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Are you new to online video slots? Have you tried playing one and found it hard to understand? Video slots nowadays are not as simple as they used to be. Although you still have to click on a spin button in the hope of landing on a combination of the same symbol, there are a number of things going on which can enhance the gameplay and boost the rewards. In this article, we'll introduce you to the most common slots terminology so you will know what to expect and also learn how to choose the best paying slots to play online. So let's get started with our short glossary!

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Video slots terminology

The below are the most common terms you'll encounter as you read the instructions or help section of an online slot game. Some of them have the potential of significantly increasing the payouts, so make sure you take note of them while choosing the best paying slots:

Autoplay - this is normally a button which you can press so as not to have to click on the spin button each time you'd like to spin. All online slots have an autoplay feature these days, which allows you to set the game to spin for a specified number of times with the same bet.

Bonus game - a different game within the slot which offers players a chance to win better rewards. This can be in the form of a wheel of fortune which awards you with a number of free spins or a multiplier on your previous win, a pick and click game to match different symbols, or even a little adventure to unlock some treasures (such as the bonus games in Hugo 2).

Cluster pays mechanic - this is the mechanic behind a different-looking kind of slot, whereby instead of having to land symbols on a payline, you have to form clusters of the same symbol. The format of such games is different, and usually consists of a taller grid which contains many more symbols than the standard 5-reel slot. These games pay out more the bigger the clusters are, and normally, to get the maximum win, you would have to fill up the entire screen with the same symbol. If you'd like to play a great cluster pays slot you should check out Reactoonz slot by Play N Go.

Free spins - very self-explanatory, these are bonus spins awarded when you manage to land on a combination of a particular symbol, called the scatter or bonus scatter. You normally need to get 3 scatters anywhere on the reels to trigger a free spins round, although getting more than 3 will normally award you with additional spins. Free spins can be re-triggerable, which means that players may trigger another round if they land on a combination of scatters again. These spins will play out automatically - you don't have to click the spin button each time, and following the round, the game will display the winnings you've accumulated.

Gamble feature - this is an option found in certain slots to gamble the amount you win following a spin, for a chance of doubling or even tripling that amount. Usually, the gamble or 'double-up' button will light up after a win, and players will have the option to either keep the amount or gamble it for a chance to win even more. The gamble feature is normally played out via a simple game like heads or tails or guessing the colour or suit of a playing card. If you'd like to try out a slot with a gamble feature, we can suggest the recent Legend of the Nile slot.

Multiplier - A multiplier feature is programmed to multiply your win a number of times. This can be as little as 2 times or even 10 times, and is normally applied to winnings during a free spins round. In a lot of video slots, this is the most rewarding feature of them all, through which players may land on the game's maximum win, which makes it a feature to look out for if you're after the best paying slots.

Payline - also known as betting line or winning line, a slot's payline shows which combinations of symbols will result in a win. This can be as little as 3 or as many as 100! Sometimes, you can activate more paylines by betting a higher amount. You can always check the paytable of a specific game by clicking on the help or info symbol. This paytable will indicate all the winning lines in a slot.

Progressive jackpot slots - these are slots linked to jackpots that keep increasing until the jackpot is won. Normally, you'll find these slots under a specific jackpot category at an online casino, which will also display the current jackpot figure. You win the jackpot if you land a certain combination of symbols (with the probability of winning being extremely low). Nowadays, you can find a lot of network progressive jackpot slots which are being fed by players spinning at a number of different online casinos - so that the jackpot keeps increasing until it turns someone into a multimillionnaire!

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Wild - A wild, as you may guess, can be any symbol which substitutes for another to create a winning combination - much like the Joker in card games. This significantly improves the chances of landing on a winning combination, and can normally substitute for all of the symbols on the reels, except for the bonus scatter.

Sticky wild  - a sticky wild is a wild symbol with an added bonus: these wilds will normally appear during a free spin round or a respin and will remain locked in place for the following spins, giving you more chances of winning.

Stacked symbols  - these are symbols which land in a stacked form (on top of each other) and which can increase the potential of winning.

Reels - quite simply, these are what you spin to play and can be understood as the 'vertical columns' of a slot game, as opposed to the rows, which are horizontal. The first slot machines used to have just 3 reels, and some online slots have kept this layout, however nowadays it's very common to find five-reel slots, which are generally in a 5x3 format (5 reels, 3 rows).

Respins - quite simply, these spins are extra spins which do not require a stake, and which are normally awarded in certain games after landing on a winning combination, or after getting 2 scatters - for another chance to get one more scatter to trigger the bonus round.

RTP (Return to Player) - the game RTP is the percentage of the money staked that is returned to the players over time following a theoretical number of spins. This percentage is normally over 94% (you certainly shouldn't play slots with a lower RTP!), although most slots have an RTP of 96% or over. If the RTP is 96%, it means that over a large number of spins, players will win back £96 for every £100 staked. Of course, this doesn't mean that you cannot lose or win more, since slots are a game of chance; you can win a jackpot after just 2 spins, or lose everything in a couple of rounds!

Volatility - this is a term you'll encounter in all our slot reviews. Volatility, or variance indicates how often players can expect the slot to pay out, and how much they can expect to win. A slot with low volatility will award players with frequent wins for small or mid-sized stakes, while a slot with high volatility will provide players with much larger wins but less frequently.

Choosing the best paying slots

Now that we've covered the most commonly used slots terminology, it's time to give you a few tips on choosing the best-paying slots. 

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  • As we've already said, it's best to choose a slot with an RTP of over 96%, to ensure that the game is programmed to pay out a decent amount and that you don't lose everything in a couple of rounds.
  • It's also great to choose a game with a free spins round, since once you hit the free spins button, you'll almost be guaranteed a profit, given that you don't have to stake anything to win. However, what we've found most rewarding are slots where free spins come with extra features, such as extra wilds, sticky wilds or multipliers. This will ensure that you'll win big from this round, expecially if there's a multiplier involved!
  • Keep in mind that slots with progressive jackpots have higher top prizes but may pay out less frequently, offering lower odds of winning overall. If you're after smaller but regular wins to maintain your bankroll, maybe it's best to avoid these.
  • Be cautious of video slots based on popular movies, or those featuring flashy, captivating videos. These tend to be entertaining and impressive, but typically pay out less than simpler games.
  • Play a game for free first - this is a great way of determining whether a slot is for you. A lot of online casinos offer this option; all you have to do is choose a slot from their list and click on 'play for fun' or 'play for free'. As you play, see whether you're happy with how often the slot pays out, as well as what the free spins round has to offer.

There's no one-size-fits-all when it comes to online slots. It all depends on how much risk you're prepared to take (in which case if you like risking for a chance of winning big, you should go for a high volatility slot), as well as on your personal preferences and the level of entertainment you're after. For a few tips on the hottest slots at the moment, we suggest you have a look at our article on new online slots here.

Ultimately, t's important to enjoy playing a slot game, and not to play simply for the sake of winning. And the good news is, there's plenty of entertainment to be had from online slots today! You'll find differently-themed slots, some of them packed with bonus features, as well as simpler, online fruit machines to remind you of the traditional land-based slots. You'll find them all at the best online casinos, so if you can't wait to get started, click on the links on this page to start enjoying thousands of video slots today! 

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