Slot Machine Terms
The definitive list of slot machine terms you encounter when playing online slots games for real money. It is also useful to learn these phrases and their meanings if you ever go to a brick-and-mortar casino. It helps have a great casino experience.
Save this list and come back to it when you see a new term on a slot review.
List of Slot Machine Terminology with Definitions
This glossary includes popular words that every game uses and some you might have never seen before. Learn what a progressive slot is, the difference between a free spin and free play, and all about those tricky pay tables.
A 1,024-way machine is similar to a 234-way game but with an extra row of symbols. The five reels with four columns create an exponential amount of new paying combos.
A 234-way machine pays out when symbols appear on any of the reels in any position. Symbols count toward winning combinations as long as they are adjacent.
3D Video Slots
3D Video slots are graphically intense slot games with depth in their imagery to give a three-dimensional effect.
A 3 reel slot machine has three spinning columns of symbols.
A 5 reel slot machine has five spinning columns of symbols. This type of game seems to be the new standard for online slots.
A 6 reel slot has columns of spinning symbols. These games usually have additional features.
Action is the total amount that a slots player bets in a certain period of time. This number is used for some bonus offers and when clearing wagering and rollover requirements.
An active payline is “turned on” and pays a prize if a winning combination lands on it. Many machines let you activate and deactivated paylines to adjust the wager.
All ways machines have paylines that create winning combinations from left to right and right to left.
An annuity winner takes their prize in payments instead of a lump sum. This option isn’t available online.
Autoplay / Autospin
Autoplay and autospin features let you set a wager and number of spins for the machine to complete automatically. You can usually cancel autoplay after any round.
Bars are classic black slot symbols with “BAR” printed on them in white. They are often the lowest paying and come in single, double, or triple stacked versions.
Basic slots are three-reel machines with a single payline. The prize is always the same, and there are no special features.
The bet is the amount that a player wagers on a spin.
A “bet one” setting adjusts the wager to one single coin of the selected denomination per spin.
Bonus Feature / Game
A bonus feature, or bonus game, offers free spins, additional wilds, or another big win potential. Find instructions on how to activate the feature in the game’s paytable.
A bonus round is an in-game event where players make specific decisions to earn extra prizes.
Buy a Pay
Buy a pay refers to payouts that a player gets only if there is a certain wager amount per spin. It’s important to take notice of this as the jackpot sometimes won’t be available unless you’re betting a certain amount.
Buy a Feature
Buy a feature grants access to certain bonuses or special modes if a player is wagering a minimum amount per spin.
The candle is the light on top of a physical slot machine at a casino. You can use it to call over an employee if there is an issue, or if you hit the jackpot.
A carousel is a bank or group of slots that are together on a casino floor.
Cascading wilds convert other symbols in a slot game into more wilds, allowing for massive or concurrent wins.
A classic slot machine has three reels and only a few paylines. These machines often use vintage symbols like bars, bells, fruit, and 7s.
Coins are the total amount of cash you have in a slot machine at any given time.
The coin size is the value assigned to each coin or credit when you’re betting at a slot machine. These can be as small as 1¢ or large as $100. This amount gets multiplied by the number of paylines to calculate the total bet.
A coin slot is a physical hole where you put your coins to fund the machine. Finding a coin slot is becoming rare with digital machines, although some casinos still offer physical quarter or penny games.
The collect button allows players to cash out their remaining credits from the slot machine.
Comps are complimentary prizes, drinks, food, or spins offered by the casino for loyal players.
Columns are the vertical lines of symbols that spin. This term is used interchangeably with reels.
Credits are the unit used after you insert money into a slot machine. A credit indicator is usually near the bottom of the slot machine or screen.
The denomination is the value of a single coin on a slot machine. Some machines allow the player to change the coin amount. A carousel of slots in a brick and mortar casino will usually be the same denomination.
Demo mode, or practice mode, gives you a “fun balance” to play a slot game. You can not win real money, and your balance doesn’t carry over.
Expanding wilds are a unique type of wild symbol that grows beyond a single space. These often fill the entire reel they land on, creating more winning potential.
EGM is an acronym for “Electronic Gaming Machine.”
A feature is any additional bonuses, free spins, and side games that you can unlock with certain winning combinations.
A fixed jackpot is a set amount a player wins if they hit the jackpot combination. This is the traditional payout in slot machines, also called a flat-top slot.
A free play slot lets you try the game without risking any real money. The best online casinos offer this with their demo mode.
Free spins are opportunities to spin the reels and win prizes without having to wager. You earn them during game features or with some casino bonuses.
The gamble feature gives you a chance to double your previous winning spin’s prize.
To “hit” is to complete a winning combination on an active payline.
The hopper is the area below the reels of a physical slot machine used to catch winning coin payouts. These days, most slots use ticket vouchers.
The jackpot on a slot machine is the highest possible award. Quite often, players can only hit the jackpot at max bet.
A line bet refers to how much a player is wagering on a single slot machine line. This amount determines the payout if the player hits a winning combo.
A loose slot machine has a higher than average return to player (RTP).
The max bet is the highest amount of credits that a player can wager on each spin. On most slots, there is a bet max button to adjust the wager to the maximum automatically. Sometimes the jackpot is only available when playing at the max bet.
Mechanical slots are traditional, older machines, and have physical reels that stop behind a glass revealing symbols. These generally have fewer paylines than a video slot and predominantly feature 3-reels.
The min bet is the smallest amount a player can wager on one spin. Usually, it’s one credit for one payline. It could be as little as one 1¢.
