How To Play Pokies: Full Guide | LeoVegas NZ

How to Play Pokies: Complete Guide


Pokies are the most classic gambling experience out there and one of the simplest as well. In the most standard form, the player wagers a set amount of money and then spins several reels. If they get a winning combination, they receive the payout based on the pokie games paytable.

Slots work by using Random Number Generators (RNG), ensuring random results each time thus minimizing repetitive patterns. Return To Player (RTP) indicates the average player return over many spins, with most falling between 92% and 97%. However, RTP serves as a game-to-game comparison, not a promise.

All slot games have similar basic mechanics involving symbols. Some including special ones like wilds and scatters, reels with varying layouts, and paylines determining winning combinations. Megaways games discard traditional paylines, introducing dynamic symbol counts per row.

Bonus features in pokies include Free Spins with added benefits, Respins triggered randomly or in specific scenarios, Bonus Rounds with higher payouts and unique mechanics, and Jackpots, either fixed or progressive, shared among players. Additional game features include quick spin and auto-spin modes for a faster and automated gaming experience.

Table of Contents


How to Play Pokie Machines: Step by Step

Once you've found a pokie machine you want to play on, these are the recommended steps to get started

  • In most cases, you'll have the option to play the game in demo mode for free to try it out. This is always a good first move.
  • Once you have a game you want to play for real, you'll need to make an account at LeoVegas Casino and get verified.
  • Once your account is verified, you then need to deposit so that you have funds to play with.
  • After that's done, just load up the game, set the wager and let the reels spin.

How do Pokie Machines Work?

Pokies are the most classic gambling experience out there and one of the simplest as well. In the most standard form, the player wagers a set amount of money and then spins several reels. The results depend on the exact game you're playing, but in general, the more matching symbols that match up on one of the paylines, the bigger the win will be.

Beyond the basic game, most modern slot machines will have special features, a theme behind the design, and bonus modes to separate themselves from the others. They also vary heavily in structure and mechanics. Thanks to this, it's best to take the information here as an average more than correct for every different game.

Random Number Generator (RNG) in Online Pokies

All online pokies use a Random Number Generator, or RNG, to output the results. This means that every result is random, no matter what mechanics, features or structures they use. Each result is independent of the previous ones, so there aren't any patterns to any of the results. This also means that there is never any guarantee of a win or any real strategies for playing pokies.

RTP in Online Pokies

All online casino games have a statistic called RTP, or Return To Player, which is an average of how much a player can expect to get back from a playing session. These statistics are calculated over a huge number of spins, often around 10,000, to find an overall average based on the mathematical formulas behind the game.

To demonstrate, take a common RTP of 96%. That means that, over enough spins, a player could expect on average to get back 96% of the wagers they put into the game. In that case, a player starting with $1,000 would expect to finish their session with $960. Many veteran players will base their choice of online pokie on how high the RTP is, although most sit in the range between 92% and 97%.

As stated earlier though, there is no guarantee of any wins on the pokies, and over 100 spins it would be entirely possible, although unlikely, to get 100 wins or 100 losses. The fewer spins you make, the less accurate the RTP will usually become. For that reason, RTP should be only used as a comparison between different pokie games and not as any kind of promise on returns.

Basic Mechanics of Online Pokies


Regardless of what they look like, all of the images and shapes that appear on the reels of a pokie are called symbols. Depending on the game's theme, these could be faces, animals, or items, although some are common across many games. The most common to see on most pokies are the four playing card symbols i.e. hearts, spades, clubs and diamonds, as well as the high-value card symbols from 10 to Ace.

Many pokies also still use the classic symbols as well, such as the bells, BAR symbols and cherries, although these fruit machine symbols are less common than they once were.

There also some special symbols like wilds and scatters that can enhance the gameplay adding new features - replace low-paying symbols with higher paying ones, filling the bonus meter or triggering free spins or bonus rounds.


A standard pokie will come with a built-in number of reels full of all the symbols in the game. Apart from symbols in poker machines themselves, this is where many pokies differ in their design.

