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The development of slot machines has been exponential over the last 20 years, which has brought a whole new fan base for online gambling. The old mechanical land-based slot games we knew and loved were quite simplistic, in that you hit the ‘play’ button and watch the reels spin. If they landed with three matching symbols then you won a coin amount, with the prize being based on the amount the symbols are worth. Over time the designers of games upped the ante and added extra bonus features and wild symbols to enhance the excitement. The more information that was added, the more details that were needed by the gambler and this is where slot machine pay tables became useful. But what is a pay table and what impact does it have to your online slot gaming.
The move from land based to online gambling brought with it the opportunity for game designers to go wild. We can now visit new lands and meet a variety of characters from our favourite TV shows or movies; the themes available to us seem endless. Alongside the new themes came more icons and symbols which then gave players more ways to win, something that had been quite limited in land-based games. Then finally the bonus features appeared and added a depth to our slot games that we didn’t realise we needed. They tend to bring in additional formats of game rather than the atypical reel spins, in which we can win extra prizes such as spins or coins.
Throughout the evolution of slot games, there has been one consistency and that is the slot machine pay table. The fact that they are a staple in most people’s game play, must mean that they are pretty important. Well imagine you have decided to try out a new game, but you’re struggling to grasp how it works. What values are each of the symbols, is there a wild and bonus feature, and how do you play it. Some of the newer games can be more complex due to the addition of extra pay lines and a variety of rules that govern how the game plays out. With so much to consider it would be easier if there was an instruction manual on how to play the game, and that is precisely what the pay table is!
As you read through this guide, take a moment to check out a slot game on your favourite casino and see the pay table yourself. When you understand how the game works you will be able to play around with other elements such as volatility and variance to establish patterns for winning.
What is a Slot Pay Table?
Above is a brief overview of the pay table or as it is sometimes known the pay chart, but what exactly is it? If you are new to a game, then the first thing you will want to determine is what the symbols mean and what combinations are needed to win. This is the initial area that the pay table will explain to you, because essentially it is the most important.
You will also find information on what payouts are given by the game, which tends be to be shown as coins. Another aspect is whether there are wild and scatter symbols and how they are used, for example do they trigger bonus rounds and what are the minimum and maximum prizes available. Finally, is there a progressive jackpot on offer and how is it influenced by the game. There can be a raft of conditions attached to progressive jackpots so it’s worth knowing what they are. To give you an example in some games you have to play all pay lines to be eligible to take part.
It is little areas such as this which can cause big problems for gamers and is the main reason why the pay table is so important. Because this information is needed, then it has to be easily accessible. This is so you can adjust how you play based on how the slot pay table works. We have seen many gamers simply hit spin without knowing the rules of the game, and it has led to their credit disappearing faster than they expected.
Where to Find the Pay Table?
Because the slot pay table has such an impact on how the player will bet, they made sure that it could be found easily. Where you find it will depend on the platform you are using, but in general there should be an ‘i’ for information, or the word ‘pay table’. If you are on desktop then the link should be at the bottom corner and simply clicking on it will take you through. For mobile fans it’s as easy as swiping the screen to the left or right.
Depending on the game, the initial page may only provide a brief outline such as the symbols and their value. This is for the players who just want the basic information. To get further detail you will need to go to another page which will be indicated on the screen.
Understanding the Information Given in Pay Tables
Most gamers find the pay tables simple to understand and that is because they have been designed to be easy, as fundamentally they are essential to how we play the slot. They need to be clear enough for everyone to comprehend, whether you’re a novice to online casinos or an expert. The main areas in all slot games tend to be the same, the only key differences you will find will be the design of the table itself and of course the information provided, i.e., do they offer bonus features or a progressive jackpot.
The core element to the pay table is the value of each symbol, and these will be shown as images of the winning combinations and the coin amounts that would be won if it landed. To give you an example using a typical 5-reel slot game, you will see the outcome of winning three of a kind, four of a kind and the jackpot of five of a kind.
As well as the main symbols, the pay table will delve into the wild and scatter symbols, and how the bonus features are triggered. Also, if there is a progressive jackpot and what are the terms and conditions attached to it.
Most of the modern slot games will offer varied pay lines, so you may need to determine what this means and how it works, which you can do on the pay table. It basically means that the pay line (the combination of symbols which result in a win) can occur in a number of directions, such as left to right and right to left. As slot games became more advanced then so did the pay lines and now you can find them in a number of shapes including zigzags and trapezium.
One final area which is important to some players is the RTP or Return to Player. Some gamers use the RTP to determine the volatility and variance of the slot, so it is a handy tool to have in your arsenal. It can be difficult to find though, so continue to the end of the pay table and keep an eye out. Many slot designers don’t like gamers knowing what the RTP is, because it may put them off playing if it’s lower than what they were expecting.
When you check out your first pay table you may be wondering where all the information is. Depending on the game, you may find that there are multiple pages holding various sections of information. But for most, the symbols and winning combinations will be found on the first page. It’s always worthwhile swiping or clicking through, just to make sure you have everything you need.
How Pay Tables Benefit Online Slot Players
You’ve got a good idea of what a pay table is and where to find it, so what exactly is the benefit of checking it out? We’ve already covered a few of these areas, but it doesn’t hurt to summarise for you.
- Makes understanding the online slot game much easier – Because you have an instruction guide to the game, it will make understanding how it works much easier. This will not only save you time in the long run, but hopefully it will help with your gaming.
- Shows the pay lines – We have seen pay lines become more varied and complex, so having an understanding of how they work is essential. The pay lines have an impact on your winnings, so adapting how you play to that specific game would make sense in the long run.
- Instructs you on the bonuses – Bonuses are another area important to the game, as they can help trigger bonus features as well as win prizes. Many slot games will offer free bonus spins, which is a godsend when you’re low on credit.
- Discover the slots RTP and Volatility – For the more experienced players out there, the RTP is a good indicator of how the game will pay out. This means they can determine if it has a high or low volatility and is worth spending the time on. For general players you will always want to look for a higher percentage RTP as this generally means greater returns, although that’s not always a given.
Summary of Slot Machine Pay Tables
Sadly, the pay table doesn’t get the glory it deserves, because it can really help us players when we’re new to a game. Whether you bother reading through all the information, will completely depend on the type of gamer you are. Some people just enjoy the thrill of spinning the reels and we totally get that. But if winning is important to you then it’s a good idea to get some clarity on how the game actually works.
Our advice is get to know the basics such as the symbols, wilds, scatters and what the winning combinations are. Knowing what you are aiming for will make the game more exciting, which is the reason we play online in the first place.