Slot Machine Terms

Terms iconThese Slot Machine Terms are some of the most popular and widely used that you will encounter when playing online slot games. They are also useful to learn if you ever go to a brick-and-mortar casino in order to have a great experience. Be sure to read through them, as there will be one or two terms that you may have never heard of, but will need to know.

List of Slots Term Definitions

3 Reel

A slot machine that has 3 reels of symbols for the player to spin.

5 Reel

This machine has 5 reels of symbols.

243 Ways

A 243 ways slot pays out when symbols appear on any of the reels in any position, as long as they match on at least two adjacent spaces. Check the machine pay table for award amounts.

3D Video Slots

A recent boom in online gaming has resulted in a rapid increase in 3D video slots. These are graphically intense and have depth in their imagery to give the three-dimensional effect. These slots are available online and also in live casinos.


The total amount that a slots player bets in a certain period of time is known as action. It can also refer to the total amount of time a player has gambled on slots in a particular casino, as tracked by their player’s club card or online account information.

Active Pay Line

Most slots award cash wins based on multiple symbols occurring on an active pay line. This is a pay line that has been activated by the player. Slots can have up to 243 pay lines and the player will have to wager a certain amount per pay line to activate each one.


Some of the most common symbols on a slot machine are the bars. These are basic black bars with BAR printed in white. They are often the lowest paying symbols and are activated if a player gets two or more bar combinations across an activated pay line. See the paytable for each machine for further details.


The amount of cash that a player wagers on a spin is referred to as a bet.

Bet Max

The highest amount of credits that a player can wager on each spin is known as the bet max. On most slots there is a bet max button which will allow the player to spin at this rate without choosing how many credits to bet and how many pay lines to activate. The bet max will also result in the largest possible prizes from the slot machine and sometimes the jackpot is only available when a player max bets.

Bet Min

The bet min is the smallest amount a player can wager on one spin. This will generally be 1 credit on 1 pay line Depending on the denomination value of the machine it could be 1 penny. The possible payouts and prizes on a minimum bet are very low, so it is wise to avoid this bet unless you’re playing for fun or to learn how to play.

Bonus Feature, Game, or Round

A pay table on a slot machine will indicate if there is a bonus round or feature. It will provide instructions on how to activate that round, which is usually by hitting three or more bonus symbols during a standard spin. A bonus round is usually a separate event in which players can make certain decisions to earn extra winnings. Sometimes a bonus round will simply be a certain number of free spins. Bonus rounds are becoming more complex as slot developers create more sophisticated machines based on elaborate themes, and some online slots now even have multiple bonus rounds.

Buy a Pay

On some slot machines, certain payouts will be awarded only if the player is wagering a certain amount per spin. This is referred to as a buy a pay and information about what is required will be available on the pay table. 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 is very similar to a buy a pay. It will only allow access to certain bonuses or features in the game if a player is wagering a certain minimum amount per spin.


A bank or group of slots that are placed together on a casino floor is referred to as a carousel.


Once a player inserts money into a slot machine this will be converted to credits. These credits can then be used to bet on each spin. A credit indicator is typically found on the bottom right-hand corner of the slot machine or screen.


The amount of cash you have available and are wagering on a slot machine is referred to as coins.

Coin Size

From a penny to $100, the coin size is the value assigned to each coin or credit when you’re betting at a slot machine.

Coin Slots

Finding a coin slot is becoming rare, although some casinos still offer quarter or penny machines. A coin slot is simply a machine that accepts coins when cashing in, and will drop coins into the slot machine tray when you cash out.

Collect Button

The collect button is located on the slot machine and allows players to cash out their remaining credits.


The value of a single coin on a slot machine is known as the denomination. Some machines will allow the player to change the coin denomination. A carousel of slots in a casino will usually be the same denomination such as a penny, quarter or dollar.

Free Play

Some casinos offer players free play to get them into the casino and playing slots. Free play is a certain amount of credit that players can use in a machine without risking any of their own money. Generally, players load their free play onto a particular machine and then add some of their own money. The best online casinos will also offer free play as prizes in slot tournaments, raffles, and other competitions.

Free Spins

Certain slot machines will offer free spins to a player as a bonus round. The pay table will indicate which symbols are needed during a normal spin to activate the free spins. Make sure to learn more about free spins and other casino bonuses.


When a player hits a number of symbols across reels and on a pay line, this is known as a hit.


Most casino slot machines pay out players with ticket vouchers. Some older slots, however, still have a hopper within them that contains coins to be paid out to players when they cash out.


The highest possible prize that can be won on a slot machine is known as a jackpot. Quite often, players can hit a jackpot only when they’re betting the maximum amount on each spin. Information on how to win a jackpot will be available on the slot machine’s pay table.

Line Bet

A line bet refers to how much a player is wagering on a single line on a slot machine. The line bet will determine the payout if the player hits the required number of symbols.

Loose Slots

If a slot machine has a very high payback percentage and is favorable to the player, then it’s known as a loose slot. When playing slot machines, you should always seek out the highest possible payback as this will push your money further and give you the best possible chance having more winning sessions.

Loss Disguised as a Win

Sometimes when playing a slot machine the reel face will light up and play the music that is associated with a win. Upon closer inspection though the player will realize they actually won less than they initially bet. This is a loss disguised as a win and is a powerful psychological trick played by casino operators and slot machine manufacturers to make players feel good even when they don’t win.

