The New Players’ Guide to Online Slots Lingo
So you’ve signed up to an online casino and you’re ready to play the latest and best online slots available. It’s just that, uh… well, what exactly is a wild? And should you go for the progressive jackpot or the cascading reels? Fret not, dear friend: we’ve got you covered with our online slots glossary! Learn your max bet from your multipliers, your cash bet from your payout, and your RNG from your RTP here.
Know your online slots terms and slang
Refer back to this definitive guide both before you dive into the realm of slots online, and while you’re spinning the reels. Below, we cover the most relevant and common phrases you’ll come across while playing slots online. Read on to speak (and win, hopefully) like the slots pro you were born to be!
Action: This is the total playing time accumulated by a player (you), in addition to all other amounts that you have both won and lost during a session. This information – your “action” – can usually be found on your slots club card, and the number is used for bonus offers, rollover requirements, and when clearing your wager.
All ways: Move over, fruit machines! All-ways slots have hundreds of possible paylines, which run from both from left to right, and from right to left.
Autospin: This feature may also appear as “autoplay” on your screen, and allows you to set the number of spins within a game, as well as the wager – making it easy for you to manage your payroll, and not get swept up in the excitement of it all. Of course, if you’d like to get swept up, you can always cancel autospin after any round!
Bet: The total amount of money that you have wagered on any spin.
Big hit: This is what you get when you hit the jackpot. (Good luck!)
(Bonus) feature: This is the cool stuff – like wilds and free spins – which many slot games have on offer. These bonus features can be randomly triggered throughout your game, or may appear when specific combinations of symbols appear on the reels.
Buy a pay: Most online slots give you a range in which to bet – from, say, 1 to 100 per line. “Buy a pay” means that payouts are only available at a certain wager amount per spin, meaning the jackpot won’t be available unless you’ve bet the amount specified or above.
Cashback: A casino may choose to refund a certain percentage of the losses as cashback; a cashback offer usually has specific requirements, such as a set amount of loss, before it kicks in.
Classic slot: This, as you may imagine, refers to the classic-style slot machine with three reels, minimal paylines, and no bonus features. They usually feature fruit symbols, 7s, bells, and BAR symbols.
Coins: Also known as credits, this is the amount of cash you have to bet with in a game at any given point in time. Coins come in multiple denominations, from a penny to multiple pounds (of course, in real-life casinos, you spin the reels by putting a coin in the slot, hence the name “slot” games).
Coin size: This is the value of each coin/credit on your slots game (eg, 1p to £50), and refers to the amount you spend per line on a spin. Increasing the coin size will cost more, but the win might be bigger, whereas decreasing the coin size allows you to play for less, but the jackpot you stand to win will be smaller.
Expanding wilds: First off, see “Wild” below for context. Second, you’re in luck! Expanding wilds don’t just substitute symbols, they stretch across an entire reel – increasing your chance of winning by, like, a lot!
Freeplay: As the name suggests, this allows you to play slots free of charge, without spending real money. This could appear as “demo mode” on your (soon to be) favourite slot games.
Free spin: An additional spin (or 15, if you’re lucky) offered free as either a sign-up bonus at a free-spins casino or as a bonus-round feature during a slots game.
Hit frequency: This refers to how often a slot lands on a winning combo. So if an online slot has a hit frequency of 21%, it pays out 21% of the time; or if the hit frequency is written as just a number – say 7 – you can expect a payout, on average, with one of every seven spins.
Instant winner: Receive your jackpot on the spot with an instant win, rather than being paid out over a number of years, as with an annuity win. Yes, please!
Jackpot: It’s what we’re aiming for! The jackpot is the highest amount and the biggest prize a game can pay out, and is often available only at maximum bet level.
Primary jackpot: See above.
Progressive jackpot: Slots with this element offer a grand prize that grows with each spin – until one lucky winner eventually claims it. This makes progressive jackpots a hot commodity, as the payout can amount to millions!
Max bet: This is the maximum number of coins you can wager on a single spin.
Min bet: You guessed it! This is simply the minimum amount you can wager per spin – usually 1p per payline, but this varies from casino to casino, and between game titles.
Multiplier: A bonus feature that boosts your winning payouts by a certain stated number of times; for example, a multiplier of “10” will increase your win up to 10x per bonus spin!
Multiway: While the classic slot machine has three good ol’ reels and one payline, multiways are slots that have literally hundreds of possible paylines.
Near-miss: That heartbreaking moment when one more 7 would have/could have/should have aligned perfectly on your reels, making you a jackpot winner… aaaaaaand, nothing!
Payline: This is the line (or pattern) that a combination of symbols forms on the reels to land a win.
Payout: The winning amount you score when you hit a winning combo. The payout is determined by the amount you wagered, the symbols you’ve landed, and any multipliers that are active.
Paytable: This is the section of the game’s display that lists the different winning combinations, symbols, rules, and how to activate bonus features.
Reels: The columns containing various symbols in the game (combinations of which you’re aiming to land), which spin independently of one another on your command, eventually coming to rest.
3-reel: The classic-style slot machine has three spinning columns containing various game-specific symbols.
5-reel: A typical online slot has five spinning columns containing various game-specific symbols.
Cascading reel: Also known as rolling or tumbling reels, this bonus feature replaces winning combos with the symbols from the reels above, creating possibilities for accumulated wins from just a single spin.
RNG: A random number generator determines what symbols land on the reels. It is based on a mathematical algorithm that randomises symbols for fair wins and losses. And to answer the age-old question – yes, slots are really random!
Rows: The horizontal lines of symbols. If, for example, you read that a slot game has a 5x3 structure, this means it has five reels with three visible rows in each.
RTP: The return to player (very often seen as just “RTP”) refers to the percentage, calculated over thousands of spins, of the total amount of money wagered that the machine pays back to players through wins. The higher the RTP, the more money back you might expect to receive when playing. But note, a high-volatility game will return infrequent but larger wins to the player, whereas a low-volatility game will return smaller but more frequent wins!
Scatter: A special symbol that pays out regardless of its position on the reels. It may also unlock bonus rounds and features! The scatter differs from game to game, so it’s always worth finding out what symbol to look out for, and what effect it has.
Spin: The virtual equivalent of pulling the lever on a one-armed bandit or physical slot machine, the “spin” command activates the spinning of the reels that we so love.