Slot Machine Features

Gone are the days when slots were just simple 3 reel machines with 10 or so symbols on the reels ‐ modern online slots are way more design and feature intensive offering all kinds of symbols, line and reel combinations and ways to win.

The various symbols, bonus features, free spins and opportunities to "gamble" on the payout you've just received add a great deal of excitement but also a new level of complexity to slots play and as such we're going to take a look at the various features new generation slots have to offer so that you know what they're all about before you play.

Pay Lines

If you've ever played any kind of slot before you'll know that paylines are a basic feature on all slot machines, no matter how basic they may be. In their simplest form, slot machines will feature a single payline located straight across the screen in the centre of the reels. Other games have multiple paylines which can run a number of ways and for each payline you select you will be required to place an additional wager. This means that for games with 50 or 100 paylines, you'll need to wager a minimum of 50 or 100 coins depending on the number of lines you wish to play.

Coins

The number of coins you play represent the amount of money that you are wagering on each payline, which are totalled to give you the amount that you are betting per spin. If you happen to play 0.01 coins per payline which equates to just one penny, this may sound very affordable, but bear in mind that if the slot has 100 paylines and you are required to play them all, this will work out to around $1 per spin.

It is very important to understand how much you are betting on each spin and also to be aware that you are able to adjust the number of paylines or the coin size per line in order to alter your bet size. Just remember that some slots progressive jackpot slots require players to bet the maximum in order to qualify for the jackpot prize so make sure you read the game rules before you play.

Pay Tables

Every slot has a paytable attached to it and you should always review this before playing the game as these indicate how the game operates and what is required to obtain each level of payout. Paytables usually detail how much the game will payout for the various symbol combinations, Wilds and Scatters, Multipliers, Free spins and bonus games.

While more of a rarity, some slots paytables will even list the expected Return to Player (RTP) for that particular game. This will give you a clear indication of what your chances of winning are over the long term.

Bonus Symbols

Bonus symbols are the special slot symbols that activate the bonus game or free spins feature when playing a slot.

Bonus Games

When it comes to new generation online slots, everyone's favourite feature is the bonus game. These are special additions to the slot's base game that can be triggered at random or when a certain set of symbols appears across the reels. Bonus games come in a number of shapes and forms, some are just single screens where you are required to pick or match symbols to reveal rewards while others follow more of a storyline and you progress through stages as you perform required tasks successfully, being rewarded along the way of course.

Some bonus games require a certain skill element, while others are entirely random, but triggering these features is always about luck and is completely random.

Free Spins

Free spins are awarded in certain slots and as the name implies, these are spins that you don't have to pay for. This feature can be triggered in a number of ways but is usually activated when three or more free spins or scatter symbols appear on the reels. In some slots free spins features can be activated only once while in others they are re-triggered multiple times.

Retriggering

Retriggering refers to activating a bonus game or free spins feature again. Most slots players look for slots that offer re-triggering bonuses as these increase your winning potential. In some slots games, retriggering can occur on several consecutive occasions which means that you get to play one bonus round after another as you wrack up the rewards.

Gamble Features

Some slots bonus games have an optional feature which gives you the option to "gamble" the prize that you have just won in a "double or nothing" playoff. Generally you will be required to guess the suit or colour of a playing card which is displayed face down on the screen. If your prediction is correct you'll double the amount that you have already won, but if you're wrong you'll lose everything.

This element of risk is very attractive to some players and really adds to the excitement of the game. If it's not for you though, this feature is not compulsory and you can elect not to play and just walk away with your winnings.

Wild Symbols

In slots, wild symbols work in the same manner that they do in card games, substituting for a required symbol to complete a winning combination and earn you a payout.

Expanding Wilds

Many of the newly launched video slots are rich in animation, a feature which has allowed software developers to be very creative with how the games function and especially when it comes to wild symbols. This means that there are a number of wild variations which enhance game play for players.

Expanding wild symbols stop in a certain position on the reels, but instead of staying static they expand to cover all of the other symbols on the reel to create multiple winning combinations.

Stacked Wilds

Stacked wilds act in the same manner as all other wild symbols by replacing other symbols to create winning combinations, but similar to expanding wilds they are able to increase your winning potential exponentially.

They are generally found in stacks of 2, 3, 4 or 5 wilds which conceal all or part of the reel. The ways these symbols are used does vary from one slot to another, so always check the paytable for details on how they function.

Shifting Wilds

Shifting wilds are yet another take on the standard wild symbols and similar to sticky wilds, remain on the reels for subsequent spins once they appear. The difference with shifting wilds however is that they move around the reels with each spin in order to create larger and more frequent wins until they move off the reels.

Scatter Symbols

When playing a slot, you are required to line up a specific set of symbols in order to earn a payout. Scatter symbols however are not required to fall within a payline in order to payout, so when they appear on the screen you are guaranteed a win.

Multipliers

As the name implies, multiplier symbols multiply your winnings by a predetermined amount. So if you earn a 2x multiplier as part of a winning combination, your win will be doubled. There is no limit to the total a multiplier may offer and some developers are very generous with these winning symbols in their games.

Cascading Reels

Cascading reels are a relatively new, innovative slot feature that find their origin in the popular gem-themed online games. Once the symbols have landed on the reels, any winning lines explode to allow all new symbols to take their place and if these create winning combinations, they too will explode and more symbols will appear in their place. While there is a time limit to this feature which prevents it from repeating endlessly, this feature does add a great deal of fun to the game.

Progressive Jackpots

A progressive jackpot is one which grows incrementally as players place their bets and play the game. A small percentage of each bet is added to the progressive jackpot prize pool which means that the jackpots are ever increasing until some lucky player hits them. Some of these progressive jackpots are networked across multiple machines within a casino, while others are linked with all online casinos in a particular provider's network.

These slots generally offer lower odds than a fixed jackpot (or "flat-top") machine, but the jackpots are generally life-changing, often extending into the multi-million ranges.

With new games being developed on a regular basis, it's difficult to keep up with all of the innovation we are seeing on a regular basis, but one thing is for sure...we never stop being entertained.