How to Play Slots

Slots are the most widely accessible casino games of all, coming in all shapes and sizes and with very different themes to suit anyone’s tastes. There are thousands of titles to choose from online, while land-based venues boast rows upon rows of machines which can be played without any need for a dealer or other players. Best of all, it is entirely possible to win massive prizes without making huge bets.

Where to Play Slots

Visit your local venue to check out the range of slots on offer, or play online and try out a few for free to make sure you’ve got the one you like best. Head to any of the following recommended online casinos to find a wide choice of games:


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William Hill Casino

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Basic Rules

The number of terms used in slots can make the game sound tricky, but it really just comes down to a simple process of making a bet, either by inserting coins in the slot machine or making a wager if playing online. You then press a button and the reels (the columns on the screen) begin to spin. The reels then stop at a random point and the symbols showing on the screen determine whether you are a winner or not. Each slot will have a number of different paylines, which are interconnected icons running across the screen in either a horizontal, diagonal or zig-zag pattern.

The number of paylines correlates with the number of coins that are accepted on a game, meaning that players generally have more ways to win when they can put on bigger stakes. A “coin” in this instance has varying value, with minimum and maximum stakes per coin set out by each game. As well as payline payouts, there are various other features which can reward players, including:

  • Free Spins - These can be triggered randomly or as a bonus and allow you a certain number of free spins, and you also keep any winnings you gain.
  • Scatter Symbols - Specific symbols which can appear anywhere on the reels to trigger a win (not necessarily on a payline). These images can also open up special features such as a bonus round or free spins.
  • Wild Symbols - These symbols effectively act as a joker or wild card, as they create winning paylines by transforming into any of the other game symbols (except Scatters).
  • Bonus Rounds - Usually set in motion by a set number of Scatter symbols appearing on the reels, bonus rounds have the potential to lead to massive wins and often open up on a second screen.
  • Multipliers A feature which can be uncovered by Wild or Scatter symbols or during free spins, Multipliers increase the size of your bet so that any winnings are also multiplied.


As playing slots in a casino is largely a solitary activity which does not require a great deal of interaction with other players, the general guideline for etiquette at a casino is just to behave in a civilised way and be respectful to staff who may be passing by or offering help.

If you see a slot machine with an item of clothing in front of it or on the seat, assume that the machine is currently in use and don’t take it over for yourself. Make sure to respect other players and be considerate at busy times. Some slot lovers like to use more than one machine at a time, but this isn’t fair if there is anyone else waiting and should be avoided. It is best to concentrate on one machine and not to leave your post until you are ready to prevent anyone else from taking over the machine while you’re still playing.


Payouts are triggered randomly in slots, so success and failure really comes down to luck, but players can still help themselves in a number of ways. Most games offer free play so you can get accustomed to how one works before you make any bets and assess whether there are enough ways to win to make playing the game worth your time. There is such a wide choice of slots that a certain theme might take your fancy; for example, one based on a favourite movie or one with particularly striking visuals, but the crucial details are how you can win. Where possible, look closely at the prizes offered for each payline.

Progressive slots are games where there is a jackpot which steadily grows until it is won, and players have been known to land millions for a relatively small stake if the game is linked with other venues, whether online or in a land-based casino. The appeal of such games is obvious but, just like a lottery, the odds of winning are slim. Non-progressive slots may not have such large prizes on offer, but it may be that you can achieve a higher amount of smaller wins.

Financial management is particularly vital in slots, so be clear about what your aims are and make sure not to wager more than you can afford to lose. If you get lucky and receive bonuses, take advantage of them, but don’t keep expecting fortune to smile on you. Treat a game as a bit of fun rather than a way to get rich, and be aware that advertised payout percentages may not always be in your favour.

Some slots claim to pay out as much as 97 percent of total takings, but don’t assume this applies to every £100 invested. In reality, a complete cycle of a slot machine may be 8,000 or 10,000 individual spins, and so it will be a minority of players who leave with the majority of the cash, while most players will lose.

Avoid falling into the trap of thinking about machines or games as “hot”, “cold”, “loose” or “tight”, meaning that they must be due to pay out or aren’t paying out enough. Slot machines are programmed to be entirely random, and any perceptible pattern isn’t really a pattern at all - it simply appears to be one in the mind.

Visit the Casino Glossary to find out more about some of the terms which you might come across when playing slots.

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