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Gambling A-Z: Slot Terminology
Slots are definitely some of the most played casino games at both online and land-based casinos. The game category has a long history stretching all the way back to the 1890s. Today, slot games are offered in abundance with thousands of online slots developed. If you are new to the game category or feel a bit overwhelmed with all the intricate features of slots at online casinos, don’t worry! In this beginner’s guide to online slot terminology, I will walk you through some of the most common slot terms from A to Z.
Common Slot Machine Terms & Their Meaning
Action: The amount of money that has been bet on a slot over a period of time.
Active payline(s): The paylines that are currently active in play where winning combinations will pay out a prize.
All-way slots: Slots that don’t have any fixed paylines but can create winning combinations all ways.
Autoplay: A function that allows players to play the slot for a set number of rounds automatically.
Auto spin: The same as autoplay where players set a certain amount of spins that will be spun automatically.
Avalanche slot: A unique slot feature/technology first developed by NetEnt. In avalanche slots, winning symbols disappear from the reels and make room for new symbols to fall in to create possible new winning combinations on the same spin. Also known as cascading or tumbling reels.
BAR symbol: A traditional slot symbol that reads “BAR”. One of the first slot symbols designed alongside fruit symbols, bells etc.
Bet: The action to place a bet (spin) and the amount wagered per spin.
Bet per line: The amount wagered per (active) payline per spin. Some slots only offer players the chance to select the bet per spin while others allow players to adjust the bet per line.
Bonus feature: Different special features within a slot game that reward the player with something extra. Typical bonus features are free spins, re-spins, bonus games, spinning jackpot wheels and gamble features.
Bonus symbol: A or several special symbol(s) in a game that can reward bonus features or high wins. Typical bonus symbols are wild symbols, scatter symbols and unique symbols that unlock a special feature.
Branded slots: A modern type of slot games that are developed with inspiration and licensing from TV/movie franchises or other brands. Some examples include the slots Vikings (NetEnt) and Game of Thrones (Microgaming).
Buy-bonus slots: Slot games that allow players to use their bankroll to buy bonus features. What this means is that instead of waiting for bonus symbols to appear and launch a bonus feature, it can be bought to start it right away.
Cascading reels: Slot reels where winning symbols disappear (explode, drop or similar) from the reels to make room for new symbols within the same spin (see Avalanche slot).
Coin size: The chosen or pre-determined value of one coin, used to bet when spinning. Some slots allow players to adjust the coin size and/or choose how many coins they wish to bet per spin.
Coins: The value/credit used to bet in slots. Each coin will have a value of the currency used by the player, but the actual spin wager will be of slots, not a real currency.
Collect: When winning in a slot game, players can choose to collect those winnings to cash them out. Some slots also have unique collect bonus features.
Cluster pay slots: Slot games that pay out prizes for symbol clusters instead of symbols aligned on a payline on the reels. The goal is to get a minimum of X symbols in a cluster to get a payout, regardless of reels, positions and lines.
Classic slot: Online slots with a traditional theme and symbols of fruits, bells, BAR symbols etc are often referred to as classic slots. These are simple slot games that don’t come with a lot of special features.
Demo mode: Most online slots can be played for free by playing in the so-called demo mode. This opens the game in a mode where players wager using play money and therefore can’t win real money.
Expanding wilds: Wild symbols that can expand to cover several positions on a reel/row.
Fixed jackpot: The highest prize in a game that is a fixed amount – not a progressive jackpot that grows.
Fixed paylines: While some slots allow players to choose how many paylines they wish to have in play (and wager on), others have a set of fixed paylines that can’t be changed. This means you bet on all paylines on every spin.
Free spins: A type of bonus that can either be given by an online casino or as a bonus feature in a slot game. This allows players to spin the reels for free without paying anything from their bankroll, but real-money prizes can be won as normal.
Freeplay: Playing a slot for free with play money without being able to win real prizes (see demo mode).
Fruit machine: Another term used for classic slots with fruit symbols. In the UK, “fruit machine” is often used instead of “slot machine” to describe the land-based cabinets.
Gamble feature: A bonus feature where players can choose to place a gamble to possibly double their way. By for example betting on red or black, players can either win more or lose their winnings.
Game developer: A game studio/software company developing games. All online slots are developed by a game developer.
High volatility: Slots are often categorised as having high or low volatility. High volatility slots offer larger but less frequent payouts.
High-paying symbols: Most slots will have high- and low-paying symbols. High-paying symbols often have a design related to the theme of the slot and can also be bonus symbols.
Hit frequency: The average amount of times a slot machine is expected to pay out winnings, normally presented as a percentage. As an example, a 10% hit frequency means that on average, the slot pays out wins on 100 of 1,000 outcomes.
Jackpot: The highest possible win from a slot game. The jackpot can be fixed (a set, static amount) or progressive (a dynamic amount growing in tact with player wagers).
Lever: The handle used in old-fashioned physical slot machines to spin the reels by pulling it.
Low volatility: Slots are often categorised as having high or low volatility. Low volatility slots offer smaller but more frequent payouts.
