If you can imagine it, some casino software producer out there has probably already made a slot about it. From big budget movie tie-ins to retro video game revivals, and everything in between, there are thousands of slot machines out there each with their own distinctive qualities.
With all of that said, even a relatively quick glance at a slot machine can actually tell you a lot about how it will play.
3-reel games are generally either older titles or are trying to evoke a sense of nostalgia. With a limited number of paylines, and more in common with the fruit machines you'll find in British pubs than Las Vegas video slots, they're not as popular as more modern and flashier titles.
Five reels is, in the world of online slots, more or less par for the course. You may, however, find a title that throws in an extra row/reel or two from time to time. This immediately gives the game a bit of novelty value, as it's different from the norm, so it's easy to understand why developers love to create such games.
Sometimes worth millions, or even tens of millions of CAD, we know exactly why so many slots players stick exclusively with titles that offer progressive jackpots. However, like when you play the lottery, the odds of actually landing one of these huge cash prizes is very small.
Standard jackpots may be much smaller than the average big progressive win, and are usually in the region of tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of coins, but they're also more dependable i.e. you know exactly what you're going to get if you win big.
In theory, it's possible to win a progressive jackpot just after it's been won. Even in this case you would probably win tens or hundreds of thousands of C$, but you might be disappointed if the player who won just before you took home millions.
The number of paylines a game has depends, to some extent on how many reels it has. The average game has between 25 and 50 paylines, but features like Reel Power mean that many games boast hundreds of different ways to win.
The more ways to win, the lower the value of most prizes you'll rack up will be. If the high number of paylines in a game means that you'll be winning every few spins then you can't realistically expect most of those wins to be more than, or even equal to, your initial bet.
We've already touched on this above, as the number of paylines a game offers has a significant impact on its variance. In layman's terms, variance refers to the risk of a game. High variance means that there's a high risk you'll burn through your bankroll very quickly without winning anything.
Low variance, on the other hand, means that you can expect to pick up lots of small wins while you play. So why would anyone choose a high variance game over a low variance one? Simple – the higher a game's variance, the higher its jackpot.
Because players win less regularly in a high variance title, casinos can afford to give away a larger prize when someone does hit the jackpot. It may not be immediately obvious whether a game has a high or low variance, but a look at its jackpot and number of paylines should give you a big clue.
A game with lots of paylines and a low jackpot is likely to have a very low variance, while a game with just a few paylines and a high jackpot has a high variance. Most games sit somewhere in the middle of these two extremes.
Virtually all slots, with only a few exceptions, contain mini-games or bonus features. Even those that don't will probably have some form of re-spin feature or similar, which is in itself a type of bonus feature.
Most games have a bonus round comprised of a set number of free spins with a fixed multiplier and/or extra wilds, but others will give you a choice over whether you want more spins/wilds or a higher multiplier.
It's worth taking a look at the types of bonus features a game has before you start playing. If a game has, for example, four bonus rounds but you only like the look of one of them then it may be worth looking elsewhere for a title that's more your style.
With so many different titles to choose from, and so many different components that make up a game, actually choosing a game to play can be a bit overwhelming. The truth of the matter is that most slots players jump between a few slots in the early days of their playing "career" while they figure out what they like.
An easy way to get a jump on this is to ask yourself the following question: "what do I want to get out of playing the slots?" If you're feeling lucky and looking for a quick flutter with a massive potential jackpot, then you want to find a progressive title that has a high variance.
If, on the other hand, you're feeling very patient and want to pad your bankroll gradually over long playing sessions then you probably want a lower variance game with a smaller jackpot. Fortunately, with thousands of games on the web, you'll be able to find whatever you're looking for!