The Basics of Slots


While poker, blackjack, craps, and roulette have their die-hard fans, few casino games top the popularity of slot machines. Whether you’re a fan or just starting out, it’s helpful to understand the basic elements of this classic game before you spin. Here are a few terms that you should familiarize yourself with before you play a slot machine:


Most people know what reels are when they’re talking about slots, but there are a lot of different types of reels and symbols in use on different casino games. In general, the symbols in a slot machine are placed on vertical or horizontal rows and may run across multiple reels. The number of symbols on each reel varies from game to game, and the number of ways to win can vary too. Traditionally, a winning combination required a specific pattern of symbols in a row, but some slots now allow players to win by getting the same symbol anywhere on adjacent reels, and others have even more complicated patterns called megaways that offer up to 117,649 combinations.

When you play a slot, you’ll insert cash or, in the case of “ticket-in, ticket-out” machines, a paper ticket with a barcode into a designated slot on the machine. Then you push a lever or button (either physical or on a touchscreen) to activate the machine. The reels will spin and stop to rearrange the symbols, and if you match a winning combination, you earn credits based on the pay table. The amount of money you can earn varies from machine to machine and depends on the symbols, theme, and game rules.

The Pay Table

As with most casino games, slots have a pay table that explains how much you can win by hitting certain symbols on a given pay line. This information is typically displayed above and below the reels on mechanical slot machines, but on video games, it’s usually embedded within the help menu. It never ceases to amaze us that people will start spinning reels without ever checking the pay table first!

The key to playing slots well is controlling what you can control. Obviously, you can’t predict the outcome of any individual spin, but you can set loss and win limits to keep your bankroll under control. You can also track your wins and losses so that you don’t get carried away trying to chase a payout. Fortunately, with the advent of mobile casinos, it’s easier than ever to manage your bankroll on the go!

Posted in: Gambling