When you first encounter online slot machines, it may seem like they’re all the same. They certainly look the same, at least to begin with, but play a little while, and you’ll quickly learn that there are different types of slots, and there are a few categories which almost all of them fall into.
We work hard to make sure you don’t have to waste time gathering information from random, unreliable sources all over the web. That’s what we’ve done again here, creating an all-in-one resource explaining the different types of slot machines, both online and in the “real world.”
As you read, ask yourself which type of slot you would like to play most. We’ve provided a few examples and recommendations at the end of each section.
Fruit machines are found in pubs and bars all over Europe and in lots of land-based casinos around the world. They’re exactly as the name indicates – basic slot machines with a few symbols based on plums, melons, bananas, and bunches of grapes.
Fruit machines don’t offer many features (if any), but one common feature is the “nudge.” This gives you the ability to move symbols up or down to help create winning combos. You can also “hold” symbols in place for another spin.
Many players will fondly remember the clattering of coins pouring into the collection tray. Sadly, fruit machines are a dying breed these days, but they can still be found in Vegas casinos, among other places.
These are another form of land-based slot game. Their defining characteristic is their “handle,” which protrudes from the side of the machine and which you need to pull on to spin the reels.
One-armed bandits typically have three reels and rows and are made up of simple symbols, much like fruit machines. They won’t offer lots of bonus features, although we’ve encountered a few in which you can jump up a “level” to play a higher-value game with bigger payouts.
Some one-armed bandits have buttons for holds and nudges, but most of the gameplay focuses on pulling the handle and spinning for straight-up cash payouts.
Classic slots are the online version of fruit machines and one-armed bandits. They’ve been made to recreate these games in digital format and typically appeal to older players who remember how slots were back in the day.
Classic slots, like their land-based counterparts, don’t offer lots of extra bells and whistles. Instead, they typically offer 5-10 paylines, perhaps an expanding symbol or two, and maybe a few free spins thrown in just to spice things up. The aim of the game is to win cash payouts and the jackpot (if you’re lucky).
If you like classic slots, we suggest checking out either Super Nudge 6000 by NetEnt or Fire Joker by Play’n GO. These have been designed in the last few years, so they are sharper and have better graphics than many classic slots, but they have been designed to maintain that old-school feel.
Video slots are the main focus of online gambling these days. There are literally thousands of them out there, and new ones are being published every week.
Video slots are different from other kinds in that they have features, animations, and superior graphics, much like video games. A video slot might have a story, levels for you to move through, several bonus features and rounds, and a mesmerizing 3D theme based on ancient Egypt, Aztec culture, or something else entirely.
There’s a video slot for just about every holiday, sport, hobby, interest, or place in the world. In fact, there are several, giving you a huge variety of choice and the ability to play games themed on your own specific interests.
It’s worth taking the time to check various slots out before making a choice if you have a specific interest.
If you like football, you’ll find both disappointing video slots with perhaps one bonus round and a 1,000x jackpot, and you’ll also find slots with penalty shootouts, free spins, images of your favorite players, epic sound effects which make you feel like you’re at a game, and huge jackpots which could set you up for years to come.
Video slots come in all shapes and sizes. They have taken the concept of slot machines to a whole new level, and things will only get better from here.
There are so many great video slots we could recommend, but some of the best include Immortal Romance by Microgaming, Gonzo’s Quest by NetEnt, and Grim Muerto by Play’n GO. We suggest checking any one (or all) of those games out.
We mentioned above that there are all kinds of video slots online. From football to food to flowers to farming, there are all manner of themed slots out there.
However, there are also specific “branded” slots which are themed on big-name movies or even companies. These can be plain and simple, but they often have lots of great bonus features and decent jackpots, since it’s likely the slots company has paid a licensing fee and so will want to make the slot the best it can be to maximize their return on investment.
Branded slots we recommend checking out include Harley Davidson – Freedom Tour by IGT, RoboCop by Playtech, and Jumanji by NetEnt.
Most slot games designed within the last five years are mobile-compatible. You’ll only run into problems playing slots on mobile devices if you try to play old-school games which were designed before the mobile era.
