When you first start playing slot machines online, you can be forgiven for being confused by all the terminology and jargon.
Like all games, slots have their own “language,” or terms, and it’s necessary to understand them if you want to truly master the games and stand the best chance of winning.
Not understanding slots terms can lead to:
- Picking lame games with terrible features and weak jackpots
- Making uneducated mistakes by betting too little/too much or not playing correctly
- Feeling confused by potentially lucrative features and letting that put you off playing an otherwise great game
Don’t worry, though, because we’ve put together this slots glossary to clear it all up. If there’s a specific term you’re confused about or if you just want to improve your general knowledge of slots machines, this page was made for you.
Common Slots Terms and Conditions
All Ways Wins – A slot which doesn’t have specific, set numbers of paylines (see below) but has hundreds of ways to win in every conceivable direction.
Autospin – If you’re tired of clicking the mouse and want to let your slot play while you kick back and relax (or do other more productive things), you can set a certain number of spins to play automatically.
Bet – Also called a “stake” or “wager,” this is the total amount bet per spin. For example, if you bet at $0.20 per payline and activate 10 paylines, your total bet per spin will be $2.
Bonus Feature – Most modern slots have special mini-games built into them. These are triggered by landing special combinations of symbols. For example, you might get 10 free spins for landing three scatter symbols (see below).
Branded Slots – All slots have a theme of some sort, but some are themed on movies, brand names, or TV shows. The operator typically pays a license fee for this right. For example, iSoftBet has a slot themed on the hit war movie Platoon.
Cascading Reels – This is a built-in special feature some slots have whereby a winning combination pays out and then vanishes from the screen, only to be replaced by new symbols. This can lead to multiple back-to-back wins from a single spin.
Classic Slots – These are video slots themed on the vintage fruit machines you might have found in pubs and casinos 10-20 years ago. They’re typically simple games with few features. Symbols are commonly fruits, bells, and bars.
Coins – These are the currency of slots. Rather than bet cash directly, you bet coins, which have a corresponding cash value. You can alter the number of coins you bet per line and the value of the coins before you spin, checking it against your bankroll.
Expanding Symbols – Some games have special symbols which expand to cover an entire reel when they land.
Free Spins Rounds – This is a common special feature found in modern video slots. You will receive a certain number of free spins for landing a specific combination of symbols (often three or more scatter symbols). These free spins are for real money, meaning you can keep what you win.
Free Spins Bonuses – These are free spins offered by the casino and are not a game feature. They are a promotional offer given by the casino which may or may not require a deposit, depending on the offer.
Fruit Machine – These are the old-school slots you will have seen in pubs and casinos back in the day. Classic slots are often themed on these.
Gamble Feature – Some slots offer the ability to double up on what you win. You might be asked to predict the color of a random card drawn from a deck or the result of a coin toss. You can lose, of course, which is the downside of this feature.
Jackpot – The top prize a slot offers for landing its highest-value combination. For example, you might win 5,000x your bet size for landing five dollar symbols on an active payline.
Max. Bet – Each slot has a maximum amount you can bet per spin. This can range from $20 to thousands of dollars, depending on the game.
Min. Bet – Likewise, all slots have a minimum bet per spin. It’s common for this to be $0.10-$0.20, but it can be higher in some high-stakes slots.
Migrating Symbols – These are special symbols which can move to the right, left, up, or down, depending on the feature in question. They typically appear and move after each spin in a free spins bonus round.
Multiplier – These are a special feature of some slots which multiply wins by a set amount. For example, you might benefit from 8x multipliers in a free spins round. This means all wins will be boosted by 800% for the duration of that feature.
Nudge – This isn’t so common in online slots, but it is a feature of many fruit machines. It allows you to move symbols up or down one position to help create winning combinations.
One-Armed Bandit – These are physical slot machines with an extended handle on the side which you pull for each spin.
Payline – These are payout patterns which pay coin values if you land matching symbols across them. The simplest example is of a payline of three symbols straight across the middle row.
Payout – Not to be confused with the jackpot, payouts are smaller-value cash amounts won for landing lower-value symbols in specific combinations or winning bonus features.
Paytable – A table referencing what symbols are worth and what the payline patterns are. Paytables often contain information related to bonus features, too.
Picking Rounds – These are bonus rounds in which you’ll pick symbols on the screen for cash prizes. For example, you might see five boats on the screen. You’ll get a cash amount for each one you pick. Often has a “killer” symbol which ends the feature.
Penny Slots – Slots for small stakes, as the name suggests.
Pokies – The Australian name for slot machines.
Progressive Jackpot – These are larger, interlinked jackpots which are fed by the bets made on all slot games across a network. Progressive jackpots can reach tens of millions in value.
RNG – This is an acronym for random number generator, which controls the outcome of slots. These are mathematical formulas which ensure the randomness (fairness) of games.
Reels – Slots are typically three-reel or five-reel games. These are vertical columns of symbols which “spin” each time you make a bet.
Rows – These are horizontal columns of symbols. Most slots are three-row games.
RTP – This is an acronym for return to player. Each slot has an RTP, expressed as a percentage, which determines how much of a bet is returned to players over the long run. For example, a slot with an RTP of 97% returns $0.97 out of every $1 bet.
Scatter Symbols – These are special symbols which can trigger bonus features and can often create their own high-value payouts. For example, you might land three scatter symbols and get 10 free spins and a 20x payout.
Spins – We hope this one is obvious. The reels “spin” each time you bet, and new symbols fill the positions on the reels.
Stacked Symbols – Some symbols land occupying multiple rows (often all three). These can create multiple winning paylines when they occur.
Tournaments – Slots competitions which have become increasingly popular at online casinos in recent times. You can win free spins and cash prizes for finishing in leading positions in these.
Video Slots – This is the name for slot machines with animations and special features.
Volatility – This determines how often a slot will pay out. For example, a high-volatility slot will pay less often, but the payouts will be bigger.
Wild Symbols – These are special symbols which can “substitute” for others to help create winning paylines. They are often high-value symbols. Sometimes winning paylines containing a wild are doubled or even tripled.
Win-Both-Ways – These are games which pay from left to right as well as from right to left.