Slot Machine Dictionary – Every Term Explained

Slots are simple games that are quite easy to play – that’s a big part of their charm. However, there are still quite a lot of intricacies to both online and land-based slots. That’s why we are here to help you out with our guide through slot vocabulary.
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Last Updated on 30 Sep 2020 by Chief Editor Keira Miller
A Slot Dictionary with More Than 100 Terms
Term Description Tags
3 Reel Slot The classic layout for a slot machine, which includes only 3 spinning reels. Find more here. Types of Slot Machines
5 Reel Slot The modern layout of most land-based and online slot games, featuring 5 reels. Read more in our full article. Types of Slot Machines
243 Ways to Win Slots of this type don’t have any paylines. Instead, the symbols simply need to line up on adjacent reels from left to right or right to left. Types of Slot Machines
3D Video Slots The most graphically advanced slots that offer different visual effects and animations. Types of Slot Machines
Action This reflects all the slot machine playing time accumulated by a gambler. It can refer to the amount of bets placed over a casino session, or the total time logged by your player’s club card online account. Slang
Active Payline A payline that has a bet placed on it. Some slots allow you to select your paylines, while others feature fixed ones. Basic Slot Components
All Ways A slot which features paylines running both left-to-right and right-to-left. Those are usually online games, and are considered highly profitable for players Types of Slot Machines
Annuity Winner A slot machine jackpot that is paid in instalments over a number of years. Although more rare, there are jackpots that are paid in one lump sum. Types of Slot Machines
Autospin A feature that allows slot players to set a pre-determined number of spins under a bet level. Much-liked by online players. Basic Slot Components
AWP ‘Amusement With Prizes’ – a nickname for classic slot machines with fruit symbols. Slang
Bar Some of the most common symbols in classic slot machines. Not only are they shaped as a tiller, but they also have the word ‘BAR’ printed in white. You can read about their origin here. Symbols
Basic Slot Retro-style slots with a single payline and few features. Types of Slot Machines
Bet The amount of cash wagered on a spin. Gameplay
Bet Max See Maximum Bet Gameplay
Bet Min See Minimum Bet Gameplay
Bet One Betting only one unit/credit per spin on your slot machine. Slang
Big Bertha A type of slot machine used by casinos as attention-getters. They are typically placed in central positions, and larger than regular slot machines. Land-Based Slot Machines
Big Hit Slang for a ‘big win’ – usually the top price offered by the slot. In slot play, any winning combination is considered a hit. Slang
Bonus Round (Game/Feature) The favourite part of a slot game to any gambling fan. The Bonus is an extra round that has different rules from the base game and usually offers higher payouts. Gameplay
Branded Slots Slot games based on popular franchises. Branded slots feature well-familiar TV, movie or book characters. Types of Slot Machines
Buy a Pay Some slot machines will only award their top payouts if your wager is bigger than a certain amount. Buying a pay refers to placing a wager that allows you to compete for the top prize. Contrast with buy a feature below. Advanced Concepts
Buy a Feature Similar to buy a pay – this is a wager that is big enough to activate the restricted features of some slot games. Advanced Concepts
Carousel A group of slots placed close together on the casino floor, usually in a cluster. Land-Based Slot Machines
Casino Bonus This refers to the new player welcome bonus that most online casinos offer. These are usually extra money that should be played through slot games. You can learn more about casino bonuses from our dedicated article. Online Slots
Cascading Reels A relatively recent feature in online slots that has proven quite popular. When you hit a winning combination, the winning symbols would ‘explode’, freeing space for new ones that might potentially trigger an additional win. This is a re-spin of sorts. Can be found in games like Finn and the Swirly Spin. Online Slots
Cashback Cashback is an extra bonus in the form of monetary gains for regular players. It can be a constant promotion at the casino, part of a loyalty programme or an award for holders of a slots club card. Advanced Concepts
Cash Out When you are done playing a slot, you can convert your credits back into real money. This is usually done using a cash-out button. Gameplay
Certified Slots Тhose are slots with a guarantee RTP of over 98%-100% guaranteed by the casino. They are usually well-marked as such. Types of Slot Machines
Classic Slots Traditional slot machines with 3 reels and usually a single payline. Known also as retro slots, they are still extremely popular and many online versions can be found at different casinos. Types of Slot Machines
Coin In the past, slot machines were played with actual coins, but nowadays this is not overly practical – especially online. However, most slot machines still allow you to measure your wager in coins or credits. Basic Slot Components
Coin Size The denomination of the coins you are betting. Most slot machines allow you to set both the number and the denomination of the coins you will be betting per payline. Gameplay
