LadyLucks’ ultimate slot compendium Part 4: How video slots work
Are you a fan of a great video slot? Perhaps you’re just thinking about having a go?
Whether you’re experienced or a newbie to video slots – it’s a good idea to understand how they work and how slots have developed over the years; what paylines can mean for you; how likely you are to win; and the differences between server and networked games.
The original slots were based on a three reel format, but most slots that are enjoyed in casinos are now played on a video screen – and online casinos are exclusively video based.
Video slots are designed to be very user-friendly, so you don’t have to have any prior experience or special skills to be able to play.
However, there are several things worth knowing before you get started. Fortunately, all you need to do is read on to find out…
- 1 How have slots developed over the years?
- 2 How do video slots work?
- 3 What’s the deal with paylines?
- 4 What about no payline slots?
- 5 What are cascading reels?
- 6 What are your chances of winning on video slots?
- 7 The differences between server and network based games
How have slots developed over the years?
While video slots are now the most popular form of wagering at most casinos today, the first versions of these games during the 1980s were largely rejected by players in favour of traditional, mechanical slots. This was because the early video slots did not look at all appealing thanks to basic technology, and gamblers didn’t trust computers.
They thought that they had a better chance of winning by sticking with their original mechanical slots.
By the time the 90s came around, video slots had begun to grow in popularity.
The first slot machine that was playable on a video screen was released in 1975 by the Fortune Coin Company. That was followed in 1979 by the introduction of the first video poker game by SIRCOMA – which proved to be a hit amongst gamblers. SIRCOMA did so well out of this and other developments that it eventually became International Game Technology – responsible for the manufacturing of slot machines for a global market.
In 1994, Bally Technologies gave the slot industry a huge boost by releasing the Bally Game Maker, the first machine that could house several video slot games – and from which gamblers could easily choose how they wanted to play.
During the mid ‘90s, Australian organisation Aristocrat Technologies creates slots with a 5 reel format and bonus features, usually in the form of free spins.
This was to set a precedent for the creation of future games. In 1997, Reel Gaming brought out the popular Reel ‘em in – which was so much loved by players that other slot creators realised that video slots were the way forward.
How did video slots become so popular?
The development of multi-tiered jackpots came from the original Cash Express from Aristocrat. There is now a huge range of choice when it comes to progressive jackpot games – with varying wins possible that can reach up to thousands of dollars.
Slots that involve whole groups of players winning or losing the jackpots together have become increasingly popular in recent years.
There has been a huge increase in the number of bonuses available on video slots – which is great news for all you players!
You can now get free spins, and lots of choice in terms of bonuses – with some games offering as many as six options.
Rather than a simple coloured reel format, lots of video slots on the market today feature pop stars, films and TV programmes that are much loved – making them much more exciting and appealing to more people.
Examples that you might have seen include: The Big Bang Theory from Aristocrat, Lord of the Rings from WMS, and Michael Jackson from Bally.
Video slots that you can play now generally have much more to offer than their original counterparts.
They offer an experience that you can really get into, with high-octane sound effects and special video footage – as well as graphics that make you feel as if you’re actually in another world.
These kind of slots are enjoyed by more and more players partly because of the popularity of penny slots. They usually have at least 20 paylines, and often bonus features too.
These video slots make playing the games easy and affordable for everyone, as there is little risk involved.
How do video slots work?
Video slots and mechanical ones both work in basically the same way in that they generate numbers randomly.
However, video slots usually have a lot more paylines – which is good news for you if you’re hoping to win!
They also offer more combinations that will result in a win – making these games ideal for players who want a real chance of grabbing some cash! In addition, video slots are often packed with bonus features – offering you more from your gaming experience.
You don’t necessarily have to have the right symbol on every reel to be able to get a win from video slots, but it’s worth bearing in mind that your winning spin could pay out less than your original stake.
The amount you win will relate to how much you bet originally, and you won’t get a bonus for placing a maximum bet.
Multiple paylines on video slots mean that you can win several times over, making playing them a much more exciting experience than you might get with other games.
When it comes to how the numbers and payouts are generated, the number of paylines is a calculating factor.
Wild symbols allow you to match with any other symbols on the game, and can help you to win even more. Although tricky to generate, these can increase your payout quite significantly.
Scatter pays are popular features of video slots – and if you get them across 3 symbols, you’ll have exclusive access to a special bonus round.
