When you visit a new online casino, what’s the first thing you notice? Some casinos might have colourful or creative banners welcoming you, but every casino homepage places a huge emphasis on the games they offer. Players can expect to find different versions of traditional games like craps or roulette, but the biggest section of any site always belongs to online pokies.

Ask any true blue Aussie about pokies, whether they play for free or real money, and they’ll tell you that it’s some of the most fun you can have at an online casino. Thanks to a huge variety of themes and mechanics offered over thousands of games from dozens of developers, there really is an online pokie for everyone.

If you haven’t experienced the fun or thrill of pokies in Australia, it’s never too late to start. Read on and you’ll know just as much about the game as top pokie players.

Top Online Pokies Sites for Australian Players

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Types of Online Pokies

While they may all follow a similar framework, the different types and permutations of online pokies means that there is always an opportunity to surprise and delight players. With so much variety, it’s not hard to see why pokies are Australia’s most beloved casino game. Pokies typically follow under one of the following categories:

Three-Reel Pokies

three real online pokie gameplay

The classic three-reel pokie is the game of choice for Aussie players who are looking for a straightforward experience. While rarer than other types of online pokies, three-reel pokies embrace the history of slots, with fewer than five paylines and almost exclusively featuring classic casino icons.

While they may not be as exciting or offer as much replay value as other kinds of pokies, they are still well-made games and integral to the history of the format. Any Australian pokies player would be doing themselves a disservice if they didn’t try a three-reel pokie at least once.

Five-Reel Pokies

The vast majority of online pokies are five-reel pokies, and they’re probably what you think of when you hear the term. These games are creatively themed, full of personality and unique mechanics. There are even some pokies where Australia is prominently featured!

Due to their individuality, five-reel pokies may be a bit harder to understand when compared to their three-reel counterparts. For example, the significantly increased amount of paylines may make players wonder exactly why they won or lost on a certain spin, and the existence of “Ways to Win” games – online pokies that don’t depend on paylines – makes things a bit more confusing. Luckily, payline information is always available from within the game, telling you exactly where you need to land symbols to win.

While they are slightly more complex than three-reel pokies, they are also far more generous to players. The vast majority of five-reel pokies have a bonus feature that, when triggered, can reward you with free spins or win multipliers, and these bonus games are often incredibly unique and highly memorable.

Progressive Jackpots

While five-reel pokies are standard at online casinos, versions that offer progressive jackpots are far rarer. Progressive jackpot games are incredibly popular, not only among pokies but all types of casino games. While they can only be played with real money, their big appeal when compared to other kinds of pokies is the chance to win one of the four jackpots. Since the jackpots are added to every time players spin the reels around the world, a significant real money prize is up for grabs.

In fact, Microgaming’s progressive jackpot game Mega Moolah currently holds the Guinness World Record for largest jackpot payout in an online pokie, with close to £19 million being claimed by a very lucky player in 2018.

Top Rated Australian Online Casino Games

Free and Real Money Pokies

Now that you have a better understanding of the different types of online pokies, maybe you’d like to try a few spins. Luckily, the vast majority of online casinos allow you to play most any pokie they feature for free, across desktop or mobile, and even before you sign up. While every casino’s approach is different, you’ll generally be asked if you’d like to play for free or real money before you start a game.

When you choose to play an online pokie for free, you’ll be given a fairly generous balance with which to spin to your heart’s content. Since you’re playing for fun, though, none of your completed paylines or bonus triggers will translate to real money winnings. It might be disappointing to go on a massive hot streak and earn a bunch of free spins while playing for free, but that’s unfortunately just the way it goes.

When you play real money pokies, you can only play so long as you have money to play with. While you can start the game again and choose to play for fun, you cannot directly switch from real money pokies to free pokies.

While playing games at an online casino is meant to be fun, playing games for free can actually give you a few advantages when you try your hand at real money pokies. Playing for free lets you try as many games as you’d like, so you can find one that’s particularly appealing. It’s also a great way to learn the different paylines, try out the bonus feature, and get a handle on the game’s rhythm.

Bonuses and Banking Options

If your goal is to play real money pokies, you’re going to need to put real money in your casino account. Across all online casinos, without making at least the minimum deposit, you can’t wager anything. Fortunately, the min deposit is usually only $10-20, and making such a deposit also allows you to take advantage of the casino’s various bonuses and promotions.

A type of promotion that is frequently offered is a match bonus, which matches the amount of money you add to your account up to a certain amount. For example, if you made a $10 min deposit and claimed a 100% match bonus, you would find yourself with $20 to play online pokies with. While these sorts of bonuses are meant to entice high-rollers to deposit as much as possible, so that they can take full advantage, there’s certainly nothing wrong with only making the min deposit.

Keep in mind that when you claim a bonus, you are subject to the casino’s terms and conditions for that bonus. This typically means that in order to withdraw any of the winnings you’ve earned by using the bonus, you would need to fulfill the wagering requirement by betting between 30 and 50 times the value of the bonus. While different online casinos will have unique rules for what each game contributes towards that requirement, online pokies almost always contribute 100%.

Frequently Asked Questions

How often do online pokies pay out?

Every online pokie has a unique Return to Player (RTP) percentage, which is the frequency with which they pay out. The majority of games have an RTP of 90-99%, meaning that over the course of 100 spins, you can expect to win at least 90 of them. Online casinos also use a version of RTP to account for wins across all of their games, which can be a useful statistic for players who are trying to decide where to sign up. Many online casinos make their payout ratings public, or you can find them listed either in our expert reviews or on any number of other pokies sites.

What is the best online pokie to play?

A big part of the fun of online pokies is experiencing all of the unique games available. Since every player likes different things, which game is the best is a subjective call. For example, Aussie players might be fond of Big Red, an outback-themed game from the Australian pokies developer Aristocrat.

Is it legal to play online pokies in Australia?

There are a few qualifiers, but yes, it is legal to play online pokies in Australia, granted that the casino that you’re playing at isn’t itself based in Australia. Gambling laws prohibit Aussies from playing at Australian-based online casinos, but they are free to play at casinos offshore. We recommend playing at online casinos with a valid casino license in locations such as Curaçao.

What’s the history of Australian pokies?

Did you know that, if not for Australians, pokies would be radically different? Aristocrat, a games manufacturer founded in Australia in 1953, was responsible for a number of innovations in the casino games space, including the Hyperlink Gaming System, which they claim to be “the single most valuable piece of Australian intellectual property ever commercialized.” In recent years, Aristrocrat has brought their progressive ideas to the online pokies space, giving a new generation of players the chance to enjoy their work and appreciate their legacy.