What are Pokies? – The Latest Guide to How Pokies Work in Australia

What are pokies? Simply put, it’s another term for slot machines. As one of the most popular methods of online gambling, online pokie machines come in various forms. For example, you’ll find classic 3-reel games and progressive jackpots.

Each comes with its own theme, features, and bonus rounds designed to enhance your overall experience. Let’s take a closer look at everything you need to know about these games in Australia.

What are Pokies?

The term pokies was created using the “pok” from poker machine. But what are pokies? Used in Australia and New Zealand, Pokies is a term used to refer to slots. These games are particularly popular in Australia, which is easy to see when you consider that Australia holds half a percent of the world’s population yet it has 20% of it’s pokies.

How do pokie machines work? Initially, they were simple mechanisms with basic rules. A series of gears and levers were used. A coin detector was also featured, which unlocked the brake and released the handle. A metal shaft and braking system controlled the reels. The objective for players was to land a winning combination on a payline. High and low-scoring symbols feature on most pokies today.

Technological advancements mean that pokies have never been more convenient. You can enjoy playing pokies in Australia without leaving your home. Mobile apps and virtual reality titles are some recent innovations.

Examples of Online Pokie Machines

The first ever three-reel slot played with a handle that spins reels and delivers automatic payouts was invented by Charles August Fey in 1895.

Today, you can expect to find a handful of different types video pokies at online casinos in Australia. Before we dive into how to play pokies in Australia and how they work, let’s take a look at the the three main types found online.

3-Reel Pokies5-Reel Pokies6-Reel Pokies

3-Reel Pokies

These are classic slots that feature just three reels. They often consist of simple symbols such as fruit and diamonds.

3 Reel Pokie

5-Reel Pokies

The majority of modern pokies feature five reels. This is to increase the excitement and possibilities of landing a big win.

5 Reel Pokie

6-Reel Pokies

Six-reel pokies are known for featuring more paylines and catering to more adventurous players.

6 Reel Pokie

How Pokies Work

A range of technologies are needed to operate online pokie machines. Understanding how pokies work is important before you start playing. Here we explain what you need to know.

Pokies Features

When trying to understand the answer to “What are pokies?”, we must look at their features in more detail. Pokies come with a range of features to keep players entertained, with these being the most common:

Pokie Features

Wild Symbols

Often compared to the joker in a pack of cards, a wild symbol can replace other symbols to form a winning combination. Expanding, sticky, and shifting wilds are possible.

Scatter Symbols

You can trigger bonus rounds when scatter symbols land on the reels. Free spins and multipliers are up for grabs.

Bonus Rounds

Bonus rounds deliver additional rewards to players and take place away from the main game.

Gamble Features

Gamble features can add to the excitement of pokies. Double or nothing is the most common. Decided by a coin flip, you will either increase your winnings by 2x or lose everything. Red or black, higher or lower, suit prediction, and wheel of fortune are other gamble features found on pokies.

Progressive Jackpots

Selected pokies feature a progressive jackpot. The jackpot grows with each bet placed until one lucky player walks away with the total. You will likely need to bet the maximum amount to be in with a chance of winning the jackpot.


Paylines run across the reels of video pokies. If you’re curious about how to win on pokie machines Australia, you should note that in order to achieve a payout, you must match symbols on these lines. Most pokies feature multiple paylines, with some reaching as high as 100,000+. These are the different types of paylines you can expect to find.

Pokie Paylines

Fixed Paylines

With this type of pokie, you must bet on all paylines. Of course, this will cost more. However, your chances of winning are better. Starburst is a well-known example. With this pokie, there are 10 fixed paylines.

Variable Paylines

You can choose the number of paylines with this type of pokie. The fewer the paylines, the smaller your chance of winning will be. However, the stake required is also smaller. You can choose how many paylines to bet on and give more control to the player. Book of Dead is a prime example. Played on a 5×5 grid, there are 10 adjustable paylines.

