Gambling is forbidden to minors and can cause pathological dependence - probability of winning Providing fun since 2006 Trusted and Certified Casinos
How to Play Slot Machines - Easy Tips to Play the Slots!

How to Play Slot Machines - Easy Tips to Play the Slots!

It almost seems like a rhetorical question – how do you play slots machines? Slots pretty much play themselves, right? You press the button (or pull the handle), watch the reels spin and in a few seconds you know if you’re a big slots winner or, well, you’re not. No brainer, right? Well, there's actually a bit more to it than you'd think. In our guide we delve into the A to Zs of how to play slot machines. Check it out, then find a real money casino to play at.

Token Best Slots Casinos 2020
Gambino Slots

Terms and conditions might apply to these offers.

Chumba Casino

Terms and conditions might apply to these offers.

Luckyland Slots

Terms and conditions might apply to these offers.

How to Play the Slots

how to play slots

While that’s very much true to some degree, there are a lot of variations in slots machines in Las Vegas and casinos around the world. And in how they play.

How you place your bets (and how much you can bet), how you can change your odds of winning, how to maximize your chances of hitting bigger jackpots or special prizes… the intricate details of modern slots machine play can easily be overlooked.

Here on Casino Toplists, however, we leave no slot machine stone unturned. 

Let’s go through some basics on how to play slot machines and answer most of the questions you’re likely to have about playing slots.


Why Play Online Slots?

  •   Big jackpots to be won with very little investment;
  •   Incredibly easy to learn and play;
  •   Classic slot machines offer vintage "Las Vegas" style experience;
  •   Modern slots offer amazing graphics and video displays featuring your favorite movies and more;
  •   High payout percentages of up to 98% on some slot machines!

how to play slots

The first decision to make when you sit down to play a slot machines is, what kind of experience am I looking for?

If you want an old-school, Vegas style appeal then a classic three-line slo machine will offer that for you. Cherries, 7s, lemons, bells and one payline right through the middle ... it's as simple as you can get.

if you want a more modern experience, though, there are hundreds of options out there now with amazing video displays and (if you choose) hundreds of paylines to bet on. It's entirely up to you which kind of slot machine you prefer the most!

Once you're picked your favorite style of slot machine to play, though, the first step is the same on almost all of them: how much to bet. 

On most slots you can wager between one and five “units.” How much each unit is worth depends on the machine.

The most common denomination is 25 cents but they can range from just 1 cent all the way up to hundreds of dollars.

The multiplier works the same with all of them, though. So, for example, if you wager the maximum 5 units on a 25 cent machine, you’re actually betting $1.25 per spin. 

This isn’t the ultimate cost of playing slots, though. “Penny” slots – where, you guessed it, each unit is worth 1 cent – are some of the biggest sections of both live and online casinos.

5 cents is also a very common betting unit in most casinos. So never fear – you’ll be able to find a slot machine you can play on any budget.

True casino High Rollers also can enjoy playing the slots, too. Slot machines can have a minimum bet of 5, 10, 20 or hundreds of dollars if you prefer.

Quick Tip: Pick a Machine You Can Afford and Play the Max

A lot of veteran slots players advise you to choose a machine where you can comfortably afford play for the max amount on each spin.

The reason for that is that the payout for max bets is often a much higher percentage. So instead of playing one unit or bet on a 25 cent machine, it’s usually better to play 5 units on a 5-cent machine. 

The cost to you is exactly the same but your chances of winning a bigger jackpot go way up.

Also, for many online slots, you can actually change the denomination of the units yourself – more or less designing your own slot machine. Most Playtech slots, for example, allow you to go as low as 1 cent per unit and as high as 5 Euros.

After you’ve decided what to wager, just push spin!

Quick Tip #2: Remember You Can Change Your Bet!

If you’ve hit that spin button and the reels don’t co-operate, remember you don’t have to continue betting that same amount. You can adjust the amount of units you bet on every slot machine spin. 

Yes, it makes sense to play the maximum amount. But if you’ve tried that for awhile and feel like you might pass your set budget too quickly, don’t be afraid to drop down to the minimum for a bit.

The joy of playing slot machines doesn’t always come from the biggest win. If maximizing your time at the controls is part of the fun, it might make sense to bet the minimum for a while.

How to Win at Slot Machines


When you’ve put your money into the machine and spun the reels, your job is, for all intents and purposes, done.

Whether you win or not depends on a couple of factors – where the symbols on the reels have fallen, how many of them are needed to win and whether the winning amount of symbols lies on one of the paylines you’ve activated with your bet.

These days there are a lot of different types of slot machines and a lot of different ways to win. You might not even realize you’ve won just by looking at the reels!

