Slots Mechanics, how it works

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Even though slots are evolving with more advanced features and visually improved designs, their basics are usually the same. Whether you’re new to the wonderful world of casino or have already been playing slots for a while, it’s to your advantage knowing what these basic components are. In this article we will therefore cover the basics of how slots are played, how you win at them, what type of symbols there are and the mechanics behind them, which is affecting our experience and chances of winning.

This is how you play slots

Getting started with slots is super easy! Through a betting panel in the slot you’re able to easily choose the stake you would like to play with. In most slots you’re betting coins, in which the stake can be adjusted by a coin value and a coin level. The coin level determines how many coins you will bet, whereas the coin value determines the value of each coin. In slots that don’t use coins, the betting panel will instead consist of various amounts, where you can easily choose the amount you would like to play with.

When you have chosen your stake, you’ll usually find a big button with an arrow on in the center of the betting panel. If you click on this, the reels will then begin to spin. It’s quite common to find an auto spin feature, which if activated will have the reels spinning automatically without having to press the button.

how slots works

This is how you win

Most slots are made up of several symbols, three to five reels and a certain amount of paylines. No matter what game you’re playing, you’ll always find a paytable to easily find out what each symbol does and pays, as well as where on the reels the paylines are situated.

Winnings are paid out when you get a certain amount of symbols in a row, on an active payline. The majority of slots only pay from left to right, but there are some games where you could win from right to left as well. There’s also a few specially designed slots that you might come across, which neither have any reels or paylines. On these slots winnings are created by getting a cluster of a certain amount of adjacent symbols.

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Different type of symbols

Even though one slot can differ from another, they’re usually made up of the same type of symbols; standard symbols, wild symbols, scatter symbols and bonus symbols. Some slots have all of these, whereas others only have a few.

Standard symbols are the ones that pay out winnings when a certain amount appears in a row, on an active payline (or in some slots in clusters). There’s usually around four or five that have a low value and three to five with a much higher one. The more symbols you get in a row (or cluster), the higher the win.

Wild symbols act as replacing symbols to others. Usually they can only replace the standard symbols, but in some slots others can be replaced as well. There are several different types of wild symbols, such as walking, expanding and multiplying wilds.


Scatter symbols usually don’t have to appear on a payline, but as long as a certain amount appear on the reels, a special feature will trigger. Most commonly this will be a free spin feature, which means that you get a certain amount of spins for free that usually also have some kind of special attribute to them, such as the winnings being multiplied.

Bonus symbols are usually the most anticipated ones. Sometimes a certain amount (usually three) have to appear on a winning line, while they at other times can appear anywhere on the reels. When this happens some kind of entertaining bonus game is triggered, which usually is where the biggest wins are lurking.


Learn more about the symbols here

The mechanics behind payouts

When it comes to technical aspect of payouts, online slots are all using the same mechanics. How often you’ll get a winning hit is determined by “Hit Frequency”, whereas the payout you’ll receive in the long run is determined by “Return to Play”.

Hit Frequency is the probability of a winning hit. Every possible winning outcome in the slot has a different probability to occur. A line of five high paying symbols will for instance have a much lower probability than a line of five low paying ones.

Return to Player (RTP) is a value that determines how much you’ll win in the long run. This value is based on the hit frequency for each outcome as well as how much that outcome is paying.

Read more about Hit Frequency and RTP

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Slots with high and low risks

All slots have something called volatility, which basically determines if the slot is of high or low risk. A high risk slot generally means that winnings can get very, very high, but that winning hits don’t happen that often. For slots with a low risk it’s the opposite. On these the winnings can rarely reach any huge amounts, but smaller and decent sized winnings happen more oftenly.

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