Pokie Guide

One can hardly talk about casino games without putting Pokies in the mix. In fact, very few casinos would do well without them. They are the top sellers at both online casinos and land-based operations around the world and have made many, many happy gamblers over the years.

It should be no surprise that they are so popular. They are presented as flashy, exciting games with special features and bonus rounds to wow the crowds. On top of that, they are so easy to play and require very little skill.

Read our pokie guide to learn all you need to know about pokies in Australia and find out where you can play all the best ones with ease.

Why are Pokies called Pokies?

Like many words that Straya use, Pokie is a unique term in the casino business that is only used by Aussies and Kiwis to refer to what the rest of the world calls ‘slot machines’. Unlike many other slang words, this is one that isn’t too hard to put together, even though Europeans and Americans may at think at first that Australians are referring to prison when they hear the term.

While opinions are split on where the word originated, it seems to stem from the term ‘poker machine’. A common theory is that in the early days of casinos in Australia, the first electronic games were video poker machines (called pokies). When slots became more popular, they were placed on the same gambling floors as the poker machines and Aussies just decided that it would be easier to class them together and call them all pokies.

For the context of this guide, we are referring to the slot machines variety, which has become so prevalent in the world today.

What Does Pokie Mean?

When we say the word ‘’pokie’’ a long list of questions arises about their identity and how they work. We’ll walk you through these questions and leave you better informed.

What are Pokies?

A pokie is a slot machine gambling device that either has mechanical or video game-like-reels that spin and halt to produce various game outcomes. Each reel is adorned with symbols. It is the goal of the game to line up combinations of these symbols over demarcated paylines on the pokie screen to form wins. Each distinct symbol combination will hold a multiplier value which is usually applied to the size of your stake to produce a payout.

Pokies come in different forms. Physical VLT machines (real-life pokies) can be found on casino floors around Australia and the rest of the word. These machines will either take coins, notes, or casino cards for bets, depending on the establishment.

The other form of pokies can be found online, which can be played directly from any online casino on your desktop computer, cellphone, or tablet. Here, you will top-up your casino account with a deposit via various Aussie-friendly payment options and spend your credits from there.

Important Pokie Terminology

Before we get too carried away with explaining the dynamics of pokies, we must look at some of the common terminology used when dealing with these machines. Understanding these 12 key pokies terms will help you grasp how the machines work and how they benefit you through the passage of play.

  • Reels: These are the vertical roller columns presented on the screen that carry the game symbols. These will roll and stop to produce random combination outcomes. Typical games usually have either 3 or 5 reels on the screen interface. 
  • Paylines: Paylines are line patterns (not always observable) that are pre-set on the screen, running from left to right across the reels. It is these that determine the valid combinations. You will need to line up identical symbols on these lines to qualify for wins. Some games use a different method of pay way, called Megaways™ or ‘All Ways Pays’. Here, your symbols need not land on patterned lines to reap rewards. They only need to land on adjacent reels to a matching symbol to qualify as a win. 
  • Stake/Bet/Wager: These terms are used interchangeably in the industry. It refers to the amount of money you will be gambling on any given game round or spin. You usually bet per active payline in the game for amounts of between $0.01 and $10, depending on the game. This will raise the total stake of the spin to a multiple of whatever you are staking per line x the number of paylines. For instance, a bet of $5 per line on a 20 payline game will give you a total stake of $100 for that spin. Megaways™ and All Ways Pay machines will not work on payline bets, but rather on total bet instead.
  • Symbols: These are the icons that must be matched along the paylines to produce wins. There are often several variations of symbols, each with its own value. The more symbols you land on a payline the heftier your win. Wins can usually be racked up by landing between 3 and 5 symbols across the reels on a single payline. 
  • Scatters: This is a symbol that needn’t land on a payline to produce a win but can be scattered across the screen. Scatters are often used to trigger special bonus rounds in games too. 
  • Wilds: A Wild is a special symbol with the power to substitute for most other symbols in the game. 
  • Jackpot: This is the maximum payout that you can receive on a winning payline. It is usually the optimum number of the highest paying symbol across a payline. Jackpots vary from game to game and are often dictated by the variance level of a game. 
  • Variance: Pokies are run by random algorithms, but these math models can be set to different volatility levels by the game provider, which will dictate how often wins are generated. Games are usually either Low, Medium, or High variance. 
  • Low Variance: Pays out frequently by usually with smaller win values
  • High Variance: Games payout infrequently, but when the wins do hit, they reward well.
  • Medium Variance: This is the perfect balance between the two. It offers frequent smaller wins with the odd big win here and there. 
  • RTP: This stands for Return to Player. This is the average amount of money that will be returned to players over the lifetime of the machine. Many people think that it is a percentage for the edge a player has per game round, but this is incorrect. The average RTP for pokies is around 96%, making them high stakes games when compared to games like poker and blackjack that can rise to 99%

These terms will crop up in various places as you read the guide, so make sure you refer back if you haven’t learned them all yet.

