All About Slots Bonus Rounds

Gone are the days when the only thing worth hitting on a slot machine was a single line of 7-7-7. Slot games offer exciting bonus rounds where you can really ramp up your winnings and potentially snag a massive jackpot.
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These days, slot games are much more than the three-reel, one-line machines of old. Advancements in technology have allowed developers to stretch the bounds of game-play creativity. This is arguably most apparent in slots bonus rounds.

Slots of old are no comparison for the slots of today. Sure, we love a good classic, but new tech has taken slots to a different level. Developers are more creative these days, and this is no more apparent than in slots bonus rounds.

Triggering bonus rounds increases big-win potential and player entertainment. Since slots bonus rounds are rare, hitting one is a pretty exciting part of playing slots. Understanding slots bonus rounds, however, can be tricky when you’re starting out.

Types of Bonus Rounds

Slots bonus rounds can be separated into two buckets: free spins and features. Hitting either can be a big boost to your bankroll, so you’ll want to know what they are.

Free Spins – Most Popular!

Most games offer the potential to trigger free spins. Winning free spins gives players a set number of spins without the need to wager. Every game will have its own way of triggering free spins. Most often, landing three bonus symbols on a single spin does the trick. To find out how it’s done on any game, check the info/help section. The number of spins awarded can vary greatly from game to game, too. 10 free spins is common but games also award 6, 8, 12 or even 15.

Your bet amount when you hit free spins will be the bet amount for each of the free spins. Once the free spins round starts, you can’t change the bet amount until it’s over.

Sometimes there’s a mini-game before free spins begins, to determine things like how many free spins you get and what the multiplier is. Sometimes this is a wheel that spins, or an interactive game that lets you pick different chests, for example.

Free spins often include extras, like stacked symbols or expanding wilds. During your bonus spins, there’s also a possibility of retriggering more spins. The amount of extra spins you’re awarded varies by game. You can receive anywhere from one to double the number of spins originally awarded.

With so many exciting ways to enhance your gameplay, it’s no wonder free spins are so popular with players.

Feature Bonus Rounds – Most Fun!

If free spins weren’t enough fun, more and more games also include special bonus features. These are separate from free spins and come in an almost endless number of possible formats. This is where software developers can get really creative and where slots can get really fun.

While there are too many feature formats to highlight here, here are three of the most popular:

  • Pick Bonuses: You’ll find these most often in games with progressive jackpots. When a pick bonus is triggered, players are often shown an array of symbols like coins. Tapping the screen over each symbol reveals what’s behind them. When a player matches a specific number of like symbols, they’re awarded the prize associated with that combo. Pick bonus symbols can also be hiding dollar amounts and award players with the totals they reveal.
  • Hold & Spin: This feature has become extremely popular in recent years. Many slots, like the line of Bally’s Fire Link games, base their whole identity on these features. Hold & Spin features usually require a minimum number of symbols to appear on the reels to trigger. Feature symbols often have credit or dollar amounts on them. When the feature starts, players have three spins to land at least one more trigger symbol. If you do, your allotted spins will reset back to three. The feature is over when three spins fail to produce any more triggers. The amounts shown over the symbols that hit are then totaled and awarded to the player.
  • Bonus Wheel: You’ll find this feature on more than just the Wheel of Fortune-branded slots. Games with a bonus wheel feature often require a minimum number of trigger symbols to land on a single spin. Some games randomly award wheel spins, too. The number of wheel spins you get is often just one, but games offering more isn’t unheard of. To play the feature, the screen will direct a player to swipe the screen or hit the play button to start the wheel. The amount the wheel pointer ends up on is what you win.

How to Trigger Free Spins and Feature Bonus Rounds

Free spins are most often triggered by landing at least three free-spin symbols. Many games award free spins by landing three triggers on any combo of reels. Others may require those symbols to land on specific reels, like the first three or reels 1, 3, and 5.

Features can be triggered in any number of ways. This is again where developers push the bounds of creativity, so a lot of possibilities exist. How a feature is triggered also depends on the type of feature a game offers. 

Hold & Spin features often require a minimum number of feature symbols to land on a single spin. Some trigger randomly. Others will trigger when a pot or bag is filled with coins collected during wagered spins.

The best way to determine how free spins and feature bonus rounds are triggered is to look at a game’s pay table. Usually accessed by pressing the help or info button, the pay table will detail exactly what reel combinations will trigger each.

Buying Directly into Free Spins and Bonus Rounds (Buy Feature)

If you’re struggling to land a bonus with spins, some games have an option to buy straight into a bonus round. Yes, you can skip the spins and pay your way to free spins or a feature. The trade-off is that it costs many times the price of a single spin to buy directly into the bonus. It varies from game to game but a common amount is 100X the single spin wager.

Keep in mind that buying a bonus doesn’t guarantee a big win. You could always come away with less than what you paid for it. Whether you take the gamble or not is up to you, but this is a popular feature you see a lot in slots YouTube videos and live streams.

Best Slots with Bonus Games

Bonus rounds are all about player preference, so there is no right or wrong slot to play, but here are some of our favorites:

Adventure Trail – Fire Blaze Feature (Rare Stone)

Adventure Trail’s theme is somewhere between Indiana Jones and Crocodile Dundee. A progressive jackpot game, Adventure Trail’s bonus rounds are free spins and the Fire Blaze feature. Landing at least six gold monkeys will trigger the Fire Blaze feature. From there, you’ll have three resetting spins to keep adding monkey symbols. Land enough symbols that are touching and they’ll combine to create a bigger monkey. The bigger the monkey you form before three consecutive dead spins, the bigger the potential prize.

Chilli Heat – Free Spins (Pragmatic Play)

Chilli Heat takes you south of the border to old Mexico. Trigger eight free spins by landing three sun symbols in the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th reels. When your free games begin, you’ll see four sets of reels on the screen. Three of them will be locked. To unlock each, you’ll need to land a specific number of chili symbols. Once a set of reels is unlocked, it is in play and increases your winning potential. Ideally, you’ll want to land enough chilis to unlock all four sets of reels, typically by retriggering to collect extra spins. Chilli Heat’s free spins also include increasing reels of stacked wilds and removing the lowest paying symbols from play.

The Sand Princess – Sand Princess Feature (2by2 Gaming)

Whether you’re playing base spins or free spins on The Sand Princess, keep an eye on the middle reel. If you land a full stack Sand Princess symbol there, you’ll be rewarded with one of three features: 

  • Random Multiplier: 2X, 3X, or 4X can be awarded.
  • Random Wild Symbols: A random number of extra wild symbols appear in reel positions.
  • Random Wild Reel: One of the remaining four reels becomes a stack of wilds.


Slots bonus rounds can add so much to your playing experience, both in fun and winnings. It’s important to note that some slots bonus rounds are more like bogus rounds. Yes, just like any base spin, bonuses can sometimes be duds

No matter the result or whether you trigger free spins or a feature, enjoy it. They can be hard to hit some days, so appreciate them when they come along and especially when they pay big.

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Author: Jay Adams
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