Understanding Slot Game Symbols

by Tim | Jul 07, 2022

Understanding Slot Game Symbols

A lot has changed since the inception of the first slot machine, and online slots are now a completely different ball game from the classic fruit machines that we know and love. Of course, the technology behind online slots is a huge change from those found on the casino floor. However, another big difference comes in the form of the symbols used.

While some slot machines online have the usual three rows with the cherry, BAR and 7 symbols, most have completely evolved, and you’ll find more rows and a whole bunch of different symbols. So even if you know the symbols used in brick-and-mortar slot machines, you may still be unsure of the symbols used in online casino slots. Let’s take a look at what to expect when you play free online slots or online slots for real money.

Online slot symbols

Most online casino slots have a variety of different symbols that are generally categorised into standard symbols, scatter symbols, wild symbols and bonus symbols. Each category has a unique role to play.

Standard symbols

Standard symbols are the basic type of symbols that you’ll come across in every type of slot game. These are the symbols that you need to try to match across paylines to get a winning combination. Almost all online games have playing-card icons – ace, king, queen and jack – as the least valuable symbols in the game. In casino-based games or really old-school, classic online games, the low-value symbols are usually represented by fruit symbols like cherries, lemons, grapes and oranges.

You’ll then find higher-value standard symbols. In classic games, these are usually represented by the BAR symbol. In more modern games, however, they are usually symbols that fit the theme of the game. For example, you’ll find a ship, parrot, cannon, treasure chest and other similar symbols in a pirate-themed online slot.

The common characteristic that standard symbols all have is that they don’t have any other function in the game except for paying out when you land a certain number of them on a payline. In most games, you’ll need to land three or more standard symbols to form a winning combination.

Wild symbols

A wild symbol and multiplier in an online slot game.

Wild symbols are popular in all the best slots online, and you’ll certainly come across them. The most common role that the symbol has is to replace other symbols in a winning combination. For example, if you had a queen on reels one and three and a wild symbol on reel two, the wild would turn into a queen to create a winning combination for you. In most games, the wild will only replace standard playing symbols and won’t substitute for symbols like the scatter.

There are even different types of wilds found across online slots, and you could land expanding wilds, multiplier wilds and much more. The expanding wilds will cover the whole reel, while multiplier wilds will increase the amount you win when it forms part of a winning combination. For example, if it is a 2x multiplier wild and forms part of a winning combination, the amount you would normally win from the standard symbols is doubled.

Scatter symbols

Scatter symbols are some of the most exciting in online slots, and they usually have two functions within a game. They can be represented like standard symbols, where matching a certain number of them on your reels will result in a paying winning combination.

In addition to a payout, scatter symbols normally trigger one of the game’s special features and bonus rounds. This usually comes in the form of some sort of free spin feature. In most games, three or more scatter symbols will trigger the special feature round, and the more scatters that are part of the combination, the more rewarding the round will be. For example, three scatter symbols could give you 10 free spins, four scatter symbols could give you 15 free spins, and five scatter symbols could trigger 50 free spins.

Bonus symbols

A bonus symbol screen from an online casino slots game.

Bonus symbols are less common than scatter and wild symbols, but they are certainly highly anticipated. These are the symbols that usually trigger some sort of bonus game within a slot game where the payouts can be massive.

In most cases, this symbol won’t pay out any money on its own by forming a winning combination. It is strictly there to trigger the special bonus game. In many games, this symbol can only appear on certain paylines, such as the second, third and fourth, and you’ll need to land all three in order to trigger the special bonus round.

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