Online slots games are hugely popular because they are very accessible for all players, perfect for both beginners and experienced casino pros alike. There is no skill or strategy involved, you simply hit your spin and hope your luck is in.

Entertaining themes of games, engaging animations and exciting bonuses all add to the fun, with top casino software providers constantly coming up with new features to make their slots more entertaining. There’s also a slot game for every type of bankroll, from penny slots to high roller progressive jackpots, so the range of slots really is diverse.

You can try slots for free with demo games at many casino sites, which allow you to play without using your own cash. But in order to land big you’ll need to play real money slots. In this guide we will walk you through how to play slots online, cover common slot features and terminology and explain why there is no way to boost your chances of winning when playing slots online.

How to play online slots

Slot games can sometimes appear daunting to new players, but they are really easy to get to grips with regardless of whether you’re playing for free or with real money. Here are five steps outlining how to play slots.

Step 1

Choose your preferred online slot game and fire it up on your chosen device – the best ones are available on mobile, desktop and tablet. Your screen will fill up with the reels of your slot and operating buttons such as ‘spin’ and ‘max bet’, with the bankroll down in the corner.

Step 2

Check the paytable. This shows you exactly how much you can win depending on the size of your bet, along with your minimum and maximum stake options. Here you can also check a game’s bonus features, such as scatters, wilds and multipliers, to see if there are any other ways to boost your winnings. Knowing how much each symbol is worth allows you to know which ones to look out for.

Step 3

Next you set your coin size and number of coins per line. In most slot games, players bet with virtual coins that carry an actual currency value. Some games set the value for you while others allow you to do this yourself, providing extra flexibility for how you use your bankroll. Always be careful when setting stakes so you don’t fly through your bankroll in just a few spins.

Step 4

Now you will select your paylines. Most slots offer multiple paylines, with some ranging from ten to hundreds. Remember that the more paylines you bet on, the more you will wager, so be careful to play within your budget or you risk blowing your cash too quickly.

Step 5

Finally it’s time to hit spin! Once you are happy with your wager, go for it and you’ll know if you do strike it lucky as a message will flash up on screen along with some music. If you’re playing for real money you’ll have the winnings credited to your balance straight away. You can keep hitting spin for as long as you have a real money balance and you can exit the game at any time between spins.

Common slot features and terminology

As online slot games develop and become more complex, new features and symbols are often added to them. Understanding what these are will help you learn how to play slots effectively, using them to your advantage and give you a greater chance of success.

Symbols – Each game usually has 10-12 standard symbols. You need to line up symbols on the reels in order to win, with different symbols paying out different amounts. 

Wilds – These symbols are used to give players the chance to create a winning line, by substituting the wild symbol for whatever they are missing.  As well as regular wilds, some games feature sticky wilds which stay on the reels for extra spins, while other games feature expanding wilds which expand over the reels to create more winning opportunities.

Scatters – These special symbols either activate bonus features or reward cash prizes. For example, in many games landing a certain number of scatters on the reels will activate free spins rounds or bonus games. You could even get a shot at landing a progressive jackpot from scatters.

Multipliers – These offer players the chance to quickly increase your wins by a multiple of their actual value. Just like wilds and scatters, they can appear at any time on the reels and ramp up the excitement of a game. Mostly found in bonus and free spin rounds, multipliers do sometimes appear in the base game too. 

Paylines – These are lines that connect winnings combinations, with some games having over 1,000 different paylines that zigzag all over the screen in a myriad of combinations.

Progressive Jackpots – In these games a small percentage of each bet goes towards the jackpot which progressively grows until a player wins it. Some progressive jackpots regularly break the $1 million barrier. 

Bonus Rounds – Hitting these unlocks special mini-games within a base game, where you’ll typically be presented with the chance to land bigger wins. 

Return to Player (RTP) – This represents a percentage of how much a player can expect to return in a slots game. The bigger the RTP, theoretically the more chance the player has of winning. For example, if a slot has 97% RTP, on average you can expect to win £97 back of every £100 wagered.

House edge – The house edge is the opposite of RTP and represents the advantage the casino has over the player. If a slot has a 96% RTP, the house edge is 4%.

Can I improve my chances of winning?

Online slots are determined completely by luck – there’s no skill or strategy involved as there is with other casino games such as blackjack and poker. This means there’s nothing you can do to boost your chances of winning when you play online slots. 

All online slots use random number generator (RNG) technology to determine what symbols land on the reels every time you hit the spin button. This ensures the randomness of games and therefore guarantees fair gaming for players.