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How to play Online Slots

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Online slots make up the majority of games available at online casinos in Canada. They come in all different shapes and forms, each with unique features, themes, and prizes. Just like land-based casino slot games, slot machines use a random number generator (RNG) to ensure fairness and randomness. The difference between online and land-based slots is that online slots tend to have more features and bonus rounds since there is more room for creativity and innovation.

We’ve put together a guide to online slot machines for beginners to help get you started.

How to Play Online Slots

Time needed: 10 minutes.

If you want to learn how to play online slot machines, you’re in the right place. Slots are fun to play and are easy to master – it only takes a few steps to get started:

  1. Sign up to an online casino in Canada

  2. Deposit if you want to play for real money or try the games in demo mode

  3. Select your preffered slot machine and launch it

  4. Check the game’s paytable to see what payouts and features the slot offers

  5. Use the settings to set your stake

  6. Hit the spin button and enjoy!

As you can see, playing online slots is easy. The tricky part is deciding which slot machines suit your needs best. The rest of this guide takes a deep dive into the ins and outs of slot games and what to consider when choosing the right games for you.

How to Choose an Online Slot

There are many variables to take into consideration when choosing an online slot. In this section, you’ll find the basic things to keep in mind.

Theme

There are hundreds of different themes to choose from. Some popular ones include fruit, ancient Egypt, Vikings, fantasy, and pirates. We suggest you try out a few from different providers to see which theme fits your personality best.

Paytable

The game’s paytable holds the most appealing information – the prizes. There are some points to keep in mind when checking this out:

  • Some paytables show bet multipliers while others show the prize based on the stake set within the game.
  • You’ll find paytables which group symbols. For example, A / K / Q reward a 10x prize because the three symbols pay out the same amount. This means that the paylines need to contain the same symbol for you to achieve a payout. 
  • Some slot machines offer rewards for a combination of different symbols, for example, triple BAR, double BAR, and single BAR. In these cases, there will be the word ‘any’ somewhere around the bet multiplier.

Paylines

Paylines are the paths you need to complete on online slot machines to receive a prize. These vary between games. The most common number of paylines varies between 10 and 20. However, you’ll find games with 5, 25, or even 40 and 50 paylines. You’ll find the patterns in the game’s paytable.

Other slot machines offer a larger number of ways to win. Popular ones include 243, 1,024, and 4,096. Slot grids may expand to increase their ways to win, or the game may have split symbols.

You’ll also find the Megaways™ feature in many slot games. The latter is a Big Time Gaming feature which many other providers implement in their online slots to create up to 117,649 ways to win. When this feature is present, the number of ways to wins varies with every spin. This is because a random number of symbols will fall on each of the five or six reels. The number of ways to win is always displayed in one of the corners of the screen and changes according to the spin results.

Regardless of the number of paylines, wins normally start on the leftmost reel and go right. You’ll find some games with features like All Ways Pays and others which change the direction of wins, but it’s not very common.

RTP

RTP stands for Return to Player percentage. The number indicates how much you can expect to win when playing that online slot. Since slot machines use a random number generator (RNG), game providers determine this percentage by taking an overall average of previous slot wins.

RTP at casinos

Average slot RTP percentages sit around the 96.00% bracket, but you will find some slot machines offering RTP as high as 97% and even 98% in some rare cases. The percentage may also change depending on the game’s level or if you are playing with certain features like Buy Bonus or jackpots.

Volatility

The volatility of an online slot gives you an idea of how often you should expect to win while playing the game. Knowing this information helps you determine the risk of playing said slot. There are three kinds of volatility, and, of course, their in-betweens:

  • Low: Low variance means low risk, so you’ve got a higher chance of completing winning combinations. Having said that, low volatile slots usually reward smaller payouts.
  • Medium: The “happy middle” of volatility. These slot games provide a nice balance between hit frequency and payouts and often come with more bonus features than low and high variance slot machines.
  • High: Slot machines which are highly volatile offer less frequent wins. However, the symbols of these games usually come with higher bet multipliers, meaning your payouts will be greater than those of low volatility slots.

Bet Ranges

The way bet ranges are presented vary depending on the provider. Some may give you a set bet range while others will ask you to set both a coin value and a bet multiplier. In the case of the latter, both values are multiplied to give you your total stake. Consider this example:

You set a coin value of $0.50 and a bet level of 5, where the bet multiplier is 5. Your total stake will be $12.50.

It’s important to set your budget before you start playing, especially because your stake will be split up according to the number of paylines. Consider this example:

You stake a total of $10 on a 10-payline slot. This means you are placing a bet of $1 on each line. Let’s say you complete a payline of the K symbol which pays 2x your stake. You will receive a prize of $2.

Autoplay

Autoplay is a feature present in most online slots. This allows select a specified number of spins to play consecutively. If you want to stop this before it runs its course, you’ll need to click on the stop button, usually located where the autoplay was or on the spin button.

