How to Play Slot Machines for Beginners – 5 EASY Steps

If you’re a total beginner and have never played slots before, or have played once or twice but are still confused by how it all works, this guide on how to play slot machines for beginners has been written just for you.

First, check out some of the no deposit slots bonuses below…

At, we’re slot machine pros, and we know every element of the games to an expert level. We’re going to explain exactly how slot machines work, what all the different slot symbols mean, the jackpot rules which determine payouts, and how to play slot machines from A to Z.

Even if you’ve never played slots before, you’ll understand the A-Z of how to plays to machines properly by the time you’ve finished reading. When you’re done, make sure to plat at the best slot sites online.

How to Play Slot Machines for Beginners

The first thing you need to understand about how to play slot machines is the different elements of the game. These are:

How to Play Slot Machines for Beginners - Mega Fortune

Reels – Slot reels run horizontally across the game screen and are the ‘slots’ in which symbols spin. Games can be 3-reel, 5-reel, or even 6-reel. If you look at the screenshot above, this game has five reels.

Rows – Each slot has a number of rows which run vertically. Most slots have three rows, but some have more. In the game screenshot above, you’ll see three reels.

Paylines – Paylines are the patterns which can make winning combinations. For example, if a slot has 25 paylines and you play the game with all of them activated, you’ll have 25 different ways to win. In the screenshot above, you’ll see that this game has 25 paylines.

Symbols – The symbols are the icons which spin on the reels. Each symbol has a different value and how much you win for making combinations will be determined by the value of the symbols.

Once you understand the basics of slot machines, it’s time to take a look at how to play casino slot machines step-by-step. Once you understand it, you can play in freeroll slot tournaments.

How to Play Slots for Beginners – A Step by Step Guide

For the sake of keeping this guide on how to play slot machines simple, we’re going to pretend you’re playing the game you see in the screenshot above. It’s called Mega Fortune and is a great game for beginners since its simple and has several huge progressive jackpots.

Below is a step-by-step procedure showing how you how to play slot machines, specifically Mega Fortune in this example. It works basically the same way for all slot machines, although there may be some variations depending on the software developer.

So, to place a bet on Mega Fortune slot, you would:

Step 1

Make a deposit. Unless you’re playing free slots or have a no deposit free spins bonus, you’ll need to deposit funds before you can play. You can usually do this in the ‘account’ or ‘banking’ section of your casino.

Step 2

Determine the number of paylines you want to play. In this game, the number is fixed at 25, but you can view each payline by clicking the numbers at either side of the game screen. In some other games, you can determine how many lines you want to play per spin.

Step 3

Decide your coin value. In Mega Fortune, you can set your coin value between £0.01 and £0.50. Remember, you’re betting one coin per payline, so if you were to set your coin value at £0.01, you would be betting £0.25 per spin.

Step 4

Set your bet level. This isn’t a feature of all video slots, but it is for this one. You can increase your level from between one and four. The higher you go, the bigger your bet size. For example, if you bet with a coin value of £0.01 at level one your bet size would be £0.25. If you bet with the same coin value at level four, your bet size would be 4x greater or £1.

Step 5

Hit the spin button. This is where the fun begins. You’ll see the symbols spinning on the reels, and if you land a winning combination, you’ll receive a payout. The payout size depends on how many symbols you’ve landed, your bet size, and the value of the symbols.

Playing slot machines is as simple as that. It’s not rocket science, and you’ll master it in a few spins. If it all seems foreign to you, we suggest getting familiar with the process by playing some of our free slots until you feel comfortable.

Slot Machine Lines Explained

Paylines often confuse beginner slots players the most, and no How to Play Slot Machines for Beginners guide would be complete without explaining them further.

Basically, paylines are patterns, and if you match symbols across them, you win payouts. On most slots, payline one will be straight across the middle row, as in the screenshot below.

