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Introduction to Slots

The popularity of slots can be judged from the fact that they form the bulk of the games at online casinos. Also almost all the new games being added are slots. The most common variant of slots is the video bonus slot. These are software generated five reel slot games with wild symbols, free spins and a bonus game that offers extra credits when activated. Some of the other popular slots categories are three reel classic slots, fruit machines and progressive jackpot online slots. In progressive slots the jackpot amount keeps on increasing with every spin till the jackpot is hit.

History of Slots

The first slot machine with an automatic payout mechanism has been attributed to Charles Fey of California. This is the Liberty Bell machine which was constructed in 1887. The Liberty Bell was a simple machine with three spinning reels containing five symbols – horseshoes, diamonds, spades, hearts, and a Liberty Bell. In 1891 Sittman and Pitt of Brooklyn developed a more complicated slot machine with five drums and total of 50 card faces. This machine did not have a direct payout mechanism.

The type of slot machines seen today in land casinos was developed in 1963 by Bally. This was an electromechanical machine called Money Honey capable of handling automatic payouts of up to 500 coins. Land based slots became very popular at casinos because it gave the women something to do while the men gambled. The next step in the history of slot machines was the video slot machine. The first machine of this type was Reel ‘Em In developed by WMS Industries. It ran on software generating random numbers and offered a bonus game on a second screen.

Video slots were immediately adapted to online casino gaming in the mid 1990s. One of the current trends in online slots is branded slots in which the theme is based on comics, movies, board games or video games.

Rules for Slots

In slots the reels are spun and when they come to rest the combination of symbols in the paylines are matched with a given payout table. The matching combinations are paid out in accordance with the payout table.

Players have to first place the wager. There are three betting parameters generally involved. One is the coin size and the second is the number of coins per payline. The product of these gives the line bet. The third parameter is the number of paylines activated. The product of the line bet and the number of paylines is the total bet. This is the amount deducted from the player’s balance. The betting parameters can be adjusted through appropriate buttons below the reels.

The reels are activated by clicking on the Spin button. When the reels stop spinning the software makes the comparison with the payout table and credits the winnings, if any, to the account of the player. However, it is prudent for slots players to know how the payouts have been calculated. The payouts for winning combinations in paylines are called line payouts. Usually the winning combinations contain the specified number of like symbols appearing from left to right on the reels. The line payouts are obtained by multiplying the number of coins from the payout table by the line bet. Scatter payouts are awarded when the required number of designated scatter symbols appear anywhere on the reels. The scatter payouts are obtained by multiplying the number of coins from the payout table by the total bet.

Slots have different types of bonus games. No additional wagers are made during these games. These games are activated when specified combinations of symbols appear on the reels. The objective is to give the player a chance to win extra credits. The common bonus games are the free spins feature and the bonus feature on the second screen.

General Strategy

Once the players start the reels spinning there is nothing they can do to influence the outcome of the game. Therefore slots are purely luck based games and do not involve strategy in the sense of making optimum choices. However there are two choices that players make before starting the game and these must be made with complete understanding.

Though slots are structured similarly, all slots are not identical. One of the differences that are material is reflected in the payout table. One can classify slots based on the highest payout offered. At one end are slots with the top payout being 10,000 coins or more. At the other end there are slots with the top payout being only around 1,000 coins. The higher paying slots are compensated by the top payouts occurring less frequently. Hence players can win larger amounts but are less likely to win. Such slots are called volatile slots and are meant for players who are more inclined to risk taking. In the lower paying slots the payouts are smaller but occur more frequently. These are meant for conservative players who are not looking for big wins at the cost of squandering away their bankroll. Therefore players must assess their attitude to risk and choose a slot game that complements the attitude.

The second choice concerns the betting parameters. In many slots players have to select the coin size, the number of coins per payline and the number of paylines. In some slots the number of coins per payline is fixed at 1. A combination matching with the payout table will pay out only if it occurs on an enabled payline. Hence it is very important that slots players activate all paylines. If by doing so their total bet goes beyond budget they should reduce the coin size or number of coins but keep all paylines enabled.

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