How to Choose Slot Machines to Play Online
When you step into a land-based casino, you will notice that the floor is largely dominated by slot machines. Yet the dozens of slots at your favorite brick-and-mortar casino are vastly eclipsed by the massive selection of slots you can play online.
So where do you start? You may actually feel overwhelmed by all the choices available to you.
Following are some recommendations to help you find the online slots which are the best fit for you.
#1 First, join an online casino with a great selection.
Your first step is to find a place to gamble where you are going to have access to the most exciting games. To that end, you should check out the games selections of various online casinos before you register accounts. Pick casinos which offer large, diverse selections so that you will have plenty of options.
I recommend that you join more than one casino. Why? A lot of the games you find on each site will be duplicates. Popular slots are featured on many different sites. But you will also find that each site has some unique titles that the others do not carry. Plus, each site also will have its own promotions. If there are not a lot of exciting bonuses and freebies at one site, there may be at another. The next week, the situation might be reversed.
#2 Check which coin denominations are offered, and pick a game you can afford.
There are a lot of different features and statistics you will need to look at when you are choosing which slot games to play, but a good starting place is to take a look at the coin denominations listed in the pay tables.
Most slot games offer a range of coin denominations so that you can choose how much you are going to stake on each of your spins. That way you can reduce your spend if your budget is tight. This means that each slot machine can get more players, since no one will be shut out of the fun. Regardless of the size of your bankroll, you can participate.
There is however a catch. If you spend less, you could lock yourself out of payout opportunities. After all, the game has to give you a good reason to put in the maximum coin size. So often games are set up to enter you into bigger jackpots the more you put in.
You may even be familiar with Buy-Your-Pay games. These used to be pretty widespread, but they received so much criticism that today they are much less common. With Buy-Your-Pay, if you choose anything smaller than the largest possible coin size, you have not “bought your pay.” In other words, you can win, but the game won’t return any money if you do.
Again, you probably will not find traditional all-or-nothing Buy-Your-Pay games online, at least not in abundance, and especially not at reputable casinos. But that doesn’t mean that you won’t find variations on that theme, where paying less means receiving less.
So reviewing the pay tables is the best way to figure out which games are the best fit for your budget. Choose slots you can easily and affordably put up the stakes you need to in order to be eligible for any and all jackpots which might be paid out by the games.
#3 Check statistics like frequency and return to player (RTP).
The next step to choosing high-quality slot games to play online is to take a look at any statistics which are available on the game. Two key stats to look into are return to player (RTP) and frequency.
RTP is measured as a percentage. At the lower end, it may be around 80%, while at the upper end, you could see RTP as high as 98%. This is the percentage of money put in by players which the slot game will eventually return to players.
Now, this is a frequently misunderstood statistic. Many players read an RTP of 98% like this:
“If I play this game, it will eventually end up returning 98% of the money I put into it.”
This is not a correct interpretation of RTP. Perhaps it should actually stand for “return to players,” with the emphasis on the “s” at the end. Here is how you should correctly interpret an RTP of 98%:
“Over a duration of many years, this machine will eventually return 98% of the money ALL players put into it.”
Who will receive that 98%? Well, it will be distributed to a large number of players, but not evenly. There may be a few large jackpots in there—so a few lucky gamblers will end up winning far more than they put in. But that means that most will end up getting back way less than they invested.
Does RTP matter? It does, just not as much as you might think. You do tilt chances further in your favor by picking a slot game with a higher RTP, but your overall chances of winning a lot of money remain low.
As to payout frequency, that is something else. High-frequency slots are “loose,” meaning they pay out often. But the payouts are not as high.
So imagine you see one slot game with an RTP of 98% and a high frequency, and another with the same RTP and a low frequency.
What that means is that the high-frequency slot is going to distribute that 98% more evenly to players over time. The average player can expect more frequent payouts, but they will be modest.
The low-frequency slot on the other hand pays out less often, so the average player cannot expect to get as much of that 98% back. In fact, in extreme cases, the average player may never receive a single payout ever. The majority of the money may go to just one or several players in the form of a mega jackpot.
With a lower RTP, there would be less money being distributed back to players in either case. That reduces every player’s overall chances of winning something, whether it is large or small.
High frequency is not really “better” or “worse” than low frequency, because it is a matter of personal preference whether you want to win small, frequent payouts or give those up for a distant shot at a life-changing jackpot.
Either way, you now should know how to interpret these statistics on their own and in relation to one another. That should help you pick the best slot machines online based on your preferences.
#4 Look into how many ways you can win and what jackpots are offered.
You also should take a look at the jackpots themselves. It is up to you to decide whether a jackpot is exciting enough to pursue. Just remember that the larger the jackpot is, the less likely it is you will win it.
Of course, every lucky mega jackpot winner who has ever walked home with a life-changing prize would never have believed he or she would be the one either until the moment it happened.
The next consideration is how you can win the jackpot. The simplest slot machines have just one payline. You need a winning combination of symbols on that payline in order for the game to pay out.
But there are also slot machines with 3 paylines, or 5, or even more. There is even what is known as a “243 ways” slot machine. Just as the name “243 ways” implies, these slots feature 243 different ways to win. The pay tables will tell you which combinations will result in which payouts and jackpots.
