Slot Machine Glossary

The slot machine is by far the most popular and profitable casino game, and with slot machines dominating the online, mobile, and social markets, there's been a resurgence in interest in the one-armed bandit. This glossary covers terms used by slot players and the slot machine industry. We've included an example of each word used in a sentence. Newcomers to the world of slot gaming should familiarize themselves with the terms below before they head to the casino.

# A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
243 Ways to Win slot:
a game that doesn't consider pay lines when determining wins and payouts. Instead, winning combinations of symbols can appear anywhere on the screen.

"Spend a little extra time reading the pay table of that game – it's a 243 Ways to Win slot."

refers to a gambler's total amount played, plus any amount they've won or lost for a given session.

"Your slot club card rewards you with comps based on your action."

All pays slot:
a category of games that don't use the traditional pay line system to determine winnings.

"If you're bored with traditional games, look for one of the new all pays slots available online."

Basic slot:
games with few features, a single pay line, and a fixed top jackpot.

"Fans of retro gaming will find themselves drawn to the classic styling of the casino's basic slots."

Bet Max:
to place a wager equal to the largest possible bet for a particular slot. Many slots also have a "bet max" button on case that allows gamblers to quickly place the game's top per-spin wager. Often required to gain access to a game's largest payouts.

"You can squeeze in a lot more playing time if you wager using the Bet Max button."

Betting unit:
refers to hitting a slot's top-paying combination of symbols.

"Managing your slot bankroll starts with working out how many betting units you can afford to spend per hour."

Big hit:
refers to hitting a slot's top-paying combination of symbols.

"You should have seen the slot hosts come running after Aunt Mary got that big hit."

Bonus feature:
a side game or other special activity distinct from a game's regular mode. Can include things like wild symbols, scatter symbols, and free spins.

"More and more, slot designers are producing games with skill-based bonus features."

Buy-a-pay slot:
a game in which each coin you wager activates a new tier of payouts. Placing the maximum number of coins leads to the largest payouts.

"The buy-a-pay slot is the most misunderstood game on the casino floor."

a name for a group of slot machines sharing a common feature, usually denomination.

"The first thing I look for when I walk into a new casino is a penny slot carousel."

(Coin In, Coin Out)
an industry term referring to the total number of credits played in and paid out of a machine.

"You can get an idea of your total CICO for a given slot by analyzing the points on your slot club card."

another term for "credits." Slots accept credits in a variety of denominations, from a penny to five dollars and more.

"This game's bonus feature pays a special multiplier prize based on the total number of coins wagered."

Coin size:
refers to a gambler's chosen denomination, the amount that each coin (or credit) is worth.

"Some slots allow you to select your coin size, others set a fixed-price value for each coin."

short for "compensated items," comps are freebies given to slot players by the casino as a reward for their loyalty. Players must join a slot club and swipe their card before playing each machine in order to have their action tracked. Comps range from free drinks and room upgrades to larger prizes, depending on how much a player spends.

"Earning slot club comps shaves a tiny fraction off the casino's built-in advantage."

Console slot:
games with built-in features designed to be more comfortable for the player. These days, console slots have screens which can be placed in different angles, built-in seats, and customizable brightness settings.

"Grandma said she prefers to play the console slots, even though they're a little more expensive."

another word for "coins." When gamblers insert a $20 bill in a slot machine, that cash is converted into credits, based on the coin size of the game.

"Fifty credits per spin is too rich for my blood."

the value of each credit. Some games feature fixed credit values, others allow you to choose your denomination.

"The only benefit to using a higher denomination is a larger set of possible payouts."

Double symbol:
a symbol (or set of symbols) that doubles a payout when it's part of a winning combination. Triple symbols are also common.

"Slots that use double symbols and triple symbols are perceived as more exciting than slots that don't."

Fixed-value slot:
games in which the betting amount and/or coin size cannot be altered. Some of these games allow for multiple credit wagers, which gives the player some control over the size of each spin.

"Fixed-value slots make it easier to manage your slot bankroll, though they limit your options as a player."

Free spin:
a bonus feature in which the player earns one free round of play.

"Wouldn't you know it - I spent all that cash and then finally hit a jackpot during a free spin."

Fruit machine:
UK slang term for slot machine. Most games of this type are basic slots with few features.

"I will always have a soft spot in my heart for the classic fruit machines found in British pubs."

Hit frequency:
a theoretical number referring to how often a given slot machine pays out a prize of any amount, relative to the total number of games played.

"I tried to work out the hit frequency of this new progressive slot, but I was distracted by the pretty cocktail waitress."

Hold percentage:
a theoretical number that refers to the amount of a player's money a slot machine retains.

"Theoretically, a machine programmed to have a 95% hold percentage will keep 5% of all the money a player feeds into it."

either the highest-value prize paid out by a given slot machine, or (used more generically) any prize paid out by a machine.

"You have to bet five coins per spin to gain access to the jackpot – it's a buy-a-pay slot."

Line bet:
the number of active pay lines on a given multi-payline slot.

"I try to always place a max line bet on progressive slots."

Linked progressive slot:
a slot that pays out an ever-increasing top prize connected to a network of two or more games. These games produce larger progressive jackpots because more players are paying into them.

"Linked progressive slots are placed prominently on the casino floor to attract attention."

Low-level slot:
any game that includes a built-in seat or chair.

