How to play pokies

Find out everything you need to know about playing the pokies online at the best casinos on the web and why online play is the smarter choice.

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If you pull the arms down on old-time pokies, it’s easy to tell if you’re a winner or not. Most of them only have three reels, and it’s simply a matter of matching the same symbol on each of the three reels. The action is a mechanical one that requires no skill, and the results are completely random. No force or nuance of force affects the results. Whether you pull down hard on the lever or ease it down with the least amount of effort, the reels spin according to the mechanism inside the machine.

With video pokies, it is also a game of pure luck, and no particular approach gives you better odds than another, except for playing bonus rounds. Video pokies can be far more intimidating however because pokies have been updated since the old days of mechanical reels and matching symbols in one row across.

Now, you can play multiple winning lines, and matching symbols not only consists of lining up the same symbols according to a winning line, but can also include lining up a set of similar symbols that go together.

Winning lines

With modern video pokies, the symbols that are visible not only include one row, as is the case with older mechanical slots, but can have a screen that shows three or even five different horizontal rows. This allows a machine to designate different line shapes as winning lines. In this way a symbol on the first row and the first column to the left can match diagonally a symbol on the second row of the second column, third row in the third column, and so forth.

Lines do not have to be completely straight in these circumstances but can be jagged in various ways, forming different line shapes that stretch across the screen in myriad ways. Modern video pokies allow you to play multiple lines per spin when you pay extra credits.

Most pokies show the different winning lines as an additional part of the pay-table which shows how much matching a particular symbol pays out, or they may not show the different winning lines until you pay the number of credits to play that winning line, in which case it might stretch across the screen in a certain colour with a number beside it that indicates which winning line number it is.

In this way, it is possible to win in multiple ways at once for each spin. This can provide the illusion that you are constantly winning, even if the winning lines you hit pay out fewer credits than you are purchasing at a time to play the multiple lines. All this winning creates a sense of euphoria that many players refer to as the “zone,” which is often the appeal of playing such a game.

Bonus levels

Frequently pokies employ a certain combination of symbols that if matched trigger a bonus round. Bonus rounds kick in after a win and jump to a screen that often features a chance to win double your win if you choose correctly or nothing if you choose incorrectly. Another variation is pick one of four options in order win quadruple your initial win.

These bonus rounds typically offer your best odds of winning, at least initially. For example, the double or nothing bonus gives you a 1 in 2 shot to win, which is a 50% shot initially. Hit this continuously in a row and you can multiply your winnings astronomically in a short period of time. However one moment of failure and all that winning is gone. In order to win several 50-50 shots in a row requires additional luck because your chances decrease. To be clear, each bonus round remains a 50% chance, but the odds of getting the correct answer multiple times in a row without any error increases exponentially with each round.

What is the appeal in playing pokies?

People gravitate to the pokies for many reasons. Since it requires no skill to win or lose at pokies, players can relax and unwind while playing without having to think at all.

Pokies take advantage of a human being’s predilection for pattern making. When our minds find new patterns, we experience slight moments of joy. Pokies feed us these small moments of joy in continuous bite-sized portions so that we feel as if we’re winning constantly.

Ironically, these small wins may not match the bigger losses we are steadily taking. When players get into a zone, they often forget everything else: the problems of the day, the need to eat or drink something, their own weariness. Even though players don’t feel these realities while in the zone, these still exist. People play pokies and become addicted to them because they are chasing the small moments of euphoria the games keep feeding them.

Gamble responsibly

This is not to discourage people against playing pokies. Pokies are a fun way to pass the time and sometimes they can even win you some money. However, if winning money is your goal, pokies are not the best casino game to get there. You are better off developing a good poker or blackjack game.

Having fun and hitting that gaming zone are more reliable reasons to play pokies, but since euphoric zones can be detrimental to our judgement, it’s a good idea to take the following precautions:

  • Don’t chase your losses, and budget your wins and losses – Play for only what you can afford to lose and play only until you’ve won a predetermined amount and then quit for that session. Browse our article about bankroll tips for some guidelines on how to manage your cash.
  • Manage your time – Only play pokies for two hours or less at a time, and divide that time up into a few breaks.
  • Never gamble when you are depressed or angry – It may make your problems feel as if they’ve disappeared, but they always come back until you solve them. Adding gambling debts to existing problems moves you further in the wrong direction.

Take these precautions and playing the pokies is a step forward to entertaining times that occasionally pay you back. If you feel like you’re pokies habits are getting out of control, read our guide to quitting the pokies.