There are several different types of pokies available to play at online casinos and they vary a good deal in their game play. If you’re new to the world of online pokies, it’s easy to be overwhelmed and the different options out there. While they might vary in their appearance and style, in essence all pokies share a number of the same characteristics:

  1. Rotating wheels that randomly produce symbols, characters or numbers
  2. You choose how many paylines you want to play and how much you want to wager on each spin
  3. You win by matching symbols according to the game’s paylines
  4. Each game has a minimum and a maximum size of bet. Different games will suit different types of players so it’s well worth trying a few different variations to see which is the best for you.

3-reel pokies

These are the games that probably most closely resemble the traditional, manual forms of early poker machines, with 3 rotating reels and 1, 3 or 5 paylines.  The gaming action on 3-reel pokies tends to be more straightforward than on other types of games, although many do have gamble features.  3-reel pokies generally offer players the best odds of winning, although they are often medium- to high-volatility games, meaning payouts may be high but don’t occur as frequently as on some other games.

Great for players who just want a simple introduction to online pokies, or who enjoy a trip down memory lane, three reel pokies might not get the attention that other pokies variants do these days, but they are still well worth a try.

5-reel pokies

5-reel, or video pokies, have fully embraced modern technology; games are often elaborately themed (based on movies or computer games), and have a wide array of visual and sound effects. Vinyl Countdown and all other 5-reel pokies can be very lucrative, and feature multiple paylines and ways to win, special features, bonus rounds and chances to win free spins.

The sheer number of ways to win on some video pokies, however, makes many of them low-volatility games, meaning payouts might not be enormous but can be won often.

Many of the most popular and widely known pokies games are based on a five-reel format and they are generally more interactive and engaging than three reel games. They’re great for players who really want to enjoy their experience and keep playing for as long as possible even if they aren’t necessarily going to get an enormous payout at the end of it.

Progressive pokies

Progressive pokies play like other five reel video pokies, but they have the additional feature of giving players the opportunity to win enormous sums of money, sometimes in the millions of dollars, as progressive jackpots are cumulative and increase every time the game is played at an online casino anywhere in the world.

The reason for the huge jackpots at progressive pokies games is because they are networked across multiple casinos. Whenever a player makes a losing wager at any of the networked casinos a portion of it is put into a pooled jackpot that keeps on rising as more people play, until one lucky winner gets the lot.

On most progressive pokies, to get access to the largest jackpots, the game needs to be played with the maximum number of coins and paylines, although the cost of so doing need not be prohibitive.

If you’re after the best progressive jackpot games, check out Microgaming or Playtech casinos.

Free pokies

Our recommended online casinos offer free pokies as they enable players to enjoy demo versions of their games, which means they can be played at no charge and, in most cases, without the need to download casino software.

Free pokies are basically free versions of the standard pokies games and you can try three or five reel versions. Playing for free is a great way to get to grips with a new game, or try out a different style of game completely risk free. It’s also handy if your bankroll is low, as you can still have some fun and enjoy your favourite pokies games while sticking to your limits.

Payout percentages

So just how do online pokies stack up against other games? While there’s no disputing the amount of fun you can have playing online pokies, if you’re trying to make some money by playing online, you’ll want to know if it’s worth it or not.

By law, New Zealand online casinos are required to offer a minimum payout percentage of 87% on their online pokies, although in reality the payout rate is much higher.  Most of our recommended casinos offer games with payout rates in excess of 95%, like Pharaoh’s Tomb pokie game (as verified by the independent gaming authority eCogra), which compares more than favourably with table games and video poker games.

It should be noted that the payout percentage on progressive pokies is lower, at about 87%, as a small fraction of each losing spin contributes to the progressive jackpot. However, if you are lucky enough to win, you’re going to get a much bigger payout than on any other game.

Summary

Online pokies offer an entertaining gaming experience that enables players to enjoy the New Zealand tradition of playing pokies, but with a larger and ever-growing variety of games. There are literally thousands of different pokies games out there, and whatever your particular interests and tastes might be, you can be pretty confident there’s a game to suit you.

Part of the appeal of pokies is their simplicity. They are easy to play and you don’t need to spend hours practicing or learning different strategies to win at them. Anyone can learn the basics and get playing within minutes and with so many different variations out there you can be sure you’ll never be bored.

Pokies games are straightforward and entertaining, and our recommended online casinos have all of the most popular and lucrative and online pokies available.