A Beginner’s Guide to Online Slots (and a Few Insider Tips)

With themes ranging from blockbuster movies to mythology to pirates to far-off fantasy worlds, slots constitute over 70% of all online casino games. Their huge popularity is attributed to a multitude of factors – eye-popping visuals, intuitive interfaces, and potentially life-changing payouts to name just a few. 

Coupled with the fact that they are so ridiculously easy to play, it’s no surprise that more and more people are turning to online slots for entertainment.  Not to mention, the prospect (albeit a fairly minor one) of pocketing a huge prize.

Even so, the experience can be somewhat overwhelming for newcomers, with so many options to choose from and technical terms to remember.  The good news is that while online slot play does indeed involve a learning curve, it is just about as gentle as it gets.

In this guide, we’ll be taking a look at the basics you need to know for an enjoyable (and hopefully profitable) foray into the wonderful world of online slots.

Online Slots Terminology for Beginners

Getting started, here are a few essential gaming terms to know as a newcomer to online slots:


Reels are the horizontal columns integral to every slot game. Modern slots can have up to 5 reels, each with a symbol available in the slot. When the reels stop spinning, you can check if a winning combination has been made.

Pay Lines

The pay line is the sequence of symbols that must be present in order to win. A winning pay line combination can be in any of several possible orientations, including horizontal, vertical, diagonal, and zigzag.  It can also constitute any number of symbols, anything from 2 to more than 10. 


Every square on a slot machine grid is taken up by a different symbol, from cherries and bells to horseshoes and spades. Besides regular symbols, there are also multipliers, wilds, and bonus symbols that can lead to additional winning combinations.

Local Jackpots vs Progressive Jackpots

In most cases, a jackpot game will be linked to a local jackpot. This type of jackpot grows as more people play this specific game on this specific site. On the other hand, progressive jackpots can grow much bigger, as they are cumulative across a much broader range of games, sites, and brands. For example, one online slot brand operating in thousands of locations may put together a huge progressive jackpot worth millions to one lucky winner.


The percentage of money any given machine pays out (in relation to how much it collects) is known as the RTP, or Return to Player Percentage. Contrary to popular belief, this does not give any indication as to how much a player can expect to win, irrespective of how long they stick with any specific slot. It simply shows how much money the machine collects and pays out in total – a 95% RTP means £95 in total prizes for every £100 paid in by players.

The Different Themes of Online Slots

Video clips from movies, well-known cartoon characters, superheroes, seasonal and holiday themes, fantastical worlds inhabited by Vikings and dragons – just some examples of the kinds of themes you will come across with online slot games. 

Themed slot machines often provide players with a sense of nostalgia, while at the same time offering an immersive gaming experience for all-around entertainment. Because slot machine themes are based on such a wide array of subjects, every player has the opportunity to pick something that matches their own areas of interest.

And given how online slot play is supposed to be purely about entertainment (not chasing elusive profits), choosing themes that match your interests really is a no-brainer. 

4 Insider Tips For Online Slots

While lady luck may or may not always be on your side when playing online slots, there are a few things you should keep in mind to increase your chances of winning. Or at least, limit the likelihood of walking away from an online slot experience with empty pockets.

Here are four insider tips and recommendations for a more enjoyable experience when gambling online:

Play At Trusted Casinos

Online casinos with a good reputation are a must. All activities involving monetary transactions (such as deposits and withdrawals) should be entrusted only to those that have shown themselves to be 100% honest and fair.  Unless a casino has a glowing reputation, it is better to take your business elsewhere.

Take Advantage of Welcome Offers and Bonuses

In an effort to bring in new clients, casinos almost always offer introductory incentives. In this sense, the best casino bonuses that award free spins upon signup are a great example of online slot play.  Terms and conditions apply, but getting anything for nothing is better than getting nothing at all. Free spins can be particularly great, as they give you the opportunity to try out what’s on offer, before spending any money.

Select Slots With a High RTP 

The Return to Player (RTP) is the fixed amount that a slot machine or other online game will pay back for every £100 wagered, and is expressed as a percentage. The house edge is reduced in slot machines with a higher RTP, which means your chances of hitting the jackpot are more likely.  Hence, it simply makes sense to spend your money on casino games that give back as much as possible in prizes.

Have Fun!

Last up, it’s all too easy to forget to have fun, once you start focusing on prizes you may never pocket. Enjoying the ride is the main element of ensuring a good time while playing slots online. Without any concern for the outcome, you should take genuine joy in the experience from start to finish. Otherwise, you’ve lost sight of the point of gambling in the first place, and should consider revisiting your priorities.

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