Pokies, Australian slang for poker gaming machines, also known as the slots or fruit machines in other parts of the world, are an incredibly popular form of gambling, and with over 20% of the world’s gaming machines located in Australia, and countless dedicated online pokie sites, it is easy to understand why they are such a well-liked game down-under.
Australian-style pokies use video displays to simulate physical reels, with added graphics such as flashy symbols, animated mascots and energetic sound effects to make them thoroughly entertaining. The most popular variety of pokies are five-reel, multi-line games which incorporate bonus levels, free games and free spins, in addition to the standard payouts. There is a vast selection of pokies available in land-based casinos and online websites. However, it can be difficult to determine which format of pokies best suits you, given there is an almost overwhelming choice available.
To make things easy, we have compiled a detailed list of the most popular types of poker machines and all of the necessary facts to get you started.
Basic Categories Of Pokies
3-Reel Pokies: Also known as Classic Pokies, 3-reel pokies are modelled on the first wave of traditional, mechanical gaming machines from over a hundred years ago. The majority of 3-reel land-based and online pokies offer three reels and one pay-line, with six to 12 winning combinations. However, there are also 3-reel games which have three or five pay-lines and popular features which have become staples in Australian pokies, such as multipliers, bonus levels, and wild symbols.
While their exterior and interface resembles the old-fashioned machines they take aesthetic inspiration from, the internal format is computerised and up-to-date with the latest technology to make it completely interactive.
5-Reel Pokies: Also known as Video Poker Machines, 5-reel pokies are the streamlined counterparts of 3-reel machines. They are essentially graphical representations of the traditional slot machine, and incorporate ambient sound effects, multipliers and special features with extra ways to win.
5-reel games have at least five pay-lines, and symbols can appear anywhere on the screen and will pay as long as there is one in each reel (rather than having to be next to each other to win). There are many games, however, that still require the symbols to appear left to right to win.
Pokies with the 5-reel line format incorporate a common symbol layout of 3 x 5, 4 x 5 or 5 x 5. The games range from nine to 20 lines and also to the newer ‘ways’ style games which have up to 3125 ways to win. The majority of 5-reel games have a minimum bet of $0.01 which grants a significant amount of play for all types of players, even those with smaller gaming budgets. Larger bets and maximum wagers have a significantly higher chance of winning big, however.
243 Ways: The 243 ways format is arguably one of the most popular types of pokie games in Australia. Aristocrat and International Gaming Technology (IGT) first established the format with prominent offline slots Indian Dreaming, 5 Dragons and Wild Ways, which are now also widely available online.
With the 243 ways system, players pay one flat price and receive every possible winning combination. The name comes from the fact that there are five reels and three positions on each reel, which makes 243 possible winning combinations. 243 ways games are also called Reel Power and Multiway by Aristocrat and IGT respectively, to differentiate their unique game machine libraries.
A 243 ways slot can be confusing for first-time players; instead of bets on individual lines, all that is needed is a bet that covers all possible combinations. You don’t need to line up any of the symbols to win in a 243 ways game – you simply need three or more of the same symbol on a line, aligned left to right, to win.
MegaSpin Pokies: MegaSpin pokies are online slot machines which offer us the option to play multiple games at the same time, increasing our chances to win big. Up to nine MegaSpin pokie games can be played simultaneously, so if you prefer to multi-task while playing the pokies, this is your best bet.
Each of the MegaSpin pokies games spin independently from the others and games include Double Magic, High 5, Fantastic 7s Pokies and Major Millions. We are asked how many games we want to play before being shown all of the online machines at once, with a simple and clean design which makes it easy to understand and use. We can opt to play four, six or nine MegaSpin games at once, and like all other single-spin pokies, you choose your coin size and how much you want to wager before spinning the reels and hoping for a big payout.
Most MegaSpin slots have three reels and one pay-line, to keep things nice and simple for us across all four, six or nine machines.
Progressive Online Pokies: Progressive online slot games are pokies with constantly increasing jackpots – attractive incentives for all players, especially those with bigger bankrolls. Essentially, these games begin with a big jackpot which gradually grows, represented visually by a jackpot meter which measures the progress of the jackpot.
Online progressive pokies are available with the 3-reel, 5-reel and MegaSpin varieties, and offer payouts of thousands and even millions of dollars. The jackpots are funded by the players themselves: a small percentage of every bet made in progressive games goes towards the total prize pool and every time a player fails to win, the jackpot increases until one lucky player claims it all!
There are two sub-types of progressive pokie games, and each machine has its own particular rules for playing:
1/ The first, most common subtype requires you to bet the maximum amount of coins for the gaming machine in question, in order to be eligible to win the progressive jackpot. The maximum bet varies from game to game, but it is usually within the reasonable $2 to $4 range. For example, in Major Millions, the maximum bet is $3.00.
2/ The second most common subtype allows the player to be eligible for the progressive jackpot regardless of much you’ve bet; for example, in Mega Moolah. However, the machine tailors your odds of winning directly based on how many coins you’ve played.
Regardless of the sub-type, how you are rewarded progressive jackpots can vary from pokie to pokie, and every individual pokie game has its own symbols on the reels which create different winning combinations.
- Some slots award progressive jackpots when a player acquires a certain combination of symbols on the right pay-line.
- Other pokies award the jackpot if a player triggers and wins a bonus round before getting the big cash prize.
- Some games (like Mega Moolah) trigger the jackpot chance randomly.