Types of Slots
Slot machine structures are defined by number of reels and number of paylines. The classic slots have three reels and from one to five paylines. The contemporary video slots have five reels. The number of paylines starts at five. The video slots incorporate features like free spins and bonus rounds.
3 Reel Slots
The original electromechanical slots machines were based on three rotating drums. There is a section of online casino players that likes the old-age charm of these machines. Therefore one type of Random Number Generator based slots machines replicates the electromechanical slots. They are referred to as 3 Reel Slots (because they have three reels) or Classic Slots.
The simplest type of 3 Reel Slots has a single payline running across a single row. Some 3 Reel Slots have three paylines running across three horizontal rows. The most complex structure is with five paylines. Three paylines run horizontally and two paylines run diagonally across three rows of symbols.
Most of the symbols in 3 Reel Slots are taken from the land based electromechanical machines. Many of them are brightly colored fruit symbols like cherry, orange, lemon and melon. Other common symbols used in 3 Reel Slots are 7s, bars and the Liberty Bell.
Usually players can wager one, two or three coins in 3 Reel Slots. Separate payout tables are displayed for the different coin numbers. The payout for three coins is generally three times the payout for one coin. However, in the largest paying combination, the payout for three coins often exceeds the payout for a single coin, and is referred to as the jackpot payout.
Video Slots / Multi-Line Slots
An overwhelming majority of the online slots machines are Video Slots. They are also known as Multi-Line Slots (because they offer many paylines) and 5 Reel Slots (because they offer five reels). They usually have three rows of symbols across the reels. This structure allows for many more paying combinations and makes Video Slots more interesting than 3 Reel Slots.
Video Slots began with five paylines. The number of paylines was increased over time. Some of the standard paylines configurations are 5, 9, 15, 20, 25, 30 and 40. In Video Slots the paylines zigzag across the reels in a manner defined in the slots rules. There are some Video Slots available with 50 and 100 paylines. They can have four rows of symbols across the reels.
The latest development in video slots does away with defined paylines. The like symbols can appear anywhere on successive reels. This is called "Ways to Win" or "All Pays" depending on the software provider. A five reel Video Slots with three rows across the reels will have 243 Ways to Win. If there are four rows of symbols then there will be 1024 Ways to Win.
Video Slots use symbols, background graphics, animation and bonus games to embody popular themes like ancient civilizations, pirates and wealthy life styles.
Free Spin Slots
Free Spin Slots are Video Slots that offer a Free Spins feature. This feature is activated when a specified combination of symbols appears on the reels. Usually the combination is three or more scatter symbols. In the Free Spins feature the player gets a specified number of free spins for which he is not required to put up any stake. But the wins during these spins are credited to his account. Usually the wins are enhanced by a multiplier. The number of free spins and the multiplier could directly be stated or the player may be asked to make some choices to determine them.
Slots with Bonus Rounds
Bonus rounds are another way of awarding free credits to the player. The Video Slots that offer these bonus rounds are known as Bonus Slots. The reels disappear from the screen and a different setting (called second screen) is displayed that complements the theme of the Video Slots. The player is asked to select a number of objects and is awarded bonus credits. Actually the credits are awarded randomly, but selecting the objects makes the process more interesting. Bonus Rounds are rich in audio visual effects. The selected object may perform a task and the credits awarded depend on the performance. Some bonus rounds are based on the Wheel of Fortune.
Multi-Tier Bonus Round Slots
Most Video Slots would offer one bonus round. Some Video Slots offer two or more independently triggered bonus rounds. However, there are Video Slots that offer multi-tier bonus rounds. A success achieved in the first tier of the bonus round propels the player to the next tier, where the payouts are larger. Again, the bonus rounds are integrated with the theme of the Video Slots and contain fantastic audio visuals. A common multi-tier bonus round involves finding a key that unlocks the door to the next chamber. Multi-tier bonus round slots are popular at online casinos because of their immense payout potential.
In most online slots the payout ratios are fixed and stated in the payout table. But in some slots games the payout for one combination keeps on increasing with each wager. Therefore such slots games are called Progressive Slots. When the jackpot combination appears on the reels the jackpot amount is paid to the winner and the Progressive Slots is reset to the base level. Progressive Slots can be 3 Reel Slots or Video Slots. In some cases many slots games are attached to the same progressive jackpot. This is called a progressive network. Some Progressive Slots have more than one independent progressive jackpot.
Fruit Machines (UK Term for Slots)
Fruit Machines are special 3 Reel Slots that became popular in British pubs. They dispensed fruit flavored gum as prizes and thus derived their name. Fruit Machines have certain features not available in normal 3 Reel Slots. Nudge allows players to move one reel by one spot. Hold allows players to keep one reel fixed and re-spin the others.
Online Pokies (Australian Term for Slots & Video Pokers)
In Australia both video slots and video poker machines are referred to as Pokies. Video poker machines became popular first in Australia and their name was abbreviated to Pokies. Later the slots machines were kept alongside and were also called Pokies. Today online slots are also called Pokies in Australia.