Slots Terms

Glossary of Online Slots Terms.Read about all the terms you'll need to know with the slot games

Slot Machine: "One Armed Bandit" ring a bell? For obvious reasons, that used to be the most commonly used name for slot machines. Playing the "slots" is often a term that is used by players. In a land-based casino, the machines are physical entities that receive deposits in the form of coins through a slot. Thus, "slot machine".

Modern video machines have eliminated the arm, and online slots are played from money deposited with the cashier via credit card for the most part, so the slot is gone too. But the basic premise is still the same, and the name has remained.


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Coin Size - This is the size of each bet. You can play more than one coin per spin.

Coins per spin - This is the amount of coins that you can play for each spin.

Fill - The opposite, the hopper is overflowing and the excess coins have to be removed. Again, this is not a problem for online gamblers.

Hit Rate - The average distance between winning spins and non winning spins.

Hold - By law there is a percentage that the house must payout in winnings. The slot machine is programmed to hold a certain percentage of the money on deposit as house profit. The exact amount of the house profit held by the slot machine is decided by the casino. See the article on Random Generated Numbers.

Hopper - This is the basket where the coins are stored inside the slot machine. When the hopper is full the excess coins fall into a basket in the bottom of the machine. When it is empty it flashes "Tilt".

Max Bet - The maximum amount of coins that can be played per spin.

Jackpot - Everyone wants to win one. Very few do. There are two basic kinds of jackpots: Stud (Progressive) , and static.

Pay cycle - Many people believe that the slot machine MUST payout after a predetermined number of coins have been deposited. The rational is that this is how they meet the percentage of payout that has been programmed into the software.

Pay-line - This is often the line in the center of the window, but there can be multiple lines on some slot machines. Only the designated symbols on this line will activate a payout by the machine.

Payout Percentages - Payout percentages vary from Casino to Casino and even from slot to slot within a particular Casino. You will often see signs posted regarding the percentage of payout particularly at the dollar carousels. You might see as high as 98.2 % payback, this does not mean that for every 100.00 you play you will get a return of 98.20, hardly. What it does mean is that over the "long" haul the machine will pay back the posted percentage. Calculated in all of this are the small wins and the jackpot wins, you could put 500.00 into a dollar slot machine and get very little back perhaps a hundred or two and even less. This does not mean the percentage payout is incorrect, it simply, means that you have not experienced the 98.2% payback. The next guy coming along may feed a few dollars into the slot machine and win a jackpot. In his case the payback far exceeded 98.2% posted on the carousel. And so you can see that over a longer period of time it all averages out to the posted percentage

Pay Table - The listing of available winning combinations on a slot machine.

Progressive Slots -This type of slot machine offer growing jackpots dependent on the amount of money that was played. A larger bankroll is required and all progressives are at least three coin max slots with two jackpot levels.


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Random Number Generator (RNG) - This is the computer program that determines which symbols line up on the reels. Its sole purpose is to generate a sequence of numbers in milliseconds. Each random number it generates corresponds to a reel combination. Even when a slot machine is not being used, the RNG keeps doing its job of generating numbers. Whatever random number was generated the split second you pull the handle (or hit the "bet one" or "max bet" button) will result in the corresponding reel combinations that appear on your screen. The RNG doesn't care how much you bet, whether you bet one coin or five, whether you pulled the handle or hit the spin button, whether it's your first play or last, whether you are winning or losing, or whether you are playing with or without your slot card. It just continually generates random numbers. If you happen to be the lucky player that plays the very split second the RNG generated a number corresponding to a jackpot reel combination, you'll be a big winner.

Reels - The symbols that show up on the lines are mounted on reels, as shown in the graphic. The most common number of reels is three, but there can be more or less than that. Always remember that your chances of winning go down as the number of reels goes up.

Symbols - Although lemons, cherries, and 7s are familiar symbols that can be found on slot machines, the symbols set on the reels can be whatever the casino or the manufacturer chose. There is no absolute industry standard.

Take cycle - This is the opposite of the pay cycle. If you subscribe to the pay/take philosophy then you believe that a pay cycle is followed by a take cycle, whereby you may get the odd small hit but essentially it's feeding time for the slot.

Tilt - Bet you thought that only happened to pinball machines. Nope. In a land-based casino, when the slot machine runs out of coins, or a coin becomes jammed, the machine will shut down all play and the "Tilt" light will come on. The machine has memory capability, so that when the problem is rectified, any winnings owed to a player will be remembered. Of course, for slot online players, this is of no concern at all. Virtual machines have no hopper to run dry or overflow.

Top Prize - The top payout, in coins on non progressive slots, playing max coins.

Winning Combinations - The amount of possible winning outcomes on the pay table

Wild Symbol - Like a joker will count as any other symbol and on some slots multiply

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