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Gone are the days when the humble slot machine had one or two phrases attached to it. One-armed bandit, Bell Fruit machine, or fruit symbols were just about it.

Nowadays, anyone strolling into a casino for the first time will be shocked by how advanced the modern slot machines are. With hundreds of different games on offer, slick video graphics, cinematic sound, and complicated features and bonus rounds, it’s easy to become overwhelmed.

But never fear! We are here to give you a breakdown of the common online slot terms you’ll come across. Read on and become a master of slot terms. Who knows, if you understand better what’s going on, you might win a handsome profit at TwinSpires Casino?

Slot terms explained

3D video slots

Watch the symbols on the reels come to life in incredibly detailed 3D video form. Video adds rich depth to your gameplay.

3-Reel or 5-Reel

The reels are what the symbols are placed on, and they spin round each time you press the start button. In the old days, you always had a simple 3-Reel format (and classic themed slots still have them), but it’s more common to find five reels today.

Paylines and ways to win

Long gone are the days where the middle line across the reels was the win line. You had to line up matching symbols on this one line to win. Now, you can bet on multiple paylines that form intricate patterns across the reels. You can quickly find hundreds of ways to win on any given spin.

Auto spin

If you’re feeling a little lazy, why waste valuable energy pressing the start button? Instead, press auto spin, select how many spins you wish to automate and sit back, relax, and let the machine do all the "hard work" for you.

Bet max

Slot machine terms like "bet max" refer to the maximum wager you are allowed on any spin.

Bet min

We assume you can guess this one. Yes, it’s the minimum bet requirement.

Big Bertha

In bricks and mortar casinos, these are the giant slot games you find near the entrance, designed to attract the attention of anyone passing by who somehow hadn’t noticed there was a casino.

Bonus features

Slots now have extra symbols like wilds, scatters, and free spins that can prompt the start of a bonus game. It adds to the excitement and gives you different chances of winning.

Licensed or branded slots

You’ll find slot games themed on TV shows like The Price is Right, comic book heroes, and music stars like Ozzy Osbourne.

Cascading/tumbling reels

An exciting feature whereby the symbols on a winning line disappear and the reels above drop replacement symbols, which can also create a winning line, all from the same spin.

Expanding wilds

When a wild symbol drops, it might expand to cover the whole reel, widening your chance of a win.

Fruit machine

Fruit machine is the name for the original slot games that featured tasty symbols like melons, cherries, lemons, and pears. See the best fruit slot machines of 2020

High or low variance

Low variance slots pay out less but more often. High variance slots pay out fewer times, but the prizes are generally higher.

Hot and cold slots

If a slot game is currently paying out a lot, it is called hot. But if a game has been quiet for a while, it is cold.


Some slots keep a percentage of every wager and add it to a progressive jackpot. When it eventually hits, the lucky player wins the lot, sometimes millions of dollars.

Mobile slots

These are slot games that smart techie people have optimized to work perfectly on your cell or tablet device.


A bonus feature whereby your winnings can be multiplied by as much as ten times. Exciting. But as little as two times. Not so exciting.

Nudge slot

Not so popular these days, but nudge machines allowed the player to press a button to nudge the reels down one at a time. You only had a set number of nudges to get it right and win a prize.

Return to Player (RTP)

A percentage figure showing how much cash the slot game pays back. For example, the Gonzo’s Quest slot has an RTP of 96%, meaning you would get back $96 for every $100 bet. See which slots games have the best odds and pay the best.


The table that explains what you can win for various symbol combinations or bonus rounds.


The number of horizontal lines on the slot (as opposed to reels).

Second screen bonus

A favorite separate bonus game for video slots, mostly with an interactive element, like the player choosing mystery prize boxes or playing a higher or lower game.

Slot Tournaments

Where players play the same slot machine game to see who wins the most cash. Find out how slot tournaments work and how to win.

Try some slots action now

Playing slots is good fun online. You don’t really need to know the slot terminology on this page, but some extra knowledge can’t do any harm. You can even try out the slots for free before depositing your first cash.