Guide to Playing Real Money Slots Online

If you’ve decided that you want to play slots online for real money, then there are a few things you need to know. The team at Gamble Online is here to teach you how to do just that. We’re here to make your online slots journey a rewarding one.

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How to Play Online Slots

Make your bet, spin the reels and away you go!

The process of playing online slots is simple. First, select the online casino you’d like to play at. If it allows free slot games, then consider trying a few of them out first. After that, there’s really only four steps standing between you and playing slots online at a casino to win real money:

  • Sign up at the online casino you’ve chosen.
  • Make a deposit if you want to play for real money.
  • *Optional* — Claim a welcome bonus and potentially double your initial deposit. You might even get some free spins out of it.
  • Pick an online slot and start playing.

Types of Online Slots

When it comes to the world of slots, whether it be real money slots or free online slots, there are a few main types you’ll come across at casinos. In fact, there are three types of slots you can play at just about any online casino:

5-Reel Slots

Divine Fortune Slots Jackpot - New Jersey PlaySugarHouse

By far the most popular online slot variant. These slots offer players hundreds of ways to win, literally. The 5-reels almost always will come with multiple paylines, often times 25 or more. It’s with these games that you’ll also see the most bonus features like free spins, scatters, wild symbols, etc.

Progressive Jackpot Slots

This is where you can win the big bucks, or … Mega Moolah. Get it? In all seriousness, though, you won’t find bigger payouts on any other type of online slot. Progressive Jackpot slots are ones in which players who are playing for real money contribute to the jackpot with each spin. That is, of course, until someone wins the jackpot. Then, it starts all over again. Big wins on progressive jackpot games have paid in the tens of millions of dollars.

3-Reel Slots

Screenshot of triple dragon slot

This is the original slot machine layout. Just like its name, these casino games rely on the player getting three identical symbols lined up on the reels. With the overwhelming popularity of the 5-reel variant, these are less common now at online casinos. But, they still have their place.

Once upon a time, the only way to win with these was lining up three of the same symbol. Now, with the evolution of video slots and online slots, you’ve got more ways to win. Modern 3-reel slots allow you to bet on multiple paylines and will often offer you wild symbols, increasing your chances of winning.

Regardless of the type of slot you’ve chosen, you also need to be aware of the different features that come with it. These features can often be the difference between winning big and spending your entire bankroll.

Different Online Slots Features

Screenshot of symbols for Thunderstruck II slot

There are a variety of in-game features that you will see in the thousands of online slots out there. Each symbol changes the casino game in an exciting way. You’ll see in-game elements like:

  • Scatter Symbols — They usually unlock free games and don’t have to follow paylines.
  • Bonus Games — Usually activated by a scatter symbol or a special symbol. Bonus games can be variations of the slot in question or new games altogether.
  • Free Spins — Either activated by symbols during a normal game, or part of a bonus game, these are spins that cost you nothing but can win you thousands.
  • Multipliers —Exactly what they sound like, these multiply your win by whatever number they represent.
  • Wilds — Just like in a card game, these can be any symbol (except a scatter or bonus symbol).

Software Developers of Online Slots

The ability to play these slots for real money is made possible by the litany of software providers out there. There are quite a few different software companies in the online casino space, which makes it hard to know which ones are reputable and which ones aren’t.

Lucky for you as a real money slots player, it’s a casino’s job to make sure that all of the games they promote are fair. To further protect you, when we review a casino game, or developer, we’re also checking the same things. While there are popular companies like Microgaming, Playtech and NetEnt that serve international markets, unfortunately they don’t serve players from the United States.

If you’re an American player, you should be looking for slots titles from:

  • Real Time Gaming
  • BetSoft
  • Rival

Most importantly, though, we’ve made sure that any casino we recommend to you serves players from the United States. As a result, you won’t have to worry about any of the games on those sites not working for you. We’ve taken care of that.

