Online Slots Strategy
There is very little denying it: online slots are the most popular choice of casino game among online gamblers. While table games like poker and blackjack still hold their own incredibly well, the sheer variety of online and video slots makes them massively appealing. Some are simple, with only 3 reels featuring old-school imagery like bars and cherries, while others pack a punch with 5 reels or more, stunning animations and captivating audio. Now, using the word ‘strategy’ alongside online slots might be something of a misnomer. Reputable online casinos boast the use of Random Number Generators on all their machines, so playing online slots with the idea that doing this or that will result in a massive win might leave you disappointed. But, there are ways in which you can maximise your game time and, thus, your winning potential. This guide will clarify and highlight some tips.
Vary Your Bet Sizes
Unless you’re playing for a jackpot win on a progressive online slot, there’s no need to dive straight into max bets and select all paylines. As a general rule, you should try and limit your bet sizes to approximately 1% of your bet balance. That’s the first rule of thumb in terms of extending your game time. On some online slots games, the paylines are fixed, so if you’re still new to the scene, rather find a game on which you can select just how many paylines you wish to make use of. Whatever size your stake per coin, this will be multiplied by the number of active paylines. So, if you’re betting 1 coin at 0.50 and have activated 10 paylines, your total stake per spin will be 5.00 credits. Easy enough, right? Of course, online slots also give you the option of increasing the number of coins per spin, so for 5 coins of 0.50 being bet on 10 paylines, the total stake per spin will be 25.00 credits. That’s a significant difference! It takes one quick look at the paytable of any online slots game to understand that the higher the odds, the bigger the potential win. But take it slow, play around with those coins and paylines, and find a bet level that works well for you and your bankroll. Mixing up the bet sizes across spins can also keep you playing for longer.
The Difference Between Bet Sizes and Coin Sizes
One would think that playing an online slots game would simply involve selecting the size of a bet and pushing ‘spin’, and in some cases it could well be so. But, as we have seen above, there is a lot of correlation between paylines, coin values, number of coins being wagered and the payout potential. Coin values and bet sizes can be confusing at first, but playing around a bit will quickly show you how easy it is to understand.
Let’s say you select a coin value of 0.10. You might think you’re only betting 0.10 credits per spin. This may well be the case if you’re playing with only 1 coin and 1 payline, but it helps to remember that coin value and bet size are not the same thing. Selecting a max bet of 5 coins with that same value and activating 15 paylines will result in a bet size of 7.50 credits. Up the value of those same coins to 5 and you’re looking at a staggering 375 credits being bet per spin. As above, play around - mix things up, wiggle those buttons and bet sizes a bit and find a level that feels right for you.
Choosing a Slot
Advising someone on the best slot machine to play is akin to telling someone else what colour their living room should be – without having even met them. In simple terms: find one that you like. Find a hundred that you like. The options are almost limitless. But, it also helps to consider what kind of experience you’re after. If you’re chasing a win of a million or more, then you’ll want to go straight to progressive online slots games like Mega Moolah. These beloved games will see a percentage of every wager being added to the jackpot pool. Betting on max bet across all paylines could see you walking away an instant millionaire, but always bear in mind the kind of bankroll you are prepared to stake.
3-reel slots are a favourite amongst players who prefer a simple and straightforward experience. Here, there are more limited options in terms of bet sizes and complex paytables, as well as an absence of bonus rounds, and while the payout potential may not be as awe-inspiring as some of the newer video slot machines, the chances are that you’ll actually be playing for longer. So, that’s also something to consider: are you playing for fun or are you after massive winnings? Of course, there’s no reason you can’t go for both, but being hasty or greedy won’t work to your advantage.
5-reel video slot machines are the most popular, given that they are often jam-packed with bonus features and free spins rounds, keeping them immersive and fun. Whatever kind of theme you like, you’re sure to find a video slot that has it.
