These days, the gigantic popularity of slot machines also means that if you log into your favourite online casino, you’ll probably find hundreds, if not thousands, of different types of games. You can usually also filter them by various features, functions and categories. The most popular filtering option is by category that is, for example, fruit slots, jackpot (progressive jackpot) slots, video slots, hot spot slots. But just as often you may find yourself divided in terms of what is available. For example, number of reels, bonus games, multipliers, bonuses, free spins.
Do you know what these mean specifically? If you don’t, you don’t have to worry and you don’t have to be ashamed after all everyone started playing casino games at some point in his life and in many cases even the most experienced players don’t know all the nuances of this industry, because it’s just really vast! But we decided to give you a helping hand today and for this purpose we have prepared a special article in which you will be able to learn about the most common solutions and features in slot machines.
Three Reels Online Slots
This category generally covers slot games that use three reels. These are often referred to as Classic or Fruit (not quite rightly), or Hot Spots. It can be argued that this is a category that includes some of the simplest gambling games but that doesn’t at all mean that they are not worthy of attention. You can find some really great items among them, such as:
- Break da Bank
- Triple Diamond
- Bar Blacksheep
- Alchemist’s Lab
- Mega Joker
A huge advantage of three-reel games is the simple and easy to learn bets. They have three reels, usually three rows of symbols (making 9 positions in the game window) and several active win lines, usually from 1 to 9. So you can start playing within seconds of starting the slot machine in question, no need to waste time flicking through the rules and win tables.
Five Reels Online Slots
The vast majority of slot machines from basically all manufacturers fall under this group. It is undoubtedly the most numerous group, in which we can find both fruit games (like Fruit Mania), Hot Spot slot machines (Dazzling Hot, Sizzling Hot), classic slots (Starburst), video slots (Terminator II, Thunderstruck II), slot machines with progressive prize pools (Mega Moolah, Arabian Nights, Mega Fortune), 3D slots (Golden Skulls, Egg-o-Matic) and other games that are harder to classify.
In this group there is also the biggest variety because one-armed bandits have 5 reels, but they can have from 3 symbols per reel (in fact most games, for example Starburst), four rows, that is 5×4 layout (Great Zeus, Chinatown, Great Griffin), 5×5 layout that is a symbol window having 25 positions (Wildchemy, Fat Santa, Fortunium, or Rise of Olympus). There are even 5×6 games with six rows of symbols (Age of Asgaard, Phoenix Reborn).
In this category you will also find the most interesting additional features bonus games (sometimes very complex, such as Golden Skulls by NetGame Entertainment), free spins, win multipliers, wilds with different functionalities (sticky, exploding, expanding, etc.), scatters, Gamble option (possibility to double each win) and many other attractions.
Free Spins in Slot Machines
One of the most popular bonus features in slot games is undoubtedly free spins. In general, the concept is that once certain conditions are met, the game rewards the player with a package of free spins. Free in the literal sense, because the player can spin the reels a certain number of times without having to pay a single cent. Of course, any winning combinations hit then will contribute to the player’s total balance that is, they will be credited to the player’s account.
There are two general rules for getting free spins (although of course there are exceptions to this rule!). These are:
- A package of free spins as part of a bonus awarded by the casino. Very often such an option is available to new players when opening an account. The casino then grants a so-called Welcome Bonus, which in some cases offers the doubling of the deposited amount and free spins without a deposit on the game indicated by the casino or on all titles from the offer of the given online service.
- Accomplishment of a certain amount of money and a free spins package without a deposit on the game indicated by the casino.
