It is no secret that online pokies are by far the most popular casino game played at online casinos around the world. The demand for fresh and innovative content has made this segment of the market the most contested of them all. New technology and exciting features make their way onto the market all the time to up the ante of games provided in the pokie category.
There are thousands of games on the market covering hundreds of different themes, each produced by a list of game providers sold out to keep the edge in the market.
Some of the biggest influencers in this gaming segment for Kiwis include names like NetEnt, Microgaming, Play’n GO, Playtech, Red Tiger, IGT, Big Time Gaming, Thunderkick, and many more.
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What Makes Pokies Special?
Pokies are video game based, just like many of the favourite computer games you played when you were growing up. As technology has advanced, the gaming possibilities have also increased, making pokies some of the most advanced casino games available.
Below are a few things that make pokies unique and special:
- Luck Alone: Because they are essentially video slot machines, the games cannot be hosted by live dealers. Game providers, therefore, manage all the outcomes of these games by way of specialised software called a Random Number Generator (RNG). The RNG ensures that there is no bias when the reels roll. These RNGs are regularly tested by independent auditors to make sure that they are working well. This means that all game outcomes are completely random and fair. No outcome can be predicted which means that your wins are based on the luck of the draw.
- Reels: Winning combinations are provided by online pokies when matching symbols line up across a set of rolling reels. In the pokie market, games can come with many numbers of reels, ranging anywhere from 3 reels to 8, with rows of symbols on each reel mounting to 8 in height. The most popular reel formats these days are 5x3 or 3x3 in size.
- Paylines: Paylines are exclusive to pokies. They are predetermined patterns that are configured into a game that determine where matching symbols may land to qualify as a valid combination. Games can have anywhere from 1 pay line up to 100 fixed pay lines. These can be viewed in the info section of the game. Combos are only valid if they fall on a valid pay line. There are exceptions though. ‘’All ways pay’’ and ‘’Megaways’’ slots use a different pay mechanic and can offer hundreds to thousands of different pay ways. Here, matching symbols merely have to land on adjacent reels to one another to form wins.
- High-Stakes Wagering: Due to the high-risk element involved in playing a casino game where skill does not determine the outcome, all pokie betting is considered high stakes. The rewards and jackpots paid on pokies are far greater than those paid out on most other casino games.
- Bonus Features: Pokies are often made with exciting bonus features. The thrill comes in when you try and unlock these features for more exciting rewards. As innovation has grown, the types of features available in games have evolved.
The list of exclusive perks of pokies is a long one, and as you play, you will become more and more aware of the unique characteristics of these titles.
Types of Online Pokies
With such a magnitude of pokie game titles, it is only natural that the industry categorises them into various genres or styles. While there are many sub-genres, the main styles of pokies available on the market include:
- Video Pokies: This is the most popular pokie variant today. They are pokies with a modern touch. The graphics and sounds are engaging and generally theme-based. Video slots usually have 5 or more reels with 10 paylines or more.
- Jackpot Pokies: These games boast either set or progressive jackpots on the screen which can be won by triggering a bonus jackpot game. The rewards are usually far higher than those offered by standard pokies. Progressive jackpot games, like Mega Moolah (Microgaming) or Mega Fortune (NetEnt) have jackpots that keep climbing. As players contribute wagers towards these games across the international jackpot network, a percentage of the wager goes towards the jackpot prize. This means that the longer the jackpot isn’t won, the more it grows in value.
- Vegas Pokies: Vegas pokies are either classic or video pokies that have been made famous on Las Vegas casino floors. Games from providers like IGT, Aristocrat, Barcrest, Novamatic, and more often started on the casino floors and were later developed for the online casino market. These games remain popular as players are now able to play their favourite casino games on either their desktop or mobile devices.
- Classic Pokies: Classic Pokies are the name given to the games that present classic/vintage symbols and game styling. These are quite easily identified, as they are often played over 3 reels and incorporate fruit symbols or other classic icons like Red Sevens, Bars, Bells, Stars, and the like. While traditional classic pokies used to be mechanical, online machines are virtually rendered in a video game-like fashion.
The above is not an exhaustive list of game styles but represents the main categories. Oftentimes, the above genres will mix to provide hybrid game styles. These are often the most alluring options.
Popular Features of Online Pokies
Pokies are made popular thanks to all of the innovation that goes into making them exciting video games. The special features and bonuses that can be unlocked from the base game provide more entertainment and the chance for much better wins. While there is a tremendous number of special features involved in modern pokie games, here are some of the favourites:
- Wilds: A Wild symbol is a special icon that has the power to substitute for most of the other symbols in a game to help make up a combination win. These symbols can come in various forms and often with added multiplier abilities.
- Scatters: Scatters are symbols that pay without having to land on a specific pay line. They are also very often used to trigger bonus rounds.
- Free Spins: Probably the most sought-after special feature in the gambling market, free spins are just what they say there are. If you trigger a free spin bonus, you will be afforded a certain number of spins ‘on the house’. The chances of winning usually increase in a free spin round and game providers use this bonus as the perfect environment to add win multipliers, extra Wilds, and more to the game.
- Megaways™: Megaways is a fabulous new reel engine developed by Big Time Gaming that is now used by many game providers (under license). It is an ‘all ways pay’ feature where the player does not know from one spin to the next how many pay ways will be available. They can range from just a few hundred pay lines to over 117,000 ways to win.
- Cascading/Tumbling Reels: This feature is becoming far more popular. Once a winning combination is made, it will disappear off the screen, leaving a gap in the reels. Further symbols will usually fall from above to fill the spaces and afford you the chance of lining up new wins.
- Cluster Reels: Unlike pokies that land wins over pay lines, a cluster slot pays for symbols that link up in clusters either horizontally, vertically or both ways over the grid. New cluster slot games are often accompanied by a Cascading reel feature too.
Be sure to choose a game that has the right type of bonus to suit your wants and desires to make sure that your game experience is maximised.
Helping You Choose the Right Pokie
Selecting the right theme to suit your taste is an easy task. What becomes more challenging is selecting a title that plays out in accordance with your game style and budget. To do this correctly, you need to understand two terms – Variance and RTP. These terms come up frequently in in-game stats, but casual players may not know how to interpret them.
- Variance: This is the level of volatility the pokie provides when playing it. Volatility is the measure for the arc between winning streaks in a casino game. A highly volatile game will have longer uneventful times between win streaks, but the rewards will be much higher when they come. Low variance games pay out far more frequently, but the rewards are usually small. Medium variance games provide a balance of the two. While smaller wins happen more frequently, there is the potential to land bigger wins in the main feature
- RTP: This stands for Return to Player ratio. It represents the percentage of the wagers that will be paid back to players over the lifetime of the machine. The RTP gives you a good indication of whether a machine is likely to pay out or not. The industry average RTP is 96% on pokies.
By looking at the variance and RTP of a game you will be able to make out immediately if the game provides you with high-risk or low-risk play. Remember always that high-risk play comes with high reward potential and low-risk play with smaller rewards.
Play On the Go
Use the information you have learned on this page to choose the best mobile casino to suit your taste. While there is a tremendous array of popular casino games on the market, you can whittle them down easily if you know what you are looking for.
Be sure to load up all the latest attractions for play on either your desktop or mobile device. The latest HTML5 browser technology used by the leaders in the market ensures that you can play without much fuss instantly from your smartphone or tablet browser.
Choose a CasinoKiwi casino partner for your gaming escapade to make sure your time spent on the reels is as safe and fair as possible.