Slot Machine Payline - Mega Fortune

However, paylines aren’t always so simple. They can go in all sorts of directions. Just take a look at payline 10 on Mega Fortune in the screenshot below.

how to play slot machines - paylines

Paylines can go in many directions, but don’t worry about them too much. All video slots will calculate your wins for you automatically. You don’t have to look out for these patterns at all. If you land symbols on an active payline, the game will let you know. It will also calculate and display exactly how much you have won.

Understanding How to Play Slot Machines – Game Symbols

The basic mechanics and structure of a slot machine is one thing, the paylines are another, and the different symbols are yet another thing you’ll need to understand.

Most slots have the following symbols, although again, it can vary from game to game.

Slot Machine Paytable - Mega Fortune

Common Symbols – These are the common slot machine symbols which make up winning combinations. They don’t hold any special function, and landing combinations of them pays out wins in accordance with the paytable.

High-Value Symbols – These are common symbols, but they pay the most. If you look at the screenshot above, the white limo is the highest value common symbol. Keep in mind that this might not be the highest value symbol once special symbols are considered, as is the case in Mega Fortune.

Scatter Symbols – Scatter symbols can trigger bonus rounds and also often pay when you land three or more of them on the reels.

Wild Symbols – Wild symbols can substitute for other symbols. For example, if you had four matching symbols on reels one, two, four, and five, and a wild landed in the middle, you’d have a five symbol combination. Wild symbols can sometimes stick, move, or expand on the reels.

Bonus Symbols – These are special symbols which trigger bonus rounds when the land is certain patterns or combinations. For example, in this game the bonus symbol is a wheel, which leads to a special bonus round.

Understanding Slot Machine Bonus Rounds

Modern video slots are a far cry from the simple fruit machines you might find in pubs and bars across the world. Even in world-class casinos in Las Vegas and elsewhere, few slots have bonus rounds that can match online slots.

Bonus rounds can confuse some new players, so we thought we’d describe them here so that this How to Play Slot Machines for Beginners piece is complete. Bonus rounds contain lots of slot secrets.

First, you should note that you can always find out what bonus rounds and special features a game has by viewing the paytable.

Slot Machine Paytable - Special Symbols

As the above screenshot shows, you can see which slot machine bonus games the game has built into it. You can also see how to trigger each one. One of the best things to do when you’re learning how to play slot machines is to study game paytables.

Some of the best slot machine bonus rounds are:

Bonus Round Description
Free Spins Players receive a certain number of free spins. Often triggered by landing three or more scatter symbols.
Pick and Click Players pick from a number of hidden items to reveal prizes.
Wheel of Fortune Players spin a wheel to win prizes. The size of the prize is determined by where the wheel stops.
Cascading Reels Winning symbols disappear and are replaced by new symbols, potentially creating multiple wins on a single spin.
Expanding Wilds Wild symbol expands to cover an entire reel, increasing the chances of a winning combination.
Sticky Wilds Wild symbols remain in place for a certain number of spins, increasing the chances of a winning combination.
Multiplier Aall wins are multiplied by a certain value. The value may increase with each subsequent win.

Secrets to Winning on Slot Machines

If we knew how to play slot machines and win every time every time, we’d be too busy sunning ourselves in the Bahamas to write this guide for you.

However, while we can’t tell you how to play slot machines and win every time, we can show you a few slot machine tricks that will help you win more often. This is knowledge we’ve gained over decades, so take it in and make sure you understand it before choosing which game to play.

