Online Slot Glossary

28 February 2022 |

There are plenty of online slot machine types available to play on. It can be a daunting task to make head or toe from the terms used to describe the features and types of slot machine.

With this online slot glossary we are confident that you will be able to know your tumbling reels from expanding wilds by the end of reading this article.

Type of Online Slots

Slot developers continue to push the boundaries of what is possible online. Therefore, a wide variety of slot types is available to pick from.

As part of this online slot glossary we initially explain below some of the most well-known and widely used slot types and terms.

1024 Ways Slot1024 ways refers to the potential number of winning combinations on a slot machine. It is similar to 234 ways slot, however it has an additional row of symbols.
234 Ways SlotA slot machine that has 243 possible ways to pay out. Some slots pay from left to right or right to left.
3-Reel SlotsIt is a type of slot machine with three columns for spinning the symbols. A 3 reel slot usually carries a 3×3 grid, i.e., 3 rows & 3 reels and is used in more classic style slot machines
5-Reel SlotSimilar to a 3-reel slot but a more modern and widely used online slot variant. These slots also usually have three, four or more rows of symbols.
All Ways SlotA slot type where the paylines can form the winning combinations from left to right right to left.
Branded SlotsBranded slots are usually easily identified through the use of branded content from popular, music groups, movies or TV programmes. These slots are also filled with dedicated features and use the use of special graphics or animations.
Classic SlotsUsually a 3-reel slot with symbols such as Bells, Bars, Fruits, Diamonds and 7s.
Feature SlotA slot type with a special feature which could be a fixed bonus amount, free spins or prize wheel for example. 
Five Line SlotA five line slot usually contains three reels where players have the chance to win on up to five pay-out lines. There are two diagonal pay-out lines as well as the traditional three horizontal pay out lines on a five liner.
Fruit MachineThe British nickname given to a classic slot when they were introduced in the UK. These slots usually all contained fruit symbols.
Megaways SlotFirst invented by Big Time Gaming, some Megaways slots feature an up to 117,649 ways to win configuration. Megaways is a random reel modifier mechanism that produces a different number of symbols on each spin and therefore creates thousands of ways to win.
Multi-way SlotAn online slot betting system that can see hundreds or thousands of paylines.
Skill-Based SlotA skill based slot or bonus round usually contains a bonus feature where the player needs to prove their skill in the game, for example a fighting game etc. 
SlotWhat this entire article is about, if you are unsure why not check out our other slot articles or pages
Three Line SlotA 3-line slot is one of the classic slot types, refers to a slot with three reels where players must line up three identical symbols in order to win.
Win Both WaysWin both ways refers to slots that award wins for paylines running left-to-right and right-to-left.

Slot Symbols Explained

There are 1000’s of different themed slot machines out there to appeal and cater for almost every type of person. Nevertheless in the end all slots make use of the same symbols.

Symbols are basically the images used within the slot that brings everything together, from the theme to the pay-lines.

In the below table of our online slot glossary we therefore list the main types of symbols used in slot machines:

Colossal SymbolsColossal symbols expands and cover multiple positions on the reel therefore increasing your chances to win bigger amounts. Some examples are symbols covering a 2×2 or 3×3 area.
Exploding SymbolsA special symbol that usually has some sort of meter attached to it. That meter will count down or up each time it appears until it fills the meter. Once the meter is filled, those symbols will explode and become wild symbols. There are various version of this mechanic. 
Multiplier SymbolsThe wild multiplier will usually multiply the win amount received from a Wild symbol. Most common is a 2x multiplier.
Scatter symbolAlso known as Scatters, these symbols can appear anywhere on the reels to form a combination and trigger the bonus round in the game or award random payouts.
Standard SymbolsThese are the base symbols of a slot machine. Usually in line with the theme of the slot. 
Sticky SymbolsA Sticky Wild will stay in place to increase your chances of winning on subsequent spins. Sticky Wilds can appear in the base game, at random, or form the cornerstone of a bonus feature
SymbolsThe symbols are the different pictures or graphics on the various slot reels.
Wild SymbolsA wild symbol substitutes almost all of the other symbols on reels and in so increases the chances of getting a winning combination.

