How to Play Slot Machines

New to online slots and looking for a quick but insightful guide on playing, winning, and picking the best games?

Learn all this and more on this new CasinoSmash exclusive gambling guide and let our team of casino experts share their top tips on how to play online slots the right way.

Beginners Guide: How to Play Online Slots

Here's your 101 guide to slots, one of the most accessible, fun, and fast casino game to play online.

Slot machines are based entirely on luck. All you need to do is spin the reels and hope the Random Number Generator (RNG) will line up matching symbols along with predetermined paylines.

In most games, you need to make lines of 3-5 symbols to win.

To play your first slot machine game online you need to:

  • Pick a slot and load up the game (online casinos usually break down their lobbies by new slots, most popular options, and more, so this is an easy way to pick a great slot game if you're a new player). The game will open onto the reels.
  • You'll find the controls along the bottom of the reel frame. The most important buttons are the 'Spin' and the ones to size your bet.
  • On the far left of the reel frame, locate the 'i' or paytable icon and load it up. Take a look at the potential payouts and the rules of how to play the slot machine you've picked.
  • Exit the paytable and set your bet by clicking the +/- bet button, then adjust the paylines (sometimes these are fixed so that you won't have the choice) or bet the max by clicking bet max.
  • Click the spin button, and when the reels stop turning, see if you've made a matching line. If you win, the money is added to your balance; lose, and you lose your stake.

Understanding Online Slots

Modern slots come packed with bonus rounds and symbols that can make or break your gambling experience. To get the most out of your playing sessions, it's essential to know the key slot machine terms and functions.

This guide will help you understand how slots work:

Wilds: Wilds are used in most slot machines and can substitute in a winning formation for any non-bonus symbol-hence they help you win.

Scatters: Scatters are used to trigger bonus rounds, like free spins. You usually need at least three to trigger a bonus round. Depending on the game, scatter symbols can also payout for matching symbols, landing anywhere on the reels (unlike other symbols, which must land on a payline).

Multipliers: Multipliers increase the value of a symbol or win, depending on how they are applied. When twinned with a bonus round or as progressive multipliers, they can lead to big wins.

Bonus Rounds: In most cases, the bonus round of a slot consist of free spins, a click and pick bonus round, or a jackpot round.

Bonus rounds take place on new reels or a new game screen and offer a different set-up to the rest of the slot game. It's also where you can earn the biggest prizes.

Our Top Tips on How to Play Online Slots

Now that you know how to play slots, let's look at some key principles and slot machine tips that can help you win more or have more fun when you play online.

Try Out Free Slots in Demo Mode

Learn how to play online slots for money by trying the demo version.

Most online casinos offer demo play, which means playing for free, for virtual credits and prizes, and is the best option for getting a feel for how a slot plays and pays before making a wager.

If you are in the United Kingdom, please note that UK players will need to register an account at one of these UK casinos online to access free slots online.

Always Check Paytable, Rules, and RTP Before You Spin

Never spin a slot machine before you've read the game rules, looked at the payouts, and made sure it offers a competitive Return to Player (RTP)

The RTP is the number of total bets the game returns to players. The closer to 100% the number, the better).

Play the Max Bet to Hit Jackpots

You can win a progressive jackpot only if you spend the maximum a progressive slot allows.

While you should be playing the max bet if you have your eyes on a big progressive jackpot prize, you should not do that unless you can truly afford it.

Remember: progressive jackpots are extremely difficult to win. You should only play money you can afford to lose because that's the most likely result.

Use Bonuses

Don't forget, if you want to keep spinning top-of-the-line slot games for longer at less cost, use bonuses like deposit matches, free spins, and reload deals to boost your bankroll!

To help you find something you can use right now, here's a shortlist of the best promotions to claim once you have learned how to play slot machines online!

Room BonusRatingGet the Offer
Get 100% up to $300
8/10 Play
Must be 21 or older to gamble. Valid within the State of New Jersey only.
Get $100
8/10 Play
*Rules apply. Must be 21+ located in NJ. Minimum Deposit: $10. Minimum Wager: USD 0.01 (one cent). Any withdrawals during the 7 days, or before depositing, would automatically exclude the player from taking part in this promotion.
Get 100% up to $500
Valid on ALL the games on the site!
9/10 Play
Your largest deposit/transfer (minimum $10) in the seven days prior to claiming the offer will qualify for a 100% matched bonus, up to a maximum of $500.
Get $10
FREE No Deposit Bonus
8/10 Play
This promotion is available to individuals aged 21 years and over who have registered as customers on nj.unibet.com and are physically located within the state of New Jersey. Enter the bonus code UBCASINO10 when you register. Deposit and enter code UBCASINO500. In the occasion that the event on which the bet is placed is canceled, any bonus and associated winnings will be forfeited. Unibet reserves the right to change or cancel this promotion or part of this promotion at any time without notice. General T&C apply.
100% up to $600 + $25
A Value-Packed Offer for New Players
9/10 Play
21+. New players only. New Jersey only. This offer is valid until December 31, 2020. Minimum deposit $ 20. Maximum deposit is $600. T&C apply.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about How to Play Slots

What are paylines on online slot machines?

Paylines are the predetermined lines on a slot where you'll win if matching symbols land on them. Usually, they run left-right in straight lines, V or zigzag formations. Classic slots tend to have under 10 paylines, while video slots have between 10-50.

How can you win online slots games?

The aim of the game in online slots is to line up matching symbols on an active payline. This causes a payout. While slots are based on luck, there's some strategy you can use to increase your chances of winning more while you play. Want to find out more? Take a look at our slot strategy page.

How do you play online slots on your mobile phone?

Developers now create all slot games using HTML5 code, which means you can play them on any device, mobile phone, tablet, or laptop - it's up to you. To play online slots, simply head to the casino of your choosing, load up the game, turn your device to landscape, set your bet, and click spin.

Are all online slots played in the same way?

Essentially yes. All slots are made up of reels that need to be spun, paylines, and symbols that line up. However, there are different types of slots and reels, which lead to some slight rule variations: this is why reading the paytable to understand how to play casino slots before you spin is essential!