Real Money Slots Glossary

Real Money Slots Term Definition
Action or Play Action or play is the total amount of money wagered on a slot machine in a session or over a different time frame. Player’s club benefits are usually based on total action. When you put your club card in the slot machine it tracks your total play or action.
Bank of Slot Machines A bank of slot machines is a group or row of machines sitting beside each other. Some of them may be physically connected, but they don’t have to be. The machines may share a common name or theme or they may be entirely different.
Basic Slots or One Line Slots The simplest slot machines are one line or basic slots. Usually using only three reels, these slot machines are what dominated casino floors before all of the video slots became popular. Most of these machines have a simple pay out structure and only use a few symbols. Rarely will a basic slot machine have any type of jackpot because of the limited number of possible combinations.
Bet Max or Bet Max Button Pay out charts are almost always based on a maximum wager. The bet max button automatically places a wager of the maximum amount based on your coin size. If the maximum bet is 10 coins per line and you set your coin size to 10 cents, the bet max button will bet $1 per line.
Bet One or Bet One Button This button places a bet of a single coin when pushed. I don’t recommend using the bet one button because most of the top pay outs give a bonus based on a max bet. If you can’t afford to place a max bet find a slot machine that offers a smaller coin size.
Betting Units or Credits A betting unit or credit is based on the size of coin you’re using and how much money you have in the machine. If you have $100 in the machine and are using a quarter coin size you have 400 betting units or credits.
Big Bertha Slot Machine A Big Bertha slot machine is a marketing gimmick in the form of a huge slots game. Usually placed near a main entrance to the casino floor, these machines can have multiple reels (even more than normal slots) and take up as much space as a regular bank of machines.
Big Hit or Big Win A big hit is simply a big win. One slots player may tell another they had a big hit after hitting a top pay out or jackpot.
Bonus Feature A bonus feature is one of the new things that became available after the introduction of video slot machines. A common bonus feature is unlocked by hitting a certain combination of symbols and opens in a new screen. A bonus feature can be a different game entirely or include a mini movie or just be a different area with reels like the main game. Usually players have the chance at larger wins during a bonus feature than during normal game play.
Bonus Multiplier or Bonus Modifier A bonus modifier or multiplier is a symbol or series of symbols that multiply a win by a certain amount. Common multipliers are two times (2X) and three times (3X) but they can be any amount the game is programmed for.
Branded Slots Branded slot machines are themed after popular television shows or movie franchises. Examples include Wheel of Fortune Slots and Lord of the Rings slots.
Cashback or Cash Back Cash back is exactly what it sounds like. Some player’s clubs offer cash back on slot machine play. Others only offer non cash comps, but if you look around you can find cashback slots offers both online and in land based casinos.
Certified Slots Some casinos run promotions featuring certified slots. A certified slot machine has a payback percentage that’s been certified and is then advertised by the casino. Most certified promotions feature slots or groups of slot machines that pay out 97% or higher. Occasionally you may even be able to participate in a promotion that offers certified slots that have a 100% pay back percentage.
Coin In and Coin Out Coin in is the total amount of coins or credits played in a machine and the coin out is the total amount of coins paid out of the machine.
Coins Coins are the size of the base wager on a slot machine. In the past you could play with actual coins or tokens, but most slot machines today are played with cash or slots vouchers or tickets.
Coin Size The coin size is the amount each coin is worth. Some machines only have one coin size but some allow you to adjust the coin size. Coin sizes include penny, nickel, dime, quarter, fifty cents, dollar, and five dollar.
Cold Slots A cold slot machine is one that hasn’t paid out in a long time. Many players believe machines run hot or cold, but mathematically machines simply pay out the percentage that they’re programmed to pay out over time.
Comps Comps are earned through a player’s club for playing slot machines and other casino games. Comps can include free hotel stay, free meals, free flights, cash back, coupons, special deals, and just about anything else of value the casino may give you in exchange for your play.
Credits When you put money into a slot machine it’s divided by the coin size to get the total number of credits you have to play with. If the machine has a coin size of 50 cents and you put in $60 you have 120 credits.
Denomination The denomination is the size of the coin for the slot machines. Some machines let you change the denomination but some have a set coin size.