Types of Pokies Available

There are thousands of pokie games available to play in the marketplace. The industry has categorised them for convenience sake. While the number of themes is too diverse to exhaustively list them all, the genres stem from fruit games to action games, holiday games to wildlife games, sports games to branded games, and the list goes on.

The list of popular categories of game styles is a little smaller, and each theme can find itself classed in one of these groups. The top 5 are:

  • Classic Pokies: These are the more traditional games that headlined the industry at its start. They are usually identified by their mechanical reels, or if not mechanical, by their vintage look. Classic slots are known for smaller reel sets (usually 3 reels) and lower payline numbers of between 1 and 9. These game types are usually underpinned by a basic game strategy and often don’t have bonus rounds and fussy features. Please bear in mind that some more modern slots combine the characteristics of classic slots and video slots to produce more innovative games with an older looking theme.
  • Video Pokies: This is the new generation of pokie that embraces 5 or more reels, fancy features, loaded paylines, and innovative bonus rounds. Many of the hundreds of game themes are found under this collective.
  • Vegas Pokies: This is a term reserved for the online pokie industry. This selection of games are those that have been adapted for online play but found popularity on real casino floors first. Popular game providers for Vegas Pokies in Australia include names like Aristocrat, IGT, Bally, Barcrest, and WMS.
  • Jackpot Pokies: These are often the most sought-after games, yet tend to be the most volatile as well, cause of the massive win falls possible. Top progressive jackpot games like Microgaming’s Mega Moolah, have jackpots that are forever climbing. A percentage of each wager that goes into the game across the Microgaming network is added to the jackpot tallies. This game is notorious for making instant millionaires, but the big wins like that do not come easy.
  • 3D Pokies: These are innovative slot games that feature 3D graphics. This immersive gaming style offers a visually rich experience. Enhanced with animated characters and interactive bonus rounds, 3D pokies offer a modern twist on traditional pokies.

With the massive selection of game types and themes out there, there is absolutely no reason why every player will not find a game that they can connect with.

How to Play the Pokies

Playing pokies is an easy affair. The game outcomes are not in your hand but are instead randomly generated by tried and tested RNG (Random Number Generator) software that yields unbiased outcomes on every spins.

All you need to do to get going is:

  • Make sure you have registered a casino account if playing online or take a seat at the machine in a real-world casino.
  • Load up your casino account (online) or card (land-based casino).
  • Select your stake of choice by toggling the bet selector.
  • Once you are satisfied with the wager, click SPIN.
  • The reels will roll, and the combinations will land.

If you land a winning combination, the machine will multiply the value of the symbol combo by your stake level and award a monetary prize to your bankroll, instantly. This is how simple it is.

Where to Play Pokies?

Australia is Pokie mad, offering various land-based establishments that host these types of machines Bars and Land-based casinos. Here, you can pull up a chair and sit in comfort and zone in on the action in the machine in front of you.

  1. Bars and Pubs

There are hundreds of pubs offering great snacks, drinks, and pokie action. Thanks to Aussie law, low odds games and fruit machines can keep pub goers company and give added opportunities for wins.

Visit some of the top Aussie Pokie Bars:

  1. Casinos

There are several first-class land casinos in OZ. Here are the top 6: 

  • Country Club Tasmania
  • Crown Casino
    • Offering a massive resort with wining and dining facilities, Crown Casino offers 2500+ pokies with all the latest games in the business from Aristocrat, IGT, WMS, and more.
    • 8 Whiteman Street, Southbank VIC 3006, Australia
    • https://www.crownmelbourne.com.au/ 
  • The Star Gold Coast
    • This 5-star palatial resort offers 1600+ pokies game machines across the gaming floors and private rooms. Some of the machines have linked jackpots to Golden Dollars Grand, Lightning Link, Dragon Link, Players choice, Grand Star Link, and more.
    • 1 Casino Drive, Broadbeach QLD 4218, Australia
    • https://www.star.com.au/goldcoast/
  • Lasseters Center of Entertainment
    • This casino entertains with 307 hot pokie titles for players, including some of the newest on the market.
    • 3 Barrett Drive, Alice Springs, Northern Territory 0870, Australia
    • https://www.lasseters.com.au/ 
  • The Star Sydney
    • This exquisite hotel resort and casino offers the finest of everything, including pokie play. Enjoy over 1600 of the best pokies for Aussies, here.
    • 80 Pyrmont St, Pyrmont NSW 2009, Australia
    • https://www.star.com.au/sydney/ 
  • Treasury Casino
    • Also owned by the Star Group, The Treasury offers 5-star hotel amenities, 10 restaurants and bars, and the chance to play over 1500 pokies, including all the newest brands.
    • Cnr George& Elizabeth Streets, Brisbane, Australia
    • https://www.treasurybrisbane.com.au/

What are the Best Online Pokies in Australia?

