How to Master Slot Machines | A Beginner's Guide to Play

May 19, 2024 by Staff

How to Play Slot Machines

Slot machines are a common feature in casinos and provide a simple and enjoyable way to gamble. If you're new to playing slots or overwhelmed by the variety of machines available, this guide will help you understand the basics. If you can't visit a physical casino or prefer playing from the comfort of your own home, there are plenty of new slots not on Gamstop. These online slots have been reviewed by the expert, Steve Ashwell, ensuring they are safe and trustworthy for you to play.

Understanding Slot Machines

When you first walk into a casino, the wide range of slot machines can be a bit overwhelming. Each slot machine type has its rules, payouts, and ways to bet. Players need to learn about these differences to improve their chances of winning and to make the game more enjoyable. Understanding how each machine works and what it offers helps you choose the best one for your style of playing.

Mechanical reel machines

Slot machines can be divided into two main types: mechanical reel machines and video or online slots. Mechanical reel machines are the traditional style of slot machines with actual reels that spin. These usually have three reels, but some have five.

Their simplicity makes them popular among people who prefer classic slots and those who are new to gambling. The symbols on these machines are big and easy to recognize, and the paylines, which are the lines where you can win prizes, usually go straight across the reels.

Video slots

Video slots are the modern version of traditional slot machines, using digital screens instead of physical reels. These slots come with detailed themes, animations, and many sound and visual effects that make the game more exciting. Unlike the classic slot machines, video slots can have many paylines, sometimes over 100.

This allows for more ways to win through various combinations and special features like wild symbols, scatter symbols, free spins, and bonus rounds. These added elements can significantly enhance the playing experience and increase the chances of winning.

Single-line and Multi-line Slot Machines

Slot machines also differ in how many paylines they have. Single-line slot machines are simple: they have just one line where symbols must line up for you to win. Multi-line machines let you bet on multiple lines across the screen, which can increase your chances of winning on each spin but also means you need to bet more money.

Additionally, slot machines vary by how much each credit is worth, which is called the denomination. Penny slots let you bet very small amounts per spin, but usually, you need to bet on several lines or multiple credits per line to win bigger payouts. On the other end, dollar slots require higher bets per spin but offer the chance for larger payouts, though they also come with higher risks.

Progressive slots

Progressive slots are a type of slot machine that you should know about. Every time someone makes a bet on these machines, a small part of that bet goes into a jackpot. This jackpot keeps growing larger until someone wins it by hitting a specific combination of symbols. These wins can be incredibly large, sometimes changing the winner's life.

There are different kinds of progressive slot machines. Some are standalone, meaning the jackpot grows only from the bets on that one machine. Others are linked with machines in the same casino, so bets from any of those machines can increase the jackpot. There are also networked progressive slots that connect machines across multiple casinos, allowing the jackpot to grow very quickly because many people are contributing to it with their bets.

Traditional 3 Reel Slots

These machines are the most basic type of slot game. They usually have three spinning reels. Each reel displays several symbols, and the aim is to align these symbols on the top, middle, or bottom line of the machine, which is called the payline.

How to Play:

  1. Insert Money: Modern slot machines take cash, not coins. When you insert money, it translates into credits based on the denomination of the machine (e.g., £1 per credit).
  2. Choose Your Bet: You can usually bet more than one credit per spin. Bets are made by pressing the "Bet One" button for each credit you want to wager.
  3. Spin the Reels: Press the "Spin" button to start the game. If the symbols along the payline match any of the winning combinations from the paytable, you win.
  4. Payouts: Winnings are based on the paytable displayed on the machine. For example, hitting a single cherry might pay out two credits, while three sevens could pay out significantly more.

Video Slots and Multi-Line Machines

Video slots are more complex and offer multiple lines that can go across the screen in various patterns. These machines also often include extra features like bonus rounds and free spins.

How to Play:

  1. Insert Money: Like traditional slots, start by inserting cash.
  2. Select Paylines: You can choose how many lines to bet on. More lines increase your chances of winning but also increase the amount you bet.
  3. Bet Amount: Decide how much to bet per line. This amount will be multiplied by the number of lines you're playing.
  4. Spin the Reels: Press the spin button. Wins are determined by the combinations of symbols that appear on your selected paylines.

Penny Slots

Penny slots allow you to play for tiny stakes. Despite the name, these machines often require a minimum bet that is more than one penny because you must bet on multiple lines.

How to Play:

  1. Understand the Minimum Bet: Check the machine for the minimum stake, often displayed prominently.
  2. Choose Your Bet and Paylines: Decide how many lines to play and how much to bet per line.
  3. Spin the Reels: As with other slots, winning involves matching symbols on the chosen paylines.

Cash Out and Ticket Systems

Modern slot machines use a ticket system for payouts:

  1. Cash Out: When you're ready to take your winnings, press the 'Cash Out' button.
  2. Printed Ticket: The machine will print a ticket with your balance.
  3. Redemption Machines: Insert your ticket into a redemption machine to receive your cash, or take it to the cashier.

Multi-Reel and Multi-Line Slots

These machines offer more complex variations of traditional slots, with additional reels and multiple lines of play.

How to Play:

  1. Insert Money: Begin by inserting your cash into the machine.
  2. Select Lines and Bet: Choose how many lines to play and your bet per line.
  3. Spin and Win: Hit the spin button and hope for a combination of symbols that results in a payout.

Special Features and Bonuses

Many modern slot machines include special features like wild symbols, scatter symbols, free spins, and bonus games. These features are designed to make the game more exciting and increase your chances of winning.

Understanding Paylines and Winning

  • Consecutive Symbols: Some machines pay for symbols in consecutive reels from left to right.
  • Wild Symbols: Wilds can substitute for any other symbol to complete a winning line.
  • Scatter Symbols: These symbols can trigger a win or a bonus feature, regardless of their position on the reels.

Tips for Playing Slots

  1. Set a Budget: Decide how much money you are willing to spend before you start playing.
  2. Understand the Rules: Each slot machine has its own set of rules. Take a moment to read them before you start.
  3. Use a Players Card: Most casinos offer a players card that tracks your play and can earn you comps like free meals or room stays.


What are the basic types of slot machines?

There are two main types of slot machines: mechanical reel machines and video slots. Mechanical reel machines are traditional slots with physical reels that spin, typically featuring three to five reels. Video slots use digital screens and offer more elaborate themes, animations, and multiple paylines, sometimes over 100.

How do progressive slots work?

Progressive slots take a small portion of each bet and add it to a jackpot, which continues to grow until someone wins it by hitting a specific combination of symbols. These machines can be standalone, linked with others in the same casino, or part of a network across multiple casinos.

What are the differences between single-line and multi-line slot machines?

Single-line slot machines have only one payline, where symbols must align for a win. Multi-line machines allow bets on multiple lines across the grid, increasing the chances of winning but requiring larger bets.

How to play a basic 3-reel slot machine?

To play a basic 3-reel slot machine, insert money which converts to credits, choose your bet amount by pressing the "Bet One" button for each credit, and then press "Spin" to start the game. Wins are based on the symbols that align with the payline and the payout table.

What you should consider before playing slot machines?

Before playing slot machines, set a budget for how much you're willing to spend, read the rules of the specific machine to understand its features and payouts, and consider using a player's card to earn comps. These steps can help manage your spending and enhance your overall casino experience.