Online Pokies For The Absolute Beginner: Getting Started

May 11, 2024

Welcome to a realm where every click holds a new surprise and every spin is a step into a world of potential wins. Whether you’re well-versed in the vibrant landscape of online gaming or just dipping your toes into its thrilling waters, this guide is your trusty map through the exhilarating world of the best NZ online pokies.

From beginners to seasoned players, there’s always a new corner to explore in the ever-expanding universe of online pokies. So, let’s journey together and discover the exciting adventures that await!  

Understanding the Mechanics – How Online Pokies Work

Whether you’re here to relive memories of classic slot machines or exploring the digital spin for the first time, we’re here to unravel the mysteries and make things super simple for you.

The Basics: Spinning Reels and Symbols

Playing online pokies is all about spinning reels and trying to line up special symbols in winning ways, which we call paylines. Imagine them as virtual slot machines where you’re trying to get lucky symbols in a row to win.

Let’s Talk Symbols

1. Regular Symbols:

These are your basic symbols that tie in with the game’s theme and give you payouts when you line them up. In a game like “Book of Ra” from Novomatic, think of ancient Egyptian symbols like Sphinxes and Scarab Beetles that bring winnings and transport you into a world of pharaohs.

2. Wild Symbols:

Wilds are like the jokers in the deck. They can stand in for any other symbol to make winning easier. For instance, the Jungle Wild symbol in WMS’s “Jungle Wild” game acts as any other symbol, helping you get that winning line when you’re just one symbol short.

3. Scatter Symbols:

Scatters are indeed a delightful surprise in any pokie game, often unlocking bonus features and free spins. In a renowned game like “Gonzo’s Quest” by NetEnt, the Free Fall symbol takes the role of a scatter.

Gonzo's Quest Game Symbols |

When you land three of these symbols on a bet line, it triggers the Free Fall feature, opening the door to free spins and multipliers, thereby enhancing your adventure with Gonzo in the quest for El Dorado and potentially increasing your treasures!

Extra Bits: The Not-So-Common Symbols
  • Multipliers: These symbols, often wilds, boost your wins by a certain amount. Like in IGT’s “Cleopatra,” the Cleopatra symbol not only substitutes for other symbols but doubles your win when it does!
  • Sticky Wilds: As seen in “Dead or Alive” by NetEnt, these wilds stick around for a few spins, upping your chances of lining up those symbols in a winning way.
  • Expanding Symbols: In games like “Book of Dead” from Play’n GO, certain symbols stretch out to take over an entire reel during bonus rounds, giving you more chances to win big.
  • Cascading Reels: In a game like “Gonzo’s Quest” from NetEnt, winning symbols vanish and get replaced by new ones, allowing for a chain of wins from a single spin.

Knowing what each symbol means and does can make playing online pokies even more fun and exciting. This guide aims to be your friendly companion as you venture into the world of online gaming, ensuring your journey is enjoyable and smart. Spin those reels, and here’s hoping they land in your favor! May the symbols line up just right and bring you fantastic wins in the vibrant universe of the best NZ online pokies!

Terminology When Playing Online Pokies

Basic Slot Gameplay

ReelsVertical columns that spin, containing various symbols.
SymbolsIcons or images on the reels that players aim to match to win.
PaylinesLines where symbols must align to produce a winning combination.
Pay TableA page or menu that indicates the payouts for each symbol combination.
Auto PlayA feature that allows preset spins to run automatically.
Max BetThe highest amount you can bet on a single spin.
HitA shorthand term for a winning spin.
Total BetThe total amount wagered in a single spin.

Special Symbols and Features

Scatter SymbolsCan trigger free spins or bonus rounds, often wherever they land on the reels.
Wild SymbolsSubstitute for other symbols to form winning combinations.
Stacked WildsWild symbols that cover an entire reel.
Expanding WildsWild symbols that spread across available slots on a reel.
Sticky WildsWild symbols that stay in place for subsequent spins.
MultiplierIncreases winnings by a specified number.
Bonus RoundSpecial events or games that offer additional winnings or free spins.
Free SpinsExtra spins that do not require additional funds.

Types and Mechanisms of Slots

Progressive JackpotA jackpot that grows each time the game is played and the jackpot is not won.
Fixed JackpotA jackpot that has a fixed payout.
243 Ways to WinAllows wins by landing matching symbols in adjacent reels, regardless of the position.
MegawaysChanges the number of symbols on each reel with every spin, providing hundreds of thousands of ways to win.
Classic SlotsMimic the original physical slot machines with classic symbols.
Video SlotsModern slots with themes, features, and often video content.
3D SlotsUse 3D graphics for a more immersive player experience.
Penny SlotsAllow players to bet very small amounts per spin.