Fixed Value Slots A fixed value slot machines has only one size bet available. You can’t pick how many lines, coins per line, or the coin value. These machines aren’t as rare as many think. Some players prefer a simple playing decision and these machines fit the bill. All you do is put money in and hit the spin button.
Five Line Slot or Five Liner A five line slot machine simply has five possible pay lines. This isn’t a term used often now because of the explosion of availability of 25 line and higher machines
Free Spins Free spins are exactly what they say. Most free spins are part of a bonus situation or game or a multiplier or other special feature.
Hammer A Machine Hammering a slot machine is a slang term used to describe playing a single machine for hours on end. The most common reason for hammering a machine is when a progressive jackpot is high and the player is hoping to hit it.
Hit and Run Hit and run describes a slots player who plays a few spins on a machine and then moves on to the next machine. These players usually are looking for a hot machine so if a slot doesn’t hit in a few spins the player moves on until she finds a machine that hits a win in the first few spins.
Hit Frequency Hit frequency is how often a slot machine pays out a winning hand. Some machines pay out less on a greater number of hands while others pay out fewer times but larger amounts when they do pay. You’ll find players who like both types of machines, but generally they like to win more often, even if the wins are smaller than on tighter machines.
Hold Percentage The hold percentage is how much the slot machine keeps as a percentage of total play or action for the casino. If a slot machine pays back 96%, the hold percentage is 4%. This means that in the long run the machine earns $4 for every $100 that’s wagered.
Hot Slots or Hot Slot Machine A hot slot machine is the opposite of a cold one. A hot machine seems to be paying out at a higher than average rate. Many players jump from machine to machine in hopes of finding a hot machine.
Jackpot The jackpot is the top pay out amount on a slot machine. Sometimes the jackpot is a progressive top prize that climbs with each spin until a player wins it.
Line or Pay Line A line is usually from left to right and is the plane or area where you need to line up matching symbols to win a pay out. You activate one or more lines on most slot machines and if a line isn’t activated you can’t win for combinations on that line.
Linked Progressive Jackpot Some progressive slot machines are linked to other machines. Most of the time the machines are all the same brand, but they don’t have to be. This helps progressive jackpots climb faster because more machines are feeding the top prize. The machines don’t have to be in the same casino to be linked. Online casinos often offer progressive games shared by hundreds of different casinos.
Loose Slots A loose slot machine is one that is paying out more often than normal, or one that appears to be doing so. Loose slots is another name for hot slots.
Multiplier  A multiplier is an amount a winning spin is multiplied by. Multipliers usually are associated with free spins, scatter symbols, or another special feature or symbol.
Near Miss A near miss is when a symbol lands just above or below a line that would have made a nice pay out.
Nickel Slots Nickel slot machines are ones using a 5 cent coin size. While you can generally play for only a nickel a spin, most of these machines require a larger bet size per spin to have a chance to win the top amount. The coin size is still five cents but you have to bet more than one coin per line and / or more than one line.
Nudge Slot  A nudge slot machine moves a symbol that’s close to making a winning combination the little extra it needs to line up for a win. This is just a gimmick on how a winning spin is displayed, but some players enjoy the thought of nudging the machine to make a losing spin a win.
One Armed Bandit A one armed bandit is a term for a slot machine with a lever on the side. Many slot machines don’t have levers now, but in the old days they all had arms on the side you had to pull down to activate the reels.
One Liner or One Line Machine A one line slot machine only has a single pay line. Fewer and fewer one line slots are available as multi line video slots games have become more popular.
Payback Percentage (RTP) Payback percentage is the amount of money the slot machine pays back as a percentage of the amount wagered trough a machine. A slot machine that has a 93% payback percentage pays back $93 out of every $100 on average to the player. In the short run the percentage will vary a great deal, but in the long run it’ll average out correctly.
Pay Line or Payline A pay line is a line where matching symbols must line up to match winning combinations listed on the pay table. Most machines have multiple pay lines that must be activated to be eligible to win.
Payout or Pay Out A pay out is how much you get for a specific winning combination of symbols. For example, you might get a payout of 25 coins for lining up four matching symbols from left to right on any pay line.
Pay Table  The pay table is the screen or card that explains which matching symbols pay and how much they pay.
Penny Slots Penny slots are set for a coin size of one cent. Rarely can you actually play for a penny a spin because you have to activate multiple lines and play more than one coin per line.