Online Slot Buttons and General Terms

When you first open an online slot machine you straight away notice that there are quite a number of buttons. For instance the settings and bet buttons.

In addition, the help file also use terms such as paylines or denomination.

The below table gives you a clear explanation of the more frequently used terms in the slot console as well as terms used within the settings and help areas.

AutospinEnabling this feature the player can set the number of spins the slot will automatically spin. The player can also set other criteria for the slot to stop Auto Spin such as bonus round trigger or a win above a certain value etc.
Active PaylinesNot as widely used these days in online slots, however in the past users could select the number of pay-line they would like to activate. The active pay line/s could result in a pay-out if a combination of winning symbols matched up. Where players cant select the active pay lines, the slot is referred to as a fixed line slot. 
BetThe amount of money the player bets per spin or round.
Bet MaxSelecting the Bet max button on the slot machine will bet the maximum number of paylines at the highest available coin denomination on a single spin. Playing at the max bet level enables the highest pay-out amounts on a slot.
Bet MinThe bet min refers to the minimum number of credits that can be bet on a slot machine during each spin.
Coin SizeThe value of each bet placed. The Bet value is usually calculated by multiplying the number of lines with the coin size.
DenominationThe denomination is the value of each credit played on a particular slot machine. 
CreditsNot that widely used online anymore but credits refer to your balance being converted into credits. More widely used in fixed line slots. 
Max BetThe same as the bet max, the max bet refers to the maximum number of credits on a slot machine that a player can bet on each spin. There is usually a button on the machine that enables the player to bet the maximum number of credits.
Gamble FeatureA feature where a player could play double or nothing after they had a winning spin. These presented themselves as High/Lower, Red/Black style games.
Pay TableThe pay table gives the player a breakdown of the winning combinations and associated win amounts. It usually also explains any bonus or feature rules. The pay line is the line at which winning combinations on the slot reels must land in order to win the pay-out amount.
PaylineThe pay-line is the line at which winning combinations on the slot reels must land in order to win the pay-out amount.
ReelsThe reels are the horizontal columns that spin inside the slot machine window that contains the symbols on them. 
RowsThe rows are the horizontal/diagonal lines of symbols. 
Select LinesSelect lines are the number of paylines selected on the slot game which you want to activate. 
SpinThe spin button activates the spinning of the reels. In some online slots it also acts as a stop/slam button that will stope the reels from spinning when pressed again. 
Total BetThe total bet is the number of credits or amount played on a machine per spin.
WinThe amount you win from obtaining a winning combinations of symbols while playing a slot.

Slot Features and Bonus Mechanics

With the progression of online slots, slot developers have undeniably created some of the coolest features imaginable. The used mechanics aim to draw your attention while adding to the excitement and entertainment of playing.

Whenever you read a slot review and wonder what a specific feature might be, thanks to this online slot glossary you will know.

The following are the top, most often seen and used bonus mechanics and features used:

Bonus MultiplierBonus Multipliers are dedicated symbols that land during the base or bonus game. These symbols signify the amount at which the bet, line win or total win is multiplied.
Bonus RoundA special feature that can be triggered during the base game, or retriggered during the bonus round when several dedicated symbols or combination of symbols land on the reels.
Bonus WheelAn in-game bonus wheel can award extra free spins, multipliers, instant cash, jackpots or any other feature to boost your bankroll.
Cascading ReelsA popular slot feature reminiscent of classic games such as Tetris where a winning combination of  symbols will explode or disappear and the symbols then to be replaced by the symbols above creating the opportunity to accumulate more wins on a single spin. Also known as Tumbling Reels or Rolling Reels.
Cluster ReelsClusters Reels are created when matching symbols meet each other to form a cluster. Clusters are formed of 4 or more of the same symbols to create a win in certain instances. For example, of this type of game, check out our Sweet Bonanza slot machine review.
Expanding WildsA special type of wild symbol.  When this symbol appears on the screen, it will expand to cover the entire reel, creating larger chances of wins if it appears in a winning position.
Free SpinsAdditional spins awarded to a player as part of a feature in a slot. Free spins are real money spins of the same value as your bet. 
Pick a BonusA bonus feature round where players have a choice of icons or symbols to pick which reveal a prize, usually free spins or a cash prize.
Random FeatureThese can be anything from symbol upgrades, extra wild and sticky multiplier features that trigger on a random basis.
Respin FeatureThis feature allows you to land a free spin off of the back of the back of a paid spin, which comes with multipliers, extra wilds or extra winning ways.
Retrigger FeatureThis feature allows you to restart the current bonus round according to the pay table rules.
Stacked WildsStacked wilds as usually 2 or more wild symbols on top of one another. They can also cover an entire reel.
Tumbling ReelsA bonus feature where winning-combos disappear from the reels to be replaced by the symbols above creating the opportunity to accumulate more wins on a single spin. Also known as Cascading Reels.
Twin ReelsSlots with the twin reel mechanic pick two or more random reels during one spin. These reels will have the same symbols when the slot stops spinning. While this feature is overwhelming at first glance, there is a potential for higher pay-outs with having similar symbols on each reel.