- Complete a certain task in the game. The most typical example of such a task may be hitting a certain number of special symbols, called scatters. They usually have several functions, of which the most important is undoubtedly just rewarding the player with free spins. Let’s look at a simple example based on Merkur Gaming’s excellent Hide and Seek game. It has five reels and three rows of symbols, so the game window covers fifteen positions. If you hit multiple scatters in a single spin, the symbol of which is a policeman with handcuffs, you will get the following wins:
|Number of scatters in the game window
||Number of free spins
It’s worth noting at this point an important fact that scatters virtually never have to be on an active win line they can fall anywhere in the game window. In many cases, they are also still available during the free spins round, which translates into another extremely attractive benefit well, if you hit a certain number of these symbols again, you will win more free spins. And that, in theory, means you can play forever!
Keep in mind, however, that not every slot machine offers this type of feature, so it’s always better to make sure beforehand. And also remember that you can get free spins for registering without a deposit at most serious online casinos.
Additional Rounds in Slots
Extra Rounds is another interesting feature, but one that should not be confused with the free spins described above. This particular option differs quite significantly from free spins in its entire concept. It consists in the fact that after a given spin has been completed, the player is given the option of an additional spin on any of the reels of their choice but only one. Such additional spin will be priced accordingly by the game, usually it will be a part of the original bet amount for the game.
Probably the best example of this type of solution would be Microgaming games, such as:
- African Quest
- Book of Oz Lock’n Spin
- Break da Bank Again Respin
This option is of course entirely voluntary, the player can use it or not at his discretion. He can also choose for himself which reel he would like to spin again, if any. What makes this feature so useful is that it’s perfect for situations where you’re missing one symbol or wild to get some high-paying combination for example, you have four highest paying symbols, but there’s a gap in the middle of an active payline. You can then try to “tighten” that one reel so as to hit the missing symbol in the right place.
We know from experience that this option is great for games with a large number of active paylines, as it significantly increases your chances of winning.
Win Multiplier in Base Slot Games
This feature allows you to increase your winnings by a certain number of times. Such multipliers can be obtained in many different ways, depending on the game. Sometimes you just need to hit the right number of scatters to claim a package of free spins, during which each prize will be multiplied (for example, in the Lucky Mahjong Box game, each win during a round of free spins gets a multiplier of x3). Sometimes you just need to get the right bonus symbol, or meet another condition invented by the developers of a particular game.
Return Spin (Respin) Feature in Slots
The re-spin option is an interesting feature found in some games. It is quite similar to free spins, but with one significant difference. Well, in order to activate it, a certain condition has to be met, but it is different from scatters that reward the player with free spins. This may not sound very clear, which we are well aware of, so we will present the whole thing on the example of Atlantean Treasures Mega Moolah game by Microgaming.
In the case of this game, an important symbol is the wild. Apart from its standard function of replacing other symbols, it has another task. If you hit it anywhere in the game window, then regardless of the hands of the other symbols, the wild will expand across the entire reel. The player will receive the prizes due, the reel with the wild will be locked and the remaining four reels will take one extra spin. Of course, the player pays nothing for it (this re-spin is completely free), and if it results in any more winning combinations, the player will naturally claim them as well.
Slots Online Bonus Symbols
There are special symbols, called bonus symbols, in virtually every category of slot machines. These symbols can perform a number of different functions. Some of them have already been described above, but now we will briefly detail the most common ones:
- Wild symbols that substitute for others on the reels. They act as wildcards.
- Scatter usually responsible for rewarding the player with free spins. Sometimes also additional win multipliers.
- Win multipliers are special symbols that either permanently increase the win multiplier throughout the game, or increase the win multiplier for a particular spin. In the latter case, they are generally also spins.
- Bonus, jackpot, etc. symbols with special meaning, specific to a particular game. They can, for example, activate bonus games, or reward the player with a jackpot.
In the old days, the wild symbol was the most important element on the reels of slot machines, because it acted as both a bonus, a wild and on top of that it was the highest paying symbol. Nowadays its meaning has become a bit blurred in the era of five-reel machines you don’t tend to use symbols with multiple functions anymore, rather they are spread over several different elements. But still, in many games the joker does appear, usually as the highest scoring symbol such as in the Mega Joker game.