On betting and playing online slot games – how to wager well

This once was much simpler. In the days of Las Vegas’s heyday when the one-armed bandit ruled supreme, the player merely inserted a coin of the denomination they wanted to play and cranked the lever. Payouts were based simply on a multiple of the bet, and wins resulted in coins satisfyingly spilling out into the tray, whereupon the hardcore scooped ‘em up and put them into those swell little plastic buckets.

The first step away from this simplicity came with the introduction and expansion of Native American-run casinos in the U.S. Certain Las Vegas casinos may have introduced the concept of the player card, i.e. an in-house casino card with a magnetic strip on the back as a substitute for coinage and bills, but these became standard in so-called “Indian casinos” by the late 1990s. By this time, of course, electronic-style slot machines had forced mechanical one-armed bandit machines out of the game room, and 5-payline games now dominated the slots section.

Playing slots at online casinos of necessity eliminates coin payouts and reduces the player card to a mere number. With no physical element to betting on slots online at all, the question of how to bet on these games is no simple matter.

What must I know about betting on slots?

If you’re playing a classic slot machine-style game with a single payline – with or without a progressive jackpot – the advice is simple. Choose “Bet one”, “Bet two”, or “Bet max.” This represents 1x, 2x or 3x the “coin size” that either you’ve chosen or is standard for the game; on classic slots, the “coin size” is usually $1. And if you’re playing a progressive slot, you’ll want to select “Bet max,” for this is the only way to win the jackpot payout.

On 5-reel video slots, the situation is trickier still. On these games, your bet will be figured on as many as three factors: coin size, paylines and coins per line. The first two quantities speak for themselves; essentially, you’ll be playing all paylines – after all, why’d you choose to play a, likesay, 25-payline game and not play them all?

Some casinos have added the “coins per line” as an additional way for the player to raise the bet. Please pay attention when playing a new game and figure out whether this is figured into the bet. If so, the amount wagered per spin is equal to coin size times paylines time coins per line. Say you’re playing a 25-payline game for 5¢ a payline at 10 coins per line (a pretty standard setting on “max bet”); this works out to $0.05 x 25 x 10, or $5 per spin.

What does “max bet” mean in these games?

Most slots online have a “max bet” button on the virtual game console, and boy is it tempting. Just make sure you realize that, in slots with the “coins per payline” feature that “max bet” means 10 coins per payline in most cases.

Are online casinos trying to fool me?

Well, um … that is to say … let’s just say they’re trying to get you to pay attention.


Playing responsibly at online casinos needn’t apply to extreme cases only. Make sure you’re staying responsible to yourself (and your slots bankroll) by knowing exactly how betting on the slot games works online.

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