If you’re new to playing the pokies, you might be a little baffled by some of the nomenclature that goes along with this fun form of gambling. What is a low variance machine? What’s the difference between a progressive and a fixed jackpot? And what the heck do abbreviations like RTP and RNG stand for?
PokiesSite.com is here to help. Below we’ll cover all the key terms, slang words and in-house jargon that software developers and online casinos use to describe their games. Read on, expand your gambling vocabulary, and then check out our trusted real money casino sites above to put your newfound knowledge into action.
What’s the difference between online pokies and slot games?
Readers from Asia, Africa, Europe and the Americas might be a little confused as to what a pokie machine actually is. But there’s no big mystery, folks. ‘Pokies’ is simply the Australian slang term for poker machines, covering everything from classic three-reel games to advanced five-reel video slots.
So when we here at PS describe a title as a pokie or as a slot, we mean exactly the same thing either way.
Types of pokie games
1024 ways – An all-ways pokie game which offers 1024 possible winning combination on each spin. These titles always feature a 5 x 4 reel layout.
243 ways – More common than 1024-ways pokies games, these machines use a standard 5 x 3 reel system which gives you 243 ways to win on each turn.
Advanced slots – Pokies titles which come with lots of special features, including wilds, multipliers, scatter symbols and bonus rounds.
All ways wins – Rather than using standard paylines, some games award payouts for any left-to-right combination no matter where they fall on the reels – as per the 1024 and 243 ways pokies mentioned above.
Classic slot – An old-school game based on the original three-reel machines first developed in the late 19th century. In their truest form, classic pokies come with a single payline and no added feature symbols.
Fixed jackpot – When the main prize or the maximum possible haul is always the same amount, it is called a fixed or static jackpot.
Fruit machine – UK slang for a pokies machine, so called because they tend to feature traditional fruit symbols. Also known as a pub fruity.
Payline pokies – On most slot games, a combination only wins if it falls on an active payline. Also called win lines and bet lines, these can be straight horizontals, diagonal patterns, and any number of shapes and configurations. Some machines feature only a handful of fixed paylines, while others allow you to pick and choose how many you want to activate.
Progressive jackpot – Some games come with a prize pool which grows larger with every bet played, until it is won. Progressive pokies can be standalone games, or part of large networks where wagers from several different games contribute to one or more global jackpots.
Video pokies – Any game which uses a digital interfaces powered by a random number generator, rather than traditional mechanised reels.
Win both ways – Most pokies only award wins for combinations which start on the leftmost reel. But in games which pay both ways, you can also win with combos that begin on the rightmost reel and move to the left.
Betting and banking terminology
Bankroll – Gambling parlance for a punter’s betting budget. Your bankroll is the amount of money you have set aside especially for playing the pokies and/or any other casino games.
Bet limit – The range of bet sizes allowed on a slot machine, defined by the minimum bet and the maximum bet.
Coin size – The amount of money which represents a single credit. Most online slots offer several options, ranging from $0.01 up to $2 or more.
Credit – A single betting unit. The number of credits at your disposal depends on the coin size chosen.
High stakes – Some games come with more generous betting limits than others. At PokiesSite.com, we tend to consider any release which accepts bets over $100 per spin as a high-stakes pokie.
Maximum bet – The highest amount you can stake on a single spin, in terms of either coin credits or cash amount. The max bet varies from game to game.
Minimum bet – The smallest possible wager on any given pokie. Like the maximum stake, this figure can vary depending on the specific machine.
Symbols and special features
Bonus game – A special feature which can be activated either at random or by landing a specific sequence of symbols, depending on the game. Pokies bonus rounds can come in the form of free spins, random prizes, or the chance to win a big progressive jackpot.
Feature – Any symbol or gameplay option which performs a special function. These can include bonus games and jackpot rounds, as well as scatters, wilds and multiplier symbols.
Free spins – Many pokies give you the chance to play a certain number of turns which don’t require you to place a bet. Free spins bonuses are often activated by scatter symbols.
Multiplier – A special symbol which multiplies standard payouts by a certain amount (2x, 3x, et cetera). The most common forms are: fixed multipliers, where all spins (usually within a bonus game) are subject to the multiplier value; and wild multipliers, where any line wins which include a wild symbol pay double, triple, or more.
Scatter symbol – A pokies feature which pays from anywhere on the reels (i.e. it doesn’t need to fall on an active payline). It can also multiply wins by the total amount wagered, rather than the coin bet per line, and often awards free spins and bonus rounds when you hit three or more on a single spin.
Wild feature – A symbol which can substitute for any other symbol in the game to complete a combo, usually with the exception of scatter features. Wilds often double as multipliers.
Hit – Pokies jargon for completing any winning combination and earning a payout.
Hit frequency – A figure or percentage representing the probable number of paying spins versus the number of losing turns. The higher the hit frequency on any given machine, the more often it is expected to pay out.
Payout – The prize for hitting a winning combination. Depending on the game and the mode selected, payout amounts can be displayed either in credits or cash.
Pay table – The screen or graphic which shows the payouts for winning combos with each particular symbol, as well as the rules and requirements for any feature symbols, bonus rounds and jackpot games.
Random number generator (RNG) – The complex computer algorithm used in video pokies and online slots to randomly determine which symbols appear after each spin.
Return to player (RTP) – Also called payout percentage, this is the estimated rate at which a player will win back their total amount wagered in the long run. Most real money pokies online carry an RTP rate of well over 95 per cent.
Reel – The parts of a pokies machine upon which the symbols lie, and which spin around when you push the ‘Play’ button. Internet pokies use fully digital video reels, rather than the physical lever-operated mechanisms found in older slots.
Variance and volatility – Common terms for the risk-versus-reward factor on pokies games. Low variance slots offer smaller, more regular payouts than high volatility pokies, where the odds are longer but potential returns are much greater.