Beginners Guide: How to Play Slots for Dummies

Are you new to the world of casinos? Then you should browse our beginners guide on how to play slot machines (for dummies). You can start playing hundreds of online slot machines right now. In fact, you will find an unrivalled range of games to play at However, there are a few things you should know before you start playing, all of which we will go through in this article.

how to play slots

Every good online casino will have a wide range of games to try for free or real money. You can play the biggest progressive jackpot slots or go for a classic slot with 3 reels, or anywhere in between.

There is so much choice nowadays that it can be hard to know where to begin. Luckily, getting started in the world of online slots is easy. There are a few basic game rules to learn, and over time, you will know which slots to avoid and which ones to put on your ’favorites’ list.

Read on to discover our in-depth guide:

  • How to play slot machines
  • How to size your bets and choose paylines
  • Discover the best online slot bonus features
  • Try hundreds of top slots to play for free online

What are Online Slots?

In a land-based casino, you will find dozens of video slots and mechanical slot machines that pay out regular prizes. Online slots are adapted from their brick ‘n’ mortar cousins. The beauty is that you can load a game in seconds and play from the comfort of your own home.

In 2019, you can choose from thousands of online slots to suit every budget and taste. You can choose branded games with film footage from Hollywood blockbusters, or play an old-school classic with one payline. Bonus slots may offer a range of exciting features, while progressives have a special linked-jackpot offering life-changing prizes.

While there are hundreds of styles and designs, all online slots basically work the same way. You choose a stake, select a number of horizontal paylines, and spin the reels. You win real cash by matching symbols in a line. The more symbols you line up, the more you win.

The basics of online casino slots are similar across multiple games. With some careful selections, however, you can improve your long-term chance of success. Read on and we’ll answer questions like ‘how do you play slot machines’ and how you choose the best settings when playing.

Choosing the Right Game

Before we get into the basics of how to play slots, it’s worth mentioning the importance of choosing the right games.

Many slots players blindly click on a game in the casino lobby without studying the payouts. They don’t try the game for free, risking their bankroll without understanding the variance.

Most casinos have a ’favorites’ feature. It’s helpful to use this. You can add slots to your favorites list when you find games you like. This saves time when you log in to your casino account for subsequent sessions.

choosing the right game

Most slots are now no-download. You simply load a game up in your web browser, and there’s no need to install the software on your hard drive. As long as you have a solid internet connection, you will have a great gambling experience.

Of course, many casinos will still give you the option of downloading individual slots to your machine. This allows you easy access to your favorite online slots any time you want.

How to Play Casino Slots: Coins, Paylines, and Betting Functions

You’ve chosen a slot to play, and you’ve loaded the game up in your Chrome browser. Now it’s time to select your stakes.

how to play casino slots

First, you will need to choose a coin value. This is the value of a single betting unit you will use when playing slots. You can sometimes choose a coin value and also choose a number of coins. For example, you might be able to set a coin value from $0.01 to $1.00 and play with 1-10 coins.

Once you have settled on your stakes, you need to select the paylines. Some slots have fixed paylines, but many older slots will let you choose how many lines to play. Simply click on the numbers on either side of the reels to select and deselect lines.


You are playing a 20-payline slot that lets you adjust coins from $0.01 to $1.00. You can bet 1-20 paylines and 1-5 coins per line.

By choosing 1 payline and 1 coin at $1.00, your stake per spin would be 1 x 1 x $1.00 = $1.00. By selecting all 20 paylines at $1.00 and 5 coins per line, you would have to bet 20 x $1.00 x 5 = $100 per spin. 

Now you are ready to play. Hit the ‘Spin’ button and watch the reels move vertically down the screen. The reels will come to a random stop and payouts will be made according to the game’s paytable. 

Online slot software is governed by a Random Number Generator, or RNG. As soon as you hit the ‘Spin’ button, an algorithm determines where and when the reels will stop. The process is completely random, and slot developers have their games tested before they hit the casino market, as well as periodically audited over time.