Most online slots allow you to set limits which stop the autoplay automatically. These are usually related to the amount you want to win or lose before the feature ends. Some games also allow you to stop this when a feature is triggered.

Online Slot Features

While some slot machines are simple and don’t offer much more than regular gameplay, you’ll find that most of them have special features. Some may only offer wilds, and others have more intense mechanics with bonus rounds, free spins, multipliers, and other modifiers.

Below you’ll find some of the most common features you’ll come across when playing online slots in Canada.

Wilds

Wilds are special symbols online slots have that substitute for symbols within the game. These usually exclude the scatters and any other special symbols the slot may have. You’ll find that some games offer a payout when landing a specified number of wilds on a winning payline. In these cases, the wild usually has the highest bet multiplier.

Wilds symbols

Most online slots have them in basic forms, but you may also come across some of the below:

  • Multiplier Wilds: These wilds come with a multiplier attached to them. This means that your prize will be multiplied when the wild forms part of a win.
  • Expanding Wilds: A common modifier, this is when wilds expand to cover some or all of the reel when they land, thus increasing your chances of completing a payline. 
  • Walking Wilds: These stay on the reels and move to a different position on the next spin. How many times this happens depends on the mechanics of the slot you’re playing.
  • Sticky Wilds: This kind of wild locks into position for the next spin. As with Walking Wilds, the duration of the feature depends on the game’s rules.

Scatters

Scatters are symbols which pay regardless of the position they land in. They could either carry a cash prize, trigger the free spins or bonus round, or both. When paying a prize, they are usually one of the higher-paying ones. While this is a standard feature of online slots, you won’t find it in all of them. If you’re looking for a scatter pay game, it’s best to check the slot’s paytable before playing. 

Multipliers

Multipliers are fixed amounts which could be added to your prize. These could be in the slot’s base game or free spins rounds as fixed symbols, modifiers, or increasing multipliers with cascades. Common multipliers include 2x, 3x, and 5x, but you’ll find slot machines with higher ones.

Here’s an example:

You win $10 with a 3x multiplier. Your total win will be that of $30 ($10 x 3).

Cascading/Tumbling Reels

Cascading (or tumbling) reels are when winning symbols are removed from the grid once the prize has been paid out. This allows room for new symbols to fall down the reels and if a second combination is formed, you’ll receive a second prize. The feature usually continues until there are no more wins.

Split Symbols

A typical feature of 5×3 slot games, split symbols is when one or more symbols splits into two or more, thus giving you more chances of winning. What’s more, if you, for example, achieve a five-of-a-kind win with a split symbol, you’ll be awarded a prize of a six-of-a-kind combination.

Gamble Feature

Many online slots offer a gamble feature – this may not always be listed in the paytable. When available, you’ll have the chance to gamble each win you achieve. Although this can vary, you’ll typically find it in one of the following forms:

  • Card Colour: Guess whether the card you’re presented with is red or black.
  • Card Suit: Guess whether the card you see will reveal a heart, diamond, club, or spade suit.
  • Wheel: This usually comes with red and green segments where red means lose, and green means win.
  • Ladder: You’ll see a ladder with prizes on each step. Your task will be to stop the light above your win for a higher prize. This usually ends when you collect or reach the first step, thus forfeiting your entire win.

Winning results in increasing your prize. You’ll have the possibility to repeat the feature for a set number of times or collect your reward. However, if you lose, you’ll give up your entire prize. Some online slots use the gamble feature in the free spins round, where you’ll gamble for a higher or lower number of free spins.

Free Spins

Most online slots have a free spins round, usually when collecting three or more scatters during a single spin. These are additional rounds which usually play on a loop, meaning you won’t need to press the spin button. Some free spins games include additional features like multipliers or other modifiers. You may also be able to retrigger these by collecting icons or additional scatters. 

Bonus Rounds

While not the most common feature, many slot machines offer bonus rounds. These differ from free spins because they almost always guarantee a cash prize. Bonus rounds come in different shapes and forms but are often played on a separate set of reels. They could also be mini games where there are no reels at all.

Jackpots

Jackpot prizes are significantly larger than those awarded by the slot’s symbols. These could either be fixed, meaning they pay a set multiplier which will be applied to your stake, or progressive, which grow each time you place a bet. Many slot machines have more than one jackpot prize which can be triggered randomly or during a bonus round. 

There are two different kinds of slot machine jackpots:

  • Local: These jackpots are unique to the game.
  • Network: These jackpots are across a series of games by the same provider.

In the case of network jackpots, any player playing any of the participating slot machines contributes to the pot.

Some online casinos in Canada host their own on-site jackpots where players spinning preselected games will be in with a chance to win the ultimate prize.

Game providers

You’ll have a wide selection of game providers at online casinos in Canada. Each operator has its unique features and is known for different things. It’s always good to experiment with games from different providers to find the types of games you prefer.

