2024 Guide on How to Play Online Slots for Beginners

All casino beginners need to learn how to play slots correctly. Considering how straightforward and easily accessible slot machines are, it might surprise you that there is a right and a wrong way to play these games.

Follow along as we go through all you need to know about playing slots online.

Basics of Slot Machine Gaming for Beginners

Online games are ideal for casino beginners to learn how to play. Not only are they simple to learn, but they also come in various varieties, suiting most tastes.

Before we go into “ Can I play slots online for real money?” let’s begin with the available slot types. Since several slot machine features are available online, we will not attempt to exhaust them all here. Instead, we have included only the basics in this guide to give you a firm starting point.

What are Reels?

slot machine reels explained

When playing slots at online casinos, you will find symbols on the reels. Depending on the machine, a slot can have 3, 5, or 7 reels, or any combination as shown in the image above.

Random number generators (RNGs) control the outcome once slot reels spin. These RNGs may be mechanical devices, as with physical slots found in Las Vegas, or software algorithms baked into an online slot game.

What are Rows?

slot machine rows explained

Rows complete the slot display: where reels run vertically, slot rows are horizontal, covering the space from left to right of the display. A slot description includes details of both reels and rows. For example, if a game plays on a 5×3 grid, it has five reels and three rows.

Slots can have several rows, with classic slot machines usually having three rows, matched with three corresponding reels. But the latest games like Gangsterz and Potion Spells by Bgaming have seven rows.

Potion Spells Slot Machine

What are Slot Symbols

Slots symbols are the images resting on the reels. They provide a customized look that gives the game its overall theme. For example, a fruit-themed slot machine can have fruit symbols like cherries, strawberries, and so on.

These symbols can also have different functions in the game, like multipliers, scatters, and wilds (Explained in more detail later)

A slot machine like Gangsterz from Bgaming might have characters and elements, as you can see highlighted in the white boxes below.

Slot Machine Symbols

What are Payout Lines

Paylines, or payout lines, are essential to understanding how to play slots online. They are a winning sequence of symbols displayed on the reels. Every slot machine will have information on the available paylines and which symbols you must get to have a winning payline.

Paylines can pay from left to right or both ways, depending on your slot. They can also display vertical, horizontal, or zig-zag patterns. You don’t need to identify paylines to win; the slot will do it for you while also showing the outcome and payout on the screen.

slot machine payout lines explained

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How to Choose a Slot Machine to Play

If you are wondering how to play slots online and win, the journey starts by selecting the right game. There is no one-size-fits-all here, so you must pick a slot that works for you. Consider the number of reels you want to play, the jackpot available, the slot theme, and if you wish to go for traditional or cutting-edge slots.

Next, remember every slot machine game is different and has a collection of unique symbols and bonus features. You must familiarize yourself with these features when learning how to play slots.  Let’s look at three of the most common slot features you will encounter online.

What Does the Term “Wilds” Mean in Slot Machine Play?
A wild is a special slot symbol that can replace any other symbol to complete a winning payline, except for scatters. The appearance of wilds on the display can convert a losing spin into a generous win.
What Does the Term “Scatters” Mean in Slot Machine Play?

Scatters are also unique slot symbols but have different functions. Their main purpose is to activate special features and bonus rounds of play like free spins.

What Does the Term “Multipliers” Mean in Slot Machine Play?
As the name implies, multipliers are unique symbols that multiply your winnings. This can apply to the current winning combination or the entire wager.

How Many Reels on a Slot Machine

Mega Joker 2x3 Slot Machine

Slots can have a varying number of reels. For instance, classic slot machine games like Mega Joker above, have only three reels. These games are usually straightforward and fantastic options to start with if you are thinking about how to know what slots to play.

Some slot machine games have four, five, six, or even seven reels. Now, the more reels available, the more possible ways to win. Since paylines are not horizontal and can take many zig-zag patterns, some slots, like Megaways, have over 100,000 ways to win. Note the image below just shows a zig-zag pattern. If all symbols here were the same, this would be a winning payline.