Winning and Payouts

RTPA percentage indicating the portion of wagered money a slot will pay back over time.
Volatility/VarianceIndicates the risk level of a slot, influencing how often and how much you could win.
Hit FrequencyHow often a machine will stop on a winning combination.
Payout PercentageAnother term for RTP.
Winning CombinationA set of symbols that results in a win.

Advanced Features and Bonus Game plays

Nudge FeatureAllows a player to slightly move a chosen reel down to create a winning combo.
Tumbling ReelsWinning combinations disappear and are replaced by new symbols, offering additional winning opportunities.
Cascading ReelsWinning symbols are removed, and new symbols cascade down to replace them.
Gamble FeatureOffers a chance to double your win by guessing, e.g., the color or suit of a playing card.
Feature BuyAn option to purchase direct entry to a slot’s bonus round or free spins.
RespinA bonus feature that allows an extra spin without a new bet.
Cluster PaysWinning is achieved by grouping clusters of identical symbols, not by aligning them on paylines.

Player Strategies and Choices

Coin SizeThe amount you wish to bet per payline.
Slot TournamentA competition where players play slots against others, trying to win prizes from a pool.
High Roller SlotsSlots for players who bet large amounts.
Loose SlotsMachines that seemingly have a higher payout frequency.
Tight SlotsMachines that seemingly have a lower payout frequency.
Wagering RequirementsThe number of times a player must play the bonus money before being allowed to make a cash withdrawal.

Unlocking the Mysteries of Paylines and RTP

Understanding Paylines: Your Path to Wins

So, what’s a payline, you ask? Think of paylines as the secret recipes that dictate when you’re about to win at online pokies. They’re the winning combinations that symbols need to land in for you to score a prize.

Types of Paylines
  • Straight Line Paylines: The most straightforward (literally) and common type of payline. Get matching symbols in a straight line, and voila – a win is yours!
    Example: In a classic pokie like “7s and Bars” by Rival Gaming, your aim might be to align three 7s in a straight line to grab a payout.
  • Zigzag Paylines: These are a bit trickier but offer additional ways to win. Symbols can align in zigzag patterns across the reels.
    Example: “Thunderstruck II” from Microgaming offers a whopping 243 ways to win, with zigzag patterns as part of your arsenal to unlock payouts.
  • Multi-Way Paylines: Some pokies don’t restrict you to certain patterns and pay for matching symbols in any position, as long as they’re on adjacent reels.
    Example: “Siberian Storm” by IGT uses a MultiWay Xtra wagering method, offering a massive 720 ways to win.

RTP Unveiled: Estimating Your Pokie Wins

RTP, which stands for Return to Player, can be a useful tool in selecting which pokies to enjoy. It indicates a theoretical estimate of how much of your wagered money will be returned to you over a longer playtime.

Breaking Down RTP
  • Example of RTP: If you’re playing a game with an RTP of 96%, it indicates that the game is designed to return NZ$96 for every NZ$100 wagered, over a longer and collective playtime of all players.
    Note: Games like “Mega Joker” by NetEnt boast a high RTP, hovering around 99%, making it a popular choice among players looking for frequent payouts.

Top 20 Online Pokies With The Highest RTP

Slot TitleGame ProviderRTPMin/Max BetFeaturesVolatility
Mega JokerNetEnt99%VariesProgressive jackpot, Supermeter modeHigh
Ooh Aah DraculaBarcrest99%0.10 – 500Free spins, Hi Roller modeHigh
1429 Uncharted SeasThunderkick98.60%0.10 – 100Expanding wilds, free spinsLow to medium
Blood SuckersNetEnt98%0.20 – 50Vampire-slaying bonus, free spinsLow
Jackpot 6000NetEntUp to 98.8%0.10 – 10Classic style, Supermeter, gamble featureHigh
JokerizerYggdrasilUp to 98%0.10 – 20Mystery win, Jokerizer modeHigh
Rainbow Riches Pick ‘n’ MixBarcrestUp to 98%0.20 – 500Multiple bonuses, Big Bet optionMedium to High
White Rabbit MegawaysBig Time Gaming97.72%0.10 – 20Megaways, extending reels, free spinsHigh
StarmaniaNextGen Gaming97.87%0.20 – 50Cascading reels, stacked symbols, free spinsLow to medium
The CatfatherPragmatic Play98.10%0.20 – 100Free spins, random & sticky wildsMedium
Kings of ChicagoNetEnt97.80%0.50 – 125Poker-themed, scatter wins, free dealsMedium
Devil’s DelightNetEnt97.60%0.20 – 50Soul Reaper bonus, free spinsMedium to high
Retro Reels Extreme HeatMicrogaming97.50%0.30 – 75Re-spin, free spins, multipliersMedium
Medusa MegawaysNextGen Gaming97.63%0.25 – 25Megaways, free spins, increasing multipliersHigh
300 Shields ExtremeNextGen Gaming97.25%0.25 – 12.50Battle feature, multipliers, retriggerable spinsVery high
Book of 99Relax Gaming99%0.10 – 70Free spins with expanding symbolsHigh
Random Number Generators (RNGs): The Fair Play Guarantor

