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Slots are recognized as the most popular casino games around the world that attract the largest crowds at both land-based gambling facilities and in online casinos. Unlike blackjack or poker, for instance, they are extremely easy to play and require no previous experience, so for many players, they are just a pure, fast-paced fun.

Slots are over 100-year-old and the name of Charles Fey is often associated with the creation of the first slot machine somewhere around the 1890’s. Previously, poker-based gambling machines had existed but the mechanic and inventor from San Fransisco devised a much simpler device with only three reels and a total of five symbols. His Liberty Bell machine became so popular across the United States that a wide variety of games similar to it started popping up in bars, barber shops, saloons and cigar stores. These machines looked quite different from the modern slots we have today – people used to insert a nickel and pull a lever, which triggered the mechanical spinning of the reels. Lucky players received three liberty bell symbols which won them the then-great payout of 10 nickels. Or, the machine would reward them with a bar of chewing gum – this is where the Bar symbol actually comes from.

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Today, slot machines have gone through much change and improvement. And although they are much more attractive, colorful and fun to play than they used to be a century ago, they have become much more complex, especially on the inside. Whether it is physical slot machines in brick-and-mortar casinos, or virtual slots in online casinos we talk about, mechanical spinning no longer determines whether we lose or win. The results of each spin are entirely random and have nothing to do with the number of plays, for instance. Random Number Generators have been introduced to guarantee fairness, random results and no chance for manipulation whatsoever.

Video slots, a much more recent creation in the gambling industry, have even more sophisticated appearance – beautiful animations, state-of-the-art videos and even 3D graphics that create a truly unique, immersive gambling experience. More importantly, slots today are much more intriguing and exciting as they have various bonus rounds, lots of special symbols, free spins, and many more. Some of them amaze players with mind-boggling payouts as their jackpots are not fixed, but constantly growing and widely known as progressive jackpots.

How Slots Work

slots imageThe immense popularity of slots is often attributed to their simplicity. Certainly, they are easy to play and are a wonderful choice for beginner players – they are considered a game of chance, as opposed to poker or blackjack which are typical games of skill. However, slots are governed by extremely complicated computer algorithms which make them more technically complex games than table poker. So, before starting to play slot games, players need to know their basics in order to improve the chances of winning. And to answer the logical question “Is that even possible?” – in short, yes.

Slots function in quite a simple, straightforward way. Unlike other casino games, where you play against a dealer or other players, slots are played against a machine or a computer. Traditional slots have physical levers and reels with several common symbols such as bars, double bars, cherries or sevens. The term fruit machines refers to the various fruit symbols, used in the past.

Tip: Slot machines are also known as one-armed bandits, gambling machines, poker machines or pokies. Video and online slots are modeled after them and have a graphical representation of 3, 5, or sometimes 6 reels on the screen.

Random Number Generator

rng imageRandom Number Generators are the foundation of standard, modern slot machine design which has drastically changed since the age of purely mechanical slot machines. The Random Number Generator is a microprocessor, much like the ones used in computers. This microprocessor constantly generates random sequences of numbers – in fact, it generates thousands of such sequences per second.

There are two types of RNGs – true random number generators and the so-called pseudo random number generators, or PRNG, which use computational algorithms to generate long sequences of numbers. PRNG appear to be random, but in reality, are determined by a seed value, or a key. Thus, the numbers can be reproduced and predicted if the seed is known. The truth is that true random number generators are rarely used, as they are extremely complex and often fail to produce true randomness in the long term. PRNGs, on the other hand, are practically everywhere from electronic games to cryptography because despite being referred to as “pseudo”, their results are as close to the randomness as possible. The numbers they generate cannot be practically predicted and reproduced when the seed value is unknown.

Tip: Processing random sequences of numbers never stops, even when the game is not played at.

Paylines and Bets

slots paylines imagePaylines, or the required positions matching symbols need to be for a qualifying payout, are one of the most important aspects of slots. In the past, physical slot machines had a single payline that ran across the middle of the reels. Once three matching symbols appeared in straight line, the player collected the corresponding payout. Today, video slots have more paylines in different forms – in the shape of V, an upside V, zig zag, and more. The most basic video slots have at least 5 paylines but in some games, their number can reach 25 or even 100.

When you start playing a particular slot game, you will see several indicators, one of which is Lines and it shows the number of active paylines. You can change the number of paylines easily – remember, the more paylines you play, the more opportunities for winning you have.

Tip: It is important to know that you will place a bet on each active payline, so if you are playing with $1 on a 20-line slot, your bet per spin will be $20.

