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Published date 12 January 2021

Navigating the world of slot machine slang: A complete slots glossary

Veteran players and newbies alike will always have something to learn when it comes to slot machines, thanks to the rapid advancement of technology and innovation in the gambling sector.

A large part of fully enjoying slots is being 'hip to the lingo', so this glossary will include all the slots terms you will need to know to become an expert in this fascinating and rewarding entertainment sector.

Numbers

  • 3D Video Slots: These are slot games with 3D video capabilities that often place a heavy emphasis on animation to add depth to the gameplay.
  • 3-Reel: A typical online slot layout that features three reels and three rows of symbols.
  • 5-Reel: A typical online slot with five reels in and three to four rows of symbols.
  • 243 Ways to Win: These slot games do away with using just one payline to determine a winning combination. This feature allows you to cash in on any winning combination of symbols that appear anywhere on all the reels.

A

  • Action: Slot action is the calculation of the total amount you’ve spent on playing versus the amounts you’ve won or lost during a session. You will normally be able to access this information through your slots club card that most casinos offer.
  • All Ways: All ways online slots have hundreds of possible paylines that run both left-to-right and right-to-left.
  • Annuity Winner: Slot machine jackpot winnings can be offered as yearly instalments as opposed to a lump sum. If winnings are collected as a lump sum, a significant tax penalty may apply.
  • Autospin: This is a feature that allows you to set a specific number of spins for the game to play on your behalf.
  • AWP: The acronym AWP stands for ‘Amusement With Prizes’. This typically refers to classic-style slots with fruit symbols. To be classified as AWP, a slot machine must have an interactive element. This could be a game board at the top of the machine with various buttons and options emulating the experience of playing a physical board game. These games are not skill-based, unlike SWP machines that contain skill challenges that enable you to win cash prizes. Both AWP and SWP have their origin as strictly trade terms, but they have gradually been adopted into the lexicon of slot players. The UK’s most commonplace AWPs were Cherry Master and Pot-o-gold. Today, AWPs are mostly redundant, falling to the rise of online slots technology.

B

  • Basic Slots: Also known as straights, these games possess a single payline and an inert jackpot amount that does not change, as opposed to a progressive jackpot that increases over time.
  • Bet: The total amount of money you wager on each spin.
  • Bet Max: The bet max is the maximum number of slot game credits that you are permitted to wager on each spin. The bet max can often be instantly selected via a button on the slot machine.
  • Bet Min: This refers to the lowest amount of slot credits that you can wager on any spin.
  • Bet One: This is when you wager a single slot unit or credit per spin.
  • Betting Units: Betting units are effectively your wagering currency within the slot game. Their value is dependent on the denomination of the slot machine that you are playing. The terms ‘betting units’ and ‘credits’ are synonymous.
  • Big Bertha: A Big Bertha refers to the oversized slot machines that are designed to be attention-grabbers in casinos. These games are physically much larger than their regular counterparts and typically sport multiple reels.
  • Big Hit: The big hit describes when you land the jackpot combination.
  • Bonus Feature: Bonus features can include things like wild cards, special symbols, and free spins.
  • Bonus Multiplier Slot Machines: Bonus multiplier slots encourage players to bet the maximum via larger jackpots.
  • Bonus Round: This special feature provides you with free games and/or instant cash prizes.
  • Branded Slots: These online slots typically have a theme that is based on a popular TV show or movie. Extra care is often taken by developers to ensure the attractiveness of the background visuals and gameplay graphics.

C

  • Candle: This is a colloquial term for the light at the top of a slot machine that a player can activate by pushing a ‘service’ or ‘help’ button to indicate that they require change.
  • Carousel: This is a group of slots arranged in an oval or circle formation. Slots carousels often share a common feature like betting unit denominations. This strategy allows casinos to better organise their gaming floors and simplifies the effort involved to find your desired slot machine types.
  • Cascading Reels: This bonus feature causes winning combos to vanish from the reels to be replaced by new symbols from above, creating the opportunity to achieve multiple wins on a single spin. This feature is also known as Tumbling Reels or Rolling Reels.
  • Cashback: This is a reward that slots club card players often receive.
  • Certified Slots: These are slot machines that casinos have guaranteed to have a 98%-100% payout rate.
  • Classic: This term refers to slots with a vintage style that emulates old-school fruit machines. These often have very few paylines and no bonus features with minimal paylines and no bonus features. Often, they feature classic fruit machine symbols like fruit, bell, seven, and BAR.
  • Coin In / Coin Out: This is the ratio of the credits played vs the credits paid out.
  • Coins: This is the size of the basic wager on a slot machine and refers to a time when physical coins or tokens were exclusively used for slot machines.
  • Coin Hopper: This is the receptacle on a slot machine where coins available for payouts are held. This device rotates the coins into the coin tray when you select the ‘cash out’ option.
  • Coin Size: This is the amount that each coin is worth and is adjustable on some slot machines.
  • Cold Slots: This is a slang term for slots that are perceived to pay out infrequently.
  • Collect: This is a label normally assigned to a button or option on a slot machine that allows you to convert your coins or credits into a cash payout.
  • Comps: These are complimentary awards or gifts offered to slot club members that can take the form of free accommodation, meals, or other gifts for being a frequent player.
  • Console Slot Machines: This refers to a physical type of slot machine with a slanted screen that leans towards the player. These were designed to provide a more comfortable experience and date back to the 1930s.
  • Credits: Once you enter currency into the slot machine by whatever means, it will be converted into game credits.
  • Credit Meter: This is a visual indicator that displays the number of credits you have left to play with.