Low-paying symbols: Most slots will have high- and low-paying symbols. Low-paying symbols often have a simple card design such as 10, J, Q, K or card traits.
Max bet: The maximum amount possible to bet in a spin. Some slots have a button that players can click to directly place the max bet.
Megaways: A unique online slot technology developed by BTG that is now licensed to and used by many other game developers. The technology offers a random reel modifier mechanic that changes the number of symbols appearing on a reel.
Minimum bet: The minimum amount possible to bet in a spin.
Mobile slot: An online slot game that can be played on mobile devices. Most modern slots are available across all platforms thanks to HTML5-technology.
Multi-way: Slots that offer several winning ways.
Multiplier: A bonus feature that multiplies wins with a set amount. Some slots feature multiplier levels where more of a specific symbol/outcome can result in higher multipliers.
Online slot: A slot game developed for online play, as found at online casinos. Online slots are inspired by land-based slot machines developed more than 100 years ago.
Payline: Lines across the reels and rows where symbols can form a winning combination. Slots can have everything from a few to thousands of active paylines going from right to left, left to right and/or diagonally across the reels.
Paytable: Information within a slot game that outlines the rules of the game, the worth of each symbol, how different bonus features work and so on.
Progressive jackpot: The highest prize in a game that is a dynamic amount that increases by taking a share of all player wagers. The jackpot grows until it is won and then starts again at a set minimum amount.
Random number generator (RNG): Software used to ensure that all outcomes are 100% random and fair. Slot games using RNG technology are not be fixed and can not be won using any sort of strategy.
Reels: The vertical, spinning wheels where symbols are showing. A slot game typically has 3-6 reels.
Return to player (RTP): A number used to indicate the theoretical payout of a game, normally presented as a percentage. A typical slot RTP is around 96%. Read more in our RTP guide.
Rows: The horizontal lines of symbols. Normally each reel in the slot has at least three rows each (and therefore three symbols showing).
Scatter symbol: A bonus symbol often used to trigger free spins or other bonus features.
Spin: The act of spinning the reels to reveal symbols and possible wins.
Stacked symbols: In some slots, symbols are stacked on top of each other to trigger wins or bonuses.
Symbol: The icons used in slots to differentiate the different winning combinations and worths. A slot can have anything from three simple to many unique symbols. Modern video slots normally feature a mix of classic symbols (card-related, fruits, bells etc) and theme-specific symbols.
Software developer: A game studio/software company developing games (see game developer).
Total bet: The credit wagered per spin in a slot. Some slots allow players to choose the number of paylines, coins etc and the sum of this will make up the total bet.
Tumbling reels: Slot reels where winning symbols disappear (explode, drop or similar) from the reels to make room for new symbols within the same spin (see Avalanche slot).
Variance: A measure of how often a slot is likely to show winning combinations. A slot can have high or low variance.
Video slots: A term often used for slot games that feature more modern designs with 3D animations or similar.
Volatility: Slots are often categorised as having high or low volatility. The term is used to describe if the game offers frequent, small wins (low) or less frequent but larger wins (high).
Wager: Another word for bet, the money wagered per spin.
Wild symbol: A bonus symbol that normally acts as a joker and can substitute for any other symbol (apart from other bonus symbols) to create winning combinations.
Win: Landing a combination of symbols or similar that results in a win. Normally players need to land at least three of the same symbol to win a payout from the slot game.
Win-both-ways: Slots that offer winning combinations to be counted both from left-to-right and right-to-left.
243 ways to win: A slot with 243 fixed paylines.
1,024 ways to win: A slot with 1,024 fixed paylines.
3D slot: A slot game that features 3D graphics, also known as video slots.
3-reel: A slot that has three reels (vertical spinning wheels where symbols are showing)
5-reel: A slot that has five reels (vertical spinning wheels where symbols are showing)
6-reel: A slot that has six reels (vertical spinning wheels where symbols are showing)
Basic Online Slot Terminology You Have to Know
The 69 terms listed and explained above are just a selection of the most widely used online slot terminology. But of course, you won’t meet all these terms in all online slot games. If you just want to cover the very basics, I would say the following slot terms are the absolute must-knows:
- Reel: The vertical, spinning wheels where symbols are showing. A slot game typically has 3-6 reels.
- Payline: Lines across the reels and rows where symbols can form a winning combination. Slots can have everything from a few to thousands of active paylines going from right to left, left to right and/or diagonally across the reels.
- Wild symbol: A bonus symbol that normally acts as a joker and can substitute for any other symbol (apart from other bonus symbols) to create winning combinations.
- Scatter symbol: A bonus symbol often used to trigger free spins or other bonus features.
- Return to player (RTP): A number used to indicate the theoretical payout of a game, normally presented as a percentage.
Become a Pro with this Online Slot Terminology
Now that you have learned the basics and expert terminology used for online and/or land-based slot machines, all that remains is to practice your new knowledge. What better way than by playing some online slots? Browse our top online casinos offering slots and find your favourite!