How to win at slots -
expert guide

Whether you're new to slots or been playing them for a while, the common aim you're likely to share is improving your winning strategies to maximise your bankroll, thereby increasing the amount of time you can afford to play. Online slots are acknowledged as the most popular casino games because they offer instant accessibility, there are no complicated rules to learn, and they include truly amazing graphics and storylines. Although everyone likes to feel as if they're playing to win, it won't take you long to realise that some slot games seem more helpful than others in dishing out glittering cash prizes. But by reading our comprehensive guide, you'll begin to understand how you might be successful in winning at online slots.

How Slots Work

Understanding how slot games work in new online casinos is crucial in realising the potential you've got for landing a few tasty mega-prizes. First of all, the outcome of any single spin is actually down to random chance. A slot game's entire mechanism is dominated by a Random Number Generator (RNG). It uses sophisticated software filled with binary code and algorithms that enable literally thousands of numbers to pass through it every single second. Even when you're not spinning the reels these numbers are still actively rushing past.

The numbers each contain a long sequence of digits that correspond to every single possible outcome from the symbols on the reels. When you hit the spin button, the random number sequence passing by at that precise moment represents the result you'll see on screen once the correct symbols have been located. The RNG makes it impossible to guess the spin's outcome, but it also means you have exactly the same opportunity as any other player to pick a win. However, what should make your playing strategy stand out is how you take advantage of the other factors that contribute to every slot game.

Is a Random Number Generator Fair?

New slots players are sometimes suspicious about the honesty of RNGs and gaming software as there is a clear potential for disreputable casinos to cheat players of their winnings. But there are multiple safeguards in place to protect you and any other slot player from unscrupulous behaviour. Legal casinos that are properly registered and obtain a licence from the UKGC or an equivalent authority, have to take part in regular auditing by one of the gaming industry's trusted organisations.

E-COGRA was founded in 2003 to regulate slots, online casinos and software providers to ensure players could play games that had fair RTP levels and honest mechanisms. E-COGRA routinely checks the RTPs of every slot game and measures the RTP by dividing the total funds returned by the total amount wagered. It's a complex process, but the work of e-COGRA is valued by everyone who plays slots. You can learn more about testing RNG mechanisms by visiting e-COGRA's website, but first let's take a closer look at RTP.

Learn more about Return To Player Percentages

Slot games usually include a rating for RTP (Return To Player) which provides you with an idea of how much money you might get back from a single spin. We've got to point out that these percentages are only the theoretical figures that could be realised if the slot was played continuously over an infinite time span. But it's true to say that you could hope to receive back a higher proportion of your wager if you play a slot with a 99% RTP than one with 95%. Most slots these days have RTP ratings of around 96% that theoretically would give you back 96p for every 100p that you spend. One of the highest percentages you'll come across is the five-reel Jokerizer from Yggdrasil that can reach a massive 99% RTP. It includes plenty of chances for winning big from the mystery prizes awarded when it spins into Jokerizer Mode. Winning at slots don't depend entirely on the game's RTP, but it helps to choose slots with the highest percentages such as these:

Wizard of Gems: Play'n GO

The RTP of 97.66% is a great incentive to discover the riches hidden in this colourful slot. There are Cascading Reels, multipliers and if you're luck's in, you can get up to fifty free spins packed with extra wilds.

Wild Orient: Microgaming

The RTP of 97.5% isn't the only attractive thing about this slot. It has 243 ways to win, top-notch animations of elephants, pandas and tigers, and there's the option of buying a re-spin when you're close to a win. Add fifteen free spins and multipliers, and it's an amazing game.

Shaolin Spin: iSoftBet

There's always room for a Kung Fu classic like this slot with a 97.15% RTP and 243 ways to win. There are martial arts symbols and dragons, plus up to twenty free spins loaded with multipliers.

Jack Hammer 2: NetEnt

You'll love this harbourside cartoon adventure starring the detective Jack Hammer tracking down the infamous Don Crabby and his sidekicks. It includes a 97.1% RTP, sticky re-spins and the chance of twenty spins for landing a bucket of electric eels.

Importance of Variance

The variance or volatility of a slot is part of its internal mechanism and it's function is to determine the regularity of your wins. A low variance slot usually pays a large number of wins in a short space of time, but the cash prizes are generally modest. By comparison, a high variance slot often pays only a few wins over a longer time span, but the cash prizes it generates are usually much larger. A low variance slot like Starburst from NetEnt has a lucrative re-spin feature and an RTP of 96.01%. It's noted for paying out plenty of small cash prizes. An example of high variance is Play'n GO's Book of Dead, a legendary adventure where the explorer Rich Wilde takes you on a tour of an Ancient Egyptian tomb. It has a similar RTP of 96.21%, but it can pay out larger cash prizes if you have the patience to wait. But the best way of seeing volatility in action is with some free play.

