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Online Casino 101: A Comprehensive Guide

Online slots (online pokies) is an online gambling application that produces a set of random numbers visualized as symbols across several reels (3 or 5 reels slots). The way that a software manufacturer connects similar symbols to count towards your winnings is called a payline.

All slots are hosted and ran from the manufacturers servers, online casinos are being only providers of access to them, i.e. intermediaries in fact. So, whenever you play online slots for free or in an online casino for real money you actually play it on the slots manufacturer’s premises, online casino only takes and pays back your money. Online casino cannot change the gameplay or distribution of winnings in any specific slot.

Slots manufacturers are audited by such organizations as eCogra, etc to produce a fixed return on a players money over a large number of spins (usually, millions of spins). This theoretical value of online slot to a player is called Return to Player (RTP). For example, The Highest Payout online slots by NetEnt are:

  • Jackpot 6000
  • Dead or Alive / Dead or Alive 2
  • Reel steal
  • Wild rockets
  • Jungle Spirit Call of the Wild
  • Wild turkey
  • Secrets of Christmas
  • Secrets of the Stones

As you can see the payout is negative (less than 100%), so a player may think he/she would lose on average about 5 cents from every dollar each time he/she spins the slots. Yet, the idea of RTP is different: you will be losing your 5 cents in the long haul, yet, till that time you may win (go green) and lose (go red) a number of times, and you don’t exactly when it happens. How to predict when you will win on a slot machine?

To do that, it’s important to understand how online slots actually work. Let’s take the example of NetEnt slots: they use the Pyramid principle, which means that all players form a prize pool from the money they have lost. In theory, if you are the only player who plays in a wholly new online casino a specific slot, the prize pool is empty and is only filled up off your money. So, you will be losing all the time till you fed up the prize pool and it will start to pay you back your own money. In this case, you will get back 90-95% of the amount of your deposit. This is what RTP really is.

Now, NetEnt manufacturer takes about 2-5% of the prize pool to themselves and distributes the rest of the money pool (RTP) to all players that have come to play this game. There are different levels of distribution of the prize pool: by casino, by the online slots game, by the wager value.

Prize pool is distributed separately by each single online casino, so could only potentially get the prize pool formed by players who lost they money in the casino that you play. The same concerns a specific online slots: you may only win what others have lost on a specific online slot that you play.

Wager value or the size of your bet is how actively you contribute to the forming of the prize pool. There are 4 levels of online slots players by the contribution to the prize pool:

  1. Low bets players (usually making $0.1 to $5 bets)
  2. Bonus hunters (usually making $5 to $10 bets, i.e. betting towards the max wager limits when playing with bonus money)
  3. Medium bets players ($10 to $50 bets)
  4. High rollers ($50 to max allowed bet)

At any level (except for the High Rollers) from 1% to 10% of the accumulated prize pool go to the higher stakes’ prize pool for the big winning. Likewise, Low bets players would have a portion of the prize pool they formed passed onto the next level, i.e. Bonus hunters. The same concerns those making $5 to $10 bets. Since the game is underway between players and an online casino would only takes it’s small part, players essentially compete with each other for the prize pool: the more players at each level, the less chance to win big.

Obviously, the medium value of bets ($10 to $50 bets) is the most profitable wagering limit for hitting a big win. At these limits, there are much fewer players than above, but here are collecting money from previous limits (the bets from $0.25 to $10), and are much less participant in the “drawing” as bestneentcasino.info put it.


Software providers must disclose the odds of winning on specific slots and these data form dependencies. They disclose the maximum win, probabilities of hitting any winnings (and how they distributed towards normal play and bonus play mode) as well as probabilities of hitting two wins in a row. This values forms the following dependencies:

  • The Higher the max win, the longer a cycle of winning, i.e. when a slot machine starts to pay back big.
  • The higher the Volatility (also called Variance or Dispersion) of Winnings, the less predicted is the size and frequency of winnings at the end of the cycle.

In potentially ‘big win’ slots, you can wait many rounds till you get any winnings (have lots of empty spins). Therefore, less people would play it and the cycle of winning does depend on the prize pool too.

Quick reference guides:

  • Top paying online slots
  • Best Slots for wagering bonus money
  • Best High Volatility slots
  • Best Free Spins slots
  • Best Multiplier Slots
  • Best slots 2021
  • Best New slots
  • Best Classic slots
  • Best Video Slots

Reviews and Lists of the Best online pokies from software manufacturer:

  • Best Netent online slots
    Best Microgaming online slots
    Best Playtech online slots