Slot Mechanics: What you should know

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The saying, “The more things change, the more they stay the same,” is probably appropriate when it comes to slot games. That’s because as developers dream up new ways of captivating players with graphics, audio effects and features, the basics don’t change. It doesn’t matter if you’re a newcomer to casino games or have experience playing slots, it’s in your interest to make sure that you’ve grasped the basics. These can include how to play, how to win, the symbol types, and how they work. Knowing the basics can directly impact your playing experience since it also affects your chances of winning.

Slots: How to play

It doesn’t matter what slot you are playing when getting started. That’s because this is the easy part. Use the slot’s betting panel to select the bet that you want to make. Oftentimes, this involves adjusting the coin value and level. The coin level is used to determine the number of coins that you want to bet per line and the coin value is used to set the value per coin. Your total bet is usually the product of the coin level, coin value and the number of paylines. Some betting panels will display betting amounts rather than coin values, which makes it easier to determine the bet amount that you want to make.

The next step is to begin your spin. Spinning can usually be set into motion by pressing the big button somewhere on the betting panel. This can often be found in the middle. You may also find an auto spin feature that you can use to spin a pre-determined number of consecutive times. This is more convenient since you no longer need to press the spin button continuously.

how slots works

How to win

Common to all slots is the paytable. This is where you can find the symbols that can appear on the reels as well as their payout values. Most slots have from three to five reels, although they may have six or more. The paylines can also vary, which will also be outlined in the paytable.

Ordinarily, a win is recorded by collecting a minimum number of identical symbols on an active payline. This win usually is from left to right, but some slots allow right to left as well. Some games award wins with identical symbols in cluster formations rather than on paylines. Clusters might require them to touch horizontally or vertically.

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The types of symbols you'll find

While no two slots are the same, they are usually quite similar when it comes to including the following symbols: standard, wild, scatter and bonus. A slot may have one or more of these.

Standard symbols are typically divided into three to five upper-paying and four to five lower-paying. Identical sets of sym-bols must land in either a cluster or on the same row of an activated payline. The winnings typically grow in proportion to the size of the cluster or number of identical symbols on an active payline.

Wild symbols are symbols that act as replacements for standard symbols. Think of them as playing the role of a joker in a deck of cards. The wild symbol comes in a variety of forms. For example, you have the walking wilds that shifts position, an expanding wild that grows to partially or fully cover a reel, and multiplier wilds which apply a multiplier to wins that they take part in.

Scatter symbols under normal circumstances do not need to appear on the same active payline to reward a payout. You only need a minimum amount to appear anywhere to trigger a special feature. This feature typically involves free spins, awarded in a pre-determined amount. During free spins, there is often a special feature that might include a win multiplier. Also, you may be able to re-trigger free spins meaning the game might award you additional free spins.

Bonus symbols are often the most exciting part of a game when appearing in a certain amount (normally three). The reason is that they unlock a bonus game that is often the best chance of winning the biggest prizes.

You can find out more about the different symbols here

The mechanics behind payouts

From a technical perspective, the mechanics that drive payouts are the same for all slots. The “Hit Frequency” determines the frequency of getting a winning hit. On the other hand, “Return to Player” determines the theoretical average payout that you’ll receive back on each bet if you were to play a tremendous amount of times.

When we refer to “Hit Frequency,” we’re talking about a winning bet probability. Keep in mind that each possible outcome has a distinct chance of happening. The likelihood of landing a payline of five of the highest-paying symbols is considerably lower than landing a payline of five of the lowest-paying symbols.

It is possible to quantify the theoretical average amount that you would receive back if you were to play a vast number of times. This number is called the Return to Player (RTP) and is calculated by considering the hit frequency of each potential outcome and its corresponding payout. Typically, RTP will range in the neighbourhood of 92% to 97%. Put another way, over the long term you will win back $92 to $97 for every $100 gambled. Remember that over the short term, anything can happen, which is why players bet!

You can read more on RTP and Hit Frequency here

slots mechanics

High and Low volatility slots

Volatility is a term that is applied to slots in connection to their risk and return profile. Low volatility (low risk) slots typically mean that winnings do not get very high but happen more often. You’ll often win back around the size of your stake. In contrast, high volatility (high risk) slots typically mean ex-tremely high winnings, but this happens extremely rarely.

You can read more about volatility here

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