Coin Slot A slot machine that still pays out winnings in coin. It is becoming quite hard to find such slot games. Types of Slot Machines
Cold Slot A slang term for a slot that does not pay much or has been in a bad streak. Also known as tight slot. Contrast with hot slots. Many slot strategies rely on playing cold slots before when they turn hot, but this is not considered viable nowadays. Advanced Concepts
Collect Button This is a button in online slots that allows you to convert your credits back into real cash. Online Slots
Comps Different awards reserved for regular slot players. In land-based casinos, those would be perks like free rooms and meals, while online casinos often offer promotions such as comp points. Advanced Concepts
Console Slot Machines Slot machines designed to be angled down towards the player a little bit. They are considered more comfortable. Land-Based Slot Machines
Credits Another word for coins. When you insert money in a slot machine, they are converted into credits you can use to make a bet. Gameplay
Denomination See coin size. Gameplay
Drops A new feature in online slots, where instead of spinning reels you have symbols falling into place. You can check out Gonzo’s Quest for an example of this feature. Gameplay
Feature Usually refers to the different bonuses offered by a game. The feature would be the top bonus round that offers the greatest payouts. Gameplay
Free-to-Play Free play in land-based casinos refers to slot machines you can try out with credits given by the casino. In online casinos, this would more often refer to the free slot demos that most operators offer. Types of Slot Machines
Fixed Value Slots Slots in which the total bet is fixed and you cannot change the number or denomination of the coins you are betting. Types of Slot Machines
Five Liner A classic slot machine which features 5 paylines instead of 1. They are usually two diagonal and three horizontal ones. Types of Slot Machines
Free Spins One of the most common bonuses you will receive during a slot game. Those are extra spins usually triggered by scatter symbols, which are cost you nothing and give you wins based on your last wager. In online gambling it may also refer to the additional bonus that some casinos include in their new player offer. Gameplay
Fruit Machine The common name of slot games in the UK. Based on the fruit symbols that appeared on most slot machine models during the 1920s – you can read more in our slot history article. Types of Slot Machines
Gamble Feature Some slot machines give you the option to double or even triple your winnings – if you are willing to risk them. The Gamble feature is most games is the equivalent of a coin toss. When you hit a winning combination, you have the option to bet it on a 50/50 chance to either double it, or lose everything Gameplay
Hammer a Machine A slang expression that means you are playing the same slot machines over and over again, usually in an attempt to win a progressive jackpot, or get to a hot streak. Slang
Hit In slot play, you ‘hit’ winning combination – hence, every win is a hit. Slang
Hit and Run This is a tactic usually utilised by slot players at land-based casinos. You will try a slot for a few spins, and immediately abandon it if it doesn’t seem profitable. Slang
Hit Frequency The hit frequency of a slot is a theoretical number which shows how often you can expect to land winning combinations. Slots with lower hot frequency will give payouts more often, though they will probably be smaller. Closely linked with variance, and very hard to estimate accurately. Advanced Concepts
Hold Percentage The opposite or return to player rate. This is the percentage of the total bets placed on a slot machine that will be kept by the casino. In other words, this represents the house edge. Advanced Concepts
Hot Slots Those are games on a ‘hot’ streak which are giving payouts fast and often. The theoretical idea is that since the RNG module of each game is programmed to award a certain percentage of winning, it would have to do so sooner or later. Many player’s strategy is based on finding the hot slots, but this is no longer considered viable. Advanced Concepts
Hopper A container in land-based slots which holds the coins that are available for cash-out. Obsolete in most modern machines, but can still be found in some classic designs. Land-Based Slot Machines
Icons Another name for slot symbols. Basic Slot Components
Instant Winner This is a jackpot that is paid in one instalment to the lucky winner. Contrast with annuity winner, which would be paid over several years. Types of Slot Machines
i-Slot A modern type of online slot game which allows you to save your position during a bonus game and resume it later. Online Slots
Jackpot The top prize of a slot machine. Jackpot may refer to the highest-paying winning combination, or to a separate jackpot that is triggered randomly. See also: progressive jackpot. Gameplay
Lever Classic slot machines featured lever rather than ‘Spin’ buttons. Some modern video slots still have them, but they are no different from a button considering the lack of mechanical components. Basic Slot Components
Line See payline. Basic Slot Components
Line Bet The amount of your bet per one payline. If you are betting £10 on a 10-payline slot, then your line bet would be £1. Gameplay