Differences between Classic and Video Slots

classic slot imageThere is a wide variety of virtual slot games in online casinos today but they can be divided into two basic types – classic and video slots. Even beginner players would easily guess what classic slots are. With 3 reels and a single payline, they resemble old-fashioned mechanical slot machines. They are often inspired by the century-old fruit machines with their fruit symbols, lucky Sevens, or liberty bells. In fact, many classic slots today have 5 reels or even more, which makes gameplay more exciting. Some gaming studios also add more paylines or free spin features, further improving retro-looking classics.

While some players are fascinated by the thrill of classic slot games most punters today prefer the more advanced 5 or 7-reel video slots, which feature captivating themes, beautiful graphics and even three-dimensional animations. Modern video slot games are often based on popular books, films or TV series and from the day they are released, they instantly become hits in the online gambling community. Developers also take inspiration from historical periods, ancient mythologies or fairy tales, creating state-of-the-art games that are more similar to computer games than to classic slots. Captivating story lines reveal special features, bonus rounds and skill games, while the player is immersed in the game thanks to intricately created animations and enchanting music.

The most exciting feature of video slots, however, is the plenty of special symbols, multipliers, free spins and bonus rounds added to them. Some of the games use the “win both ways” or the “all ways” systems, which make them really unique and memorable. Scatter and wild symbols turn playing into a really fun and rewarding experience, while bonus symbols trigger bonus games that sometimes open in a new window. They vary between particular games but most commonly include fortune wheels, box picking games, gamble features, and more.

Special Symbols

The first Liberty Bell machines came with five symbols – horseshoes, diamonds, spades, hearts and liberty bells. Later, Chicago-based manufacturer Herbert Mills introduced his Operator Bell slot machine and added fruit symbols. The symbols in today’s video slots are much more diverse and often themed – Greek gods or African animals, for instance. Still, many of older symbols are still here and used widely by almost all gaming developers – lemons, cherries, lucky Sevens, or liberty bells. Most of the symbols in each game are regular symbols. Matching them does not come with any extra payout and they are the lowest paying symbols in the pay table.

In addition, players would often get blank symbols that are not associated with any winnings. There are, however, special symbols which upon appearing on the reels, can bring you greater winnings. Most video slots today feature wild or scatter symbols or both, and they can greatly improve your chances of winning.

Wild Symbols

wild slots symbol

Wild symbols act like jokers in a slot game – they can substitute for any other symbol, making winning combinations much easier to form. For example, if the player gets two cherries and a wild, the game will give the corresponding payout for three cherries.

Scatter Symbols

scatter slots symbol

Another type of symbols that can be found in most video slots today are scatter symbols. Usually, they are the highest paying symbols in the pay table, so many players look specifically for games with scatters.

Special Features

With each new release, slot game developers are getting more creative with the special symbols and features. While in the past, getting scatter symbols would award you 5 or 10 free spins, today, online slot games have much more complex features such as bonus games that often open in a new window. There are multipliers, gamble features, jackpot symbols, and many others.

Free Spins

free spins slots symbol

Many games come with the opportunity to get free spins but these spins are triggered in a different way for each particular game. Often, you get free spins if you land 3 scatter symbols.


multiplier slots symbol

Some symbols can also act as multipliers in slot games. Usually, these are scatter symbols, but wilds can also multiply your winnings, depending on the slot variation you are playing.

Gamble Feature

gamble slots symbol

The gamble feature is quite common not only in online slots but also in vintage fruit machines in land-based casinos. It can be triggered after a winning and gives players the opportunity to double it by guessing the color of a playing card.

Bonus Games

bonus slots symbol

Bonus games can be the most exciting aspect of a slot game – they are triggered in many different ways, but most often, by getting 3 bonus symbols, wilds or scatters on the reels. Many slots activate their bonus games only when laying on all paylines.

Software Providers

There literally thousands of slot games, some of which are available in both land-based and online casino sites, while others are specifically created for the web. The variety of types, styles and genres is immense and the reason for this is the fierce competition between different developers of casino and gaming software. In order to always stay up-to-date and meet the expectations of their customers, software companies constantly improve their offerings, introducing more sophisticated technologies and creating more interesting and interactive games.

There are several large software providers that supply the games at famous casinos. Their classic and video slots are recognized as having the highest-quality graphics and audio effects, the most generous jackpots, and the most interactive gameplay.


microgaming logo

Microgaming is undoubtedly the gaming studio with the largest portfolio ever created, despite the fact that many of their titles are already quite old.

Net Entertainment

netent logo

Net Entertainment, or NetEnt, is a Swedish developer and supplier of high-quality casino games, many of which are slots, established in 1996.


playtech logo

Playtech is one of the giants in the casino and gaming software development industry, globally recognized as one of the top providers of online slots.