#5 Pick a slot which includes features you like.
Some slots include cool features like multipliers, scatter symbols and wild symbols. These features are similar to each other, but each does something different:
- Scatter symbols: If you get a scatter symbol on the payline, this can initiate a mini-game or bonus round.
- Multipliers: These multiply your payout. If you get a quadruple multiplier, for example, that means that whatever jackpot you qualified for is now four times as big as it would have been.
- Wild symbols: These symbols can take the place of any other symbol in the game. That means if you get one on a payline along with other symbols which are part of a winning combination, it fills the role of the one which is missing, and you get the payout.
As mentioned, some slots also feature bonus rounds and mini-games. These can vary tremendously from one game to another, but some of them are actually based at least in part on skill.
During a bonus round, you usually have a shot at winning free spins. You might also win additional payouts, or trigger more bonus screens. These mini-games really take the slot experience to a whole new dimension.
#6 Consider ease-of-use and intuitive design.
Something else to think about when you are looking for slot games is how easy a game is to play. You can preview a lot of slot games by playing for free. This is a great way to find out whether a slot game’s features and theme are compelling, and also to test how easy it is to play.
Naturally all slots are fairly straightforward. By definition, they are supposed to be easy to learn how to play, and as close to effortless as possible once you’ve learned the ropes.
That being said, sometimes slots can be surprisingly convoluted, especially the fancier ones with a lot of paylines and possible winning combinations. It is much better to find out whether this is the case while playing for free than it is when putting money into a game. It is frustrating enough trying to make sense of a confusing game. It is even more frustrating if you feel like you are wasting cash along the way.
#7 Play slot games which feature high-quality software, graphics, and sound.
I have focused mostly on matters of budgeting and payouts, but those are not the only factors you need to think about when you are selecting slot games to play. I have touched briefly upon ease-of-use, and now want to talk about something else—the aesthetic quality of your experience.
The convenience of being able to play slot games online is amazing—but it is not the only advantage. Online slots are unrestricted in terms of the experience they can offer. Some of the most exciting visual and sound effects in the world of slot machines are to be found online, not in land-based casinos.
Another reason to preview games for free before you pour your hard-earned money into them is to see how they run. Amazing visual and sound effects are really only worthwhile if the software they run on is smooth and not clunky. Also keep in mind that your device and connection need to be up to the task. Playing for free initially can help you establish that as well.
#8 Pick a game with a theme you like.
Part of the fun of slot games is the huge variety of themes which are out there. Some games have become so sophisticated as to tell a complete story through the slot machine action. Making an extensive list of slot machine themes would be impossible—there are just too many. But here are some common themes which show up time and again:
- Ancient Egypt/Greece/Rome/etc.
- World cultures (China, Arabia, etc.)
- Classic fruit machines
- Candy/other foods
- Christmas or other holidays
- Forest/undersea/other natural settings
- Ships/cars/other vehicles
- Wild west
Whatever you are into, there should be quite a few slot machines which cater to your interests, featuring artwork, sounds, and stories designed to engage you.
If you dream of unearthing the treasures of ancient civilizations, play an ancient Egypt or Rome slot, and you might just dig up a jackpot. If you wish you could sail the high seas, play a pirate-themed slot and see if you can win some booty. If you enjoy the holidays, see if you are able to unwrap a major payout. Any day of the year feels like Christmas when you see funds piling up in your online casino account.
#9 Don’t miss out on slots which your online casino is running promotions for.
One last step which you can take to help you in your slot machine selection is to swing by the promotions page. Why? Sometimes sites will offer rewards to players who are trying out specific games. Often these promotions last only a short time. Within a week or even a few days, they may be switched out.
This can be done to draw attention to new games, or to games which aren’t getting a lot of notice, even though they have been around for a while. All you need to do in order to take advantage of the promotion is usually just to play. The more money you put into the game during that time period, the more cash back you are able to rack up in your account.
These promotions are often available to all players, but sometimes they may be VIP-only. If you run into that, it is just a good reminder that you should sign up for the VIP program. Doing so will confer a lot of other benefits on you. You will be able to earn points while you play not only the featured slot games, but others as well. You may also merit invitations to special events and tournaments, and there could be additional rewards depending on the tier you are in.
If the casino rewards ongoing points in the VIP program for playing, do not make assumptions about which games are and are not included. Check for a list, and if you do not find one, ask for one. Find out which slots are earning you points and which ones are not. That way if you are set on climbing the ranks, you will not waste time and money on games which are not helping you to advance through the tiers.
Conclusion: There Are Hundreds of Online Slot Games You Can Try … Do Some Research to Find the Games You’ll Enjoy the Most
If you are a new or casual slots player, you may think that all slots are essentially the same. But if you are a major slots enthusiast, you know that is not the case. While pulling a lever and watching the symbols line up and waiting to see if you have won is pretty routine, there are numerous features, themes, and statistical differences which set slot machines apart from each other.
Nowhere is that more true than it is online, where you can browse a selection of slots which is unparalleled in size and diversity. It is well worth your time to do some research into pay tables, jackpots, frequency, ease-of-use and other aspects of play. This will help you to find the slots which are best targeted to your interests, play style, budget, and gambling goals.
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