How to Study the Slot Paytable

The paytable is where you get your information about the slot. Make sure you study it well before playing. Here is some of the information you will find in the average slot paytable.

Paylines: You will find a full list of available paylines, and the patterns they make across the reels. 

RTP: Every online slot has its own RTP% (Return-to-Player percentage). The RTP is the slot’s theoretical long-term payout, perhaps over millions of spins.

The RTP is a good indicator of how generous the slot is. Most online slots have an RTP of approximately 93-99%, but an RTP of 96-98% is better than average. 

Payouts and Jackpots: You will also find a full list of prizes in the slot. Every slot has between 9 and 15 regular and jackpot symbols. You win cash by lining up 2-5 matching symbols on a payline. The paytable will list payouts for every symbol so you can see which ones are worth hitting.

Bonus Details: In the paytable, you will also find details on the bonus symbols, like wilds and scatters. There will also be a full description of how you can trigger any bonus rounds.

Bonus Symbols and Features

Let’s take a closer look at the kinds of bonus symbols you’re likely to find in a regular online slot.

bonus symbols and features

Wilds: Wild symbols act like jokers. They replace most other symbols to fill in the gaps in a winning payline. Wilds usually have special jackpots attached. 

You will also find wilds with special properties in more recent online slots. These can range from Sticky Wilds, which ‘stick’ in place while the remaining reel slots respin, to Walking Wilds which ‘walk’ across the reels after every spin.

Scatters: Scatters, or Scatter Pays, are symbols that pay out regardless of where they land on the reels. Scatters are usually responsible for triggering a bonus feature.

Gamble Feature: Many developers install a gamble feature into their games. After any winning spin you will have the chance to double your win through a bonus card game. Correctly predict the color of the next card to be drawn to win. Get it wrong and you lose your money.

Multipliers: Some wilds and scatters have multipliers attached. If you win, your cash will be multiplied by the numbers displayed on the screen. Some bonus features, like free spins, will have a built-in multiplier.

How to Play Slot Machines: Guide to Bonus Rounds

In a modern slot, you will find at least one bonus feature. Sometimes, features are triggered at random. In general, though, you will have to land three or more scatter symbols to activate a bonus. 

  • Free Spins: With this bonus, you win a set number of free games. Free spins are sometimes played on a separate set of reels. You may even win added multipliers or extra wilds. 
  • Trail Bonus: A trail bonus is a feature in some UK fruit machine-style games. You move your way around a trail on the roll of a dice, picking up credits and free spins as you go. 
  • Click Me Bonus: Less common is the Click Me Bonus. This is an instant win bonus in which you select one of three symbols on the reels. Behind each symbol is a cash value which is added to your bankroll. 

Try Out the Best Online Slots in 2023

You can start playing the best slots right away. Most online slots have freeplay versions, too, so you can get a feel for the rules before you commit cash. Just browse our list at to find top games.

Now that you know the basic rules for playing slots, it’s time to hit the best casinos. All of our top-rated sites at boast hundreds of new and classic slots.

You can even choose from a full range of stakes. Select your bets and paylines, and find a theme and bonus feature that interests you.

And if you want some more in-depth tips, don’t forget to check out our expert slots strategy pages. We have the best all-around guides to get you started on the right track, right away.

How to Play Slots Frequently Asked Questions

How much can I bet when playing slots?

Most slots have a betting range from $0.1 up to $20 per spin. However, this depends on the specific slot machine you play choose. You will find that some slots have a max bet of $100 or more.

How much can I win while playing slots?

The biggest wins from slots come from progressive slot machines with mega jackpots. For example, the biggest online slot win ever was paid out in 2013, where a Finnish player placed a 25-cent bet to win over €17 million on the slot machine Mega Fortune by Net Entertainment (NetEnt).

Can I try slots without having to bet real money?

Yes. Most casinos offer demo play of their online slots.

How do I withdraw my winnings?

This depends on what method you used to deposit your funds. Most casinos only accept withdrawals from the same method that you used to deposit. However, wins from credit card deposits are usually send to your bank account by wire transfer.

Gambling can be addictive, please play responsibly!

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