Understanding Slot Machine Symbols
While there are probably thousands – if not millions – of different symbols across all of the slot machines ever created, there are a few basics and standards to look out for and understand. Any slot machine worth its spins will offer up a comprehensive paytable, clearly citing the different game symbols and how they function. In summary, the most common ones you’ll find include:
In those online slots games that offer bonus and free spins rounds, the Scatter symbol is clearly demarcated. Most commonly, landing at least 3 Scatters across the reels will trigger a free spins round (or different kind of bonus round), which may or may not be re-triggered if more Scatters are landed during such a round. Depending on the pay structure of the slot (paylines or ways-to-win) Scatters might have to land in certain combinations or positions in order to trigger anything special.
As with Scatters, most online slots games will feature Wild symbols. Much as the joker might do in a deck of cards, these symbols stand in and substitute for other symbols across the reels to help you form winning combinations. Often, the only symbol they cannot stand in for is the Scatter. Many video slots up the ante even further by adding special features to the Wild symbols, and you can see some pretty impressive wins pile up, or crash onto your screen.
A quick glance at the paytable of an online slot will show you which symbols are high-value and which are low-value. Depending on the theme of the game, all of these game symbols could be stylised as various, relevant items or images. Most of the time, though, the low-value symbols are simply stylised as the standard card suits A, J, Q and K. Sometimes you’ll see 9 and 10, but hardly ever lower than that.
Multipliers and Bonus Symols
Some online slots can be incredibly complex and complicated in terms of their bonus features. While the aforementioned symbols are the most common, you may often stumble across an online slot that features special symbols which will activate an interactive bonus round (a common one is having to select various items on screen to reveal hidden prizes) or multiply your stake by an impressive amount.
Understanding Slot Volatility or Variance
You may or may not have heard about the ‘volatility’ of online slots, but it’s an important concept to learn and bear in mind when determining what kind of experience you’re after. Of course, no one is going to advertise whether an online slots game has a low, medium or high volatility, but you can quickly see for yourself. Reputable online casinos will have customer support teams, who can quickly tell you what the volatility of a specific game is. If the word ‘volatility’ confuses you, consider it the same concept as the ‘risk’ of a game.
Low Volatility Slots
Low volatility slots are the perfect option for those players who are looking to play for a longer period of time, and who prefer to place lower bets. Low volatility games are those which pay out very often, but in small increments. As such, you’re unlikely to hit a massive win, but the wins you do incur will keep boosting your bankroll and keep you playing for longer. What’s more, you’re less likely to get frustrated by endless sets of spins with no wins. You’ll win, for sure, but just enough to keep you spinning at the same bet level.
Medium Volatility Slots
Medium volatility slots are quite self-explanatory, now that you know a little bit about how volatility works. In short, these games occupy something of a middle ground between games that pay out often but in small amounts, and games that pay out less often, but in bigger increments. These kinds of slots are great for players who are looking for a little more excitement as opposed to a lengthy session of play, and are also better suited to someone with a bigger budget.
High Volatility Slots
High volatility slots are, in short, games that pay out less often than low or high volatility games, but when they do, they pay out big! These are the high-risk, high-thrills options of the online slots world, and can see you earning some massive rewards – now and then. Best suited to players with a lot of patience, a big bankroll and a willingness to put their wagers on the line.
Know When to Stop Playing
As previously stipulated, there is no such thing as a ‘strategy’ when it comes to online slots. Educating yourself on the correlations between coin values and bet sizes, as well as paylines and volatility will go a long way in helping you find an online slots game that works for you. As any casino will tell you, though, the primary focus should be on your entertainment. You have a responsibility unto yourself to only bet within a budget that is comfortable for you, and to know when to stop. If you look at online slots and other casino games as something that will give you a ‘return on your investment’, you’re looking to be highly disappointed. Find a game that looks and feels right, determine the kind of experience – and thereby, volatility – you’re after, and have fun. If you win, great. If not, don’t find yourself chasing losses. Slots can provide hours of endless entertainment, but as with anything, practice moderation and enjoy yourself responsibly.