Linked Progressive Jackpot A network of progressive jackpot slots that are linked across several casinos. All wagers made on any of the linked progressive slots contribute to the growing jackpot pot. Gameplay
Loose Slot A slang word for a slot game that is likely to give out frequent wins. Similar to hot slots. Advanced Concepts
Maximum Bet The maximum wager you can place on a slot, with all paylines active and the highest possible coin denomination. In most cases, slot strategy dictates that you should play with all possible paylines active. Gameplay
Minimum Bet The minimal amount you can bet on the game. This can apply both to running a single payline, or placing the minimum line bet on all paylines. The minimum bet allows you to stretch your payroll for a maximum number of spins. Gameplay
Megabucks A famous brand of Las Vegas slots, featuring the highest land-based progressive jackpot network. While Mega Moolah holds the Guinness Record for largest online win, the Megabucks slots are the undisputed kings of land-based jackpots. Types of Slot Machines
Multiplier A special symbol which increases the payout if it is part of a winning payline. Multiplier symbols can be x2, x3, x4 and even more. Some slots feature them in the base game, while others only add them during the bonus rounds. Learn more here. Symbols
Multi-Line Slots with more than one payline. Modern video slots usually have numerous paylines. Depending on whether you can select how many to be active, you can have fixed and adjustable (selectable) lines. Types of Slot Machines
Multi-Way With multi-way slots, it doesn’t matter whether your winning symbols align from left to right or from right to left. Multi-way pays can increase the odds of winning drastically. Types of Slot Machines
Nudge A bonus feature which would allow you to move the slot reels up or down. It can be found in UK fruit machines, but is more common in online slots. Gameplay
One-Armed Bandit An old name for slot machines. Usually linked to classic slots with actual levers. Slang
Online Slot Since 1994, slot games have been moving online, and with huge success. The first online slots were simply computer versions of popular land-based games, but the industry got to a flying start, and nowadays the vast majority of slot games are online. You can check out our slot database to learn more. Types of Slot Machines
Payback Percentage See RTP. Advanced Concepts
Payline The positions where matching symbols count for a winning combination. Paylines used to be actual straight lines, but since most modern online slots feature a larger number of paylines. Basic Slot Components
Payout The money received for landing a winning combination. Gameplay
Paytable Also known as ‘payout table’. Lists the amounts you will win for the different symbol combinations. Basic Slot Components
Penny Slots Land-based machines with low bet levels – in this case, based on pennies. If there is more than one payline, in most cases you will have to place a bet way over a penny to activate them all. Types of Slot Machines
Pokies The Australian name for slots machines. Types of Slot Machines
Primary Jackpot The highest prize you can win from a slot machine. Gameplay
Progressive Jackpot Progressive jackpots aren’t fixed but change over time. Progressive jackpot slots usually have a slightly lower RTP in their base game, and each wager placed contributes to building a progressive pot that constantly grows. If the slot machine is part of a linked progressive network, then all games contribute to the common jackpot – those are the highest prizes you can claim in slot play. Gameplay
Random Number Generator (RNG) The software module of slot games which determines when a winning combination will land. Modern video slots are no longer mechanical, but instead powered by programs which generate long strings of random number, some of which correspond to winning symbols. The sequence of numbers generated at the exact moment when you press the button determines the outcome of your spin. Basic Slot Components
Reels The spinning drums on which the symbols are displayed. Modern slot machines can have any number of reels, though the vast majority of them are 3 reel and 5-reel ones. Basic Slot Components
Reel Stop See skill stop. Gameplay
Rows The horizontal lines of symbols which are seen in the slot screen. Slot games can show different number of rows, but what is important is whether there are active paylines. Basic Slot Components
Return to Player Rate (RTP) A theoretical percentage that shows what portion of the total bets placed on a slot machine will be returned to the players in the form of winnings. Even though volatility is considered a more important factor in the short-run performance of a game during a single session, the RTP is a good indicator how profitable a slot will be. Read more on the topic in our full RTP article. Advanced Concepts
Scatter Symbol Scatter slots are extremely popular, so most new games have this feature. The scatter symbols (scatter icons) are special bonus symbols which are marked as such in your game’s paytable. Symbols
Skill Bonus Some slot bonuses require a certain degree of skill – for instance, some games might offer a shooting game during the extra round. This is a rare occurrence though, since most slots aim to be accessible to the wider public. Types of Slot Machines
Skill Stop A special feature on some slot games which allows you to press a ‘reel stop’ button and initiate the end of the spin earlier. Gameplay