"You don't find nearly as many low-level slots in Atlantic City as you do in Las Vegas."

a specific type of bonus slot feature where a payout is increased, usually between 2x and 10x.

"I like this slot's multiplier feature – I just wish it came up more often."

player slang for a result that's incredibly close to a payout.

"I needed five cherry symbols for the jackpot, and only got four. Talk about a near-miss."

Nudge slot:
games that include a particular bonus feature in which near-miss combinations are occasionally bumped into a winning combo.

"Nudge slots are exciting because it seems like you win more often, even though the odds are adjusted to take the nudge effect into account."

popular slang for a slot machine.

"I got robbed by the one-armed bandit all weekend."

Payback percentage:
a theoretical number that refers to the amount of money a particular slot machine will return to a player. Because this number is based on an infinite number of wagers, it should be used only as a guide.

"Progressive slots and games with lots of bonus features generally have a lower payback percentage than traditional slots."

Pay line:
an invisible line that moves across the reels of a slot. Winning combinations only pay out prizes when they appear on one of these invisible lines. Must be activated by the player, usually with a wager. Sometimes spelled "payline."

"If I had all fifty pay lines activated, that last win would have paid my mortgage for six months."

the amount paid by a slot for a specific combination of symbols. Sometimes spelled "pay out."

"Reading a slot's pay table is a simple matter of finding a winning combination and reading the payout listed next to it."

Pay table:
a chart posted on the slot machine's case (or on the display) that indicates the payout for various winning combinations, as well as any specific game or bonus rules.

"You can tell how much variance a slot has by reading its pay table and comparing the payouts to one another."

Penny slot:
a slot which accepts pennies as its basic denomination. Because of the cost of activating multiple pay lines, most modern penny slots don't really cost $0.01 per spin.

"If you don't have a lot of money to waste, there's a penny slot on the casino floor with your name on it."

Australian slang term for "slot machine."

"When he called the slot machine a ‘pokie,' I had to bite my lip to keep from laughing."

Progressive slot:
a game with an ever-increasing jackpot built from tiny portions of all the wagers played into it.

"This progressive slot has been taking my money for years – maybe today's my lucky day."

Real stop slot:
a game that allows players to skill-stop each reel, one at a time. Rare on casino floors these days.

"The reel stop slots of the 1970s added a new skill dimension to slot play, but weren't all that popular with players because of their reduced payouts and small jackpots."

refers to the sets of symbols that spin and stop to determine winning combinations.

"Old-school slot machines had just three reels, while most modern games have five or more sets of spinning symbols."

(Random Number Generator)
a piece of software that produces random numbers within a certain range. Used by modern slot machines to randomize results.

"The use of Random Number Generator software gave game designers the freedom to produce increasingly complicated and feature-laden slots. "

Scatter symbol:
a symbol that doesn't have to appear in any specific combination or on any specific reels or lines in order to trigger a bonus feature.

"Usually, a specific number of scatter symbols must appear to trigger a bonus or prize."

Second-screen bonus:
an industry term that refers to video slot game features that take place on a separate screen from the standard slot game.

"Modern licensed games depend on video scenes and second-screen bonus games to attract players familiar with the brand."

Short win:
refers to hitting a combination that should lead to a huge jackpot, but doesn't because of a low-credit or low-denomination wager.

"Sure, you can play nickel slots for a nickel per spin, but all your jackpots will be short wins."

Slot club:
member's-only programs offered by casinos to track their play in exchange for comps and other rewards.

"Joining the slot club won't cost you a thing and could lead to some nice freebies."

Slot host:
a casino employee whose job it is to assist serving customers at slot machines. Usually performs all necessary hand-pays.

"Tipping your slot host after a big win is considered proper etiquette – how much you tip is up to you."

Slot machine:
a gambling game that pays prizes based on random combinations of symbols.

"The slot machine is America's greatest contribution to the world of gambling."

Slot tournament:
an event that brings slots players together to compete for a set of specific prizes on a pool of specific games.

"I love this casino's promotions – especially the weekly $10,000 slot tournament."

refers to one round of slot machine play.

"As a low-roller, I'm most comfortable betting about $0.50 per spin."

images on the reels of a slot machine that must be lined up in various combinations to win. Can be anything – traditional symbols include fruit, numbers, and playing cards.

"The best symbol on this game is the game's logo itself, which acts as a scatter and a wild at the same time."

a slot malfunction that usually requires the attention of a host and possibly a mechanic.

"I was in a good rhythm and then the machine tilted and I had to switch games."

(Ticket In, Ticket Out)
refers to a specific type of slot game that prints a ticket with your winning amount when you cash out. Can then be inserted in a different machine to continue playing. Most modern casinos have switched to the use of plastic cards rather than tickets.

"You wouldn't believe how many people leave behind tickets in TITO slots."

Total bet:
refers to the total number of credits multiplied by the chosen denomination.

"I was betting a nickel per credit and betting the fifty pay line max, for a total bet of $2.50 per spin."

Video slots:
refers to a category of slot games that use a video screen to display virtual reels. The vast majority of slots on modern casino floors are video slots.

"You hardly ever see anything but video slots these days – but I miss the spinning reels of the basic slots."

Wide-area progressive:
games with ever-increasing jackpots, linked between different online or land-based casinos. They the largest of all possible progressive payouts, since a huge number of people are paying into their jackpots.

"The largest jackpot in Vegas history was won on a wide-area progressive slot machine."

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