Bonuses on video slots are a big part of what makes them so much fun.
There are lots of different kinds, such as free spins, wheel spins and selecting a prize options.
What’s the deal with paylines?
Getting a slot machine to pay out has always been centred around activating paylines. Traditional three reel slots had one line in the middle that connects up to make a win.
The introduction of the five reel slot in the 1990s made things a little more complicated – with the games moving up to five paylines and a more detailed winning format.
The games have been enhanced so much in recent years that there is now a mind-boggling choice in terms of huge numbers of paylines.
You can easily find games that have 20, 30 or even 40 paylines – which is great news if you want even more chances to win!
What’s so great about multiple paylines?
The first, and most important thing about video slots that feature multiple paylines is that you can get a winning combination on more than one line, which means that you can win more.
This means that there is now more choice and more ways to win than ever before – and there isn’t a slot player anywhere who doesn’t enjoy having so many options.
The variety means that the game developers have been able to create slots that are much more exciting than the basic models of old, which means they are even more fun to play as well as packed with potential winning options!
You can choose how much to bet, and how many lines to wager on – the amount of risk you take is up to you.
It’s worth remembering that the amount of cash you can win will relate directly to the amount of your stake. Obviously higher stakes could generate bigger payouts, but you also stand to lose more if you’re unsuccessful.
There aren’t certain paylines that are better than others, you have the same chance of getting a win on any of them – making multiple paylines fun to play.
If you put on big bets across all the paylines, your wins will be spread across them accordingly.
What about no payline slots?
Some popular video slots that you might have seen around don’t pay out from paylines, they use scatter symbols instead.
You usually still need to have at least three of these symbols lined up in a row, so it’s a familiar format that you’ll be able to understand easily.
The model used by many slot providers is from Aristocrat Technologies, which has developed ‘Reel Power’. The idea is that you bet on reels instead of paylines, and then wait for your scatter symbols to show up from left to right on your screen.
The way your scatters come up depends on how many reels you have bought.
Many of these kinds of games offer up to 243 opportunities to win – which is what they are referred to as by some providers.
What are cascading reels?
Cascading reels work with paylines, offering multiple chances to win. You bet on a cascade at a time, with new bets required for each turn.
Although betting on cascading reels can be more risky, there is a lot of potential for impressive payouts.
What are your chances of winning on video slots?
If you’re new to video slots, you may be unfamiliar with the term ‘hit frequency’. This refers to the number of spins that result in winning payouts to people playing the games.
The phrase ‘payback percentage’ means how much of the bets placed by players are paid back to them in the form of winnings.
Slots that have high hit frequencies can have widely varying payback percentages, so it’s worth checking the details on individual games.
Are you playing for fun or just for the money?
This is an important question to ask before choosing a video slot. This is because the games fall into two wide-ranging categories: entertainment games and gambling games.
Entertainment games are just what they sound like: the aim of playing these is just to enjoy a bit of video slot action – which is made more fun because these kinds of slots usually have high hit frequencies.
The downside is that the payouts are usually relatively small – so they aren’t the best choice if you’re wanting to play for high stakes and win lots of cash.
Video slots with a gambling focus are perfect if you want to bet a reasonable amount of cash in the hope if generating a big payout.
However, there is much more risk involved with these kinds of games – as the hit frequency is usually much lower. Put simply, you could lose a lot of money in a short period of time if you’re not lucky on a gambling game.
It’s worth remembering that games that offer massive jackpots usually have a low hit frequency – which means that it is much harder to trigger prizes.
The slots that feature stacked symbols where you can enjoy multiple wins usually fall into the gambling category. If your chosen game offers free spins as its only bonus feature, it’s probably a gambling game.
If you can access the bonus of your choice, or ‘pick em’, you’re likely to be enjoying an entertainment game.
The differences between server and network based games
Server based video slot games are commonly used at casinos because they are much easier to change and upload.
With these kinds of products, providers don’t actually have to go to the casino to upgrade and change them, as they can be added to the hard drive remotely.
Networked games offer a more personalised experience for players, as you can log in and create a persona within the network that can then be accessed at home via the online casino. Popular games that are networked include Star Trek and Lord of the Rings.
So there you have it, everything you need to know about video slots and a little bit more besides!
Start your slot playing journey today – who knows where it will take you?
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