Short Win A slang word for a very fast big win. If you hit the jackpot without too many spins, then this would be a short win. Slang
Signature Slots A casino’s own brand of slots. Types of Slot Machines
Slant Top A modern type of land-based slot machine. It saves space and allows the player to have a more immersive experience, so it is fast becoming popular around the world Land-Based Slot Machines
Slot Club Also known as ‘player’s club’, this is a casino promotion aimed at regular players. Most land-based casinos either a slot club or a similar establishment. In most cases you receive a special card which allows you to track your games, and you are awarded with comp points and different casino perks. Land-Based Slot Machines
Slot Host An employee at land-based casinos whose task is to assist the customers and handle any issues related to the slot club. Land-Based Slot Machines
Slot tournament A competition between players that takes place on slot machines. Slot tournaments can have different formats and rules – you can check some of the more common ones in our guide to playing slots. Advanced Concepts
Sound of Rain In old land-based slot, the ‘sound of rain’ was the pleasant clinking of falling coins when you hit a win. As you can imagine, it was the favourite sound of slot players, but nowadays coin slots are getting rarer and rarer. Slang
Spin The spin button activates the slot for a single spin – or round. It replaced the lever in classic slot machines. Basic Slot Components
Streaky Slots Slot games that reportedly have hot and cold streaks. The growing complexity of modern RNG software makes the existence of streaky slots more unlikely. Advanced Concepts
Stacked Symbols A modern feature found mostly in online slots. It features matching symbols stacked on neighbouring positions in a single reel. Stacked symbols greatly increase the odds of landing a winning combination. Symbols
Stacked Wilds Similarly to stacked symbols, those are wild symbols that are stacked vertically. This is a very desirable gameplay element, as stacked wilds can complement multiple paylines. Symbols
Symbols The icons that appear on the slot reels. The symbols are an important element of slot gameplay not only visually, but also from a gameplay perspective. Modern video slots feature numerous special symbols. Basic Slot Components
Three-Liner A classic type of slot that features three reels, and you simply need to hit three matching symbols to win the cash prize. Types of Slot Machines
Tight Slots Similarly to cold slots, those are considered to be slots with less frequent payouts and bad streaks. Advanced Concepts
Total Bet All the money you have wagered on a single spin. Gameplay
Trail A bonus feature in some slot games. Players get to progress on a prize track, unlocking new awards. Gameplay
Tumbling Reels See cascading reels Gameplay
Variance Another name for volatility. Advanced Concepts
Video Slots The prevailing type of slot games since the 1980s. Video slots are usually virtual and feature better visual effects, combined with 5 reels and a large number of paylines. Fortune Coin was the first such game on the market in 1978, and video slots quickly displaced their classic mechanical counterparts. Types of Slot Machines
Virtual Reel In moderns slot games, the reels are not mechanical, but virtual. This allows for a larger number of combinations and increased jackpots. Basic Slot Components
Volatility Also known as variance; the volatility of a slot game can be high, low or medium. Slots with low volatility are considered low-risk – they offer frequent payouts, but the prizes are smaller. In contrast, highly volatile slots pay out big, but you are more likely to walk away with nothing. If you want to know more, then check out our slot volatility page. Advanced Concepts
Wide Are Progressive (WAP) Slots with a WAP jackpot are part of a network of slot machines in a wide area, all linked in a single common pot for jackpot wins. The jackpots in such games are generally bigger – most online progressive jackpot slots can be considered WAP. Types of Slot Machines
Wager See bet. Gameplay
Wild Symbol A special slot symbol which can replace any other symbol – in other words, a joker. When it lands on a payline, it can substitute a missing symbol. Wilds increase the player’s odds of hitting a good combination Symbols
Wild Multiplier A wild symbol which also acts as a multiplier. Symbols
Win A series of matched symbols aligned on an active payline. The rules can differ from slot to slot, as there are different bonus features and rules. Gameplay
Win-Both-Ways Similar to multi-way slots -those are games where combinations pay from left to right and from right to left. Types of Slot Machines
Zig-Zag Classic slots used to feature straight lines, but most modern video slots have a larger number of paylines. As result, most paylines nowadays go in a zig-zag. Slang

Still Craving More?

To be honest, this slot glossary is only the tip of the iceberg. Slots have been around for more than a 100 years, and the once simple game has gotten rather complex. If you want to truly become a slot expert, then you should proceed to the more detailed texts which can be found in the rest of our slot article series. We love talking about slots, so hopefully we will prove of assistance to you! For expert advice on suitable online venues where to play, check our list of top online casinos with the best slot games.