Getting Started in the World of Online Slots

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Online slots can provide the solution for those of you missing your slot machine action while many casinos remain closed. The world of online slots is growing all the time, giving you more and more ways to enjoy it. We’re here to show how you to navigate it all, especially when you’re just starting out.

If you’ve been paying attention to these blogs over the past few weeks, you know that we’ve been giving you in-depth looks at online video poker and online blackjack. Now it’s time to take a good look at the online simulation of the so-called “one-armed bandits” that have been entertaining casino-goers for years and years. We’re here to show you how to get started if you’re brand new to online slot games.

For those who don’t know too much about them, online slots games can pretty do much everything that their casino counterparts can. You can play for real money and enjoy many of the same brand-name games featured in casinos. The sights and sounds of online slots do an amazing job of simulating actual slot machines, albeit on a smaller scale.

What’s perhaps most important is that the game play is the same with online slots as it is with physical slot machines. Both are governed by the same kind of random number generator software. As a result, your chances of winning and losing aren’t drastically altered in any way because you’re playing online.

Online Slots vs Traditional Casino Slots

In addition, there are some perks that online slots can offer that casino slots can’t. For instance, you can play online slots for free. It’s a great way to enjoy all the action and fun without having to worry about any of the risks.

All this might sound pretty good if you’re somebody who has been hurting for slots action for the past few months. But getting started in the world of online slots can be a little bit overwhelming for newcomers. There are hundreds of gambling offering hundreds of different online slots variations.

Luckily, it’s not hard to make your way through those complications if you take a little time to do your research. It’s also important for you to identify what you’re looking for from your online slots action before you start playing. That will help you to narrow down your choices and hone in on the game that’s just right for you.

We’re here to help you with this process by telling you all you need to know about getting started in the world of online slots. We’ll talk about picking a website and we’ll look into some of the characteristics that make certain games different from others. Finally, we’ll give you some handy tips so that you can take on your online slots action with a sound strategy in place.

Picking Your Online Slots Website

Once you decide to try out online slots, it will probably be tempting to jump right in and get started with your game play. And you might want to simply choose the online slots game that looks best to you. But you should make sure to take time to also consider the website that you want you utilize.

When you type online slots into a search engine, you’ll find hundreds of results. But only a very small percentage of the websites offering these games are reliable and provide the proper benefits for players. The rest is kind of like the Wild Wild West, where you won’t know what to expect from one site to the next.

Choosing one of the lesser sites might, at best, add up to a lackluster experience. At worst, you could find that you can’t collect the winnings that you might have earned. Or you’ll find that the personal information that you provide is at risk.

For that reason, you should always take a beat and make sure that you’re choosing a good gambling website. We’ve done the research in this case so you won’t have to.

But if you do want to try and seek out a site on your own, here are some of the characteristics you should be trying to find:

  • Great customer service: You always want a site that will address any problems that might arise. In addition, sites with great customer service will reach out to you to ask what you need. It’s an interactive relationship, one that results in smooth sailing for you.
  • Funding options flexibility: Because of different online gambling laws in certain jurisdictions, you might not always be able to find your preferred source of funding available to you. The best gambling sites will provide you a wide range of options. And that can mean moving beyond traditional options like credit cards into alternative methods like cryptocurrency.
  • Wide variety of gambling possibilities: If you’re interested only in playing online slots, you might only be concerned with what kinds of slots games a site has to offer. But if you want to branch out, it might mean looking for a full selection of online casino games. Or it could mean wanting a sports book at the site so that you can gamble in that fashion as well.
  • Mobile betting: We live in a world where people want to stay connected at all times even when on the go. If the gambling site includes a betting app that allows for game play on devices like smartphones and tablet, you can have that kind of mobile action at your fingertips. And you’ll be able to play your online slots anywhere.
  • Big bonuses: The best gambling websites will be competing to get your business. As a result, you should expect some sort of perks coming your way for signing up, such as free online slots spins. And top gambling sites will keep these bonuses coming if you prove to be a frequent player.
  • Deposits and withdrawals: Many novice online gamblers overlook this department, and yet it just might be the most important. You should always check the ways that you can easily put money into and get money out of your gambling account when needed. Top gambling sites will have this process clearly spelled out for you and should make it as painless as possible.

Factors to Look for When Choosing Online Slots Machine Games

You now know what to look for in a gambling website. Let’s take a look now at some of the ways you can differentiate individual online slots games from one another.

As you look at these factors, this is where your personal preference will come into play. Some of these factors might mean a lot to you, while others might not at all. That’s why you should go into your search knowing your gambling desires and needs.

Payback Percentage

If you’re thinking about your online slots play as if it were an investment and are most concerned about your bottom line, you should be looking at payback percentage first and foremost. Payback percentage provides an estimate of what you can expect to return in payback from your bankroll. It’s based on the likelihood of your achieving winning spins and how much those spins are scheduled to pay.

