Practical Guide To The Different Types Of Slot Machines

Who hasn’t heard of slot machines? Their 100 year plus history with mankind has been colourful to say the least. They have globally become associated with casinos and gambling houses. Not only are they immensely popular with the gambling public, but they also generate a significant income for the owner. Both these aspects have secured the place of the slot machine on the casino floor and online.

They are sure they will be with us for a long time to come! This practical guide to the different types of slot machines will give you an idea of their diversity and entertainment value. You may even be tempted to venture out and try your luck on one of these casino icons.

From their inception in 1894, slot machines have evolved in complexity and entertainment value. The first machines were mechanical in nature and activated by pulling a lever. This lever mechanism led them to acquire the colloquial name “one-armed-bandit”. The biggest change to their technology came in 1975 when the slot machine went completely electronic.

Since that time, they have assimilated digital technology and become available online as websites and apps. Physical machines on the casino floor did away with the lever activation in favour of a push-button activation mechanism.

Slot machines can be divided into groups using various criteria. We will cover the most popular types here to give you a practical guide to the different types of slot machines.

Pay Out Type Slots

Slot machines can be grouped according to their payout type. The first type, designated flat-top slots offer a fixed amount as a jackpot. These machines normally have smaller payouts, but also pay out more frequently.

The second payout type is called progressive payout machines. With these different types of slot machines, a certain portion of each bet placed goes toward growing the size of the jackpot. Progressive payout machines can be standalone where the jackpot is increased on only one machine. Machines may also be linked to machines on the same floor, or over a wide geographical area.

These linked machines will have a jackpot that grows quickly. This is as a result of many machines contributing to the growth of the jackpot. Obviously the advent of online casinos has contributed to the immense amounts accrued in some online progressive jackpots. In fact, the largest ever won was in excess of 20 Million U.S dollars and occurred with the Microgaming’s Mega Moolah.

Winnings on these machines aren’t usually nearly that high – but the amounts are significant to transform a lucky winner’s life! Many people have become instant millionaires with a win on these types of slots.

Pay lines Slot Machines

In slot machine parlance, the pay line is the invisible line along which you need to match symbols for a win. In the early days, this was in a straight line across the middle of the machine, going from left to right.

The digital age has allowed for much diversification of the pay line and now you can get machines that offer pay lines in many weird and wonderful combinations!

A single machine can offer many varieties of pay lines and is often determined by the number of coins or value of the bet placed.

The most common pay lines offered are in the range of up to 5, but some machines offer pay lines that number in the hundreds. As you can see, the amount of variety that these machines offer makes them intriguing for players to try them out!

Number of Reels Slots

The spinning reel is a recognised symbol of the slot machine worldwide. Slot machines can have various numbers of reels for the player to match. Older models of slot machines generally had three reels, while the more modern machines have five reels. Some larger machines have many more reels and can be quite complicated to match the play lines.

The lower the number of reels, the lower the number of play lines that can be available to the player. This also reduces the potential ways to win on the machine. This has, however, not put a damper on the popularity of three-reel machines! They are still in production on many casino floors and retain their popularity, particularly with beginners.

Slot Machine Themes

Historically the slot machine matched fruit symbols, and in Britain, early versions were known as fruit machines. The modern, digital age has precipitated the themed slot machine. Now you can place your bets by matching faces of celebrities or icons from cult movies such as Star Wars.

You name it, and there is a themed slot machine out there replicating it! Many gamblers prefer the slots that mimic other casino floor games such as roulette or blackjack.

The popularity of themed slots, however, proves that they are a hit with the general public. They will continue to be produced to attract players to the slot machines!

Frequency of Pay Out

Gamblers are a superstitious group of people! Some machines gain a reputation in the community of being either hot, a frequent payer, or cold, an infrequent jackpot payer. On larger jackpot machines, such as the progressive jackpot slots, the payout will be less frequent, but the jackpot will be correspondingly larger.

Some players believe that machines can go through phases of paying out frequently, a so-called hot streak and then revert to paying out less frequently, known as a cold streak. The frequency of payouts is normally determined by the software on the machine, but trying to convince a superstitious gambler of this is a lost cause!

Some slot machine players will frequent the slots at a predetermined time when they believe a payout is more likely to be imminent. One such strategy is to play the slots on a Sunday morning. The theory is that the slots have been played a lot on a Saturday evening, making the possibility of a jackpot higher on Sunday morning.

Some machines are programmed to have a high volatility (infrequent payouts, but each with a large amount) and others have a low volatility (frequent payouts of small amounts). The software running these machines is created to certain legal guidelines, but it is up to you to follow your instincts when you play the slots. Be sure to remember to stay within your betting budget! Don’t overextend yourself in the hope that a machine is about to payout!

Guide to slots amended RTP%

RTP% stands for Return To Player percentage. This basically means the percentage of turnover over time which is paid back to players. Obviously this percentage is under 100% because the ‘edge’ is always with the casino.

However, the exact percentage can differ greatly from anywhere between 91%-98%. Why does this matter? Well, the higher the RTP the more you will win, or the less you will lose, over time.

Unfortunately land based casinos do not show the RTP prominently on their slots. However, online casino slots normally have an information section listing the RTP ,or a review of the specific slot will have the pertinent information.


Slots machines are an icon of the gambling community. The varying nature of the complexity, style and entertainment value gives them wide appeal to a vast range of the gambling online public. The popularity of the slot machine is not limited to a particular continent, but has global appeal to gambling communities across the planet!

You are sure to find a slot machine with gameplay, style or theme to give you hours of entertainment, so why not give one of the modern types of slot machines a try! Who knows, you may become an instant millionaire!