We’ve listed three popular game providers in Canada to get you started:

Microgaming

Microgaming launched its first online casino game in 1994 and took the title of the first mobile casino software provider in 2004. Some of its most popular games include Game of Thrones™, Immortal Romance™, and 9 Masks of Fire. This award-winning operator is known for its progressive jackpots which may out millions of dollars each year.

Blueprint Gaming

Blueprint Gaming has been around since 2001. It was acquired by Gauselmann Group in 2008 and has since become extremely popular among online gamblers in Canada. It’s known for the top-quality games it develops, some of which include Ted™, Lock O’ the Irish Fortune Spins, and The Goonies™, which won the Game of the Year 2019 Award during the Gaming Intelligence Awards. 

Yggdrasil Gaming

Yggdrasil Gaming was founded in 2013 and operated in 24 licensed jurisdictions worldwide. This award-winning software provider is known for its interactive bonus rounds and innovative features such as Gigablox. Some of its popular games include Vikings Go Berzerk Reloaded, Valley of the Gods, and Golden Fish Tank. 

Slot Tournaments

You’ll find that many online casinos in Canada host slot tournaments. These could be organised by the casino itself or they may form part of a network promotion, which means the tournament would be organized by the game provider and the online casino is participating.

You’ll be playing against other players in real time for a prize. The ways to win differ depending on the tournament’s mechanics. Although this list is not exhaustive, you could receive points for:

  • Betting $X on a single spin
  • Every $X staked
  • Hitting special features such as bonus rounds

One thing to keep in mind is that tournaments are usually hosted on preselected games. In some cases, you’ll have a selection of games to choose from and in others the tournament will be across the entire catalogue of a particular provider. They also run for a particular period of time, so make sure to check the promotion’s terms and conditions.

The prizes vary depending on the nature of the tournament and could range from VIP points to free spins, bonus cash, wager-free cash, or physical prizes such as electronic devices, holidays, and other nifty gifts.

Top Tips

Knowing how to play slot machines is great, but it’s good to have some other tricks up your sleeve before you start spinning the reels. You’ll find tips to keep in mind before depositing and playing with your hard-earned cash in this section.

Finding the Right Online Casino

Make sure the online casino you sign up to is right for you. You’ll find the same slot machines at many online gambling sites, so always take the other variables into consideration. This includes available payment methods, customer support options, licenses, promotions, VIP programmes, and the importance given to security and responsible gaming.

Playing with Bonuses

Online casinos in Canada offer a range of bonuses which you can use to play slot machines with. Knowing the difference between them is key, which is why we’ve listed the most common ones:

  • No deposit bonus: This is usually a sign-up bonus which could consist of bonus cash or free spins. Make sure to check the terms of the offer as the bonus may only be available on preselected games.
  • Welcome Bonus: Most online casinos offer new players a bonus with their first deposit. In some cases, you may be able to claim more than one deposit bonus. This could consist of a match bonus and/or free spins. In the case of the latter, the free spins are usually available on preselected games.
  • Reload Bonus: This is generally a weekly bonus for existing players. You’ll get a match bonus which you’ll normally be able to use on whichever games you please.
  • Free Spins: This may be against a deposit or as part of another offer. Many online casinos offer free spins on the game of the week/month. Free spins are usually available on preselected slots.

Choosing the Right Online Slot

It’s important to know which kind of game you’re looking for. This includes the theme, features, bet values, and all the other points mentioned in this article. Always check the slot’s paytable to see if it’s what you’re looking for. If you like what you see, then try the game in demo mode first. This way, you’ll get a feel of the game without staking any cash.

Know When to Stop

Slot machines are designed to be a source of entertainment. If you feel like your gameplay is becoming problematic – stop playing. Reputable online casinos all have a responsible gaming section on site. This could be within the terms and conditions or on the page’s footer. You can also contact customer support for a self-assessment. 

Conclusion

It may seem like there’s a lot to take in, but you’ll get the hang of it once you start playing slot machines. If you need additional help, you can always come back to this guide and let us help you through the process.

Now that you’ve got all the insight you need, it’s time to sign up to a secure online casino and choose your favourite games!

FAQ

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No, they are not. Online slots use a random number generator (RNG) to ensure randomness and fairness with every spin.

Slot RTP (return to player) is calculated by taking an average of how many hits the game takes. This gives you a rough idea of how much you can expect to win when playing the slot.

First, you need to sign up to a reputable online casino in Canada. Next, select the game you’d like to play. Next, set your stake and hit the spin button – it’s that simple!

Of course, you can. Most online casinos allow you to play the game in demo mode. Using this feature allows you to check out the game’s features without staking any cash.

The features online slots have vary depending on the provider and the game itself. The most common features are wilds, scatters, multipliers, free spins, and cascading reels.

While jackpots are a common feature of online slots, they do not form part of every game. You’ll need to check the games’ paytables to see if you can win a jackpot prize.