From Paylines to Wilds: Understanding Slots Terminology

Slots are currently among the most popular online casino games. There are thousands of different types around, covering just about every genre and style imaginable. Yet, there are some factors that they all have in common, as well as a number of key differences between them.

What is a video slot and how does it work?

The following terms will help you to fully understand everything that you need to know:


These are the columns that are filled with different symbols. As you play, the game these reels will spin around, although in some games the symbols will drop down from above or move in some other way. The majority of slots that you will find online have five reels. However, some retro-style games have just three of them. Others have six or eight reels, with the number of reels on the screen sometimes even changing on each spin.


You win on a slot when you get the same symbol multiple times in a certain pattern, whatever combination of images leads to success, is a payline. In many games, you need to get at least three identical images, with the maximum win for five of them, although this varies. The number of paylines in the slot shows you which patterns across the reels will result in a win. Ten or 20 paylines are typical, while you might see some games advertised with 243 or more ways to win. Primal MegawaysTM is an example of a slot whose paylines constantly change to give up to 46,656 ways to win.

Wild Symbols

These are special images that can replace others. For example, you might have four identical symbols across a payline with a wild in the middle of them. In this case, it pays out as though you had five identical symbols. Wilds often come with special features too. They may double any win you get, wander across the screen, stick on the reels, or otherwise add some extra action to the game’s mechanics.

Scatter Building

Scatters are special symbols that award free spins or some other bonus features. They may also pay out an instant cash prize when you get a certain number of them. One of the advantages of the scatters is that they don’t have to occupy a full payline like other symbols. They will typically award their bonus when you see the right number of them in any positions on the reels. If we look at Book of Secrets, for example, we can see that the scatter is also the wild in this game.

Free Spins

The free spins round will give you a certain number of bonus games at no cost. The rules may change from the base game as to when you can use these spins. For instance, your wins may be increased, or the wilds might behave differently. In some slots, you can re-trigger more free spins as you play them. In Treasure Heroes, the free spins can turn certain symbols into fixed wilds.

Stake or Coin Size

These are different ways of expressing how much you are wagering on a single spin. If you need to select the number of paylines, then the overall stake will increase according to the number of coins that you place on each active payline.


What is RTP in slots? This is a percentage figure that tells you the return to player percentage. The closer it is to 100%, the more that the game typically pays out. However, this isn’t a guarantee of what you will win. The RTP is calculated by looking at thousands of spins. So, it is simply a guideline that gives you an idea of how much the game will pay back to all its players over time.


The volatility of a slot tells you some important information on how you can expect it to perform. A low volatility game will tend to be steady, with small but frequent payouts to players. If it is high volatility, there are probably bigger prizes up for grabs. It may pay out less frequently and give you longer losing streaks, though.


Which online slots payout the most for their winning combos? All these games have a paytable that you can access from the main screen. This is where you can see the value of each of the symbols and find out what the wild and scatter are. You can also read about any bonuses or special features in this section.

Bonus Features

Other bonuses could include wheel of fortune-style rounds, or features where you pick a prize. Not all slots have bonus features, while some games have several of them. The paytable will tell you how you can trigger these bonuses and how much you could win on them. As an example, Mega Masks features giant symbols and reels that can merge.


This is a number that your win is multiplied by. For instance, if the paytable lists a certain symbol as paying 100x and you get a 2x multiplier, the prize will be 200x your stake. Multipliers are awarded in different circumstances, such as when you get a wild as part of a combination or when you are playing free spins.

Progressive Jackpot

A progressive jackpot is offered on some slots. This is generally the game’s biggest prize and it will increase in size until it is won. It may be awarded randomly, or you might have to complete some sort of achievement to win it. Mega Moolah is a slot with four progressive jackpots that increase as more people play it.

Random Number Generator

How are slot machines programmed to be completely fair? The random number generator (RNG) is the software that makes every spin a question of luck. All slots from reputable developers are thoroughly and independently tested to make sure that their RNG works perfectly.

Gamble Feature

After you get a winning spin, you may be offered the optional gamble feature. This is where you choose between two options such as a red or black card. Get it right and double your prize. Choose wrongly and lose your winnings.