How to find the best bonus slots
Slots today have come a long way since the days of the lever-operated slot machine, and players' expectations have become very high, especially with regard to bonus features. Although the concept is still the same—you still have to click on a spin button in the hope of landing on a combination of the same symbol—in bonus slots there are a number of features which are meant to make the gameplay more interesting, and which can also boost your slot wins significantly (depending on which slot you choose to play, of course!). In this article, we'll introduce you to the most common terminology related to bonus slots so you will know what to expect and also learn how to choose the best payout slots on the market.
Bonus slots glossary
The below are the most common terms you'll encounter as you read the instructions or help section of a bonus 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 bonus slots to play:
Base game - when you start playing a bonus slot, you'll always begin in the base game. The base game is quite simply the slot in 'normal mode', where you have to spin in the hope of landing on a winning combination, or else (even better), of triggering a bonus game. The base game can still involve a couple of features, which may be triggered randomly or by landing on certain winning combinations, but usually these are not as lucrative as the slot's bonus features.
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 slot). Some bonus games also have different levels, i.e. you can progress from one level to another by landing on certain symbols, so that the rewards keep getting better the more you progress!
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 - Multiplier slots involve a feature that's 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.
Progressive jackpot slots - these bonus slots are 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 multi millionaire!
Wilds - these are symbols that will substitute for any other symbols (normally with the exception of the scatter) to make it easier to form winning combinations - much like the Joker in card games! Wilds normally land as one symbol, but some bonus slots also feature wild reels (entire reels that are turned into wilds), walking wilds (wilds that change position during a bonus game, normally 'walking' from the left to the right of the screen).
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 - this refers to 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), and even bonus slots with a completely different reel setup (such as extra reels that are activated when triggering certain bonus features).
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.
Scatter - this is the symbol which triggers the bonus round. Normally, you need to land 3 or more scatters in the base game before activating the bonus.
How to find the best bonus slots
In our opinion, the best bonus slots are characterised by two factors: i) how often you can expect to trigger the bonus game, and ii) the additional features of the bonus round. Bonus frequency is important because in most games, it's during the bonus rounds that you'll get the highest payouts, so you don't want to lose all your balance before triggering this bonus round. Nowadays, you can get an idea of the bonus frequency by checking slot reviews or using a tool called Slot Tracker, which provides real-time data about thousands of online slots.
When it comes to additional features, you should choose a slot with a rewarding bonus game so as to compensate for any previous losses. Nowadays, we expect more than just a bunch of free spins on their own. Things to look for in bonus rounds are multipliers (these usually award the slot's maximum payout), sticky symbols, more high value symbols on the reels and the possibility of retriggering free spins.
To get familiar with some good bonus slots, we suggest you check out our article about the best new online slots in 2018, where we introduce you to those slots which have really impressed us this year. We hope you enjoy playing only the best games online, and wish you the best of luck!