D

  • Denomination: This is the value per credit on a slot machine, some machines are labelled according to their denomination value. For example, pound slot machines where the value of the credit is 1 pound.
  • Doubles: (or triples) This refers to a rare occurrence where symbols on the slot machine appear in sets of two or three at a time that will result in your winning amount being doubled or tripled.
  • Dragonfish: Dragonfish is a reputable online slot game developer and independent subsidiary of 888 casino that also specialises in bingo games. The company was established in 2007.
  • Drops: An online slot feature where symbols appear to fall onto the reels.
  • Drop Bucket: This is the container that holds excess coins from the hopper and is normally seen on low-denomination slot machines.

E

  • EGM: EGM stands for ‘Electronic Gaming Machine’.
  • Expanding Wilds: These are wild symbols that expand to cover entire reels when they appear on the screen, effectively boosting your chances of forming multiple winning combinations.

F

  • Feature: This is an enhancement to the basic gameplay of a slot and can be anything from free spins to cash bonuses to wild symbols.
  • Fixed Value Slots: These slot types do not permit you to change the betting amount and coin size and are often limited to a single denomination of one coin per spin.
  • Five Liner: This is a 3-reel slot game where you can win on up to 5 payout lines, consisting of two diagonal and three horizontal payout lines.
  • Freeplay / Free-to-play: Some slots can be played without spending any money and purely for the sake of enjoyment.
  • Free Spin: An extra spin that does not require a wager and is awarded as part of a bonus feature.
  • Fruit Machine: This is the term that the first slot machines in the UK were referred to due to the fruit symbols that feature on the reels.

G

  • Gamble: This feature allows you the chance to double your winnings on any spin, at the risk of losing the amount you have won.
  • Games Per Hour: The number of spins that you play over 60 minutes. This amount normally averages out to 500 games per hour.

H

  • Hammer a Machine: When you play the same slot for an extended period, normally to trigger a progressive jackpot.
  • Hit and Run: This refers to the practice of playing a single payline slot for a few spins on the maximum bet amount.
  • Hit Frequency: The average rate at which a slot game pays out.
  • Hold Percentage: This is how much of your wager money that the casino holds on to. In the example of a 99% slot machine, the hold percentage would be 1%.
  • Hot Slots: A slot machine with a higher-than-average payout frequency.

I

  • Icons: An interchangeable term for slot symbols.
  • IGT: International Games Technologies (IGT) is a British slot game manufacturer founded in 1990.
  • Instant Winner: A jackpot that pays out as an instant lump sum, as opposed to annuity winner where the jackpot can be paid out over an extended period.
  • I-Slot: A type of online slot where you can save your position during a bonus round that you can return to later.

J

  • Jackpot: Normally the top prize / highest possible payout that you can win from a slot game.

K

  • Kilo win: Refers to a decent win, usually 1000 unit win!
  • Kahnawake Casino: There are two main Casinos in Kahnawake; Playground Poker Club and Casino Montréal.

L

  • Line Bet: The number of activated paylines on a multi-payline slot. Activating all paylines normally requires the max bet to be played.
  • Linked Progressive Jackpot: This refers to when two or more slot machines have linked progressive jackpots.
  • Loose Slots: These are slot machines that will often pay out more frequently as opposed to tight slots where wins are typically infrequent.