Low Volatility Slots to Try:

Thunderstruck II: Microgaming

This low variance, 96.10% RTP slot has amazing graphics and a theme of powerful Old Norse gods such as Thor and Odin. There are also 243 ways to win giving you many chances to land an exciting run of small cash prizes. If you're lucky enough to activate the game's inbuilt free spins, there are lucrative multipliers to make your visit more than worthwhile.

Blood Suckers II: NetEnt

Comedy horror awaits in this fang-tastic tale of some of the creepiest vampires such as Count Dracula and Nosferatu. Amidst garlic and crucifixes, you can look forward to a succession of small cash prizes from a 97% RTP.

High Volatility Slots to Try:

Immortal Romance: Microgaming

This has a thrilling atmosphere with spooky graphics and 243 ways to win from the 96.86% RTP. There's also a set of bonus rounds with in-game free spins and multipliers.

Dead or Alive: NetEnt

Stop off at the Old Saloon in the Wild West and you'll find cowboy hats, pistols and sheriff's badges amongst a 96.82% RTP and three bonus rounds. Even though this original slot was released in 2009, it's still one of the most popular games on the circuit.

Practice with Free Play

Many of the online casinos in our listings offer free play slots on various games. You can usually find both Starburst and Book of Dead quite easily, giving you the opportunity to see for yourself exactly how different low and high volatility can be at handing out cash prizes. Free play slots are ideal for becoming accustomed to how slot mechanisms generally run and for trying out new slots with interesting features or themes. Free play slots also save you money. As you don't have to pay for them, you can make a profit when you win, enabling you to build up a small bankroll for future fun and games in an online casino. But now you'll want to find out how you can get free play.

Look Out for Bonuses

Scan down some of our listings and you'll soon spot online casinos offering a varied selection of bonuses. Most of them are awarded as soon as you register with the casino and many involve paying a deposit, but if you want free play, we usually recommend the following:

Free Spins No Deposit Bonus

This provides a set number of free spins and you don't have to pay anything to receive them! You'll often have to register with the casino and give your name and an e-mail address, but no sensitive information such as your banking details. The number of free spins will often be between five and thirty. You can usually enjoy enough free spins to accumulate a small bankroll, but your winnings nearly always end up in a bonus account. This is fine if you want to use your newly acquired funds for further slot action, but if you want to withdraw the cash you'll probably have to complete the casino's wagering requirements. These might be set at around thirty-five times or more, meaning you'll have to wager the same amount as your winnings that many times before you can unlock your funds.

Free Spins No Deposit No Wager Bonus

Finding one of these bonuses is the best boost your free play spins can have! You don't have to pay anything and your winnings go into an ordinary casino account giving you the chance to withdraw them, providing you comply with the general rules about withdrawals. You can usually receive free spins no deposit no wager simply by registering your name and e-mail. We regularly update our casino offers, so if you can't find what you're looking for this time, we're sure to have something to suit you on your next visit. But in the meantime, you can learn about all the other features that help you to win at slots.

Check for Special Features

When you check the paytable of a slot, you'll find out its potential for maximising your wagers. You'll also discover the features such as multipliers, extra wilds and in-game free spins that make a slot game extra special. They add excitement and variety, but they are often responsible for awarding the most lucrative cash prizes to help you make the most of any successful spin. Here are some of our favourite features:

Avalanche Reels

NetEnt first launched this amazing sequence back in 2010 with Gonzo's Quest, a colourful tale about a Spanish Conquistador having fun in the Peruvian jungle. It includes a 96.00% RTP, but it's the Avalanche Reels that can create high paying cash prizes. The winning symbols of any spin explode and drop from the playing grid to be replaced by more. The sequence continues until you no longer land a win. You can find this feature in many slots under names such as Cascading Reels.

Megaways

Big Time Gaming's revolutionary Megaways formula is appearing in more slots than ever as players are drawn to the possibility of wins appearing across 117,649 ways to win. One of the most frequently played is Bonanza with a 96.00% RTP. Collecting gems, multipliers and mystery symbols can lead to exciting payouts.

Pays Both Ways

Wins read from left to right and right to left. It's a simple, but very effective feature that really can improve your chance of winning at slots. You'll find it in many games including The Invisible Man from NetEnt, an atmospheric thriller with a selection of features, bonus games and a 96.3% RTP.

