Types of Slots

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Slots are arguably the most popular part of any online casino’s game catalog. For that reason, there’s a wide variety of slot types available. Online slots have many benefits as compared to their land-based counterparts, including lower bet minimums, high-limit slots, more variety, and, of course, accessibility.

On this page, we’ve got you covered with all the need-to-know information about video slots, classic three-reel steppers, progressive slots, and penny slots.

Types of Slots

Video Slots

Video slots are the most common slot type at online casinos. These are modern, animated slots that you are most likely already familiar with, such as Cleopatra and Starburst.

Three-Reel Stepper Slots

Three-reel steppers are designed to mimic classic slot machines. They feature only three reels, which are often only two or three symbols high, and limited paylines. These slots often feature larger win potential and higher volatility to make them appealing. Examples include Double Diamond.

Progressive Jackpot Slots

Progressive jackpot slots often offer the largest win potential at online casinos and, thus, represent an extremely popular slot category. These slots feature large jackpots that grow over time. Some slots, such as MGM Grand Millions, have seen their jackpots reach more than $4 million. Another example of a progressive jackpot is the ever-popular Divine Fortune.

Megaways Slots

Every slot has a certain number of paylines, and Megaways slots have by far the most. This makes them a popular option, as most other types of slots commonly feature 10 to 50 paylines, while Megaways slots feature up to 117,649 ways to win.

Hold and Win Slots

Hold and win slots are a popular slot variety, offering locking symbols that stay in place during respins, allowing for big wins to build throughout the feature. Most hold and win slots will feature “hold and win” in their actual name, so they’re easy to spot.

Penny Slots

Penny slots are simply slots that allow you to wager $0.01 per payline, giving them low bet minimums for players on tight budgets. These slots are also appealing to high rollers, as they allow every type of player to stretch their budget and play for longer periods.

Pop Culture Slots

As you may have guessed, pop culture slots are any type of slot that features a pop culture theme. These are always appealing, as you can find your favorite characters, shows, and movies within the category. Popular examples include Wheel of Fortune and the new World of Wonka slot.

Slot Features You Should Know

Different types of slots offer various features, from basics like paylines and payouts to crazy visuals and unique features. Here are some of the key aspects you should know.

In general, more paylines are an advantage because they provide you with more ways to win. By that metric, Megaways slots absolutely come out on top. However, keep in mind that depending on a variety of other factors, including RTP, volatility, features, and so on, having the most paylines doesn’t necessarily make the slot automatically better than others.

Different slots have different RTP (return-to-player) percentages. This is theoretical math that measures what you can expect to win over time. Of course, the random nature of slots dictates that this won’t always be accurate. Cold spells and big wins may or may not come at any time.

Let’s say a slot is programmed to have a 97% RTP. That means, theoretically, players can expect to end up with $97 for every $100 wagered. The type of slot doesn’t necessarily dictate the RTP, as every slot category holds a wide range of RTP percentages. Check those percentages before you play to find the slots with the highest RTP.

Offering large maximum payouts is clearly an advantage. If you’re looking for a slot category that routinely has these high possible payouts, you should probably go with progressive jackpot slots. These slot jackpots can stretch indefinitely, sometimes even exceeding $4 million.

When we look at the advantages of various types of slots, it’s not all about the win. We also have to look at the experience. Perhaps the biggest part of the slot experience is the visuals. This is where modern video slots come out on top. They provide exciting and appealing animations for players, as opposed to the stand-still symbols of old-school machines.

Every slot has different mechanics and features, both in the base game and as bonus features. A good example of a slot type with unique features is the hold and win category we discussed above. Unique features make for unique selling points, which is why games like Lightning Link often draw crowds at land-based casinos.

Choosing the Best Type of Slot for You


Think about what is most important to you.

Every player’s preferences are different. As far as different types of slots, you should first think about your priorities for enjoying a slot. If it’s lots of paylines, pick Megaways. If it’s polished visuals, go with a video slot. If you want the classic slot experience with fewer bells and whistles, choose three-reel steppers. The list goes on, but make sure you know what you’re looking for to help you narrow down your picks. After all, the top online casinos will offer huge selections of slots.


Check RTP.

RTP, while not guaranteed to impact your next gaming session, is an important piece of theoretical math, as discussed in the previous section. This percentage will give you a general idea of how much you can expect to walk away with, so you should choose higher RTP percentages whenever possible.


Check volatility.

So, you’ve found a type of slot that appeals to you and a game within that type that has a solid RTP. Next, you should check another piece of theoretical math known as volatility. Volatility gives you a general idea of win sizes and win frequency. Low-volatility slots generally feature smaller, frequent wins. High-volatility slots feature larger, less frequent wins. Slots run the gamut here, including medium-low, medium, and medium-high volatility as well. In sum, pick a volatility level that will make you comfortable.


Play the slot in demo mode.

You’ve nailed down all your criteria and found a type of slot that looks promising. Next, you should play in demo mode for free to ensure all the previous considerations come together to form a cohesive type of slot that you’ll enjoy. Most online casinos offer a demo mode, and we also offer free slots for you to test.


Play for real money.

Everything checks out, and you’ve succeeded in choosing the best type of slot for you. All that’s left is to play for real money! Find an online casino you’d like to play on that offers the type of slot you’ve chosen and enjoy. Don’t forget to claim any available welcome bonuses to get started on the right foot.

Types of Slots Online vs. Types of Slot Machines

Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of the types of slots you find online versus the types of slot machines you’ll find at retail casinos in Vegas and across the US.

Online Types of SlotsTraditional Types of Slots
✅ Available anywhere you can legally play online❌ Only available at land-based casinos
✅ Wide variety of types of slots across many online casinos❌ Limited selection based on what's on casino floor
✅ Types of slots that aren't available in-person (Megaways, etc.)✅ All traditional types of slots also available online
❌ Lack the "in-person" feeling of playing at a casino✅ Can be played in an exciting in-person environment

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About the Author

Craig Corbeels

Craig Corbeels

Craig Corbeels is a lead writer and gambling expert for Bonus.com. He has been involved in the online gambling industry since 2013. Previously, he worked for Gamesys and Bally's Interactive as a copywriter and social media strategist for multiple North American online casinos.
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