M

  • Max Bet: Identical to ‘bet max’ this is the highest amount of credits you can wager on any given spin. Most slots feature a button that lets you proceed directly to the max bet.
  • MEAL book: MEAL is an acronym for Machine Entry Authorization Log, a system that tracks employees' activity and entries on a particular machine.
  • Megabucks: Megabucks is a famous slot machine created by IGT that holds the record for the highest progressive jackpot payout ever of $37 million. The jackpot attached to this machine is a taxable annuity jackpot, paid out over 25 years. Since 2011, the machine has paid out over $167,000,000 in jackpots.
  • Mega Fortune: Mega Fortune is a NetEnt progressive jackpot online slot created in 2012 that has regularly created multiple multi-millionaires every month. Game variants for this title include Mega Fortune Dreams that has an opulent, luxurious theme.
  • Mega Moolah: Easily the world’s most famous progressive jackpot slot, this Microgaming creation has a simple African wildlife theme that belies the staggering potential payouts that you could achieve.
  • Microgaming: Microgaming is a prominent Isle of man based online slot game manufacturer that has grown to be a monolith in the industry, famous for creating the first complete online casino in 1994.
  • Mobile Slots: These are slot games that are enhanced for mobile devices like a smartphone or tablet. HTML5 and JavaScript are normally the primary methods used for creating these games as they are the most widely compatible with most systems.
  • Multi-Line Bonus Slot Machine: These slot machines feature multiple paylines with some going as high as 50.
  • Multiplier: This bonus feature multiplies your payouts up to 10 times on a bonus spin.
  • Multi-way: This betting system found in online slots offers numerous paylines, sometimes up to hundreds or thousands.

N

  • Near Miss: When you just fall short of a winning combination on a slot machine spin.
  • NetEnt: Originally founded in 1996, this Swedish slots developer has been delivering casino modules to the industry since the early 2000s and has grown to be one of the major players in the online casino games sector.
  • NextGen: This NYX Gaming Limited subsidiary is a slots developer that specialises in both land-based and online slot machine games.
  • Nudge Slot: Nudge slot machines to allow you to move or ‘nudge’ a key line up or down to help complete winning combinations.

O

  • One-Armed Bandit: This is a nickname for the original slot machines that operated with a long handle or 'arm' mounted on the side that was pulled down to spin the reels. The 'bandit' part of the name refers to the lawless nature of the areas where one would originally find these devices.
  • One-Liner: A single-reel slot machine where you line up three symbols to create winning combinations.
  • Onesies: A term used to describe players who only bet a single coin or credit per spin.
  • Optimal Play: This refers to the best possible strategy you could employ when playing a specific slot and can also be used to describe the amount you win when applying an optimal strategy.

P

  • Payback Percentage: This is the amount of money a slot game is expected to pay out to players over a specific time compared to the amount paid in.
  • Payline: This is the line on which winning combinations must land for the payout amount to be won.
  • Payout: The amount you win for achieving a specific symbol combination.
  • Pay Table: A complete guide normally posted on a slot machine or included in the info section of an online slot that lets you know all the possible winning combinations and their payouts, the rules of the game, and a description of special features.
  • Penny Slots: A slot machine game where the value of one credit is one penny. These slots cater to low-stakes players and the term ‘penny’ is interchangeable with the British ‘pence’ and simply refers to the lowest possible denomination of a currency.
  • Pick Me: A type of bonus feature round where you choose from a selection of icons or symbols to reveal hidden prizes.
  • Playtech: Officially the world's largest supplier of online gaming and sports betting software, Playtech has been providing software and system solutions to the industry since 1999.
  • Pokies: The popular Australian term for online slots.
  • Primary Jackpot: The maximum possible payout prize that you can win on a slot game.
  • Progressive Slot Machines: These slots feature a jackpot that continually grows until it is won. The jackpot normally increases in small increments each time the slot game is played.

R

  • Reel Stop: A single position on a slot machine reel.
  • Reels: The physical or digital disks that spin in the slot machine window where the game’s symbols will appear.
  • RNG/Random Number Generator: Computer software that randomizes slot machine results to ensure fairness.
  • Rows: The horizontal lines of symbols in a slot machine game.

