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Slot Machine Features

Slot machines used to offer a minimal number of features. You had 3 spinning reels with maybe 10 symbols on each, and if a certain combination of symbols lined up, then you won money or candy. (That’s right—candy. When slots were briefly made illegal, they used candy for prizes instead of money, which is why we have fruit symbols and bar symbols. The fruit represented the flavor of the candy, and the bars represented sticks of gum.)

Now, slots have all kinds of extras, including bonus games of varying complexity, free spin features, the opportunity to “gamble” on a prize you’ve just won, and progressive jackpots that are jaw-droppingly large. Symbols aren’t just symbols anymore, either. Now you have bonus symbols, multiplier symbols, scatter symbols, and wild symbols, The purpose of this page is to examine and explain some of the various features online slots might have.

progressive jackpots
progressive jackpots

Progressive Jackpots

A progressive jackpot is one which grows incrementally as players make bets into the slot machine game. A tiny percentage of each wager “fuels” the top jackpot. These games offer tougher odds than a fixed jackpot (or “flat-top”) machine, but the jackpots are tremendous. Megajackpots is one of the most famous progressive jackpot games, and it starts at $10 million and grows from there.

Some of these progressive jackpots are networked across multiple machines within a single casino, while others are networked via multiple casinos.

1024-ways-to-win
1024-ways-to-win

1024 Ways to Win

Back in the glory days of the mechanical pub fruit machine or one armed bandit, paylines were fairly simple, with the advent of modern computerised video slots, it is now possible for game designers to be far more creative with how slots form wining combinations. 1024 Ways to Win games do away with traditional paylines and instead grant you wins on any left to right symbol combo.

234-ways-to-win
234-ways-to-win

234 Ways to Win

Having given up on the idea of simply adding more and more paylines to a game, 243 Ways to Win was the first game format which offered players a win on a five reel slot game for any three matching symbol from left to right, the low variance style of these games please many casual slots players and they are now the most common slots in the gaming industry.

win both ways slots
win both ways slots

Win Both Ways

Most slot machines award winnings in the traditional left-to-right fashion, but an increasing number of casino games now award winnings based on both left-to-right and right-to-left combinations. These games are often referred to as “win both ways” or “2 way pay” slot machines and they are quite popular with casino players for obvious reasons.

autoplay
autoplay

Autoplay

Most online slots come with an autoplay feature, so you won’t have to work hard to find it. Once activated, the machine will play through spins over and over again, showing you the results and then moving on to the next spin. It’s a completely automated way to play a online slot. You simply hit the "autoplay" button which is located on the game screen

nudges
nudges

Nudges

Largely forgotten in the modern ways win format of both online and land casino slots it the classic nudge feature. Where the game, either randomly or through a special symbol, would allow you the option to move down a reel either singly or a multiple of times to possibly form a new winning combination, this was mostly manual, but some games featured auto-nudging too.

hold button
hold button

Fruit Machine Hold

Fruit Machine Hold is one of the mainstays of fruit machine play. Players are grandted random number of holds while playing these games and rewards varies depending on the game they're playing.

gamble button
gamble button

Gamble Features

Some bonus games feature a “gamble” option when special circumstances warrant it. The gamble feature is especially popular on slot machines from the UK, which are often called “fruit machines”. The most common (and simplest) version of the “gamble” feature is the option to predict the suit or the color of a playing card that’s shown on the video screen. If you guess right, you get to double the amount you just won, but if you’re wrong, you lose what you just won.

slot bonus games
slot bonus games

Bonus Games

My favorite feature on modern slot machines is the bonus game. These are special games (often video games) that are “unlocked” during gameplay by various combinations that you hit on the reels. One example of a bonus game is the Wheel of Fortune game on top of the ubiquitous slot machine game of the same name. That bonus game is so popular that I’ve read anecdotes about players who have won the progressive jackpot who were disappointed that they didn’t get to spin the wheel.

Online slots are particularly good at putting together bonus games. These often have storylines and plots. Of course, some games have simpler bonus games, like where you select one of five treasure chests on the screen, each of which has a dollar amount behind it. Bonus games do wonders in terms of holding a slot machine player’s attention.

