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Slots are complex things these days: there was a time when all a game needed was a start button and a way to set your stakes, but in the 21st-century slots come in a dizzying variety of styles and forms.

And one of the big battlegrounds on which slot developers try to carve out some unique selling points is in the bonus round.
From our point of view – and for yours for the duration of this article – a slots bonus round is any part of the game that takes place away from the standard single-click spin.

We can’t cover every variety of every bonus game here, but we’ll do our best to help you get started on understanding bonus round slots and using them safely and successfully.

Our first, free tip is this:
And with that out of the way, let’s get stuck in.

Best Bonus Round Slots

Slots processes

Slots are both simple and sophisticated. The simple part is that some process delivers a series of random symbols that may or may not contain matching sets. If there are matching sets in the set of symbols delivered onto the screen then a prize is awarded to the player that is in inverse proportion to the likelihood of the event happening.

All very simple, and you understand all this.

Slot games can deliver just this process. However, few of them stop with a single spin and spins usually deliver something extra or the promise of it.

Triggering Bonus Round Slots

Most bonus rounds are triggered via the base game – that initial spin.

Bonus rounds might be triggered by wins: this is definitely the case with respins and gamble features.

They are also triggered by special symbols. Special symbols are most often one of two things: Wilds and Scatters.

Wilds pay homage to the history of slots as poker simulators and operate like wild cards in that games, standing in as the best-value card for the player by completing wins along the pay lines.

Scatters are called scatters because they do not rely on immediate proximity for their power. Most – but not all – slot prizes are awarded because there is a line of symbols connected to each other. Scatters don’t rely on this link.

Wilds usually make up the most valuable pay on any pay table.

Scatters may or may not have any value at all.

Base Game Bonus Rounds

The base game, of that first spin, can have bonus features.

Here are some examples:


Respins – sometimes re-drops or other deliveries of new symbols – are most often awarded in response to a win.

The game might simply spin the reels again. It may lock in place some of the winning symbols or some combination of reels or symbols.

Respins are very common in avalanche and tumble games that use blocks rather than reels. These respins most often involve exploding symbols that are removed from the game when they make a winning combination and that then allow other symbols to drop in.

Respins commonly continue until they cease to deliver new wins.


Gambles are very traditional bonus features and are very often found on Classic Slots – a whole style of slots based on older games.

Gambles kick in after a win and offer the player a double-or-quits chance on their prize. They are usually a simple binary bet. The most popular bet is to ask players to guess whether a hidden card will be red or black. Get it right and you double your prize, get it wrong and you lose everything. Some gambles up the ante by giving players a four-way choice between card suits.

Gambles often run until they are lost or the player decides to stop gambling.


Nudging is also an old feature that works very well on physical machines. A nudge is an option to shift a reel further along its trajectory after the first spin has finished.

Nudges can be stored and used when it suits the player in some games.

This feature is also more common in slots that are classed as classics, or retro slots.

Prize ladders:

Prize ladders are very similar to prize gambles. These features are most common on games that mock up cabinet games.

Prize ladders offer the player the chance to gamble up a prize by completing some form of task. It may be a skill task or it may be a matter of pure luck. Some of these games ask players to stop a flashing or moving light or gamble on a random number.

Symbol Collection:

Some base game bonus rounds work as extra triggers for secondary bonus games.

Commonly, such features are collection features or they involve some sort of energy meter. They are popular in video slots, particularly those that aim to ape video gameplay in some way.

Once a symbol collection has been completed players will trigger another feature: possibly a bonus round, possibly an increase in prizes, or jackpots.

Special symbols:

Wilds are most often given special powers. It’s impossible to completely cover every possible option here, but common wild variants are:

Massive wilds: oversized symbols are a favourite of slots games. By making a wild super-sized you can deliver more wins.

Moving wilds: wilds can move along or up the reels. Sometimes called Walking Wilds when they slip from reel to reel across the slot screen.

Infections wilds: wilds can have other properties, like turning neighbouring squares into more wilds.

Massive, moving, or infectious wilds are usually delineated from standard wilds in some visual way.

Type of Bonus Rounds Slots

Bonus rounds that exist after the main spin are a whole world on their own.

The most common and most popular bonus round is the free spins round.

This is usually triggered via scatters and often comes with a range of added bonuses.

Free Spins Rounds

We’re going to look at free spins rounds that are triggered via scatters. These are usually awarded in sets of numbers that increase with the number of scatters the player wins.

