On this page we shortlist the best Australian casinos where you can play the most popular pokies based on popularity with players.
From Melbourne to Darwin, Brisbane to Perth - pokies are one the most popular forms of gambling amongst Australians. Everyone knows that pokies are really slot machines, but the origin of the name is obscure. The most likely explanation is that it's simply a lumping together of poker machine and slots, where all games offering coin operated gambling became known as pokies.
The best way to start getting acquainted with online pokies if you've never played them before is to take advantage of free play options that most casinos offer in their pokie games. This will allow you to get to know how the games are played without having to commit any of your own real money to it. In fact, we wouldn't advise a new player to just go jumping in because there are a few things to learn about pokies before you'll be ready to put your own money on the line. The different games have different payline structures, different payout tables, different special features (like wild symbols) and different bonus rounds. So go online and experiment a bit for free. You'll have a lot of fun while you're doing it and it will really help you to prepare for when you're ready to start playing for real money.
There are plenty of different online pokies for Australians to choose from. First there are the classic 3 reel slots. They have fewer paylines and are the simplest games to play. It's really just a case of choosing a coin size and how many coins you want to bet, and spinning the reels.
All the example games below can be played for free and real money atCasino Mate
Then there are the more complex video slots. These typically have 5 reels, with many more paylines and winning combinations that are possible. They also usually have wild symbols and scatter symbols, which increase your chances of hitting winning combinations.
Next up are the bonus pokie games. These have, in addition to the primary game where you spin the reels, special bonus games that are triggered by certain combinations on the reels. These bonus games are often in the form of free spins, where you get a specified number of free spins funded by the casino. You don't have to bet with your own money and you can keep whatever you win. The other common type of bonus feature is a mini game that opens up and lets you play anything from pick a box to a video game type of feature in order to win extra cash prizes.
Finally there are the progressive pokies, where a small percentage of every bet that every player makes goes into a jackpot fund. If you hit the right combination you win the entire jackpot, which in some games can be millions of dollars.
Instant play vs downloadable pokies
Many online casinos that are available to Australians offer instant play software. You simply click on a link that launches the casino right there in your browser and you can play pokies immediately. You usually need to have Flash installed in your browser to do this, but the casino will typically prompt you to install it if you don't have it already.
On the other hand, a downloadable pokie comes in the form of a piece of software that you download from the casino and install on your PC. When you run the programme it opens the casino on your desktop and you then choose the pokie games that you want to play. Note that you still need to be connected to the Internet in order to play.
How to pick the right pokie game
When it comes to picking the right pokie game is obviously a matter of personal taste. But there are some important factors to bear in mind when you make your choice. There are so many different online pokies available, all with different features and mechanics, so it can be a bit confusing at first. Let's have the different factors that you should take into account when picking the right pokie game to play.
1. Consider The Payout Percentage
Firstly there is the payout percentage, which is also referred to as the return to player. This is a theoretical measure of the amount of return you are likely to get on all your betting, using a percentage of what you bet. Without going into the complicated details it works as follows...
If the payout percentage is stated as 90% it means that over time you will win 90% of what you bet. This excludes lucky big wins, of course. It basically means that if you play a thousand pokie spins and get paid out according to the pay tables without any huge win, you'll end up winning 90c for every $1 you bet. Payout percentages on pokies typically range between 80% and 95%, so it pays to choose a pokie game that has a high payout percentage. Not all casinos publish the payout percentages of their pokies, so try to find games where these are given.
2. Review The Biggest Possible Win Amount
Then there is the jackpot size jackpot or the biggest win that you can have on a particular pokie. There's a lot of variation here between the different pokie games. Most classic 3 reel pokies have pretty modest top prize payouts, with the video pokers offering bigger prizes. The bonus feature pokies have bigger payouts due to the added bonus feature prizes, and of course the largest top prizes are to be found in the progressive pokies.
3. Is the Secondary Payout Structure Reasonable?
In addition there is the secondary prize structure. While many pokies these days are geared towards the top prizes, there's a much bigger chance that you'll win some secondary prize money, so pay attention to what's on offer. You can find information on the secondary payouts in the pokie's paytable. These are easy to read.
4. Understand the Optimal Betting Amount
A further factor in deciding on the right pokie to play is how much you want to bet. That means looking at the coin sizes that are on offer. Some pokies offer a large variation in coin denomination, often with a spread as wide as 1c to $1. You can choose various denomination in-between these amounts too. Other pokies have fewer choices, and some restrict you to a single coin value. The importance of the coin denomination is that it affects your risk through the size of your bet, and it also affects your potential prize payout. If you choose a small denomination you have less risk, but you will also win less. If you choose a larger one, the opposite applies - more risk, more reward.
5. Seek Out Games With Free Spins
We move on to bonus game features, and the first one to consider is free spins. This is where you get a particular combination on the paylines and you are awarded a specific number of spins on the house. You don't have to place any bets and you keep anything that you win. It's a really great way of winning some extra cash. So look out for pokies that offer a free spins feature.
6. Look For Lucrative Bonus Rounds
Finally there are the other types of bonus games that are triggered by payline combinations. Again, not all pokies have these but the ones that do are well worth playing - not least because, in addition to offering extra cash prizes, they are often great fun to play. These bonus rounds are usually in the form of a mini video game that opens in your screen. You have to complete set tasks in order to unlock prizes.