Slot Machine Zig Zag Paylines Explained

It’s Time to Play With Dummy Cash

How do beginners play slots? The best way to learn to play online slots is to use free dummy cash. You don’t want to spend your hard-earned money prematurely before you know what you are doing. Top online casinos will offer free slots, sometimes even before you register with them.

So, why use dummy cash and play free online slot machine games? Since you are playing for free, you will not win any real money when you play. But you can at least get a feel of what the games are like. Dummy cash allows you to monitor how much you are wagering and the payouts you might receive.

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Slot Bonus Features for Beginner Players

Our guide to online slots has, so far, given you a basic understanding of how to play. But this section focuses on more exciting elements of these games, such as bonus types.

The best online slots have several bonus features. You must understand these to appreciate how to play slots fully. Let’s look at some of the most popular slot bonus features.


The avalanche feature is also known as cascading symbols or rolling reels, depending on the slot manufacturer publishing the game. The basic concept here is that winning symbols vanish off the reels, leaving room for new ones to cascade, roll, or avalanche onto the display. This feature can potentially increase your winnings significantly.

These are bonus features that multiply your wins by a set amount. Depending on the game, this can range from 2x, 3x, or 5x. Usually, multipliers are an added feature included as part of the bonus or free spins round.

Re-spins allow you to take a free spin on the casino’s account in a real money game. They are often activated when you land wild symbols during the free spins round. The number of wilds is usually proportional to the number of fee spins you get.

You can use your winnings as a wager in a gamble bonus round. This bonus mini-game is usually as simple as picking an option between red or black. If you are successful, your winnings double. But tread carefully when playing slot machines with this feature because you can lose your entire wager if you are wrong.

How to Play Slots Online for Dummies

If you have read our guide to online slots this far, you are in no way in the beginner or dummy category. You now understand how to play online slot games, the components of a slot machine, and the bonuses you can expect. More importantly, you can pick the games you want to play like an expert.

In this section, we unpack some advanced terminology you will encounter when learning how to play slots. This will deepen your understanding of these games to get the most out of them.

When you are ready, look at some of the beginner-friendly games available at Wild Casino.

Placing the Correct Stakes

Stakes are wagers or bets you place on a spin when playing slots. These stakes can be anything from $0.01 to $250 per spin, so you must have a clear strategy on how much you are wagering and when.

The number of bet lines also influences slot stakes in a slot machine game. Here is an example of what they might look like for slots with three, four, and five lines.

Here is a table showing the relationship between your bet, the number of lines, and how it affects the total stake.

$0.01 stake $0.05 stake $0.25 stake $0.50 stake $1.00 stake
3 Lines $0.03 $0.15 $0.75 $1.50 $3.00
4 Lines $0.04 $0.20 $1.00 $2.00 $4.00
5 Lines $0.05 $0.25 $1.25 $2.50 $5.00

Use Special Features on Your Favorite Slots

Whether you are a complete beginner learning how to play slots online or a seasoned player with years of experience, you must understand how online slots work. Sure, you cannot control the outcome of a spin even if you know these things, but the knowledge will give you the confidence and know-how to pick the best slot machine games. This online slots guide highlights five special features you should look for in your desired slot machine game.

  • Free Spins – They are a reward for landing three or more scatters on the reels
  • Bonus Symbols – Online slots usually have special symbols that activate bonuses when they hit. The number of symbols required to trigger the bonus depends on the game.
  • Multipliers – You can multiply the size of your winnings using multipliers which can be a multiple of 2X, 3X, or 5X. Some games provide even bigger multipliers.
  • Progressive Jackpots – This type of jackpot extracts a small amount of money from each wager placed. This builds up the bonus until it is won or reaches a predetermined value.
  • Reel Syncing – This feature pairs adjacent reels applying the same symbols. This can significantly boost your chances of winning.

Understanding RTP (Return To Player) and Slot Volatility

Two other concepts are critical in understanding how to play slots: the return to player percentage and volatility.

Understanding RTP (Return To Player)

The return to player (RTP) is the theoretical return that players can expect over the useful life of a slot machine. RTP is expressed as a percentage and higher RTP games pay more when compared to other titles.