Some bonus features include a skill element, while others are entirely random. Of course, triggering the bonus game is all about luck and has no skill element.

slot bonus symbols
slot bonus symbols

Bonus Symbols

Bonus symbols are the special symbols which actually trigger the bonus games we just discussed. Not all bonus symbols trigger bonus games exclusively though. Some of them might just trigger a number of free spins.

multiplier symbols
multiplier symbols

Multiplier Symbols

Multipliers are symbols which multiple your winnings by a specific amount. For example, if you have a multiplier symbol worth 2X, and it’s part of a winning combination, you get twice as much money as you would have without that multiplier symbol. Games featuring the multiplier symbols are very popular with slot players.

scatter symbols
scatter symbols

Scatter Symbols

Everyone knows that in order to win on a slot machine, you have to line up symbols in a certain order. Scatter symbols are special because they don’t have to fall within a payline to pay out to the player. No matter where they are on the screen, they pay out. Scatter symbols are also hugely popular with players.

coins and credits
coins and credits

Coins

Coins signify the amount that you are betting on each pay line, which added together gives you the amount you are betting on each spin. Betting 0.01 coins per pay line might be the equivalent of betting a penny, but if the slot has 100 lines, that is still equal to a dollar per spin. It's important to understand how much you will be wagering per spin, and you can adjust the number of pay lines or the coin amount per line to alter your stake. However, it's also important to remember that some slots require you to play the 'max bet' to be eligible for the jackpot. Click here to find out more about coins.

slot paytables
slot paytables

Pay Tables

Every slot machine has a pay table, and you should look at each one before you play the slot. Why? Because the pay table gives you all the information you need to understand how the slot works - and therefore improve your chances of winning. The pay table includes pay out amounts for each combination of symbols, details of Wild and Scatter symbols, Multipliers and Free Spins, and the combinations that will activate the bonus games within the slot. Some pay tables will even tell you what the expected RTP (Return to Player) percentage of the slot is, to give you an idea of your chances of winning.

slot paylines
slot paylines

Paylines

Pay lines are one of the fundamental features of all slot machines. The number of pay lines a slot has determines the number of ways you can win. The most basic games feature just one pay line, straight across the middle of the reels, while others can feature many more. For each pay line you select you will need to make an extra bet, so for games with 100 or more paylines you will need to be betting a minimum of 100 coins.

free spins
free spins

Free Spins

Free spins are obviously spins of the reels that you don’t have to pay for. These free spins are triggered in various ways though normally it involves hitting 3 or more free spin or scatter symbols on the reels. This is the simplest version of a “bonus game”. Many slots feature games where the free spins can be retriggered when playing the bonus game.

retrigger free spins
retrigger free spins

Retriggering

Retriggering essentially means launching the bonus game again, and this is a favourite feature among slots players as it often leads to very big wins. A free spins round is often retriggered if the same three symbols that activated the game in the first place line up on the reels again during the free spins round. Retriggering can happen on several consecutive occasions, which can lead to successive bonus round, although we're yet to find a slot that will retrigger eternally!

cascading reels
cascading reels

Cascading Reels

Cascading reels are an innovative slot feature that picks up on the popularity of gem-based internet games. Once the symbols have landed on the reels, any winning lines explode to allow new symbols to fall in their place. If the replacement symbols create new winning combinations they too explode, and more symbols fall into their place. This doesn't continue forever, but it's a great addition that adds a little bit of action to base gameplay.

reel respins
reel respins

Reel Respins

This feature uses variable pricing which leave players with difficult decions that'll make them think about how they are going to use their money. The good side about Reel Respins is that it is an option to players, they will never be forced to respin.

rotating reels
rotating reels

Rotating Reels

Rotating reels is a feature seen in bonus rounds. This is something a player would expect as added bonus to free spins round to earn more wins.

tumbling reels games
tumbling reels games

Tumbling Reels

If you’re familiar with any slot machines by the software provider IGT, then there’s a good chance that you’re familiar with their tumbling reels feature as well. This feature has proven to be quite popular amongst casino players and for good reason too considering that it allows you to win multiple times on a single spin. As a result, we suspect that more and more casino games with tumbling reels will become available in the near future.

slot rtp
slot rtp

RTP

The RTP of a slot machine is one of the most important features to consider before you begin playing for real money. Short for return to player, the RTP is a number that indicates how much of every wager is returned to the player over a period of time. Games that feature a low RTP will generally award better payouts to players than games that feature a low RTP.