Primary Jackpot  A primary jackpot is the top paying jackpot on a machine that has more than one jackpot. Some machines have a secondary or group of secondary jackpot amounts.
Progressive Slot Machines A progressive slot machine has a top payout that grows with each spin. Most progressive jackpots are tied to multiple machines so the jackpot grows quickly. A percentage of each spin is added to the progressive amount.
Quarter Slots A slot machine with a set coin amount of 25 cents.
Reels Reels are the wheels that spin inside the machine or appear to spin on the screen of a video slot machine. The most common machines have three or five reels, but other sizes are sometimes available. I’ve seen seven and ten reel machines, but they aren’t common.
Random Number Generator or RNG The computer program that controls the outcome of the slot machine is called a random number generator. Each possible outcome has a number or numbers assigned to it and the RNG picks a number at random for every spin. A particular losing combination may have hundreds of numbers attached to it and the top pay out may only have one number assigned to it.
Scatter Symbol A special symbol that can land anywhere on the reels and still pay out or unlocks a bonus of some sort without landing on particular lines. The symbol is scattered all over the screen instead of lining up.
Second Screen Bonus Video slot machines sometimes have a bonus round that launches after certain combinations are hit. A second screen bonus is one that opens on a second or different screen from the regular game play screen.
Secondary Jackpot Some slot machines have more than one jackpot. The highest jackpot is called a primary and all of the others are called secondary jackpots.
Select Lines Used to select the pay lines you want to activate for the next spin. Most players either play the maximum number of lines or a single line.
Slots Club or Player’s Club The slots club or player’s club offers rewards or comps for your slots play. The more you play the higher the possible rewards.
Slots Host The casino employee who takes care of slot machine questions or issues is called a slots host.
Slots Schedule A slots schedule is another name for a pay chart or pay out chart. Most players don’t use this terminology now.
Slot Machine Tournament A slot machine tournament is when you pay a set entry fee and play for a set period of time for the chance to win cash and prizes. The players with the highest amount at the end of play win the listed prizes.
Sound of Rain The sound of rain is an old saying that slots players used when actual coins were used in the slot machines. The sound of rain was the sound of coins hitting the metal tray at the bottom of the machine after a big win.
Spin or Spin Button The spin button is used to start spinning the reels. The spin button replaced the lever on the side of the slot machine.
Streaky Slots A streaky slot machine is one that players believe runs hot or cold in streaks. A machine is usually believed to run both hot and cold at different times if it’s streaky.
Symbols The symbols are the pictures of different items on the reels of the slot machine. You need to line matching symbols up on an activated pay line to win. Symbols can be anything from a bar to an elaborate portrait. Popular symbols include cherries and pictures that match the theme of the slot machine.
TITO  Ticket In / Ticket Out Slot machines have mostly stopped accepting coins and use cash and tickets to accept money and pay out money. You may put cash or a ticket in the machine but when you cash out the machine prints a ticket. You take the ticket to the cage when you’re ready to cash out.
Tight Slots A tight slot machine is one that seems to be paying out at a lower than expected rate. It may be paying out fewer times than expected or fewer coins than expected.
Total Bet The total bet is the total amount of coins or money wagered on a slot machine for the current spin.
243 Pay Lines Machine Some new slot machines have 243 pay lines, claiming to cover every possible pay line. They simplify things in one way, but if you try to figure out all the possible pay lines you’ll probably end up with a headache.
Video Slots A video slot machine has a picture of reels on the screen, like a video game. You won’t find any actual reels inside the cabinet of a video slots game.
Voucher or Ticket A voucher or ticket is the same thing I described in the ticket in ticket out section above. A ticket is printed when you take money out of the slot machine and you can exchange the ticket for cash in the cage or use it at a different slot machine.
Wide Area Progressive or WAP A wide area progressive is one with slot machines from different areas connected for a single progressive jackpot. Any player on one of these machines can win the jackpot and all the players are making the progressive amount go up as they play.
Wild Symbols Wild symbols, usually found on video slot machines, are used in place of other symbols to help you form winning pay line combinations. Some wild symbols offer a multiplier bonus when used in a winning pay line. See the pay chart on your machine for more details.

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