The ultimate slots strategy guide for beginners

by Tim | Jan 12, 2023

The ultimate slots strategy guide for beginners

If you’re a citizen of planet earth, you will have, at some point in your life, encountered the exhilarating allure of slot machines – or “one-armed bandits” as they were affectionately known back in the day. 

Excited punters would put coins in the slots of these “gambling machines”, pull the arm or press the button and wait as the reels spun until they stopped to reveal a random collection of numbers or symbols. Every punter hoped to hear the siren scream to the whole casino that they had just hit the jackpot. 

Online slot machines are not that different from these old one-armed bandits or “fruit machines”. Yet, familiar as they may be, getting started while figuring out how to win can be surprisingly daunting.

Here’s a beginner’s guide to slot machines. Learn how to play online slots, how to identify the different types of slot machines and get some handy tips on how to win. Pay attention! After this, you will surely want to try the best online slots in the UK!

The online slot machine glossary

As with any game, slots are riddled with insider phrases and technical terms. Here are a few you should know before diving in. 


Bankroll simply refers to the amount of money you have available to place bets. 


Paytables list the value or worth of each symbol in the game and how much each combination pays out.


Paylines are winning combinations of symbols displayed across the reels that pay out after each spin. 

Return-to-player (RTP)

The return-to-player (RTP) rate is a sobering statistic to remind you that slots, like every other casino game, favour the house. RTP simply tells you what that advantage looks like. For example, if the RTP rate of a particular game is 95%, then you are likely to win £9,50 for every £10 wagered. 


Wild symbols are like wild cards in card games. They can be used as a substitute for other symbols to create a winning combination. In slots, wilds are often automated to act as substitutes that convert combinations into the highest-paying combination.


Scatter symbols are different to ordinary symbols in that they need not appear in a line to trigger a win. They are most often used to trigger a bonus or feature, although in some instances they can form part of a payline. 


Found mostly in bonus rounds and free spins, multipliers multiply the value of the payline by the factor represented on the symbol. Some multipliers can increase winnings up to 10 times. Some multipliers may even increase the value of your bet. 


Jackpots are basically the biggest prize you can win on any particular machine if you hit the right payline.

Bonus rounds and special features

Bonus rounds and special features are often hidden inside games and can be triggered in the normal course of play by landing on specific combinations that include bonus symbols. Bonus rounds and special features include free spins, mini-games and numerous other options. 

How to play slot machines for beginners

Now that you’re acquainted with the basic terminology, here’s a quick guide on how to play. 

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1. Choose a slot

Go to your favourite online casino and select an online slot machine on your computer or mobile device. On the screen you will see the reels and your bankroll, which you would have had to top up earlier. 

2. Check the paytable

Paytables show you the value of each symbol and the value of winning combinations. Use this to help you decide which paylines to choose when you place your bets.

3. Decide on your bet

Look at the number of paylines available and decide how much you would like to bet on each one. 

4. Spin the reels

Click “spin” to spin the reels and wait to see how much you’ve won. There are also options to select maximum bets on each spin and autoplay to make repetitive spins simpler. Look out for options to cap the number of spins as well as cut-offs to protect your bankroll.

Different types of slots

Like their real-world cousins, online slots come in various guises. Here are some of the most common types available. 

Three-reel slots

This is the most recognised slot machine and conjures up memories of arcades and images of casinos. They have three reels or three rows of symbols (there’s always a cherry in there somewhere!), and one payline in the centre row. The paytable shows a list of winning combinations once the reels have been spun. 

Five–reel slots

Synonymous with online slots, the five-reel machine (sometimes referred to as video slots), still offers one payline but more combinations and higher jackpots. 

Multiple payline slots

As the name suggests, these slots increase your betting options by increasing the number of paylines. This also increases your odds of winning. 

Progressive slots

These are really juicy. Every bet made accumulates to the jackpot until one lucky player takes the lot. Lower odds of winning but high rewards if you’re prepared to hang in there and bide your time. 

Bonus slots

These are slot games that hide bonuses and features within normal gameplay. These bonuses are triggered randomly and can include mini-slot games, multiplier symbols that increase your winnings, and even a completely different game such as poker in the middle of a slot game. 

Winning slots strategies and tips for beginners

Now that we’ve covered the basics, it’s a good idea to move on to some tried and tested strategies to limit losses and optimise the potential to win. Here are a few tips on how to play to win. 

Choose the right slot machine

Remember the RTP rate mentioned earlier? Before you start playing, check the RTP rate of the machines you are considering playing and select the one with the highest rate. 

Play demos first

It’s always best to practise without risk before you commit cash to the game. Register at The Phone Casino and try out a demo to get the hang of playing and test some of the tips we gave you here.

Stay within budget

This is a loss limitation tip. Set a budget for your session and stick to it. Don’t go into tilt (the impulse to keep playing to make up for losses.) Once you’ve spent your budget for the day/session, cash out. Don’t spend your winnings and manage your bankroll accordingly. 

Play the odds with smaller jackpots

Look for games with smaller jackpots. They tend to pay out more regularly. Yes, they lack the thrill of chasing the big progressive jackpots, but the odds of winning are higher given the smaller payouts. 


This is another loss limiting strategy with a twist. Up-the-steps refers to increasing the size of your wager on the next spin if you win. However, as soon as you lose, you go back to your minimum bet. That way you optimise on a winning streak but quickly revert to minimum after a loss. 

Progressive slots

Progressive slots are the games of dreams. Much like the lottery, everyone aims to win this one and as a result, the jackpot can skyrocket as every hopeful tries to win it, rapidly increasing the jackpot with every spin. If you want to win big and don’t mind losing in pursuit of the big prize, then this is the one for you. Of course, as with any game, watch your bankroll and don’t spend money you can’t afford to lose. 

Prime the pump

This is one to avoid. It is based on the fallacy that you are always due a win after a losing streak. Promoters of this strategy encourage beginners to increase their bets with every spin so that when the “win” does arrive it will be for a higher wager and therefore yield a higher return. This is usually to get novices to inflate progressive slots early on for a bigger jackpot later. 

Win at slots with The Phone Casino

Try your hand at online slots in the UK with The Phone Casino and get 100 free spins every day, with no deposit required. 

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