Slots Gameplay

With all the action of the casino floor, it’s easy to get so swept up in one game that you completely ignore the others. As such, card sharks and roulette fanatics may have little to no working knowledge of what exactly is entailed in traditional slots gameplay. If you’re a poker player looking to try out some of the slot machines at your favorite brick-and-mortar or online casino, here is a quick guide to the typical gameplay for the slots.

What Kind of Slot Machine are You Playing?

Though they are usually grouped together in casinos, the name ‘slots’ actually applies to an incredibly diverse set of games. Variations of the game are most typically defined by the number of paylines (rows of symbols that determine whether a spin is a winner or not) in play, minimum bet size and potential jackpot size. Knowing what kind of stakes you’re playing for is an important first step in playing slots, so be sure you know what you’re getting into when you choose a title.

Time to Bet

Like most games at the casino, slots require players to make their bets before the action starts. Once you’ve selected a game, you’ll then have to decide your bet size. Most live machines accept a number of different “coin-sizes,” whether they are actual coins or the more modern card system, and as you might expect, the more you bet, the more you can win. This is a particularly important consideration when playing any form of bonus or progressive slots, as the only way to enter the additional rounds or contend for the progressive jackpot is to make the maximum bet.

Betting can be done in a number of means on modern slots. For example, online or video slots typically allow players to bet on multiple paylines simultaneously. Players will want to check out the pay table of the machine they are trying out to see what their bets could earn them.


Spin to take your chances towards a slots jackpot.


Depending on what kind of slot machines you’re playing, the act of spinning can be quite different. Of course, the traditional flat-top slots boast a long arm that you can pull to send the reels spinning. More modern machines, however, most typically have one or more buttons that will start the action, something that is also true of online slots.

Starting the spin signals the slot’s random number generator, and whatever combination of numbers are currently selected at the exact moment the button is pushed/arm is pulled is then sent to the reels and a winner is decided. This is another sequence that will vary from game to game. In many varieties, notably including traditional flat-top machines, each reel will stop spinning sequentially from left to right after a few seconds. Some machines, however, also have what are known as “skill stop” buttons, which allow players to stop the spinning reel immediately if they feel their timing is strong enough to secure a win.


Winning payouts in slots can be large or small depending on your bet and the symbols on the payline.


Playing the slots is a relatively simple process, so it should be no surprise that there are a number of ways to win. Players win by making particular combinations of symbols along the paylines. The number of combinations varies from game to game and can be augmented by special characters such as wild symbols and scatters. These combinations and the payouts that correspond to them can be found on the pay table, a small chart on the front of the machine (or readily available on your online slot’s interface).

Though winning from a player’s perspective is all a matter of aligning symbols on the reels, it should be noted that these are all just for show. All winnings and payouts are regulated by the random number generator, an internal computer that is constantly generating new and different numerical sequences that correspond to different symbols on the reels. In the past, players have expressed concerns that older, mechanical reels may at some point break down and not properly reflect winning combinations, though advances in the technologies have largely made these issues a thing of the past.

Bonus Rounds/Spins

A large number of slots offers special rounds or spins that become available when a player lands a particular combination of symbols on the reels – typically involving wild symbols. These bonus rounds will typically function similar to earlier rounds of play, but will offer players the chance to win additional payouts, such as progressive jackpots. As previously stated, these bonus rounds and spins will typically only be available to players making the maximum bet for the payline that hits the winning combination. Some titles may launch into separate “mini-games,” wherein the player will be tasked with beating a separate, simpler game in the hopes of winning cash and prizes.


Pull the lever to spin on a traditional slot machine.

Do It Again

Once this cycle is complete, you’ve either won or lost and are free to make up your mind whether you want to continue playing or not. When first starting out, it’s not a bad idea to shop around and try a bunch of different slots to see what you do and don’t like. Perhaps the thrill of chasing the progressive jackpot has you hooked, or maybe you prefer a title with solid bonus payouts.