The rules of the old, classic slot machines are pretty straightforward. There are typically just three reels and one payline horizontally across the middle of the reels.

Get three of the same symbols (7s, cherries, bells etc) horizontally across the middle and you win. The payout table of how much each symbol is worth (also knows as the 'multiplier') is usually visible right above or beside the reels.

In the old days a win would result in a slew of nickels or quarters pouring out into the paywell at the bottom of the slot but in today’s modern casinos (and, of course, online) your wins are simply added in betting credits. You can then decide whether to cash your credits out or keep spinning. 

Multiple Ways to Win at Slots!

Nowadays slot machines come in many, many different variations and feature everything from gigantic, cumulative progressive jackpots to video clips and voiceovers from A-list Hollywood actors.

With the fancy new graphics and technology also come a lot more ways to win. On many slot machines you’ll now find up to 100 paylines which you can activate by the amount of units you bet.

Standard slots have 5 paylines with two diagonal paylines and three horizontal being the standard format. Modern slot machines can have a variable number of paylines from machine to machine though so it’s best to check just how many paylines your bet activates and whether they go both forwards and backwards.

How to Play Multi-Line Slot Machines 


In online video slots, the rules can be a bit more complicated than the classic, old school Vegas slots.

Not only do you have more reels and more paylines – often going in every direction on the screen – but the games can have lots of extra bonuses, free-spin symbols and separate bonus games.

Despite saying it’s more ‘complicated,’ this is a good thing! It gives you many more ways to win at slots than just hoping three 7s roll across your screen.

Most online video slots have five reels and between 5 and 50 paylines which can be activated with your bet. Some, however, can offer up to 500 paylines!

If any winning combination falls in any of your paylines, you’re a winner.

Common Features in Video Slots

Bonus Game: A Bonus game is a separate spin or game detached from the regular slot. To trigger the best online casino bonus you need to hit a special combination on the reels or sometimes get a bonus-game symbol of some kind.

In the bonus game you then play “for free” and often have the chance to win quite substantial sums.

Wild Symbol: Many video slots have wild symbols that can substitute for any other symbols in the game. Also, a combination of wild symbols often generates big payouts and sometimes starts a bonus game.

Free Spins: Many video slots have free spins, which is exactly what it sounds like. Hit a certain combination and you’ll get a number of free spins, often with unique prizes during the free-spin round.

Scatter symbol: Scatter symbols essentially mean that they pay wherever on the reels they appear – i.e. they don’t have to be on a specific payline. The prizes differ from game to game but usually they trigger a bonus game, start free spins or multiply other winnings.

Progressive Jackpot: Some slot games have progressive jackpots. On these machines, a small sum of every player’s bet goes into a collective prize pool. This money is then awarded to a player who hits a very rare combination.

More on Progressive Jackpots:

The ultimate number these progressive jackpots hit can be astronomical – often up to $10 million and more!

Be sure to check which type of progressive jackpot you’re playing, though. Some are only collected from that one machine while others are collected from a series of machines in the casino or from a wider group of slots across a whole network.

Online progressive jackpots are usually quite large as hundreds of thousands of people now play the slots from the comfort of their own home and it’s much easier to connect slot machines across an online network.

slots rules starburst

How to Win the Most at Online Slots:

Always bet the maximum units;

Find a machine with a higher average payout rate (these are machines with higher bet amounts);

Stick to smaller jackpot machines over the biggest progressives (odds of hitting jackpot are higher);

Typically, play fixed-maximum jackpots over progressives for higher percentage of hitting max jackpotl.

How to Pick a Winning Slot Machine

In short: You can't. You can pick a machine that has a better payout percentage, as mentioned above, but you can't know which slot machine is a "winner," per se.

If you don't know how slot machines work, here's a simple primer.

Every slot machine you play has a computer chip inside called a Random Number Generator (RNG).

The RNG is preset with a set number of winning combinations based on the payout percentage of that machine. Most slot machines are set to pay out between 92-98% of the bets that they take in.

Some of the fancier ones, like the video display slots that play clips from movies for you when you hit certain combinations or as a fun diversion, pay out slightly less to make up for the time you spend watching videos.

Every time you spin the reels on a machine, the RNG stops at random and sends its current number to the reels which tells it what combination should be displayed.

The maximum combinations on any slot machine depends of the number of reels/paylines in play and the total number of symbols on each reel.

A machine with fewer reels is more likely to hit a jackpot as there are fewer overall combinations to spin though but one with more reels has more winning combinations you can hit.

Otherwise, it really is true to its computerized brain technology - totally random.

Read more
Since 2006

Since 2006

Only trusted casinos

Only trusted casinos