A fairly common set up might see 10 free spins awarded for three scatters, 20 awarded for four scatters, and 50 for five.

What are free spins?

They’re game turns that don’t charge the player. Free spins usually deliver game rounds that are played for the stakes that the player was using when they entered the round.

Free spins are usually the most valuable part of any game.

It is not possible to cover every possible iteration of free spins rounds here.

Common extras though include:

Extra special or high-value symbols on the reels. By adding bigger paying symbols to increase the chances of winning big prizes or by adding extra special symbols free spins rounds can have increased prize potential.

Multipliers. Multipliers are extremely popular as free-spins round extras. Multipliers work as you’d expect them to: they multiply the prize awarded to players by a number. Multipliers in free spins round usually increase by one with every prize that is awarded. There may be a cap on the top number a multiplier can reach.

Multiple game styles. Free spins can come in a range of games, usually increasing in power and prize potential as the player moves up the rankings. These usually add extra special symbols or multiplier numbers or increase the numbers of free spins in the round.

Random or chosen game rounds. Some free spins rounds don’t come in set amounts. Players may be asked to spin a wheel or take some other game of chance in order to win a number of spins for their round. You may be able to choose between a competing set of options: for example, trading off large numbers of free spins against a higher multiplier or extra wilds or more special or high-paying symbols.

Prize Picks and Random Games

Some bonus rounds are simple prize pick games. These operate like street gambling games of hide the pea. A prize exists somewhere and the player is offered a number of options to pick from with a set of different prizes underneath.

Prize picks might also exist in series as a form of prize ladder, where a number of choices – perhaps between left and right on a path – allow a player to advance along an increasing prize path.

Video games and battles

Slot designers are very aware that young people love video games. And they want these young people to play slots. So, increasingly you’ll have video-game-like extra features. We’ve seen battles, war games, minor skills games, penalty shoot outs and more – but all are basically operating on some form of the other game styles.

Progressive Jackpot Bonus Round Slots

Progressive jackpots are a thing on their own. Progressives work by networking huge numbers of games together, taking a slice of every bet made on the game, and putting that money into a prize fund that is available to all players of all games.

Usually, these prizes are awarded via some sort of bonus game, most commonly a completely random one – prize wheels are popular, with a spinning wheel awarding prizes through a set of levels that culminate in the top prize of all.

Branded Bonus Rounds

There are a number of branded game engines on the market now. The best-known example is Megaways, which includes its own set of bonus features: extra reels, extra symbols, a horizontal reel, and respins.

Slot developers like to have their own branded bonus rounds, though these are usually variants of some sort on existing styles covered here.

How to Play Bonus Round Slots Safely

The first thing to be sure of is that you are playing your bonus round slots on a safe, legal, and legitimate site.

We also urge everyone who reads any one of our articles to make sure they know the basics of safe gambling in terms of gambling addiction, managing difficult behaviours and so on.

Then, read the rules!

Most slots are very simple, they are governed by random events and all the player has to do is press a button occasionally. However, it is a good idea to read the rules and the pay table so you have at least an idea of what is going on.

How to Find Bonus Round Slots

It is unusual to find a casino or slots site that lists games by bonus features. It’s not unheard of though, and if you want to seek out every respin game in the world then that’s what you need to find.

The easiest way to find games that you’re going to enjoy is by reading reviews or playing demo games. That way you can check things out for free and learn your way around all the bonus rounds on the latest slots.

Bonus Round Slots FAQ

They are if you know what you’re doing. That means learning what the rules and laws are where you live and how to stick by them. Please don’t try to get around laws even if you find them inconvenient. We will also repeat our advice to read the rules on any game you play.

To check out free bonus round slots you need to find either a casino site that will allow you to play games with bonus rounds on demo mode. A large number of affiliate sites and review sites also allow you to play games for free.

Real money games are what most players want, and to play them you’ll need a safe site and a way of shifting money around the internet. That could be Bitcoin, that could be a mobile app or payment system, it could be an e-wallet (like PayPal, Skrill or Neteller), or it could just be your bank account or debit card. If you don’t have any of these you can use prepaid cards to convert cash into online money.

If bonus rounds or bonus rounds slots are predictable then you are being ripped off. Slot games must be random and there is no way to predict what will happen if the game is operating correctly. Forget strategy and skills and trust to luck!