The most common layout in online pokies is five reels and either three or four rows, but there are games out there that only have three reels, and then some which have eight or occasionally more.

A lot of pokies also feature growing numbers of reels and rows through special events or bonus games, and some don't even have the same number of rows for each reel and look more like a diamond.

There are a small number of cases as well where the reels are horizontal instead of vertical, although they work the same way.


A payline is a usually invisible line drawn across the reels in a particular pattern, and matching symbols that land on these lines will get a win. This is one of the more confusing aspects for new pokie players, as many can see five symbols in a straight line across the board but do not understand why it doesn't pay out.

As a rule of thumb, the more reels and rows a slot has, the higher the number maximum amount of paylines it will have. There are also single payline online games as well as multiple pay lines pokies. Standard numbers for more simple pokies would be between 10 and 15 paylines, although some go into the hundreds.

For the most paylines in a game, you should look for the name Megaways in the title. The Megaways system effectively removes the traditional paylines, with any symbols in consecutive reels now counting towards wins, often including an extra horizontal reel as well.

Thanks to these games also randomising the number of symbols on each row on game screen after every spin, the number of paylines can go from under 100 to over 100,000.

Bonus Features in Online Pokies

Free Spins

Free spins, also known as bonus spins, usually come from a special mode in an online pokie that can happen on any spin. Unlike regular spins, these do not need a wager for every spin, but instead, take the wager value that triggered it for the whole feature.

These are the biggest parts of many pokies and often come with several special extras, such as more wilds, giant symbols, multipliers or sometimes straight cash wins.

The number of spins is usually either set at the start of the bonus feature or uses a random wheel to decide. It is also common to get what is called a 'retrigger', which means activating the bonus again while you're still in the first set, most often granting you extra free spins.

This is the most standard version, however, and in practice, these modes often have extremely unusual mechanics behind them, like spinning until you lose three times in a row, or altering the basic reels entirely with different symbol combinations.


The most common time to see respins is on a losing spin, where some pokies will randomly trigger a respin, keeping the good symbols on the board and then start spinning all the rest again for no extra wager. Some will also do this specifically when the player gets, for instance, two out of three bonus symbols needed for free spins.

Some pokies also include respins within the free play mode that spins themselves either as a random special power or part of the game itself as a form of help for the player.

Bonus Rounds

Bonus Rounds are either played on top of the base game or can also come in the form of a completely new set of reels. They usually have a higher payout and some specific mechanics, such as wild symbols, additional winning combinations, and other various bonus game features. Players can also go straight to the bonus round with the bonus buy feature available in some online slots.


Jackpots in pokies come in two forms: fixed and progressive. A fixed jackpot is a rare but extremely high-paying result that always gives the same amount, and usually involves going through multiple bonus stages to reach. They usually have some combination of mini, minor, major and grand jackpots at different tiers.

Progressive jackpots are roughly the same idea, except that these jackpots are linked between all active players at the same time, and increase with the more bets there are on the game. A single progressive jackpot can be shared across multiple titles from the same developer as well.

Other features

On the game side, there are two key features to look for. The first is a quick spin or turbo spin mode, which makes the results come in much faster. The other is the auto-spin or auto-play feature, which allows you to set the number of spins you want to make, and then have the game run through that many without you needing to manually operate it.

Pokies FAQ

Is it easy to play online pokies?

As casino games go, pokies are probably the simplest casino games ever to play online as they don't require any real strategy or extra knowledge to play. It also helps that they are the most common kind of casino game out there.

How are land-based pokies different from online pokies?

Many of the online pokies games you'll find also have land-based versions, and the only real difference is that online pokies are much more convenient. They can be played anywhere at any time, even on the move on a smartphone.

How do you play online pokies on a mobile device?

All modern online pokies are designed for mobile play first, so just load it up as normal on your smartphone browser to play online pokies.

What is the maximum bet in online pokies?

The maximum bet amount is different for each pokie game, however, in general, players can bet up to $100 per spin.

Is playing pokies better than live casino games?

Playing online pokies is certainly easier than live games.

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