Online Pokies

Online pokies make up a large portion of online casino offers because they are the most popular for gamblers all over the world. Australian casino goers have a passion for all kinds of pokies, especially modern five-reel games with lots of features and extremely high payouts. The world of pokies is unlimited and ever expanding as pokie vendors continually release new games that come to online casinos and find their loyal fans.

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How do online pokies work?

Imagine a one-armed bandit with a metal lever on the side that is pulled to rotate the mechanical reels. These gaming devices are widely used at land-based casinos and attract millions of casino visitors. A video pokie almost replicates the appearance and key elements of a mechanical slot machine, allowing users to operate the game via a digital interface on a computer screen or mobile phone. Every pokie has a set of columns (normally, 3 or 5, with rare exceptions), which are traditionally called “reels”.

Reels are not seen entirely on the screen; instead, only three symbols are visible on each reel, while the others are “hidden” below and above the screen edges. This configuration with 5 reels and 3 symbols on each is known as a typical 5-reel pokie. By the way, the term “pokie” is used in Australia, New Zealand and some other countries to denote what is usually called an “online slot” in many other countries worldwide.

The central element of any online pokie is a random number generator (RNG) that determines which symbols appear on the reels and how often they create winning combinations. An RNG is a software component that is subject to mandatory checks by relevant bodies that control and enforce gambling regulations.

Every online pokie has a paytable that shows all available combinations of symbols that will bring you a win after the reels stop. Usually, each combination consists of three (sometimes, two) matched symbols, and the maximum number of identical symbols in a combination is 5. There are some exceptions that involve the use of special symbols (scatters, wilds and other bonus symbols) – in this case, wins are assigned and calculated a bit differently.

To play pokies online, an Australian user needs to find a reliable online casino with quick payouts and credible history in the gambling industry. Here, on this website, you will see a selection of the best online casinos as of today. The top list is being revised and updated on an ongoing basis to ensure Aussies play only at go-to gambling venues.

Types of pokies

There is no universal classification to cover all possible features and variations that pokies have. One can group pokies only by the number of reels and lines, saying that a pokie has, for example, 5 reels and 30 paylines. When playing pokies online, you will notice that each pokie has its own set of bonus features such as a pick-to-win bonus game, a floating wild symbol, a gamble feature or any other mix of bonuses. That said, any single pokie can be grouped according to various criteria: number of reels and paylines, availability of bonuses and special symbols, progressive jackpot (yes/no), pokie vendor, pokie volatility, bet sizes, and so on. Let’s review the most commonly encountered types of pokies.

5-reel pokies

Pokies equipped with five columns (reels) of symbols are the most popular type of pokies, for they have many exciting features and bonus rounds. Pokies with five reels are produced with stunning graphics, nice animations and enticing sound effects, all aimed at keeping players at the edge of their seats for longer. Pokies with five reels tend to have at least 9 paylines and a normal configuration of reels is 5×3 (five reels over three rows). Games designed with 5 reels are usually designed with two special symbols (a wild and scatter) and there are many games with more special symbols that take the player to a bonus feature. If playing for real money, an online casino user can win five-figure amounts of cash.

Classic 3-reel pokies

Originally, all pokies had 3 reels like the first mechanical slot machine. In the course of time, software developers began to release three-reel pokies for online casinos as there are many gamblers who like classic solutions, which are simple, straightforward and unpretentious. Symbols usually consist of fruit, dollar signs, golden bells, sevens and other typical images that used to be found in retro slot machines. Classic three-reel pokies do not have many bonus features, if at all, and the most widely spread feature is a wild symbol. Some varieties are known as AWP pokies (abbreviated from “Amusement With Pleasure”), which were produced in Great Britain and have lots of interesting features such as Holds, Shifta, various kinds of Nudges, and so on. Though simple, 3-reel pokies appeal to many gamblers of Australia who love retro-styled gaming experience.

Progressive online pokies

Most 5-reel and 3-reel pokies on the market are non-progressive for they have fixed amounts of prizes, which usually reach into thousands of dollars. Progressive pokies feature progressive jackpots that accumulate gradually until a lucky player hits it. A progressive jackpot usually begins to grow from a pre-set amount, which is different across the games. For example, the starting value of the Mega jackpot in the legendary Mega Moolah pokie is $1 million. In progressive pokies, there is often the minimum bet requirement that the player must meet in order to be eligible for a jackpot. Progressive prizes are won when the player gets a needed combination of symbols or triggers a bonus game that will lead to a jackpot. Sometimes, a progressive jackpot is awarded at random, regardless of what is happening on the reels. Progressive online pokies, which are also available on mobile devices, have the potential to change your life for good if luck is on your side.

No-payline pokies

Paylines are straight or zigzag patterns running across the reels, on which symbols must land in order to create a winning combination. A pokie may have one to several dozens of paylines and each must be activated by a bet. The player can choose not to activate the whole set of paylines, thus betting less on each particular spin, but doing this the player reduces his chances for a win. Anyway, there is a group of no-payline pokies, in which winning combos are calculated in a different manner; whenever at least three like symbols occur left to right, beginning at reel 1, you get a win and the position of these symbols on each reel is of no importance. No-payline pokies have advantages and drawbacks but an undeniable advantage is that they pay out very often as there are at least 243 possible ways to form a combination on each spin.

Bonus features

Most five-reel pokies boast of numerous bonus features that add profits to your gaming. The most common types of bonus features are wild and scatter symbols. Wild symbols can replace other pictures and act as jokers in card games. Scatters count in any position and they do not need to appear on a payline to count toward a winning combination. Other bonus features are mini bonus games that open on a new screen and offer the player to:

  • Pick items one by one and win prizes revealed by these items
  • Pick only one item and see the cash prize
  • Pick items and unlock new bonus levels with bigger money awards.

Some pokie developers including Bally, Betsoft and Aristocrat are very creative when it comes to designing bonus games. Special features and bonus extras are mainly available in 5-reel pokies. Make sure you play for real money if you want to earn real credits in bonus features and regular gameplay.

Bet sizes in online pokies

Gamblers of Australia lean toward different bet amounts, starting at a few cents per spin and going up to hundreds of dollars. Both high-rollers and those who pinch pennies will find scores of pokies that fit their budget. In most instances, a payline takes the minimum of $0.01, so the number of paylines in a pokie usually coincides with the lowest stake (in cents) it accepts. The maximum bet in a pokie depends on built-in settings and is somewhere around $100 per spin. Some slots online have a very high bet that exceeds $500. It bears mentioning that a gambler can play in different currencies (USD, EUR, AUD, bitcoin, etc.) depending on personal settings.

Low and high variance pokies

The term “variance”, or volatility, applied to online pokies determines the theoretical frequency of having big wins in a particular game. The lower the probability of hitting a big money prize, the lower is the pokie variance. Low-variance games are prone to long winning streaks with small and medium-sized wins, while high-variance online pokies are designed to pay out rarely but in bigger amounts. If you want to extend your budget for as long as possible, choose low-volatile pokies but remember that you will hardly get very big winnings. On the contrary, high-volatile games can multiply your stake by 500 times but you will have to wait long until this happens.