However, RTP is a long-term average, so it should not be used to inform short-term playing decisions. Take a video slot like Wanted Dead or A Wild, for example. This game has an RTP of 94.55%, but that doesn’t mean if you play ten spins, you will win over nine times. It just means the percentage will balance out to 94.55% over the life of the game.

Understanding Slot Machine Volatility

You can understand a lot about a slot machine’s payout nature by looking at its volatility. This is how you can tell the frequency with which wins are triggered in the game. There are three different levels of slot volatility: low, medium, and high.

Low volatility slots like Super Dragon Golden Inferno are a perfect starting point for players learning how to play slots for beginners. They offer regular small wins, so you are always engaged. But you can also find other more volatile slots; just be prepared to go for relatively longer stretches without winning anything.

Wild Casino has a mix of games with various volatility levels. You can start your learning journey here and select the type of slot that works best for you.

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The Easy Way to Get Started Playing Slots Online

So, we have covered a lot of ground so far. We have highlighted some slot machine basics, how online slots work, the bonus features, and defined key terms you’ll come across when playing slot machines. Now it’s time to learn step-by-step how to play slot machines online.

  1. Step 1 - Register a New Account

    You must find a reputable casino and register an account. We recommend Wild Casino, but many other options are available on our site. The sign-up process is painless and requires only your name, email, and password to get started.
    Step 1 - Register a New Account
  2. Step 2 - Fill in The Quick Thirty-Second Sign-Up Form

    Online casinos make it easy to sign up, and request minimal information for you to get started.
    Step 2 - Fill in The Quick Thirty-Second Sign-Up Form
  3. Step 3 - Go to Your Account Dashboard

    Once you have completed the sign-up form you can click the link or button to go to your account.
    Step 3 - Go to Your Account Dashboard
  4. Step 4 - Make a Deposit and Claim the Bonus

    Now, the fun part. Make your first deposit and be sure to claim any bonus that is available. You are now ready to start playing.
    Step 4 - Make a Deposit and Claim the Bonus

Pros and Cons of Playing Online Slots vs Offline Slots

Our online slots guide has focused on the game’s web version found at many offshore casinos, but you can also play offline at land-based casinos. Here, we will consider some pros and cons of playing online slots versus offline.


  • Online slots are more convenient and available 24/7, even in the comfort of your home
  • Online casino slots usually come with more variations, with games like Megaways, and other features like Progressive jackpots, bonus buys, and so on
  • You can play online slots with dummy cash


  • You can only play online slots when a reliable internet connection is available
  • The relative lack of interaction compared to playing at a land-based casino


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Now you know how to play slots correctly, you can select a game and start playing now. But even with all this new knowledge, we encourage you to start slow with dummy cash games using free casino bonus credits. Only when you are comfortable playing slots online should you progress to real money games.

As mentioned in this slots guide, find low-volatility games that promise small but frequent wins. This way, you won’t have to worry about chewing through your limited bankroll with nothing to show. When you feel up to it, you can try more volatile options. The best place to find all these games is Wild Casino. You can quickly sign up and implement all you have learned about playing slots here.

Related Games Guides


How do online slots work?

How do you tell if a slot machine is loose?

What are some tips for beginner players?

Can you win real money playing online slots?

Responsible Gambling

The thought of winning a massive jackpot can be enticing, but this is a wrong motive for learning how slot machines work. Instead, ensure you gamble responsibly and only use slots as a fun way to pass the time. If you find that you are someone you know can no longer do this, help is available through your casino customer support.


Here are some great resources for playing slots, industry statistics,  and getting news on the latest games.

Content suitable for 18+ readers only. Always gamble responsibly. The content found in this article is not to be taken as betting advice. Speculative gambling could lead to a loss of capital. It’s free to use this website, but we might receive a commission from companies featured within it. If you are having trouble with gambling then help and advice can be found at begambleaware.org


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Pride Kazunga
iGaming Expert

Pride is a iGaming expert writer with over 10 years of experience. He is a seasoned casino content specialist, with a simple, relatable, and easy-to-read writing style. He loves staying up to date with the latest industry trends, providing readers with the most actionable insights. Pride is featured on multiple websites including TheGameDayCasino.com, BestOdds.com, UsOnlineCasino.com, PACasino.com, and Sportlens.com

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