For Example:

If you were to find an online slots game that pays back 95 percent, it would mean that $1,000 played would, on average, leave you with $950 in your bankroll. You’d suffer, on average, a $50 loss.

You have to remember that payback percentage represents the average of what you can expect. In a short session, you might be lucky and win a bunch or unlucky and lose a lot. But after a while, luck will even out and the payback percentage will be indicative of what you can expect.

What should you be looking for in terms of payback percentage from online slots? Well, you won’t find any at 100 percent or more. That would mean that there is no house edge, which is a surefire way for online gambling sites to go out of business.

Instead, an ideal payback percentage for online slots would be in between 99 and 100. The expected loss would be so minimal that you could expect to make it up with online bonuses.

Alas, online slots games with percentages like that are rare. But, at least, by knowing the payback percentage, you’ll be able to judge one game against another. If the payback percentage isn’t advertised, it’s probably a game you should avoid.


You’ll sometimes hear people refer to variance as volatility, but both terms essentially mean the same thing. Variance measures the expected rising and falling of your bankroll as you play an online slots game. Like payback percentage, it won’t always predict what you can expect in a short session, but it will take hold the more you play a game.

If a game is high-variance, you can expect your bankroll to rise and fall rapidly at a high range of possible outcomes. You can expect a kind of rollercoaster ride as you play.

Low-variance games provide a steadier experience. Your highs and lows won’t be as extreme, and your bankroll will tend to go up and down in smaller increments.

Is one better than the other? That depends what you’re looking for from the online slots game you’re playing.

For Example:

You might be somebody who’s interested in winning a lot of money in a short amount of time. If that’s the case, you should be looking for a high-variance online slots game. You can get lucky with big-payback spins and watch your bankroll skyrocket.

But the downside to high-variance games is that your slumps will hurt your bankroll much more. And your risk of ruin, which measures the possibility of losing all of your bankroll, will increase. But that might not matter to you if you’re looking for the big score.

By contrast, you might prefer to play low-variance games if you want to play for a long time on small bankroll. The risk of ruin is lower in these games, which means that your bankroll shouldn’t dip too far before you win some to bring it back up. Just don’t expect big payback from games like this, at least not in a short period of time.

Variance figures for specific online slots games are a little bit harder to find than payback percentage. One quick way of estimating for yourself: Look at the table. The wider the stretch between the highest payout amounts and the lowest, the more volatile the game will be.

Jackpot Potential

This is one of the easiest online slots factors to figure out for yourself, because the information will be right in front of you. Look at the pay table to determine what the top payback will be. That will let you know the maximum amount you can win for a single spin.

One way that you can really enjoy a big jackpot from online slots games is to play with one with a progressive element to it. A progressive jackpot rises as long as people play the game and don’t manage to get the spin necessary to win it. Once it is hit, the jackpot will reset to a base level and the process will start all over again.

You have to do a little searching to see what the progressive jackpot might be for specific online slots games. But the end result can be worth it, especially if your main goal in playing online slots is to strike it big.

Obviously, jackpots are extremely hard to win and come along very rarely for online slots players. That’s why many players want them to be at the highest possible level when that bolt from the blue arrives.

Multiline Slots

If you’ve played casino slot machines recently, you’ll know that multiline slots have become the dominant style of game play. They’ve replaced the single-slots that would operate manually. It’s not surprising then that most online slots game are the multiline variety as well.

For those who don’t know the difference, a traditional slot machine would feature one row of three symbols. But multiline slots generally provide three rows of five symbols apiece.

That 3 x 5 format is pretty standard in multiline slots. But where individual games differ from one another is how those lines can be scored in different ways.

When you play single-line slots, the only way you can win is if you have like symbols lining up horizontally. But multiline slots allow you to win in a variety of ways, as symbols are connected to each other by lines that zig-zag back and forth and up and down on the screen.

To have access to those different lines, you have to bet on them. And you also have to decide how many units (usually referred to as coins or credits) to wager on these lines. That means that you have to up your betting level to get the full effect of online multiline slots play.

But the payoff can be outstanding. If you get a spin with a lot of valuable, similar symbols showing up at different parts of the grid, you can win many times over.

Basically, online multiline slots push the volatility much higher with the more lines that you put into play. But the pace of play also increases greatly, which is ideal for someone who likes the head rush of it all. And, if you want to simplify, you can also lessen your bet and play a multiline slots game in a more standard fashion.

Special Features

One of the cool things about online slots is that they can come up with their own ways of spicing up play completely independent of physical slot machines. And one way that they can do that is by adding special features to the action. These twists are generally set up to allow you to earn more payback while playing different slots variations.

The triggers for these special features are varied. You might have to lock in certain symbols in certain positions for the special features to be revealed. Or you might just need a certain symbol that allows you to achieve the bonus, whatever it might be.

