On a bell fruit machine, you often are awarded the opportunity to “hold” one of the reels during a spin. You don’t get to do this on every spin on every game. This is a bonus feature. The obvious choice is to hold a reel that has a winning symbol on a payline. If you have 2 holds, even better.
The “nudge” feature is similar. It allows you to move between one and three of three reels up or down in order to complete a winning combination.
These fruit games also often feature a bonus round where you can “gamble”. This usually means choosing a high or low guess. These often have a 50/50 chance of winning, and they provide you with the opportunity to double your money. They also offer you the opportunity to lose what you’ve just won, so the net effect on your expectation is 0.
It might sound like there’s a lot of skill and discernment involved in making these hold, nudge, and gamble decisions, but compared to video poker, it’s a piece of cake. Like any other slot machine game, UK fruit slot machines have a programmed payout percentage, and the illusion of choice and decision-making is just that—an illusion.
Another feature present on many British bell fruit slots is the “cash ladder”. Imagine a column of prizes from large amounts at the top to small amounts at the bottom. These prizes light up depending on the machine’s algorithm. Events on the game can trigger where the flashing light stops and the amount you win. The cash ladder is an example of a common bonus game available on United Kingdom fruit slots, and the event that triggers a cash ladder win is often related to the bonus trail.
Another common feature in UK bell slots is the “bonus trail”. Imagine a board game like Monopoly has. It’s a rectangle with multiple stops on each side. These stops are squares, and they each feature an amount. Lights flash around the trail as you spin the reels, and when the lights stop flashing, you get the bonus prize indicated on the bonus trail. This can take the form of a flat amount of money you’ll win, a multiplier to the winnings on your spin, or extra nudges, hold, or gamble opportunities. It can also trigger winnings on the cash ladder.
The other differences are largely aesthetic. USA games are often branded now. Slot machine manufacturers and casinos love to capitalize on the intellectual property of other media. In a major casino in Las Vegas, you’ll find slot machine games with board game themes, like Monopoly, game show themes, like Wheel of Fortune, celebrity themes, like Elvis, with product themes, like Budweiser, or with TV show themes, like Baywatch. The symbols and sound effects on these games correspond to the games’ overall theme. For example, a Baywatch slot machine features symbols related to surfing and the beach—surfers, lifeguards, and jet-skis. The sound effects recall the theme song to the show.
In this respect, UK fruit slots are more traditional. They feature symbols of fruit, especially cherries, but also oranges, plums, grapes, and pineapples. In fact, practically any fruit you can imagine can be found on a fruit machine in a pub somewhere in the UK. Of course, these games also feature other traditional symbols like bars and the number 7. These symbols originate from a time period in the United States when it was illegal to win money on a gambling machine. The fruits corresponded to various flavors of hard candy you could win when playing; the bars corresponded to sticks of chewing gum that you could win.
UK fruit slots have more commonalities with traditional USA slot machines than differences. Many of those differences are completely aesthetic in nature. The most important thing that UK fruit slots and USA slot machines have in common is this—the house always has a mathematical edge over the player. Manage your money accordingly.