customers, they came up with the idea of progressive jackpots.
These came about as a competitor to state lotteries, which were by far still the most played games out there, offering a shot at winning life-changing money. In 1986, Megabucks slot was launched by IGT, with the same basic idea. The Megabucks network linked a number of slots together using modem technology, offering a constantly growing jackpot which seeded at $1,000,000.
From there, the idea of progressive slots continued to grow and develop, with more and more casinos and chains offering their own variations, with bigger or smaller amounts to be won and interesting features that kept players coming back for more.
With the advent of online casinos, the idea naturally transferred to the internet, where implementing such principles was even easier, and the player reach was much bigger, creating a potential for huge wins.
Advanced Tips for progressive slots
Play for the big money – go after progressive jackpots that haven’t hit in a while and offer huge amounts to lucky winners.
Don’t get frustrated – chasing a jackpot can be a tricky business and you need to stay realistic about it and not lose your cool.
Only chase jackpots at trustworthy casinos – you don’t want to finally get lucky and hit big only to get scammed out of your winnings.
Does return to player (RTP) matter with online slots?
There are thousands of different online slots available these days.
Most players have their favorites based on the theme, bonus features, and the overall gameplay.
However, there is one detail that’s often overlooked when talking about slots, and that’s how much they actually give back to the player.
As mentioned, RTP (Return To Player) is usually expressed in percentages, i.e. how big of a percentage of all the money it takes in a certain slot pays back.
While there is nothing wrong with playing certain slots simply because you like the way they look, sound, and feel, if your goal is primarily getting the highest chance of making your money back, it’s worth picking slots with a high RTP.
What are the top ten return to player (RTP) slots available to play now?h3>
10. Steam Tower by NetEnt (97% RTP)
NetEnt’s Steam Tower takes players back to the Victorian era, with a steampunk edge. Gamers are placed in the role of unlikely hero, tasked with the dangerous mission of climbing a steam tower to save the princess from the vicious dragon.
This is one of the best online slots out there, as it is a lot of fun to play. The bonus feature triggers fairly regularly, and players get to enjoy a rather generous return of 97%.
Truly big wins are a rare sight with Steam Tower, but the slot is also unlikely to decimate your bankroll.
Where to play: NetEnt slots are available at a huge range of casinos, so you can pretty much take your pick. For example, Guts Casino has the game live now.
9. Fruit Warp by Thunderkick (97% RTP)
Fruit Warp is a new slots game with an interesting theme and overall concept.
Instead of classic reels, players need to match three or more of the same fruits, with a new batch of fruits flying onto the screen with every new spin.
The game has a nice 3D feel to it and it’s a great choice whenever you need a change of pace, which has made it quite popular with players.
Fruit Warp has a pretty high RTP of 97%, so there’s plenty of reason to give it a try if you haven’t already.
Where to play: Casumo Casino has this slot game live to play now.
8. Big Bad Wolf by Quickspin (97.35% RTP)
As the name suggests, Quickspin’s Big Bad Wolf draws on the story about the Three Little Pigs.
The game can be very exciting at times, as exploding symbols and piggy symbols being upgraded to wilds can frequently lead to big wins and a huge number of completely free spins even in the base game.
Big Bad Wolf features an RTP of 97.35%, so if you’re in the mood for a game with high returns and a big winning potential, this slot is the perfect choice.
Where to play: this slot is widely available, including at Unibet Casino.
7. Esqueleto Explosivo by Thunderkick (97.6% RTP)
Although many high RTP games have been around for a few years now, Thunderkick’s Esqueleto Explosivo is fairly new, and it’s certainly taken the gambling world by storm.
This new slots game features colorful graphics and explosive animations, as well as many hilarious details, such as skeletons playing guitars, singing, and dancing.
This slot has a very unusual number of 17 paylines. It also features an RTP of 97.6%, which is a rare find.
Where to play: This game is available to play at Mr Green Casino.
6. Kings of Chicago by NetEnt (97.8% RTP)
NetEnt seems to be the leading game provider when it comes to machines with high returns.
Kings of Chicago is an older slot combining traditional elements with the game of poker.
Instead of lining up symbols, players try to land winning poker combinations such as full houses, flushes, etc.
Although Kings of Chicago is also somewhat lesser-known game, it features a very high RTP of 97.8% and it’s a great choice for players who also enjoy an occasional game of poker here and there.
Where to play: This can be played across a range of NetEnt casinos, including bgo Casino.
5. Blood Suckers by NetEnt (98% RTP)
Blood Suckers is a legendary real money slots game among experienced casino players due to its high RTP and low volatility.
The game features a standard setup with 25 paylines across five reels and the ever-popular vampire theme.
With a high RTP of 98% and a couple of bonus features that trigger fairly regularly, Blood Suckers doesn’t often pay big.
However, frequent small wins can have you spinning those reels for hours, even on a small bankroll.
Where to play: Blood Suckers can be played almost everywhere, but you can try bet365 Casino, where it is available to play now.
4. 1429 Uncharted Seas by Thunderkick (98.6% RTP)
Thunderkick’s 1429 Uncharted Seas slot doesn’t feature any spectacular graphics or visual elements, but it still looks pretty decent, with 25 paylines set on the backdrop of an old, mysterious map.
More importantly, the game features an RTP of 98.6%, which means that on average it gives back $98.6 for every $100 it takes in. You’ll hardly find a video slot offering better conditions.
Where to play: Head over to Leo Vegas Casino for the best Thunderkick titles.
3. ChessMate by MultiSlot (98.7%)
ChessMate slot is a fairly unknown game with an interesting chess theme, which is something we don’t get to see too much in the world of gambling.
Some sites offering this game claim the theoretical RTP is 98.7%, which is extremely high. However, we must advise caution because the provider itself doesn’t disclose the actual RTP.
Where to play: Videoslots Casino carries Multislot titles.
2. Mega Joker by NetEnt (up to 99% RTP)
An old-fashioned game by NetEnt, Mega Joker looks, feels, and plays like classic fruit machines.
With only five paylines and classic symbols such as 7s, bells, lemons, and cherries, this game mostly appeals to players who have been around for a while.
The game features two different modes, a regular one and a super-mode.
It is when played in the super-mode that Mega Joker features this extremely high RTP of 99%, as line payouts for the highest value symbols are boosted significantly.
Where to play: You can try this at ComeOn Casino.
1. Barcrest Big Bet Machines (99% RTP)
Although fairly new to the market, Big Bet Machines have taken the world of online gambling by storm for a number of reasons, one of them being the extremely high return to player.
When played in big bet mode, games such as Monopoly Big Event or Ooh Aah Dracula have an astounding RTP of 99%.
The game mechanics slightly differ from traditional slots, but they’re easy to get used to, especially with such big returns.
Where to play: Try it at LeoVegas Casino.