S

  • Scatter Pay: Games with the scatter pay feature have specific symbols that will pay out regardless of their position on the reels.
  • Second Screen Bonus: Some video slots have a second screen that is activated when a bonus round launches, often used to create an interactive experience within the gameplay.
  • Select Lines: The number of selected paylines on a slot game.
  • Short Pay: If a slot machine contains insufficient coins to fulfil your payout, it will only deliver a partial payment and the balance will be handed to you by the casino.
  • Short Win: This describes a scenario where a player lands a large jackpot after playing for a short amount of time.
  • Signature Slots: These are a casino's brand of slot machines.
  • Skill Bonus: A skill-based game featured in a slot machine that pays out a prize according to your level of achievement.
  • Skill Stop: These are slot games that allow you to manually halt the spinning of the reels, giving you some level of influence over the possibility of landing a winning combination.
  • Slant Top: These slot machines come with a stool or chair for your comfort.
  • Slots: This is simply a shortened term for ‘slot machine’.
  • Slots Drop: The total amount of money played on a specific slot machine.
  • Slot Club: This term refers to casino member programmes that offer you rewards, prizes, and special offers in exchange for your playing time.
  • Slot Host: A casino employee who is responsible for the overall comfort and happiness of players. They typically spend their time addressing customer complaints and concerns, ensuring players are aware of specials and promotions, distributing discretionary complimentary gifts like meals and accommodation, and taking special care of high-rollers and VIPs.
  • Slot Schedule: This is the same as a paytable and displays all possible winning combinations for a slot game and their corresponding payout amounts.
  • Slot Talk: This is a colloquial description of the trading of information between slot players and hosts.
  • Slot Testing: This is a player evaluation methodology where you will be given a roll of coins to determine the machine’s payout ratio.
  • Slot Tournament: A tournament competition where slots players compete for prizes, normally by accumulating points that are displayed on leaderboards.
  • Slot Type: This is how a slot is classified in the basic, progressive, or bonus slot categories.
  • Slots Hold: The total amount of money that a slot machine will not pay out to players.
  • Sound of Rain: A term that describes the sound of the coins dropping when you when a slot machine pays out.
  • Spin: The rotation of a game’s reels that is activated by pushing the spin button or pulling the lever on a slot machine.
  • Stacked Symbols: When the same symbol appears one on top of the other, filling all or most of a reel.
  • Stacked Wilds: Wild symbols that appear on top of one another.
  • Streaky Slots: These are slot games that have a reputation for extended chains of winning or losing spins.
  • Symbols: These are the graphics that appear on the reels and can be anything depending on the theme of the slot. Classic symbol combinations that you will see in many slot games are cherries and pound signs, lucky sevens, and money bags.

T

  • Taste: This describes a commonly minimal amount that a slot machine will pay out quite soon after your first spin. This is designed to keep you engaged and playing with the hope of future payouts materialising soon.
  • Theoretical Hold Worksheet: A manufacturer-provided manual that details the hypothetical percentage that the slot machine should hold in proportion to the amount paid in. It also contains the reel strip settings, number of coins that may be played, the payout schedule, and the number of reels. The provision of this document is a lawful requirement.
  • Three Liner: A three-reel slot game where 3 symbol combinations are used to gain payouts.
  • Tilt: This is a slot machine feature that sets off an alarm if any tampering or operating issues are detected.
  • TITO: Ticket In / Ticket Out: This is ticket-based slot machine technology that prints out a ticket to represent your available credits. This ticket can be used to play at another slot machine or taken to the cashier’s window to be exchanged for physical currency.
  • Tight Slots: These slot games have a reputation for being miserly or stingy due to their lower-than-average payout frequency.
  • Total Bet: The total amount of coins/credits wagered on a single spin.
  • Trail: A bonus feature where you must progress through or ascend a path or track to gain typically increasingly lucrative prizes.
  • Tumbling Reels: Also known as cascading reels, this slot feature causes winning symbol combinations to disappear from the reels, allowing new symbols to replace them and resulting in the chance for multiple wins on a single spin.
  • Two Liner: A slot machine with two reels where players can line up three or six symbol combinations to win cash prizes.

U

  • Up / Down Slot Cycle: This is a long-term overview of a slot's average payout percentage, usually calculated over a year.

V

  • Variance: This is the risk profile of a particular slot game. Low variance games pay out smaller amounts frequently while high variance machine has larger, but more infrequent payouts.
  • Video Slots: These are fully digitized slot machines that display virtual reels on a monitor.
  • Virtual Reel: These are digital representations of slot reels. RNG software is employed to ensure that the results of digital slot spins are truly randomized.

W

  • Wager Management: This is how you manage your bankroll or available money while playing slot games. It is important to employ responsible strategies like only playing with portions of your cash at a time.
  • Well: The well is a container at the bottom of a slot machine where all the coins when a player decides to cash out are held for when you decide to cash out.
  • WAP or Wide Area Progressive: Slot machines in various locations are all connected to a single, progressive jackpot. Players contribute to the jackpot amount as they spin.
  • Weight Count: This term describes the dollar amount of coins or credit taken from a slot’s drop bucket that is weighed on a scale to determine its total value.
  • Wild Symbol Slots: slot games that feature Wild symbols that substitute for other symbols to create winning combinations.
  • Wild Multiplier: In addition to standing in for other symbols, this symbol can also multiply your wins by a certain amount.
  • Win: The result of landing a winning combination.
  • Win Both Ways: This slot feature award wins for paylines that run left-to-right and right-to-left.

Z

  • Zig Zag: This is a winning combination formed on alternatively horizontal/vertical and diagonal payline patterns.

While this may appear to be a reasonably complete and definitive list, the language of slots evolves with the technology that creates the games and the people that play them, with local cultures and dialects producing entire glossaries of their own.