All Ways Pay (AWP)

This type of pokie comes with many ways to win. Many feature stacked wild symbols. All combinations of adjacent reels are paylines. Immortal Romane is one of our favourites. This pokie has 243 paylines and a 12,500x top win.

RTP & Volatility Explained

It is worth noting the RTP before playing pokies. The RTP is written as a percentage. It shows you the amount a pokie will repay in the long term. Most pokies have an RTP of 95%. With a 95% RTP pokie, the machine will pay out $95 for every $100 bet over time. Volatility refers to the level of risk when playing Aussie online pokies. High volatility slots deliver higher, less frequent wins. Low volatility pokies offer smaller, more frequent payouts.

How to Calculate the House Edge of Online Pokies

Understanding the house edge will make it easier to grasp your chances of winning pokies. However, the house edge differs between pokies. This means that you will need to do some calculations yourself.

Before you can work out how to win pokies, you must find the RTP. Let’s say a pokie you are interested in playing has a 96% RTP. This would make the house edge 4%. The house edge can range anywhere from 1% to 12%.

Pros and Cons of Playing Pokies

Now that you know how pokies work, it is time to discuss the advantages and disadvantages of this type of gambling. Different themes, bonus rounds, paylines, and soundtracks keep things interesting. However, they vary in volatility and maximum wins. Before you start working your way to pokie machine wins, we recommend considering the pros and cons below.


  • You can play pokies for free and for real money.
  • There are classic, Megaways, branded and jackpot pokies.
  • The best online casinos offer hundreds, sometimes thousands, of pokies.
  • Many pokies come with bonus rounds, offering free spins, multipliers & other rewards.
  • Bets on online pokie machines can be funded through traditional and modern payment methods.


  • The odds of winning pokies are always in favour of the house.
  • Online pokies don’t have RTPs as high as some other games, such as blackjack, for example.

More Useful Gambling Guides on ReadWrite

This “What are Pokies?” guide is just one of many written by our gambling experts. To get a better understanding of online gambling in Australia as a whole, we recommend checking out the following articles.

Our Final Thoughts

Winning on pokies is something that many in Australia dream of. Pokies are simple to learn and come in many formats. Whether it be 3 reel pokies, jackpot, or classic variants, iGaming providers are constantly releasing new games.

These games can be enjoyed on numerous safe and secure casinos, however, CashWin is our favourite. Here, you can find 4,000+ games, most of which are pokies. You can claim bonuses on your opening four deposits after signing up. There are also free spins, weekly rewards, and mystery drops to look forward to, all of which could increase your chances of winning on pokies.

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How do pokie bets work?

Are pokies just luck?

How often do you win on pokies?

Is it better to bet big or small on pokies?

Responsible Gambling

It is important to gamble responsibly when betting on pokies. Whether it’s jackpot pokies in Australia or 5 reel pokies, stick to your budget and never chase losses. The best online casinos have tools in place and are associated with organisations that promote responsible gambling. Tools include self-exclusion, timeouts, and deposit limits. There are also multiple organisations that support players in Australia, these include the following:


About ReadWrite’s Editorial Process

The ReadWrite Editorial policy involves closely monitoring the tech industry for major developments, new product launches, AI breakthroughs, video game releases and other newsworthy events. Editors assign relevant stories to staff writers or freelance contributors with expertise in each particular topic area. Before publication, articles go through a rigorous round of editing for accuracy, clarity, and to ensure adherence to ReadWrite's style guidelines.

James Fuller

James Fuller is a sports journalist based in Bath, England. Specializing in sports and iGaming, he has worked for a variety of leading online publications in the past, including MailOnline and Coral. James also has a degree in Sport & Leisure Management from Sheffield Hallam University. He also has a certificate in Football Communication & Digital Media from the Sports Business Institute in Barcelona, which James has used to help brands enhace their following and reputation on online platforms. With almost a decade of experience in sports writing to his name, James has received outstanding feedback from existing and former…

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