However, there are specific mobile slots which have been designed with mobile players in mind. Nektan is a slot firm which has carved a name out for itself in the mobile gaming scene, and its slots are lite, fast, and they load extremely quickly.
Slots which have been designed specifically for mobile players don’t tend to have as many features as everyday video slots, but they usually have at least a free spins bonus round.
If you’re a mobile player, we recommend checking out Shamrock N’ Roll by Nektan.
Progressive Jackpot Slots
If you’ve ever heard the stories about online slots players winning tens of millions on a single lucky spin, you can be sure they are based on progressive jackpot slot games.
These games offer “super jackpots,” which are often linked together in networks.
IGT offers a series of slots known as the Mega Jackpots series in which every bet made on any game in the network contributes to the progressive jackpot. As you can imagine, this can lead to some massive prize pools.
Progressive jackpot games come in all types, too. There are simple, straightforward games with few features, and there are extravagant, feature-rich progressive slots which are a pleasure to play.
The features and extras are often overshadowed and deemed less important than they would be in other games due to the huge amounts of cash on offer, though. Some progressive jackpot slots offer the sort of wins you would think of as lotto wins, rather than slot wins. They can change lives in an instant and have done so on many occasions.
Two of the best progressive slots online are Mega Fortune by NetEnt and Jackpot Giant by Playtech. If you’re keen for a taste of what progressive jackpot slots can be, you would do well to check these games out.
Virtual Reality Slots
The age of virtual reality is coming, and with a few tweaks by tech savants and a few billion-dollar checks written by Mark Zuckerberg and friends, we’ll be living in a VR world we can only imagine, perhaps sooner than we think.
However, when it comes to slots, we don’t need to speculate too much about the future, because virtual reality slots are already here. In fact, there are now entire virtual reality casinos offering lots of slots to choose from.
Right now, this is all still in its infancy, and we expect massive strides forward over the coming 5-10 years. However, if you own a VR headset, you can now stroll around VR casinos and pick from various slot machines.
Once you begin playing the game, the screen takes up your view, just as it would when playing a standard video slot, so the VR experience focuses more on the casino experience, rather than the game itself. That said, it’s an experience in and of itself to have the game screen right in front of your face.
As VR progresses, who knows what could happen? Could 3D characters jump out of the game screen and entertain you? Could you be invited into the slot bonus feature, perhaps to follow a trail and achieve objectives Jumanji-style? We don’t know, but it sure is a lot of fun to think about.
You can play almost any slot in VR. Starburst and Twin Spin by NetEnt are popular choices, though, so we recommend starting there.
Types of Slots – Some Common Questions
Q. Is one type of slot better than another?
A. That really depends on what you’re looking for as an individual player. Obviously, a VR slot with lots of free spins and a picking feature will be a lot different than a three-reel classic slot. We prefer to think of slots as different, rather than as better or worse.
Q. Which slots have the biggest jackpots?
A. Progressive jackpot slots almost always have the biggest jackpots, with few exceptions. Mega Moolah, Mega Fortune, and Gladiator Jackpot offer jackpots worth millions. Remember that they’re always changing as new bets are made and jackpots are won, so which has the biggest jackpot at this time is something you’ll have to look into.
Q. What does RTP mean, and how does it relate to slot games?
A. RTP stands for return to player. It is the amount of money a slot will return to players over the long run. For example, a slot with an RTP of 96% will return $0.96 out of every $1 bet. Don’t make the mistake of thinking it will return it to you, though. You have to remember that it will gobble up a lot of bets before paying out a jackpot to one lucky player.
Q. Can free spins bonuses be used on all types of slots?
A. You’ll usually find that free spins bonuses are limited to specific games that the casino has chosen. These will most probably be several popular video slots. Starburst by NetEnt is a common choice.
Q. What do I need to get started playing slots?
A. All you need is a device capable of playing slots on (which you have if you’re reading this) and a payment method for making a deposit. You can also play slots for free by claiming a no-deposit free spins offer.