Types of Slots

Types of Slots

Technology is certainly a wonderful thing! There are many different slot machine types available in land-based casinos and online casinos. But don't worry that you won't know how to play.

An explanation of each game is always posted on the machine. Online you can click an icon for an explanation of the game.

Here is a quick rundown of what is available for the slots player. Below are the various slot types and what the slot player can expect when playing them.

Click for details on, history, how to play, terminology/glossary and slots myths.

Three-Reel Classic Slots

The original slot machine invented by Charles Fey was a three-reel slot. Three-reel slots offer all of the variations we've already mentioned. There are still many three-reel slots available in land-based casinos but they are there mostly for their nostalgic value. Modern technology is fast replacing the three-reels.

Five-Reel Video Slots

These were once the new generation of slot machines. The extra reels offer more symbols, combinations and paylines. The payout schedule increases because the machine takes in more money as players bet on more paylines.

Both three-reel and five-reel slots have themes. The five-reel slot allows the themes to be more developed.

Progressive Slots

Every casino, both land-based and online, has progressive slots. On a progressive machine, a small percentage of every bet is diverted to the progressive jackpot pool. The percentage varies from casino to casino and can be as high as 15%. The progressive jackpot keeps growing until someone wins it. Often many slots are networked and each "contributes" to the jackpot. Online, the network could include bets being made all over the world!

Usually, you are required to bet the maximum number of coins for the machine to qualify for the progressive jackpot.

Because some of the bet is channeled to the progressive jackpot, the payouts for other winning combinations are less than they would otherwise be. Players who play progressive jackpot slots should accept the lower payouts for regular wins and play the maximum number of coins to qualify for the lucky life-changing jackpot.

Some progressive jackpots reach one million dollars or more. These jackpots take longer to grow and are harder to win. However, there are smaller progressive jackpots that are being won every day!


These slots multiply the payout depending on how many coins you bet. The multiplier normally pays 1x for one coin; 2x for two coins; and 3x for three coins.

Bonus Multipliers

These slots pay out an extra bonus when you win after you played the maximum number of coins (usually three). The bonuses vary but an example would be a 10 coin payout for a specific winning combination when you bet one coin; a 20 coin payout when you bet two coins; but, maybe, a 50 coin payout when you bet three coins.

Bonus Games

Some slots offer bonuses as an extra incentive to players. Bonuses are usually separate games that the player can play for free. Payouts for bonus games are based on the bet that generated the bonus.

Some slots have "scatter" symbols. Scatter symbols follow separate rules. Usually, it is easier to win with scatter symbols than with the regular combinations. Scatter wins usually award players free spins. The number of free spins varies but 15 is pretty standard. You can't bet on a free spin. The payouts are based on the bets you made that generated the scatter bonus.

Stand-Alone Slots

These slots are not connected to the progressive jackpot network. The payout schedule is posted on the machine. Players who want to play for a long time and also want to conserve their bankroll should play stand-alone slots. This is because the progressive slots divert some of each bet to the progressive jackpot. Since there is no progressive jackpot in stand-alone machines, the payouts are higher.

Multi-Payline Slots

Every slot machine has "lines". When a winning combination appears on the line it becomes a "payline". The old-fashioned machines took one coin and had one payline. Modern machines take more coins and have many more paylines.

The original technology of slots allowed only one line. Computer software allows many more. The first computer generated paylines were also straight lines. Then slot programmers learned how to program slots to read diagonally and in zig-zag. Now some games have 50 or more paylines, but the more common number for multi-payline slots is 15 to 25 paylines.

On multi-payline slots you have to "activate" a line for it to pay. This means you have to bet on that line. It is not unusual for a new player to play at a multi-playline slot and not understand the rules for that machine. New players learn quickly when a winning combination comes up on a payline that they didn't activate by betting on it. Remember, you have to bet on a payline to activate it.

Buy-a-Pay Slots

On these machines, each coin you put in buys a winning combination. If you've put in the correct amount of coins and a winner comes up you get paid. If you haven't put in the coins that activate a particular winning combination you don't get paid even when that combination comes up.

For example, let's say you are playing a slot that offers three winning combinations: cherries, bananas, and kumquats. You must buy each combination to be paid when it comes up. If you play one coin then only the cherries pay out. For a two-coin bet the cherries and the bananas pay out. You have to play three coins to get paid when the kumquats come up!

3-D Slots

These are the real new generation of slot machines. They combine slots action with a three-dimensional storyline. As you can imagine, the storylines vary from high adventure and action to romantic encounters.

The 3-D technology is quite new so there are fewer online casinos that offer them. That will change very quickly. As always when gambling online, do some research through industry watchdogs such as this site to make sure you are playing at a reputable casino.

Slots Tournaments

Every slots tournament has a buy-in fee. As the buy-in increases ($25 is common) the payout pool increases as well. Recently there was a tournament with so many entrants that the winner walked away with more than one million dollars.

Every online slots site and casino sponsors slots tournaments. They have a window that gives you all the details you need: when the tournament will start, the buy-in, the payout pool and more.

If you want to conserve your bankroll, you can enjoy the action of a slots tournament by entering one with a small buy-in.


Casino slot machines of any kind are the most popular games in the gambling world. Slots offer the largest variety of diversion and fun.

Posted by CCJ Team

Slot Resources

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