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The Mechanics of Online Gaming Slots

by Lisa Hayden
mechanics of gaming slots

Online casinos are enjoying a boom period and, one of the most popular areas of these platforms are the online slots. The development of games software means that these slots can be tailored to match almost any theme and they can have a multitude of bonus features attached.

As a result, there are simply thousands of games to choose from across the digital casinos. If you’re wondering how they work and how to read slot machine lines, the mechanics behind the games makes for interesting discussion.

Know the Game

know the gameEvery slot game is carefully designed to be fair and to produce random results but most people who play them are unaware of the mechanics behind the titles. It is interesting to understand the workings of these machines and, even though it may not help you win, it may be useful to have some knowledge of slots and how they work.

All slots have something called a base game and the workings at this stage will be similar across all titles. As the player gets ready to take a spin, the game will have a number of different symbols. The majority of these will be related to the theme of the title so, if this is all about wizards and fantasy, you may see a spell book, potions, a magic wand and so on.

Other symbols can be generic: Most typically, players can expect to see letters and numbers from a standard deck of playing cards.

The aim, at this stage of the slot game, is to match those symbols along a payline. A payline is a virtual straight line across the reel grid. It will usually be horizontal but it could also be vertical or diagonal.

Before play, the paytable will explain how many of those paylines are operational and where to find them. Match symbols on a spin and a cash prize will be awarded.

Special Symbols

random numbersSome slots don’t extend beyond that basic gameplay. These are often referred to as ‘classic slots’ and they are similar to regular fruit machines that are available in physical casinos. Most online games, however, offer something extra.

Many games come with a special icon known as a ‘wild symbol’. This can often be another image that represents the theme of the game or, it can simply contain the word ‘wild’. When it lands, its job is to replicate other symbols and form a match on a payline if it possibly can.

The other, most common special symbol in a slot is referred to as a ‘scatter’. It’s called this because it doesn’t have to land in a line in order to activate a bonus feature. As long as a specified number of these icons land in view, they can be scattered across the reel grid.

Bonus Rounds

The scatter is usually the key to bonus rounds and the most common of these are free spins. A certain number of additional spins will be set in motion and these do not take any money away from a player’s bankroll. There may well be additional features in this bonus section and it could be possible to activate more free spins if the required amount of scatters fall into view once again.

Other bonus rounds could involve a wheel of fortune where a spin of that wheel reveals a prize. Alternatively, there could be a ‘pick’ game where players select from objects such as treasure chests to win cash or an extra feature.

The paytable is the lexicon and it will reveal exactly how each slot game works. Many slots also come with free trial play so that they can be played for fun before anyone commits to real money stakes.

It’s so Random

There are dozens of slot game developers and many thousands of individual games have been produced. In order for a trusted online casino to take them on, those games must be shown to be fair and to produce random results.

Slots use a random number generator to ensure a random result on each individual spin. They are independently assessed and will show a Return to Player (RTP) percentage. This figure is the average amount that will be returned and it is based on many thousands of spins. For example, if a RTP is shown at 97% this means that 97p will be returned for every £1.00 staked.

Keep in mind that this is just an average and individual results will vary. Players can emerge from their session with a profit or a loss depending on those random results. However, some will base their choice of slot game on a higher RTP.

Essential Reading

Because of those random results, it isn’t guaranteed that any player will be able to read a slot machine’s lines and know exactly when it’s going to pay out. If you have been playing a session for a lengthy period of time without wins, it may be the case that the RTP will allow for a prize shortly but this isn’t definite.

Most players will choose a slot based on a number of factors. The RTP is one important aspect but other decisions will be based on the number of bonus features or the amount of paylines. Some slots players will prefer a game which has the capacity to pay out smaller, more regular sums while others will want to aim for a rarer, progressive jackpot.

The choice is there so keep these factors, and the mechanics of online slots in mind while taking your pick.

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