This article is for all of you out there who might have been seeing these online casinos popping up but never had the courage to take the first steps towards playing online slots. We’re here to help with our complete guide to how to play online slot machines. After reading this guide, you’ll feel right at home with these online games and ready to start exploring the many features and chances to win that they offer.
So get comfortable and let us guide you through everything you need to know about slot machines and how to play them if you’re a player located in Canada.
How do slot machines even work, and how do I play them? These might be the existential questions that you’ve been asking yourself for a while now. Which makes it even luckier that you found this particular guide, which will answer these very questions. This online slots guide is made with you in mind.
We’ll take it from the very beginning, from when it’s time to make your first spin (and what might come after that). If you you want to dive deeper into some of the topics this guide covers later on, we have plenty of other guides and articles for you to follow up with as well.
Before we dive into how these games work, however, always be aware that these games are played with real money. There is always a risk of losing money when playing, so make sure you can afford to play, and if you can, make sure to set a budget for the amount you’re allowed to play with to make sure you’re keeping the gameplay at a healthy level.
An online slot is a digital slot machine. You know, those “One-armed Bandit” machines you’ve probably seen pictures people lining up at the casinos in Las Vegas. The online versions are the same concept, just made digital and portable. The slot has a number of reels, showing a number of symbols, and when those symbols line up in specific formations, landing on so-called “paylines,” these convert into a cash prize that you win.
Adding to this, digital slots may also come with unique features such as special symbols on the reels that activate bonus features or that give you a number of Free Spins (a number of spins you’re allowed to play without paying for them). You might also come across slots that offer a jackpot — either a local one for that particular casino or a progressive one — where anyone in the world playing that game has a chance at the jackpot, which in these cases usually reaches a massive amount.
This guide will teach you how to navigate the jungle of slots. So we’ll start by explaining those “paylines” and how they work.
The majority of slots you’ll find online have paylines. There are exceptions to this rule, and you’ll find special slots calculating wins using things like “ways-to-win” or mechanics like MegaWays. But let’s take this one step at a time and start with paylines. And when it comes to paylines, whether you know what they are or not, you’ll always want to make sure to use all of the available ones!
Because some slots let you increase or decrease the number of lines, we’d simply like to say this: always keep them to a maximum. The more of them you have, the more chances you’ll have to land winning patterns.
Say that you’re playing a slot with 20 paylines. Only having 10 of those active means that you’ll miss out on the wins that could fall on those deactivated lines. Now you might be wondering why on earth there is an option to deactivate them. Well, the reason is that you pay more per spin when you havemore paylines active. This means that if you’re playing a 20-payline slot with all of them active at a C$0.01 stake, it will cost you C$0.20 per spin. If you are playing a slot with 40 paylines on the same stake, the cost would be C$0.40.
The idea of having a stake amount that is increased per payline might sound scary, but to be honest, our advise is that all you need to keep track of is the final bet amount that shows in the slot, and that you’ll want to make sure that this amount includes all of the paylines. If the minimum bet amount is too high for you, it might be a good idea to change to another slot that allows you to have all of active paylines active at a lower price.
Today, however, you might find slots where you won’t be able to adjust the number of paylines. This is particularly true for the slots that have 243 ways-to-win or more, such as the MegaWays slots mentioned earlier. All the better for you really, as you won’t have to double-check the active paylines. You’ll just have to acknowledge the bet amount and make sure it fits your budget.
Bonus: Keeping all of the paylines active will also ensure that you’ll have a chance at the jackpot, if you’re playing a jackpot game. These slots usually have a requirement that all of the paylines should be active in order to have a chance at the jackpot prize pot.
Playing slots may be starting to feel less and less confusing at this point, but we’ve still got a few things to go through, so bear with us as we give you even more tips to use in the games. As we mentioned earlier, you’ll find one minimum bet level on any slot you play, as well as a maximum bet level (which we’ll talk more about shortly). The minimum level is obviously going to extend your play time because it takes a smaller amount of your money per spin. However, winnings in slots are based on your bet amount, so with a smaller bet your winnings will also be smaller.