Remember, each spin of the pokie is powered by RNGs, ensuring that every outcome is entirely random and independent. So, while RTP gives a theoretical outlook, your individual sessions can swing any which way – that’s the fun and unpredictability of how to play pokies!

By grasping the mechanics of paylines and the theoretical indicator of RTP, you’re not just spinning those reels; you’re strategically propelling them, navigating through the entertaining world of the best NZ online pokies with confidence and knowledge. Keep these tips tucked in your pocket and may the spins be ever in your favour!

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Tips for Getting Started with Online Pokies

Embarking on your online pokies adventure is not merely about spinning and winning but about immersing yourself into a world where every spin is a new excitement, every symbol has a tale to tell, and every win is a cherry on top of a fun-filled evening. So, let’s delve deeper into the essential tips that every beginner needs to know when stepping into the vibrant world of online pokies.

1. Selecting Your Ideal Pokie 

The digital realm of casinos teems with various pokie machines, each offering a unique theme, special features, and different payout structures. When choosing the ideal pokie:

  • Consider the Theme: Does Ancient Egypt enchant you, or are you more into futuristic sci-fi? Select a pokie with a theme that enhances your gaming enjoyment.
    Example: “Book of Ra” by Novomatic takes you on an Egyptian adventure, while “Starburst” by NetEnt provides a colorful cosmic experience.
  • Payout and Volatility: Check the potential payouts and the volatility of the game. A higher volatility means bigger but less frequent payouts, while lower volatility is the opposite.
  • Special Features: Look out for pokies offering unique features like free spins, bonus rounds, and big jackpots to add extra excitement to your gameplay.

2. Smart Bankroll Management

Implementing a sound bankroll management strategy ensures that your gaming remains a fun activity without straining your wallet.

  • Set a Budget: Determine a spending limit for each gaming session and stick to it.
  • Allocate Session Time: Establish a timeframe for each session to avoid excessive play.

3. Dive into the Rules

Understanding the nuts and bolts of pokie machines elevates your gaming experience, ensuring you’re not merely spinning but playing with a strategy.

  • Know the Paylines: Understand how winnings are calculated and what symbol combinations will get you those exciting payouts.
  • Bonus Features: Be well-acquainted with how to trigger bonus rounds and free spins to fully exploit the game’s potential.

4. Maximize Bonuses and Promotions

Casinos roll out a range of bonuses to enhance your gaming experience. Here’s how to utilize them effectively:

  • Welcome Bonuses: Especially lucrative for new players, these might offer matched deposits or free spins for signing up.
    Example: A casino might offer a 100% match bonus on your first deposit, doubling your playing funds.
  • Loyalty Programs: Engage with pokies on platforms that reward your consistent play with points that can be converted into bonuses.

5. Champion Responsible Gambling

Ensuring your journey in the world of online pokies remains a source of entertainment is pivotal.

In a nutshell, when you’re exploring how to play online pokies, it’s not solely about the spins and wins but understanding the mechanics, enjoying the themes, and, most crucially, ensuring it’s an addition to your leisure time, not a necessity. 

Conclusion: Your First Steps into the Enthralling World of Pokies

And there we have it – a compact guide tailored to steer you confidently through the alluring adventures awaiting in the universe of online pokies. With foundational knowledge about how online pokies work, an understanding of paylines and RTP under your belt, and equipped with practical tips on how to play pokies, you’re all set to explore responsibly and, most importantly, have fun.

May your reels align prosperously, and should you wish to delve deeper, our guide to the best NZ online pokies is but a click away, offering further insights and reviews on the dazzling pokies awaiting your discovery.

Author Matt

Writer, journalist, and on-air host focusing on sports betting and casino gambling. Work has been featured on Forbes, Yahoo Finance, SportsIntel,, BeInCrypto, and Outkick.