Mechanical Slots

Traditional and older slots still have mechanical reels that stop behind glass or plastic to reveal symbols. Mechanical slots are still programmed, however, and have a certain payback percentage applied to them. A mechanical slot will generally have fewer pay lines than a video slot and will predominantly feature 3 reels.


Slots that offer multiple pay lines are known as multi-line slots. Mechanical slots usually only have one or three pay lines while video slots will generally offer many more. Players must increase their wager to play all the pay lines, but this strategy drastically increases their chances of winning. Playing on a coin denomination machine that suits your bankroll with all lines activated is the best way to play slots.

Nudge Slot

Some slots have symbols that move up or down once the reel has stopped. These are known as nudge slots. They can be very fun and provide that extra level of excitement to slot play.


Other common symbols are numbers. These are usually 10, J, Q, K, and A, and will be some of the lowest paying symbols on a machine.

One Armed Bandit

Slot machines are known around the world as one-armed bandits. This is due to the fact they have a lever, or one arm, and are programmed to take money from players in the long run.

Pay Back Percentage

Most slot machines have a payback percentage between 90 and 99 percent. If a machine has a payback percentage of 95% then the machine will return 95% of the cash that is bet on it. If you’re playing on slots that have a payback percentage below 90%, find another machine or casino. Unfortunately, it is often difficult to find accurate payback percentage figures.

Pay Table

On every slot machine, you’ll find a page or section that outlines how much you can win during gameplay. This is known as a pay table. On video slots, the pay table button is on the screen, and on mechanical slots, it is printed on the slot machine itself. In addition to payouts, a pay table will also show what is required to activate the bonus, how the gamble feature works if there is one, what the scatter symbol is, and how the wild symbols work.

Penny Slots

These slots allow players to bet 1 penny per pay line. Many players will often seek out these machines as they can play them for a long time and get lots of entertainment without risking much money. Beginners can also play on penny slots to get used to slot machines and how they work.


This is an Australian slang term for slot machines. They may also refer to them as poker machines.

Progressive Jackpot

A progressive slot machine is generally a manufacturer owned machine. The manufacturer will pay a fee to a casino to have their machine placed on the floor, or available in the library of slots online, and will share profits with the operator. This machine has a progressive jackpot which slowly increases until it’s won. The jackpot is available on all machines, regardless of location. Progressive jackpots can be huge, yet this is offset by a worse payback percentage, so progressive jackpot machines should generally be avoided. However, if you want a chance at hitting a jackpot worth millions of dollars, then seek out a progressive machine and good luck.

Random Number Generator or RNG

Slot machines are completely random and each spin is independent of the spin that occurs before it. This is enabled by a random number generator program that’s powered by the slot machine computer. The random number generator is based on a mathematical algorithm that allows for truly random numbers to be generated on each spin. These numbers then define how the slot reels spin.


The reels on a slot machine are the columns that contain various symbols. Slots generally have 3 or 5 reels that can show anywhere from two to ten symbols when the spin finishes. The reel on a mechanical slot will actually rotate and stop in place, while video slot reel spins are simulated.


A scatter symbol will award the player when a certain number of them are revealed on the reels at the completion of a spin. Scatters can sometimes also start a bonus round.

Slant Top

A wider and shorter slot machine that is becoming more popular in casinos around the world is a slant top slot machine. It saves space and allows the player to have a more immersive experience, particularly on video slots.

Slot Club or Player’s Club

Pretty much every casino has a slots club or a player’s club. Players can join this club and usually will earn reward or comp points based on their play. Comp points can be redeemed for cash back or free play, or used to purchase other items in the casino.

Many players clubs will also have tiers which players can advance through based on their gameplay. The higher the tier, the more benefits a player will get. For those in countries where gambling winnings are taxed, a player’s club will also track your total profit or loss and produce a report for you. It’s always a good idea to join a player’s club as you’ll get some benefits back from all the bets that you make. You may also get invited to free player’s club slot tournaments where you can win some free cash.

Slot Tournament

Players can buy into a slot tournament or be invited for free through the player’s or slot club. These tournaments will give the players either unlimited credits within a set time period to win as many credits as possible, or will give a set number of credits to try and win as much as possible. At the end of the tournament every player is ranked on the scorecard and the top players, depending on the tournament payouts, will be awarded with either cash or free play credits.


All the individual images, numbers or bars on slot machines reels are referred to as symbols. These symbols have an associated payout amount when a player hits the required number of them on a pay line.

Video Slot

Unlike mechanical slots, there are no moving parts on a video slot. It’s purely digitized and presented to the player on a monitor. The video slot simulates the spinning reels like a mechanical slot, but it includes better graphics and bonus rounds. Video slots will also generally have 5 reels and many more pay lines than a mechanical slot.


In many slots, the player will have the opportunity to hit a wild symbol. This symbol will substitute for any other symbol in the game, except bonus symbols or scatters, and allows for extra wins. Sometimes a wild symbol will also act as a scatter symbol awarding the player with an extra win if a certain number of wilds are hit. Some slot machines also have cascading wilds which will convert other symbols on the slot face into more wilds, allowing for massive or concurrent wins.

Wild Multiplier

Similar to a wild, a wild multiplier will substitute for any other symbol except scatters and bonus symbols. It will also multiply a win by a certain amount based on the symbol combination the player achieves.


When the correct combination of symbols appears on an activated pay line, the player will be awarded a win.

Other Resources

Here are links to two other extensive slot machine glossary pages.