Now, keep in mind that some slot machines may have different terminology than others for bet amounts and such. This is why we always recommend that you try out games for free here at Casino Top before heading over to a casino to play for real.
As always, never set a bet amount that is higher than you can afford to play with. And if one amount feels too high or too low for you, you can always go ahead and adjust the amount until it fits you. It’s up to you.
So we’ve mentioned bet amount as in stake, and the cost per spin in relation to paylines. Now it’s time to check out coin size. This can get a little confusing because of all of the different types, but we’ll try to explain it as clearly as we can.
The bet amount is decided per payline, but at the same time, you can increase your staked amount using the coin value. This is due to the mechanics of the slot game, and it means you can only bet a certain amount per payline. We’ll have a look at the Play’N Go slot Book of Dead to see this in practice:
Each active payline needs a chosen coin amount. If you set all of the paylines to minimum bets, you’ll pay C$0.10 per spin. If you increase the number of coins per payline, to 5 in this case, and keep the coin value to a minimum, you’ll pay C$0.50 per spin. You can, however, increase the value of each coin, but this will also increase the cost per spin.
Let’s say you’re playing the Book of Dead slot with its full 10 paylines active, a bet amount of C$0.10 and a coin value of 0.05. This would work out to C$0.50 per spin. Increase the bet level (the amount of coins in this case) to 5, and the cost per spin for the same coin value is C$2.50.
We know that trying to figure out all of these different kinds of values may feel demotivating, but they aren’t really going to make or break a good win. Those are decided by luck anyway. Test the games in free play before you play them with real money to get a feel for them, and you should be able to move to to real money play easily.
Annoying terminology aside, are you starting to get the hang of how to play online slot machines a bit more now, aren’t you? So as we mentioned earlier, since there are min bets there are also max bets. A lot of slots actually have a dedicated button that automatically adjusts your betting level to increase to the max in relation to the coin size.
Obviously, our first and most important tip for this feature is this: Be careful that you don’t press the Max Bet button by mistake! Pressing the Max Bet button will make the slot either automatically set a spin in motion, charging you the max bet for that spin, or just adjust the amounts, leaving it to you to start the spin.
So if you slipped and pressed this by mistake, you’ll be wishing that spin is about to be a winner But if the spin doesn’t start automatically, you’ll be able to easily move the amounts back to something more convenient.
The max bet feature is also something to stay away from if you’re playing with a pending bonus amount that you’re wagering towards, because playing with higher stakes might be in breach of the bonus terms and conditions.
Now this is almost where we’re getting ready to put our new-found knowledge to the test by pressing that Spin button on the slot machine! Pressing this button will set the reels in motion and you’ll hope that when they will stop, the symbols will align in a winning combination. If they do, they’ll payout according to the paytable, and the money will show up in your cash balance.
The symbols might also land in a way that activates any of the available features of the slot. This could mean anything from bonus features to free spins and special symbols or being awarded points to unlock stuff. This differs from game to game, so make sure you know which features to expect. You might also get winning symbol combinations on more than one payline at once. This does, of course, pay for both of them.
Slots also have a nifty feature called Auto-play that we’d recommend you check out. The Auto-play feature lets you set a number of spins so that the game spins these rounds for you. All you have to do is to sit back and enjoy the ride. You might also be able to set a limit for losses or wins during the auto-play, or you might be able to set the game to stop play automatically when a bonus round triggers, so that you can take over when this happens.
No matter how much fun it may be to spin those reels for hours on end, it’s really important to have respect for the game and to be aware that gambling is addictive in the same way that alcohol and smoking is. Although gambling might not affect your physical health in the same way, it can hurt you if done irresponsibly. So it’s always important to set a budget for how much you are ok to lose or play for within a certain timeframe and to stick to that limit.
All online casinos in Canada are obliged to offer their players convenient tools to help players to play responsibly. These can be deposit or loss limits, session limits, reality-checks or even timed cool-off periods in which you won’t have access to your casino account for a set amount of time. Never chase funds that you’ve lost to try to get them back, and never play if you’re not having fun.
We hope this guide will give you the courage, knowledge and tools to head on out on your very own casino journey for your own favourite casino slot machine games!