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Pokie Features

The days of pokies that only featured a few reels and one payline on which to match a handful of different symbols are long gone. Today’s poker machines are all about providing players with as many features as possible, from customizing the way you play a machine to giving you bonuses and special rounds during gameplay. Here’s a rundown of some of the more common features you’ll want to look out for when playing online pokies.

Poker Machine Basics

The features we talk about in this category aren’t added bonuses, but are simply part of how a poker machine works. Understanding how these various features affect gameplay is important before you start playing real money pokies!

  • Paylines: These are the lines on which winning combinations can be made. Some games offer only a single payline, but other feature dozens or even hundreds.
  • Ways to Win: Every pokie will present you with various ways to win, with the most typical way being by paying to play on paylines and then making winning combinations on those lines. However, some games offer even more ways to win, someone allowing any possible left-to-right combination to count in the player’s favour!
  • Coins: On poker machines, players use “coins” to choose how many bets they will make on each payline. These coins can be of any denomination, sometimes costing as little as a penny each, or as much as several dollars or more.
  • Volatility: Not all machines offer the same kind of experience when it comes to how winnings are distributed. Volatility refers to how steady wins come on a machine and how much risk there is to the player: a high volatility pokie will tend to give fewer wins but pay out bigger when it does hit, while less volatile machines pay out more consistently, but don’t have as many big prizes.
  • RTP: The return to player tells you how much a machine expects to pay out on average over the long run, including all jackpots and bonus features. This is usually expressed as a percentage: for instance, a machine with a 90 percent RTP will give back $0.90 of every dollar spent on it over the long run, with the other ten cents being how the casino makes its profit from the machine.

Wild Symbols

One of the classic bonus features that any pokies fan will be familiar with is the wild symbol. These symbols substitute for any other symbol on a poker machine, making it much easier to form winning combinations. Often, hitting a group of wild symbols will lead to even bigger prizes!

These days, however, there are many variations on the classic wild symbol. A few of the more common ones include:

  • Expanding Wilds: These symbols appear normal at first, but can grow to cover an entire reel, potentially helping you to score numerous wins on the same spin.
  • Stacked Wilds: Stacked wilds appear next to each other on the reels in groups of two, three, or more. This means that they often hit together, sometimes leading to massive wins.
  • Sticky Wilds: A sticky wild is one that stays in place for your next spin (or some number of spins). These can come from other bonus features, and some select games (like Betsoft’s Mamma Mia!) allow you to pay to place sticky wilds on the reels at any time.
  • Shifting Wilds: Shifting wilds are very similar to sticky wilds, in that they will stay on the reels for multiple spins. However, rather than staying in one space, they will move around the reels, taking different positions throughout the feature.
  • Cascading Reels: Cascading reels are usually part of a cascading symbols feature, in which winning symbols fall off of the reels after scoring a win, allowing new symbols to take their place (and potentially creating even more wins for you). However, some games do this while allowing wilds to stay on the screen, making this feature even more lucrative than normal.

Other Symbols

Several other symbols can also appear on the reels, each of which has a special effect:

  • Scatter Symbols: Scatter symbols can score wins regardless of where they appear on the reels during gameplay. All that matters is the total number of scatter symbols on the reels.
  • Multiplier Symbols: Multiplier symbols have a simple but important function: they multiply the amount you win on a given spin or payline. That means you might win double, triple, or five times as much as normal just for having one of these symbols as part of a winning combination.
  • Split Symbols: Split symbols are generally found on IGT pokies, and allow for more symbols to fit on a machine than normal. These special symbols actually count as two separate symbols even though they appear on one reel, making it easier to score some huge wins if they sit in the right spots.

Other Features

There are an almost endless number of potential features you might find on an online poker machine. However, some are rather common and worthy of note, as they appear on a large number of pokies at many different casino sites. These are a few of the most important features you might encounter:

  • Free Spins: Free spins are exactly what they sound like—free chances to score wins, usually awarded for hitting a special combination of symbols that triggers these free rounds. In some cases, you may even be able to re-trigger free spins during the bonus feature (giving you a potentially endless number of free spins), and the free spins often come with multipliers or other advantages for players.
  • Bonus Games: There are a ton of different bonus games that can be triggered on poker machines, ranging from simple ones (like the free spins we just mentioned) to devilishly complex second screen bonus rounds on video pokies. These bonus rounds often give players big prizes, but also serve to add more variety to the gameplay beyond spinning the reels over and over again.
  • Gamble Features: Gamble features are typically seen after winning spins. These games allow you to take a shot at multiplying your winnings by playing a simple game, one that is almost always a fair bet. For instance, you might have to guess whether a random card from a deck will be red or black to double your money, or quadruple your winnings if you can guess the suit. However, guessing wrong will mean that you that you lose everything you’ve won on that spin.
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