  1. Manage your bankroll effectively. This is probably the number one trick to win at slots more often. Don’t get carried away and don’t chase losses. Decide how much you’re willing to lose beforehand, and only increase the size of your bets when you’re playing with ‘house money.’
  2. Check how volatile the game is. Some games go for long dry spells and then pay big wins, or lots of big wins, suddenly. These are high volatility slots. Some pay smaller amounts more frequently. These are low volatility slots. Your strategy on how to play slot machines should be determined in part by the game’s volatility.
  3. Investigate the bonus rounds. If one free spins round has a 2x multiplier while another has an 8x multiplier, it makes sense to play the one with the bigger potential. Take your time to look at the paytables and see what’s in store.
  4. Understand that you can’t cheat. There are lots of articles online titled ‘How to cheat at slots’ and other variants of this. They’re all BS. Save yourself the time and money wasted with these systems. Random number generators determine game outcomes. There are no patterns, and slot cheat codes don’t work. Learn how to play slot machine effectively and hope for luck to show up.
  5. Pick high RTP slots. Each slot is programmed to pay a certain percentage of all bets back to players. You’re better off playing a slot with a 98% RTP than one which pays 92%.

Some Recommended Slot Machines for Beginners

Slot Machine RTP Volatility Bonus Features
Starburst 96.09% Low Expanding wilds, re-spins
Mega Joker 99.00% High Supermeter mode, progressive jackpot
Goblin’s Cave 99.32% Low Hold feature, bonus game
Jackpot 6000 98.86% High Supermeter mode, gamble feature
Blood Suckers 98.00% Low Free spins, bonus game
1429 Uncharted Seas 98.60% Low Wilds, free spins
Devil’s Delight 97.60% Low Free spins, Soul-O-Meter bonus game
Aztec Treasure 96.53% Medium Free spins, bonus game
Good Girl, Bad Girl 97.79% Medium Choose your side, bonus game
Dead or Alive 96.80% High Free spins, sticky wilds

If you’re purely after massive jackpots, you should consider playing the following games. These top progressive jackpot slots have paid out some of the biggest online slot jackpots of all time.

Game Name Amount Won Date Won
Mega Moolah $21.7 million September 2018
Mega Fortune $17.8 million January 2013
Arabian Nights $13.2 million November 2012
Beach Life $8.2 million February 2012
Jackpot Giant $6.4 million October 2018
Hall of Gods $6.7 million April 2013
Mega Fortune Dreams $5.5 million December 2016
Aztec Millions $3.9 million March 2017
Empire Fortune $4.2 million September 2017
Major Millions $2.7 million May 2012


Note: Americans will find it difficult to access some of these games due to legal restrictions. If you’re from the states, check out our list of RTG slots as an alternative. They also offer some high-paying progressive jackpot games.

How to Play Slot Machines for Dummies – Common Questions

Q. How are slot machines programmed?

Random number generators control slots payouts. These are advanced mathematical programs that spit out billions of numbers per second. Some of these numbers will instruct the slot to pay. Just hope you’re playing when a winning number is generated. Note that there are some rigged slots online, and the RNGs in these are fixed against you.

Q. Are slot machines rigged?

There are some dishonest casinos that run rigged slot machines. However, the vast majority of them are legit and fair. Stick with our approved casinos to avoid getting cheated. The games at them are powered by world-class slots software companies like Playtech and Microgaming.

What is a progressive jackpot?

Progressive jackpots can pay out multi-millions. Every bet made on a progressive jackpot slot at every casino that offers it contributes to the progressive jackpot. This network effect leads to massive jackpots, some of which can be truly life-changing. You can win them randomly, or for landing a specific combo of symbols, or in special bonus rounds. when you’re learning how to play slot machines, these jackpots can be tempting, but you should be aware that these games almost always have a higher RTP than regular slots. When studying how to play slot machines, make sure you have every fact about the game first.

Q. What are free spins bonuses?

Some casinos choose to give new players free spins on slots for making a deposit. For example, you might get 10 free spins for making a £10 deposit.

Free spins bonuses are not the same as the free spins bonus rounds built into games. Special symbols trigger these features within the game. They offer a number of free spins at no additional cost.

That about wraps up our How to Play Slot Machines for Beginners guide. If you’ve enjoyed it and are ready to try some free slots for yourself, check out our slot reviews page now. After a few spins on those, you’ll fully understand all of the concepts you’ve learned about here.