What’s The Difference Between Pokies And Slot Machines?

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When you are first getting into online casino games, it can seem like you’re at the start of a very steep learning curve. And that means the idea of an ever-expanding range of games you can access and enjoy instantly can also be slightly intimidating at first. One major issue for new players in New Zealand is the local slang terminology – in particular, the habit of referring to online slot machine games as ‘online pokies’.

For newcomers, this raises the question of possible differences between the two. But in reality both ‘pokies’ and ‘slot machines’ are equivalent terms for the same thing. So, for players living in New Zealand and/or steeped in NZ culture, a pokie machine and a slot machine refers to both the online and land-based casino slot machine found all over the Land of the Long White Cloud.

To be clear, NZ pokies are not any special kind of variant of otherwise standard slots. Nevertheless, it’s a good idea to quickly get used to hearing and understanding the slang term pokie. And the best way is usually to start using it yourself. In fact, in certain New Zealand venues you may have to do this just to be sure you make yourself properly understood to fellow gamers.

By now, you may be wondering: ‘Why pokie?’ That’s a really interesting question, and one explanation is that it’s quite common in NZ culture to shorten many words in common usage. So that would perhaps explain why a casino poker machine, for example, might eventually become known as a pokie. Over time, the term may then have been applied more widely, thus being used for slot games in general rather than poker slots in particular.

This cultural process can then start to gain further momentum once NZ clubs as well as both bricks-and-mortar and online casinos all start labelling their slot games as pokies – which they soon did, and certainly do so today. Therefore the important message is: don’t worry about the terminology, and don’t let it interfere with your enjoyment of slot games.

Online Pokies and Slot Machines

The very first pokies and slot machines had a basic three-reel slot design. During play, players had the choice of a single payline for each spin, though occasionally this would be extended to three paylines, or even five. But with the advent of video pokies, these simple choices were suddenly expanded. Now there were a far greater number of paylines, and it was far more common for players to have the game-maximum sequence of paylines in play that any particular slot had available – the so-called fixed payline slot option.

The modern equivalent of these early designs is now the All Ways and All Pays pokie slots. Found in every gameplay environment, these new gaming options mean players can access any payline combination the reels can deliver. And as a result, they maximise a player’s chance of winning big each time they spin the reels. So even a small stake allows access to countless winning permutations.

It’s undoubtedly true that the biggest attraction of any pokie is the opportunity to strike lucky and get into some real money – and preferably some kind of major slot game jackpot payout. However, it’s still quite rare to find a pokie which features massive jackpot wins, which is why Random Progressive Jackpot pokies came into being.

At one time, players could only qualify for such payouts by playing with the maximum stake on every spin. Understandably, this was an expensive option for players and clearly made progressive jackpots less appealing than they might otherwise be. So pokie designers eventually took the bold step of revamping and restructuring their progressive jackpot game options.

With the latest progressive jackpots, gamers can now try their luck on random progressive jackpot pokies and choose any stake value they wish. So even when playing for pennies, any player still gets a chance to win a big, life-changing progressive jackpot which is triggered entirely at random.

Around the world synonyms for pokies and other casino games

Pokies is far from being the only alternative nickname or expression used for slot games and other casino favourites. Indeed, many of these variants are so unusual, and some of the explanations for their development so fascinating, that it’s well worth exploring a few:

- Slot Machine: This expression came about because the first money payouts became available via machines which were operated by dropping a coin through a slot.

- One armed bandits: First used in 1934, this term is also connected with slot-game history. Mechanical slot machines were originally activated via a side lever located alongside the manual spinning reels it set in motion. And no doubt the ‘bandit’ part of the term relates to the idea that it was stealing player’s money when they lost heavily.

- Fruit machines: Another historical slang term. Fruit Machines were so called because early machines displayed fruit symbols such as cherries, lemons, oranges and plums on their spinning reels. Combinations of these gave winning paylines.

- Puggies: A Scottish slang term. “Puggie” is a word often used in gambling-related situations. In some card games it was the word players originally used for the kitty or store of additional cards which could be dealt out.

- Fixed Odds Betting Terminal (FOBT): This is a term of UK origin which is used to refer to slots. The implication here is that the games are played with predetermined odds.

- AWP machines: A wry nickname for games of Amusement With Prizes.

- Tragamonedas: This term comes from a Spanish, which means ‘coin swallowers’.

- Mangiasoldi: In Italy, this is the term many gamblers use for ‘machines that eat money’.

- Standups: A US-derived name which references the fact that gameplay took place standing up, not sitting down.

- Penny slots: A reference to the fact that games could be played for a stake as low as one penny.

- Cardies: Not long after poker-playing machines arrived they were known as cardies – a reference to the original card poker games.

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