While we know them – and love them – as pokies, online slots are one of the biggest forms of entertainment at an online casino. They’re almost always ripper quality, and the variety in themes and game mechanics can’t be beat by many other casino games.

At first glance, the world of online pokies may be an overwhelming one. There are heaps of them, different types, different rules, free spins, bonus games, whether they work on mobile, and it can be hard to know where to start. Experience is the best teacher, but we think our guide to online slots is pretty close.

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Types of Online Slots

Maybe it’s the lights and sounds, maybe it’s the chance of a big win; pokies have a certain allure that has resulted in them becoming some of the most popular casino games. While online pokies don’t fully encapsulate the real-world experience of a huge win, they offer a pretty good approximation of the casino experience.

Of course, in order to win, you gotta know how to play, and that means being familiar with the various types of slots you’ll encounter at both land-based and online casinos.

Screenshot of 3 reel slot

3-Reel Pokies

Three-reel slots are the most traditional form of pokie. As the name implies, they only consist of three reels, which also means there are far fewer paylines than their five-reel mates. Almost all three-reel pokies are simple experiences, using traditional casino icons like 7 and BAR symbols, and so don’t really offer the breadth or depth of experience that other types of pokies offer.

Despite their simplicity, or maybe because of it, three-reel slots offer punters the purest pokies experience, with very few or no gimmicks. They may not be the most interesting, but it’s easy to see why they’ve remained popular for decades.

Screenshot of 5-reel fruitmania slot machine.

5-Reel Pokies

Five-reel slots make up the majority of online pokies, and they’re likely what you think of when you hear the term. While there are some pattered on traditional casino symbols like three-reel pokies, five-reel slots have heaps of different themes or settings, and bonuses or gameplay features to match.

Free spins, re-spins, Wild and Scatter symbols are just a few of the things you might expect to see in a five-reel pokie, and given all of these engaging elements, it should be no surprise that online casinos seek to offer as many of them to punters as possible.

The majority of mobile slots are five-reel pokies, as recent advances in technology make it super simple for game developers to adapt their online pokies for mobile.

Screenshot mega moolah pokie

Progressive Jackpot Pokies

While these typically take the form of five-reel slots, progressive jackpot pokies offer payouts far and above what other slots are capable of. The majority of online pokies are stand-alone, but progressive jackpot slots are connected to a network of heaps of online casinos. The more that punters play these slots, the higher their jackpots become.

Progressive jackpot pokies typically offer four jackpots of varying sizes, and require you to accomplish a specific feat on your slot of choice to have a chance to win it all. Naturally, the biggest jackpot is bloody hard to get, but it does happen. In 2015, the progressive slot Mega Moolah paid out £13.2 million to a very lucky Brit, earning a Guinness World Record in the process.

Mobile Casino Pokies

Sideways iPhone 5 with Starburst pokies on screen

This may not be particularly surprising, but mobiles have surpassed computers as being the most-used way to connect to the internet. Online casinos are on top of this trend, so it’s easier than ever to play mobile slots, and – thanks to the latest technologies – there are often no major differences between playing on a lappy or a mobile.

While there are still some pokies that don’t work on mobile out there, they are typically older games. It can be hard to tell which slots will work on mobile when browsing an online casino, but if a pokie is from one of the bigger providers – like Betsoft, NetEnt, or Quickspin – the chances are that you’ll be able to enjoy it on your mobile.

Typically the only thing a mobile slot really does to distinguish itself is change up the layout a little bit to compensate for the smaller screen size, or offer a more condensed experience. That said, these are the same casino games that you know and love, and they’re just as fun as the full-size versions.

Playing Online Slots for Free

It might be some wishful thinking, but we almost expect that when you go to an online casino, you should be able to play the slots they have for free. We don’t mean in terms of free spins, which translate to real winnings, but rather free play, in order for punters to try out different pokies and see which ones they enjoy.

In our eyes, there’s no reason that an online casino shouldn’t offer unlimited free play on their slots. It’s 2020, after all. Even so, there are many casinos that require players to log in before they play for free, or they don’t offer free play on mobile, so there’s a lack of consistency that can be frustrating.

If you’re a fan of a particular provider, you can also go to their website and often play the majority of their catalogue for free. While not tied to any particular online casino (and the casinos they recommend may not be suitable for you), this is a safe and secure way to have a grouse time playing some slots.

Bonuses for Online Slots

Promotions or bonuses offered by online casinos often apply to online slots, either as the main attraction or as a little something extra. Here are a few of the bonuses that you can use on a casino’s selection of slots.

Free Spins

Free spins are an incredibly common bonus, no matter which online casino you’re playing at. They often come attached to another kind of bonus, such as a welcome or deposit bonus. Free spins are exactly what it says on the tin – full-cost, real money spins on slots that you don’t have to pay for.

While it’s not unheard of for a casino to offer free spins on any of the pokies they have, the majority of bonuses with free spins will have them tied to a specific slot. There are a couple of reasons for this: maybe the casino has an agreement with the manufacturer, or maybe they’ve marked a few popular slots as loss leaders to encourage punters to play more. Whatever the reason, the pokies chosen for these bonuses are usually ripper games in their own right, with Dead or Alive, Cash Bandits 2, and Avalon being popular choices amongst casinos.

No Deposit Bonus

While incredibly rare, no deposit bonuses provide you an amount of money to use anywhere in an online casino that you see fit, including on their selection of pokies. The amount is never particularly high – $50 amongst hundreds of players can seriously add up, not to mention thousands or tens of thousands – and there is often a limit to how much you can bet and/or claim, but free money is free money, and is enough to power several low-cost spins of a slot machine.

Of course, whenever you claim a casino bonus, you should always be aware of its wagering requirements, which can be found in the website’s Terms and Conditions. While it’s always a good idea to check, it’s more important when you’re looking at bonuses applying to slots, because certain pokies may not apply to the bonus’ wagering contribution.