Once you’ve activated the special feature, you can take advantage of it for as long as the game specifies. Usually, it’s something that’s only temporary. But while you’re in that mode, you can definitely expect increased payback.

What are some of the special features you might encounter? Here are a few of the most popular bonuses you might earn:

  • Free spins: When you get free spins, you can win money but you can’t lose any. In addition, many online slots tie other special features into the free spin rounds, making them even more valuable. Having free spins is basically all reward for the online slots player with none of the risk.
  • Multipliers: These bonuses act just as the name implies, bumping up the payback you can expect from wins. For example, having a 3x multiplier in play on a line where you score a 30-coin win means that you’ll instead win 90 coins (3 times 30.) The higher the multiplier, the more value you’ll earn from it.
  • “Wild” symbols: If you’ve ever played poker, you know that wild cards can be changed into whatever card in the deck improves your hand the most. Wild symbols on an online slots screen work the same way. They can be changed into symbols to match others on the screen, producing winning spins that might not otherwise have been there.

Choosing For Fun

You might not be as worried as other gamblers about the potential payback or risk of ruin or any of that more technical stuff. Instead, you might just be playing online slots for the pure fun of it. As a result, you’ll likely be more concerned with games that stress style over substance.

The graphics of online slots games are quite impressive, especially if you have the computer equipment that can take advantage of it. Video game fans might want their online slots to impress them in terms of the sights and sounds that are produced. As time passes, online slots continue to get more advanced in terms of the technical side of things.

In addition, some people might be interested in the story behind the game. Many online slots have connections to pop culture in some way. Others are unique creations that allow gamblers to be immersed in another world as they play.

To old-fashioned players who are just about winning, this factor might not matter at all. But the truth is that online slots are as popular as they are in part because of the total experience that they provide. And that means that the games with the best graphics, stories, and so on, tend to be among the most played.

Keep in mind that many manufacturers use these tactics as a way to cover up for low payback. But, as we’ve said, that might not matter as much to you as choosing a game that you can really enjoy.

Three Tips for Online Slots Play

Set Your Bankroll In Stone

Being a disciplined gambler is important no matter what type of game you play. In terms of online slots, it’s especially crucial because of the nature of the game. You can spin those digital reels over and over again so quickly that you don’t even realize how much money you’re putting at stake.

The best way to ensure that your online slots experience is a pleasurable one is to establish a bankroll for each session. Always make sure that the bankroll is an amount that you can afford to lose. As a matter of fact, the whole of the money in your gambling account should be something that won’t hurt you financially if you should lose it all.

Once you’ve exhausted the bankroll that you’ve designated for a particular online slots session, that’s it. Your game play should be over right there. Try to resist the temptation to keep reaching back for more, as chasing losses is a sure way to incur some financial damage.

Quit While Your Ahead

When we talked above about payback percentage, we mentioned that it’s more likely that you’ll lose money in a session of online slots than win some. As a result, you should try to take advantage of those moments when your bankroll goes well above its initial level. Consider quitting when you get ahead.

This might seem counterintuitive, as you might think that you should keep playing while you’re hot. But the truth is that there is no such thing as “hot” when you’re playing online slots, because every spin is random and completely independent of everything that has happened before. It’s likely that your good luck will even out and you could end up giving back all your winnings.

If you really want to keep playing even after surging ahead, at least consider banking the profits that you earned.

For Example:

Establish a level of 10 percent of your bankroll that you’ll set aside if you happen to win that much. Doing so will help you improve your overall payback percentage while still paying for the desired time.

Try Free Online Slots

As we said above, the one big advantage that online slots have over actual slot machines is that you can try them out for free. Many of the sites that offer online gambling will give you the chance to try out slot games for free. In addition, there are many free slots apps available for your phone or tablet.

If you’re a little leery about playing online slots for fear that it could hurt your financially, free slots are a great way to test the waters. You can set a sample bankroll in place and see how long you can play with it in place. You can also get an idea of things like payback percentage and variance and see how they actually factor into your game play.

The other way to look at free online slots is just as a fun diversion, as you might other apps or games. You don’t necessarily have to use them as a springboard for putting real money at stake. Many people play online slots just for the enjoyment and excitement they provide and don’t need the real-money versions to give them that.


We hope that you now have a better idea of what takes to get stared in the world of online slots. If you’re someone who loves slot machines, it’s a great way to satisfy that urge without needing the casino. And if you’ve never tried any kind of slots play, you might be surprised to find that they’re so easy and fun to play.

Jim Beviglia

Jim Beviglia joined as a staff writer in 2018, parlaying his years of freelance writing into contributions on a number of different topics. He handles the sport of horse racing for and the intersection between the worlds of cryptocurrency and online gambling in a weekly blog. For his full-time job, Jim handles the television and track announcing duties at a h ...

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