There are so many great games available to Australia from remote online casinos that Aussies are spoiled for choice. If we had to narrow the games down to a selection of favourites, we could only do so by game provider. The 5 most influential names in the business include:

  • NetEnt: This is the benchmark game supplier in the industry, which is known for its superior game quality. Some of the better pokies by this studio include Gonzo’s Quest, Starburst, Dead or Alive 2, Narcos, and Hall of Gods. 
  • Microgaming: Both the oldest and biggest game supplier in the online casino industry, Microgaming has partnered with many smaller companies to produce some of the best pokies available. Top options include Mega Moolah, Avalon 2, Book of Atem: Wow Pot, Tiny Gods, and more. 
  • Red Tiger: Owned by NetEnt, this provider produces some of the hottest Aussie slots out there, like the new Gonzo’s Quest Megaways™. Other favourites include Aztec Spins, Rainbow Jackpots Power Lines, Dynamite Riches, and Dragons Luck Megaways™
  • Play ‘n GO: This pokie provider has been a shining star of late, providing top Aussie favourites, like Book of Dead, Inferno Joker, Hugo 2, Reactoons, and Viking Runecraft. 
  • Playtech: Playtech provides many games for Aussie and Kiwi players. You may be familiar with their favourites, like Age of Gods: King of Olympus, Great Blue, Tiki Paradise, and Legacy of the Wild. 

Be sure to check out some of the smaller studios like Quickspin, Yggdrasil, Thunderkick, Elk Studios, Habanero Games, Betsoft for more quality pokies that offer excitement with every spin.

Best Paying Pokie Machines

Probably one of the hottest searched terms on the internet is “What are the best paying slots?” We understand the need to play pokies with the highest payouts and we would like to teach you how to find games like this more easily.

The best is to find games with high RTPs of 96% or more, combined with high variance levels. Now and then you may have to forgo the high variance to find a slot that will pay more frequently though.

The 5 games with the highest RTPs are:

  • 1429 Uncharted Seas – 98.63%
  • Mega Joker – 99%
  • Bloodsuckers 98%
  • Esqueleto Explosivo – 97.6%
  • Joker Strike – 98.11%

While these games are guaranteed to pay out more often than most, they do not offer the biggest wins out there. If you want to play slots for excessively big wins, you must play progressive jackpot games, like:

  • Mega Moolah: $1 Million is the lowest the Mega Jackpot ever is, however, this Microgaming pokie has the world record for a single jackpot payout of €18,915,872.81 
  • Hall of God: This NetEnt game offers an exciting theme and regularly make millionaires overnight. 
  • Major Millions: Also a Microgaming slot, Major Millions could change your life forever in one spin!  

Where to Play Pokie Tournaments?

Tournaments are an exciting and competitive way of playing pokies. These competitions allow you to line up against other casino members in the quest to outspend them and win more. Players will be ranked on a winner’s board with top participators being able to lay their hands on serious cash prizes, daily, weekly, and sometimes monthly.

Most top online casinos will run tournaments of these sorts from time to time, but you can check out the top 5 contenders:

How to Play Pokies and Win?

Beating pokies is a dream that every gambler has, but the truth is that the dynamics of the game are iron clad and there is no way to manipulate wins. There is no skill involved in determining game outcomes, therefore, no amount of skill or trying will change a thing from one spin to the next.

Of course, the choices you make prior to starting a game could head you towards a better chance of winning. We advise that you give yourself an edge by:

  • Selecting a game with a high RTP
  • Select a game with low to medium variance
  • Select a game with high multiplier features
  • Select a game with a good free spin bonus round

The above tips ensure that you are at least playing a game with a potential for great rewards.

Pokie Strategy

While no strategy guarantees a win, as we have discussed above, there are some things you can do to ensure that you play at your optimum capacity. These things include the following 5 tips:

  • Approach: Come to the game with the right frame of mind. Playing pokies is about the entertainment value more than the wins. This way if you lose, there are no hard feelings. 
  • Budget: Set a budget and stick to it. Always only play with money you can afford to lose. 
  • Losses: Do not chase your losses as this could end badly. If a pokie has hit a losing streak, rather move to the next game. 
  • Optimum Paylines: If a game has adjustable paylines, always play with as many as possible active. Rather drop your bet per line to compensate for your budget. The more paylines active, the more chance you have of winning. 
  • Betting: Aim to moderate your bets until you manage to trigger the special features

Every 50 or so spins, up the bet, because you will want to trigger free spins with the highest wager possible to gain the most value for your spins.

  • Correct Game: Choose the right game for your expectations. If less frequent big wins are what you want, seek out high variance options. If lower more frequent wins are your objective, then choose low variance games, instead.

Responsible and clever gambling always ups your odds, it just doesn’t guarantee them. Play wise and you’ll find that you will lose less, making the times you win all the sweeter.