Beginners Guide Playing Slots

Beginners Guide Playing Slots

Playing online slots is one of the most relaxing gaming experiences, as there are few decisions to make and plenty of ways to win. The popularity of online slots has grown significantly in recent years and now there are literally thousands of different variations of games online. The good news is that while most of the differences are aesthetics, the basics are all virtually the same. 

If you are new to the rush of online slots, here is a crash course to get you started:

The Basics of Online Slot Machines

One of the cool features of online slots is – in most cases – that you are able to play in practice mode to test things out. This is pretty useful if you are either new to the realm of online slots or new to a particular game. This gives you the opportunity to get to know the symbols, paylines and bonus rounds before you actually get going with real money. 


The first thing you will want to take note of is how many reels there are. Reels are what spin on slot machines and stop on a symbol. Classically, games have three reels but nowadays it is very common to see games with five, seven or nine reels. It makes things a little more entertaining when there are more reels, more symbols, and more action. 

To win money, the reels have to align in a way that produces a winning combination of the symbols. We’ll get into those in more detail, but in simple terms, if you see three cherries in a row or three 7’s, then you have won.


The easiest way to understand the payline is that it is a winning line. If the symbols align in a winning combination along a payline, that is how you win. The original slot machines had just one payline – the middle row – and you would win if there were three matching symbols across. Nowadays, online slots can have tons of paylines from horizontally to vertically to diagonally. Some games have more than 50 paylines, which gives you many different ways to win.


The symbols are the most visible part of the game as they are the images or icons that spin around the reel. How they align when they stop is what determines whether it is just another spin or whether you have hit the jackpot. 

Often times, the symbols will relate to the theme of a game. If it’s a game that’s focused on luxury, you might see sports cars, bills of money or big houses on the reels. If it’s something that’s related to horse racing, you will see thoroughbreds, jockeys and horseshoes. The classic symbols are cherries, 7’s and BAR. 

What’s fun is that there are so many varieties of games these days that you can choose whatever one for which you are in the mood. 

Different Types of Symbols

Before you get started, it’s a good idea to get to know the different types of symbols in a game. That’s not referring to the imagery. Different symbols might have different meanings. Generally speaking, you will probably figure it out within a few spins of action but it’s helpful to know what you’re looking for going in to the game.

The different types of symbols can include bonus symbols, free spin symbols, multiplier symbols, scatter symbols and the basic standard ones. Depending on the game, there could be others.

Having a bonus symbol pop up is one of the best parts of playing slots. That means that a bonus round is triggered and you are in for some fun. Bonus rounds play a bit differently but it’s usually your opportunity to hit it big. A bonus symbol can give you something as simple as a free spin or it can open up a second screen where you have opportunities to play for jackpots.

Free spin symbols are also quite welcome if you are the player because that means you get extra chances to win. Typically, you will need to see a couple of these symbols on the reel to get the free spins but once you do it’s a way for you to win without having to put in a coin for that round or rounds.

Multiplier symbols are also a welcome sight as they can really give your winnings a boost. If you are playing a game with multiplier symbols and you hit on a 2x or 3x, that means that for those rounds your winnings are multiplied by two or three times. 

Lastly, scatter symbols are symbols that don’t have to be on a payline. They can appear anywhere on the reels and still earn you a win.

As you can see, there are lots of different types of symbols. That’s why it’s a good practice to take a quick glance at the details of the game before you start spinning. If you are new to slots, this might seem like a lot to learn but even a novice player will get the gist of any game after a few spins.

How to Choose Your Game

So now that you know how to play, the question is which game do you want to play? One of the best features of online slots is the variety. And since you are online, you can change games at any time without having to move around and switch seats. 

If you can’t make up your mind, one of the best things to do is go for a test drive. Almost all online slots offer a practice or freeplay mode, which means you can go for a spin around the block with nothing to lose. In general, though, here’s what you should look for when picking a game:

Does it meet your budget?
Do you like the look and feel of the game?
What are the bonus rounds like?
How many reels and paylines are you looking for?
What’s the maximum jackpot?
Are there rewards?

Does it meet your budget?

All responsible players should have a budget in mind. When choosing your online slot, that should be part of your decision. Take note of the minimum and maximum bets and make sure it fits what you are looking for in a game. Some games can go as low as a penny per spin. That’s fun because it means you can play longer. 

Also take note of how many coins you can bet per round. Almost all slots let you bet one coin per spin but many allow you to bet much more, like three or five per spin. 

Do you like the look and feel of the game?

When it comes to look and feel, there are so many varieties out there that you can really find something that suits your tastes. From sports to adventures to medieval to space, there’s an online slot for every type of palette. And there are often multiple games in one realm. Make sure you are playing a game that looks sleek and has a fun feel to it. 

What are the bonus rounds like?

Bonus rounds are not available in all slots, so take note before you start. When they are available, they are the sweet spot of slots. A bonus round is usually a game within the game where you can really cash in. Some bonus rounds can lead to free spins, multiplier payouts or jackpots.

Make sure you read the rules to understand how bonus rounds are triggered and what you can win if you play to perfection. 

How many reels and paylines are you looking for?

One of the key differences in online slots are the reels and paylines. Some have just three reels and one payline, many others have seemingly endless ways to win. The main difference is simplicity. The classical three reel, one payline option is quite easy to understand. If you are new to slots and don’t feel like racking your brain, this is your best bet. If you are up for some adventure, try the games with more reels and more paylines. All it really means is you will have more ways to win with different directions (horizontal, vertical and diagonal) and more reels to do it. 

What’s the maximum jackpot?

And now we get to the good stuff. In the back of the mind of any online slots player is hitting the jackpot. That’s when you start jumping for joy and hugging the nearest human being. 

When you are examining your options, take note of the different types of jackpots offered. Some games will have a standard jackpot, others will have progressive jackpots, and some are triggered completely randomly. It’s a feeling of sheer euphoria when they do come through, so take a quick read through to find out exactly how you can trigger them before playing.

Are there rewards?

One of the best aspects of playing at an online casino are the rewards. Often times you will be welcomed with a big deposit bonus, which is a great way to get started. From there, you can earn rewards points or cash back based on how much you play. Read up on the details to see how you can collect those sweet extras.