In-Game Free Spins

These award you free play, leading to the possibility of even more cash prizes through additional multipliers. A great slot to try is Cleopatra from IGT. It has a low 95.02% RTP, but it's possible to retrigger the free spins round up to a total of 180 spins!

Progressive Jackpots

Landing an enormous mega-win through a successful progressive jackpot spin is what many slots players dream about as it's the most decisive way to win at slots. These jackpot cash prizes build up over several weeks or months across a network of casinos until they reach amazing sums such as £20,000, £50,000 or even millions. The prize fund is formed by taking a small percentage of cash from each player's bets on that particular slot, so the more popular the slot, the bigger the jackpot! However, most progressive slots require you to play at the maximum betting limit to be eligible for a jackpot win. That's where you need to check the fine print on the game's paytable to prevent wasting your money through placing the wrong type of bets.

It's during a progressive jackpot slot that players really appreciate the Random Number Generator mechanism that determines the winning combinations. After all, you could be hitting the spin button at virtually the same time as someone who actually wins the biggest jackpot ever. As we've already explained, the split-second timing is so miniscule that you can't blame yourself for not being faster or wishing you hadn't taken time to drink some tea. Winning a progressive jackpot is simply down to luck and whether it's your fate to strike it rich, but there's no harm in trying! Here are a few suggestions to keep you busy:

Mega Moolah: Microgaming

This is possibly the most famous of the progressive jackpots, particularly since it paid out around $18,000,000 in one spin! There are twenty-five paylines, African animals and plenty of cash prizes to win during normal play.

Arabian Nights: NetEnt

Although this slot was released in 2005, it's been a reliable payer with jackpots of up to 4,000,000. There are regular cash prizes from free spins and multipliers, and all it takes to land the jackpot is a row of five genie wilds.

Age of the Gods: Playtech

There are around twenty slots in this progressive jackpot series from Playtech. The RTP ranges from 91.04% to 96.34%. The slots feature ancient deities such as Zeus and Poseidon, and monsters such as Medusa, who sports the unruliest snake hair. The slots are popular as they offer the chance to win one of the four Power Jackpots even if you haven't placed a maximum bet.

How to Manage Your Bankroll

Once you start playing slots regularly, you'll realise the importance of choosing the right type of game to make your money stretch further. When you're playing single payline games you can enjoy more spins. A good example is Microgaming's Couch Potato which is a classic three-reel fruit with only one payline and a 97.43% RTP. It costs more to play a slot with five active paylines, so assuming the coin size is the same as in Couch Potato, you'll only be able to play a smaller number of spins. There's also the choice of playing all your spins in one session or spreading them out throughout the day or week.

How Do You Know When to Stop?

Most players experience a shock at some point when they realise how long they've been playing or how much cash they've spent. It's easy to get carried away playing new slots, but it's wiser to set your limits and manage your bankroll effectively if you want to play long-term. You can use the casino's mechanism for setting a daily or weekly limit, and if you like mobile play, a payment method such as Boku restricts your daily input to £30. Decide on how much money you can afford to wager, then imagine the worst case scenario where you don't have a single win and work out how much you're prepared to lose. You have to be relatively disciplined while playing slots and thankfully, for most players, there aren't any hidden dangers. However, out of control gambling that leads to debt, compulsive behaviour and addiction, is a prime concern of the United Kingdom Gambling Commission.

The UKGC constantly monitors online gaming and introduces rules for the benefit of players. In 2020, the UKGC banned the use of credit cards and ensured that casinos made strict affordability checks on players applying for VIP schemes. The latest measures to help slots players avoid falling into difficulty include a spin speed with a minimum of 2.5 seconds. Buttons that activate a turbo mechanism for faster play are also being removed from all slots. Further measures are likely to include banning split screens. You can visit the UKGC's website for advice on problem gambling and a list of helpful organisations such as BeGambleAware.

Playing Slots to Win

If you stick to basic guidelines like only betting what you can afford, you can look forward to hours of high-quality fun when playing to win at online slots. We can save you valuable time in your search for an online casino, as all those we highlight are legally licenced, allowing you to play with confidence. Keep a look out for our special free spins no deposit bonuses that offer you free play, especially those without wagering requirements. It's important to look for slots with lucrative features as they try to combine the best of entertainment and rewarding play. Once you've learned how to win at slots, you'll have more chance of maximising your luck by choosing slots with the most promising potential for cash prizes.