slot volatility
slot volatility

Volatility

People often talk about the volatility of slots and how they work. Essentially high volatility games pay out less but when they do payout the tend to be big wins. Low volatility slots are slow burners and pay out lots of small wins along with the occasional big win. In general lower volatility games will give you more bang for your buck and are more suited to players who have smaller bankrolls.

slot machine themes
slot machine themes

Themes

Traditional slot machines featured fruit and bars as symbols, but themes are becoming the predominant feature among slot machine games. Often these themes are based on a license from some popular entertainment brand, like Star Wars, Elvis, or Hee-Haw. Other machines have themes based on a certain period in history, and the symbols represent that time period. For example, a 60s themed game might include pictures of tie dyed tshirts as symbols, or peace symbols.

These are just some of the features that slot machine games have now. One game might feature multiple aspects of those features, or it might only have one of them. For example, the Wheel of Fortune game features a progressive jackpot AND a bonus game. Slot machines continue to innovate, and new features are rolled out every year at the gaming shows.

slot wilds
slot wilds

Wild Symbols

Wild symbols in slot games work in the same way that wild cards work in card games. They substitute for the symbol that you need so that you get the payout. Wild cards are popular with players, too, but not as popular as scatter symbols and bonus symbols.

expanding wilds
expanding wilds

Expanding Wilds

Animated video slots have given developers licence to get creative with wild symbols, and there are now lots of variations. Expanding wild symbols fall into a position on a reel, but then expand to cover all of the other symbols on that particular reel. This can create several new winning combinations - especially across a five reel slot with multiple pay lines. Expanding wilds are a popular twist on the traditional wild, and can lead to some very big wins.

shifting wilds
shifting wilds

Shifting Wilds

Shifting wild symbols are another variation, which in a similar way to sticky wilds, stay on the reels for subsequent spins once they have landed. The difference with Shifting wilds, unlike their sticky counterparts, is that they shift around the reels with each spin. Every time new symbols land the wild will combine with them to create winning lines, and this will continue for a set period until the wild shifts off the reels altogether.

stacked wilds
stacked wilds

Stacked Wilds

Stacked wilds act in the same way as all wild symbols by substituting for other symbols to create winning combinations, but like expanding wilds they can generate huge wins. They are usually found in stacks of 2, 3, 4 or 5 wilds which cover part or all of the reel. Different games have different ways of using stacked wild symbols, so it's worth checking the pay table, but whatever their form they always lead to more wins.

sticky-wilds
sticky-wilds

Sticky Wilds

The term Sticky Wild might not sound like the most appealing thing in the world, but trust me, they are one of the most lucrative of all the wild symbols on offer on modern games. Whether issued in a base game round or on a bonus feature, sticky wilds hold in place for further spins, these can create some seriously exciting winning combos.

transferring wilds
transferring wilds

Transferring Wilds

Transferring wilds, sometimes known as nudging wilds, have become an increasingly popular feature that can be found on many of today’s modern slot machines. One slot machine provider in particular that has produced a number of casino games with transferring wilds is WMS, which supplies games to a number of different online casinos as well as land-based casinos throughout the world. If you’d like to learn more about these types of symbols, we’ve put together a page dedicated exclusively to transferring wilds featuring a video that demonstrates how they work as well as links to a number of free games that you can play online to better understand why these symbols have become so popular lately.

random-wilds
random-wilds

Random Wilds

Wilds are almost ever present in the modern slot, with the ability to turn missed chances into massive wins. The random wild functions mostly in the same way as any other, by transforming symbols, the difference is in the way that it appears, which as the name might give away – is entirely random, depending on the game theme and structure.

walking wilds
walking wilds

Walking Wilds

This feature offers players a chance to get free spins when they get a substitute symbol on the reels. Depeding on the game players are playing, walking wilds move left, right or in both directions.

split symbols
split symbols

Split Symbols

The split symbol mechanic, as the name would suggest is an occurrence where a symbol can appear more than once in a single position on the reel grid. Icons can split to become doubles or even triples on some games. This allows the player to find up to 15-of-a-kind combinations on even a 5-reel slot!

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