Mobile slots have intuitive touchscreen controls for phones and tablets. Play them right in the web browser of your mobile devices.
Multi-line slots have many paylines. Each line increases your wager and drastically boosts your chances of winning.
A multiplier is a feature or symbol that significantly increases your winning payouts. For example, a 3x multiplier triples your win.
A nudge slot has symbols that move up or down once the reel has stopped. They provide additional wins and an added excitement to slot titles.
Numbers are symbols commonly found on the reels. The 7 was a traditional symbol, but now you can find 9, 10, J, Q, K, and A regularly.
Slot machines are known around the world as one-armed bandits. This slot machine slang originated because they have a lever, or one arm, and are programmed to take money from players.
The payback percentage is the total amount a machine pays out over time. This term is used interchangeably with RTP.
The payline is a line, or pattern, that a winning combination needs to land on to win a prize. It can be straight, diagonal, or zig-zag in many directions.
The payout is the amount you win when you hit a winning combo. This number is affected by your wager, the symbols, and any active multipliers.
The paytable is a page or section that outlines how much you can win on a slot machine. In addition to payouts, it shows the symbols, rules, and how to activate and use bonus features.
Penny slots have wager options as little as 1¢ per pay line. These machines are popular since they provide extended entertainment with little risk.
Pokies is the Australian slang term for slot machines. They may also refer to them as pokie machines.
A progressive jackpot slot has a grand prize that grows with each spin until it is won. Their payouts often reach hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Random Number Generator (RNG)
The random number generator determines where a slot machine’s symbols land. It is based on a mathematical algorithm that allows for genuinely random placement on each spin.
The reels on a slot machine are the columns that contain various symbols.
A reel stop refers to each position on the reels.
Return to Player (RTP)
A percentage of the total wagered money that the machine pays back to the players. This number is calculated over thousands of spins.
Rollover and wagering requirements are the total amount a player must wager to clear a bonus offer.
Rows are the horizontal lines that symbols fall on.
A scatter symbol awards the player with a payout and often unlocks a bonus round or special feature.
Second Screen Bonus
The second screen bonus is a special feature that takes you away from the basic reels and to a mini-game with a different format.
The “select lines” button allows you to activate or deactivate paylines. It affects your wager and likelihood of hitting a payout.
Shifting wilds, or sliding wilds, are like expanding wilds, but they grow horizontally across multiple reels.
Skill Based Bonus Rounds
Skill-based slots bonuses test your skill in a mini-game and award you a higher prize for better performance.
Slant top slot machines are wide and short games that save space. They allow the player to have a more immersive experience, particularly on video slots.
Slot Club / Player’s Club
The slots club, or player’s club, is a VIP program for loyal players to earn comps and other rewards. They are often tiered systems that provide additional services as you progress up the ladder.
The arm on the side of a slot machine is called the slots lever.
A slots tournament pits players against each other with a set time limit or number of credits. The player with the best score at the end of the tournament wins additional prizes or free play credits. You join these games with a buy-in or invite.
Slots types include progressive slots, 3D games, Video machines, and titles with bonus features.
A spin refers to a single round on a slot machine.
A slot machine with staggered payouts offers a larger payout when you bet more coins.
The symbols are the images, numbers, and bars on the slot machines reels. Each symbol has an associate payout, and some unlock special features.
Tight slots are machines with low RTP and are not in the player’s favor.
The total bet is the amount wagered based on your current settings. The coin size and number of active paylines get multiplied to calculate the credits per spin.
A game with unique reels may not use a traditional column layout. The reels may be in a hexagon, tower, or side-scrolling display.
Slot machine variance refers to a game’s consistency. A low variance has frequent smaller prizes, and a high variance has larger, but less frequent, wins.
Video slots, unlike mechanical slots, have no moving parts. The spinning reels are simulated on a screen with amazing graphics and sound effects. All online slot games are video slots.
Ways to Win
Instead of listing several paylines, a game might list a specific number of ways to win. This number could be 234 – 1,024 different winning lines.
A wild slot symbol substitutes for any other symbol in the game (except for scatter or bonus symbols) to help you create a better winning combination.
A wild multiplier is a feature that positively affects the payouts of combinations that include wild symbols.
A win happens when you hit the correct combination of symbols that appears on an activated pay line.
Win Both Ways
Winning both ways means a paying combination can occur from left-to-right or right-to-left.
A zig-zag payline moves in a crooked line across the rows and columns of the reels. There are often some very interesting payline layouts.
Use This List of Slot Machine Terminology to the Fullest
Who knew slot machine terminology was so involved? Now you have a one-stop-shop for all the slot machine slang you could ever need.
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Slot Machine Glossary FAQ
Below are some common questions we get regarding various slot machine terms.
What is a progressive jackpot?
A progressive jackpot slot machine has a growing grand prize that continues to climb until a player hits it. These tend to reach life-changing amounts in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.
What is the arm on the side of a slot machine called?
The arm on the slot machine is the slot’s lever. You pull it to spin the reels. Many games now use a button format, and the lever is just for show.
What do you call slot machines that pay out more often?
Slots machines that payout often are known as loose slots. They have a higher return-to-player (RTP), so you stand to win more often.
What are slot lines?
Paylines, sometimes just called lines, indicate the direction and location a winning combination must land to award a prize.
What is the highest bet on a slot machine?
At one point, the Aria in LasVegas had a machine where you could wager $5,000 on a single spin.