Traditional three reel slot machines are fairly simple to understand – you line up three symbols on a payline to win a set amount. Bonus features were gradually added to slots to offer extra entertainment and more ways to win, and modern video slots have taken bonus games to a new level.

With more reels and more paylines available, along with animations and video streaming, bonus games can be activated in a variety of different ways, and some are so complex that they are almost like a video game in their own right. A common way to launch a bonus round is landing two or more scatter symbols on a payline, but different games use various methods to trigger the bonus game.

Initiating a bonus round is usually a matter of luck – the symbols fall in the correct place – but once in the game, many require an element of skill to determine how much you will win. Some are multi-level games, while others can be re-triggered or combined with other features to provide even bigger wins. We’ve listed some of the most common types of bonus game below, and you can check the bonus on each individual machine by clicking on the ‘pay table’ icon on the gaming screen.

Free Spins

Free spins are one of the most common types of bonus game, and as the name suggests, the bonus round consists of a number of free spins. These will usually spin around the reels with the wins adding up, and the total at the end added to your bankroll.

Free spin rounds are often launched by landing one or more scatter symbols on the main reels, and many modern games lead you into the bonus round with video footage or animations related to the theme of the game. Some slot machines allow free spins to be re-triggered, and if you land more scatter symbols during the free spins round, you will be taken to a second successive bonus round.

Other games offer extra bonus features alongside a free spins round, where wilds and multipliers can increase the amount of winnings considerably. The Dark Knight Rises is a good example of this type of game, and when the bonus round is initiated, players are asked to choose between a Batman or Bane-themed bonus. The Batman theme features heat-seeking wilds and extra blast wilds, and provides a chance to win a six-in-row combination; while the Bane theme offers rolling reels with stacked wilds on reels 2 and 4.

Pick ‘em Bonus Games

The Pick ‘em or Pick to Win type of bonus game is relatively straightforward, and once initiated a player can select from a number of options on the screen to reveal prizes. These may take the form of treasure chests that each contains a different coin amount, for example. Winnings are accumulated and paid out at the end of the bonus round when all of the player’s picks are used up. Some Pick to Win games work slightly differently, in that they will enable a player to keep selecting boxes/icons until they uncover a ‘Game Over’ or ‘Collect Winnings’ sign, at which point the bonus round will end.

A similar bonus is the Pick and Match game, where players have to pick from a number of locations on the game screen to reveal symbols. The aim of the game is to uncover two matching symbols to get paid out at the corresponding amount. Again any wins are accumulated and paid out at the end of the game, and this one involves a little bit of skill as players will need to remember where certain symbols were hidden in order to match them. This type of game often gives players three ‘lives’, and after failing to match two symbols for the fourth time, the bonus game is over.

Spin the Wheel Bonus

Spin the wheel bonuses are very popular in bonus games, with the Wheel of Fortune slot a perfect example of this type of bonus. When the bonus round is launched (by landing three scatter symbols on a payline on the Wheel of Fortune slot) you are taken to a second screen which features the iconic wheel from the TV show. Around the wheel are various monetary prizes as well as jackpots, and winnings are added up with each spin. However, every time you spin more and more ‘Bankruptcy’ sections are added to the wheel, making it harder to hit the winners.

Many other slots have incorporated this type of bonus, despite having no links to the TV show, and it is a very popular type of bonus game amongst online slot players.

Progressive Jackpots

Some slot machines have also incorporated progressive jackpots into bonus rounds, and by playing the bonus, you will have a chance at winning the life-changing jackpot. Progressive jackpots are made up of money pooled from a network of several machines, and can run into millions of Euros.

Common bonus games that link to progressive jackpots are the Spin the Wheel type games and the Pick to Win type games, and winnings from the bonus round itself will be added to your bankroll if you don’t happen to land the big one.

If you want to find out more about features and bonuses feel free to read more of our guides, and if you’re ready to get online and start playing slots, don’t forget to check out our casino reviews, slots reviews, and pages covering the latest offers and promotions for new customers.