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How It Works

Playing slot machines is very simple and this is a straight forward guide for anyone who has already played slots and wants to learn a little more or the complete beginner.

How to play

Whilst the technology of slots machines has developed significantly over the past one hundred years, the game has essentially remained the same. The original mechanical slot machines were operated by pulling down a large lever on the side of the machine which was connected to a shaft supporting the reels. The spinning reels were then stopped by a braking system to display various pictures. Today, however, on the modern electronic machines you need only to conveniently push a button on the front panel to spin the reels.

Whether you win or lose is determined by which pictures line up with the pay line. If each reels displays the same winning picture in the pay line, you win! The amount you win depends upon the pictures that lined up. Sometimes there are certain single images that are winners too.


The odds of winning are determined by the number of reels and symbols on each reel. Most machines operate with 3 wheels but some have 4 or even 5 reels. A greater number of reels and symbols means lower odds of winning but a considerably higher prize.

Types of slot machines

There are 3 types of slot machines:

  • Straight slots or flat tops: These are the simplest games to play and understand. They only play slot games and pay out on the standard pay table. The payout amounts of these machines are predetermined to a specific play.
  • Progressive slot machines: These are more sophisticated machines and have a jackpot that grows by a small percentage taken from each bet. It is common for a number of progressive slot machines to be linked within a casino or even within a state or country and they all feed into one joint jackpot. Any one of the machines in that group can win, making for a potentially huge jackpot.
  • Bonus game slots: These offer extra games when you get a certain combination of symbols in the pay line giving you the chance to win extra money for no extra bets. The extra games may be choosing treasure chests to stopping spinning reels to get the highest possible bonus.

Slot machine pay outs

The payback percentage from slot machines ranges from 80 to 98 per cent. This means that whilst some might win huge jackpots and others will just cover their cost of playing, most players will lose money playing the slots.

Collecting your winnings

If you win a small jackpot, the prize money is paid out by the machine itself. However, if you win a large jackpot, the prize money is paid out by the casino.

Online slot machines

Online slot machines work very similarly to real life slot machines. You simply press the ‘Spin’ button and the computer generates a totally random number that determines when each reel will stop spinning. Of course, it’s much easier to program an online slot machine to display particular symbols on each reel.

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How It Works

Playing slot machines is very simple and this is a straight forward guide for...