Those affected by the twin reels can include wild symbols, making it easy to match five of the highest valued symbols in the game. In addition, twin reels are a slot bonus that frequently activates during the base game.

Jackpot Types

The excitement of winning a lifechanging amount of money undoubtedly appeals to everyone. For example, that is why we play the lottery. And that is also why there are slots with jackpots.

There are various types of jackpots available when playing slot online. The following table of our online slot glossary explains the most frequently used jackpot types online:

JackpotA jackpot is the top prize or the biggest potential pay-out that the slot will pay out.
Fixed JackpotAlso known as a static jackpot. These jackpots are usually displayed above the reels and when hit are usually bigger than the standard pays on a slot machine.
Progressive JackpotA progressive jackpot is a jackpot that keeps increasing in size, as players play on that slot. Usually a % of each bet is taken to fund the jackpot growth. 
Network Progressive JackpotA linked progressive jackpot or wide area progressive when the same or multiple slot machines all linked together and contribute to the jackpot growing bigger. It also means someone playing the same slot in a different location can win that jackpot.

Online Slots Technical Specifications

For most online slot players the theme, look and feel as well as the bonus rounds and features are more than enough criteria to determine whether they like a slot or not.

But some players do prefer to know some of the more technical specifications on how and why a slot behaves and pays out the way it does. Generally, this comes down to the math model and the way the slot characteristics were built.

If you are keen to learn more then have a look at the below table of our online slot glossary. It explains some of the more technical aspects of a slot machine and also why they pay the way they do.

Hit FrequencyHow often a slot pays out on average. The lower the number the better, for example as a game with a hit frequency of 4 should pay-out on average every 1 in 4 spins.
High Volatility SlotSlots that have a high volatility rating can be expected to pay less frequent but with more occasional big wins. 
Low Volatility SlotA slot machine with low variance that pays frequently in smaller amounts. 
Medium VolatilityMedium volatility indicates that the hit rate and payouts are set to a medium level. Thus more frequent wins but medium sized win amounts.
Return To Player (RTP)The payback percentage is a reference to the amount of money a slot game should return to players over a period of time or number of spins. 
RNG or Random Number GeneratorThe random number generator is a mathematical system that selects results at random from all the possible outcomes. 

Online Slot Glossary – Summary

We hope you found this glossary of most frequently used online slot terms overall useful.

In conclusion, although the online slot landscape might look impossible to navigate with the sheer volume of slot types and mechanics out there, it should not be seen as a drawback. Rather see it as an opportunity to learn and know what type you like before investing your money into a slot.

Most slot providers also offer a demo play option. This allows players to play a game for free and as often as they wish using demo credits. Therefore, we have added demo play functionality to many of our slot articles and reviews. For example, why not try one of our favourite sot machines Hot Hot Fruit in demo mode? Also have a look at our slots section where we offer you detailed reviews of the best onine slots in SA. Moreover, we give you recommendations on which betting site you can play your chosen slot machine.

Lastly, we wish you lots of fun spinning the reels! At the moment, HollywoodBets and Supabets are the leading online betting sites for slots play but we expect other bookies to follow soon. Playing slots is still a bit of a grey zone in South Africa but when playing on licensed betting sites you are in safe hands.

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Still can’t get enough of slots information? Then scroll through our articles covering everything from free spins offers to current slots promotions.

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