Wild symbols, often found in various forms of gambling – but mainly slots – are game symbols capable of substituting for other symbols, acting as a wildcard of sorts. However, their impact goes beyond mere substitution, as they often come with unique attributes that can boost your winnings and pave the way to exciting bonuses and jackpots.

In this article, we’ll explore the various types of wilds, how they work, the types, and the strategies for using them.

What Are Wild Symbols?

Basically, wild symbols are captivating features commonly found in various gambling experiences, including slot machines, video slots, and poker machines. They serve as versatile game symbols with the extraordinary ability to substitute for other symbols, ultimately assisting players in forming winning combinations. Acting as a wildcard of sorts, these symbols have the power to transform an ordinary spin or hand into a potentially lucrative moment.

The concept of wilds traces its roots back to the early days of mechanical slot machines, often referred to as “one armed bandits”. These vintage machines featured physical reels adorned with various symbols, including fruits, playing cards, and other iconic images. To add an element of surprise and excitement, game designers introduced the notion of a symbol that could act as a substitute for any other symbol on the reels, thus increasing the chances of hitting a winning combination. This innovative concept was the birth of wilds.

As technology advanced and slot machines evolved into video slots and online gaming, wilds maintained their significance and became even more prevalent. With vibrant graphics, immersive slot machine themes, and sophisticated gameplay mechanics, video slots revolutionized the concept of wilds. They introduced an array of variations, each with unique characteristics and potential rewards, creating an engaging and dynamic gaming environment on the best slots apps.

How do Wild Symbols Work?

Wild symbols possess a fundamental function in the realm of online casino gaming — they substitute for other symbols, completing winning combinations and increasing the likelihood of payouts. When a wild  appears on the reels, it can act as a stand-in for any regular symbol required to form a winning line. This flexibility allows players to overcome missing symbols and still achieve winning combinations. However, to better understand how these wild symbols work, it is imperative to first understand how do slot machines work?

Wild Symbols

Let’s consider a hypothetical scenario in a slot game: You spin the reels, and they come to a halt, revealing two matching symbols on the first two positions of a payline, followed by a wild symbol on the third. In this case, the wild symbol would effectively substitute for the missing third matching symbol, completing the winning combination and awarding you a payout.

It’s important to note that wild symbols generally cannot substitute for special symbols, such as scatter symbols or bonus symbols, as these serve unique functions in the game. However, there are some variations of wild symbols that may have additional capabilities, which we will explore later in this article.

Multiplier Effect

In addition to substitution, wilds often come with extra features that enhance the gameplay experience and elevate the excitement of playing on the best online slots. One such feature is the multiplier effect. Some wild symbols have the power to multiply the payout of a winning combination in which they participate. For example, if a winning combination includes a wild symbol with a 2x multiplier, the payout for that particular combination would be doubled.

Bonus Rounds

Furthermore, wilds can interact with other game features, such as triggering bonus rounds or free spins. Using these special rounds offers an increased frequency of wild symbols appearing on the reels, providing players with more opportunities to land winning combinations or unlock additional rewards.

Where do Wild Symbols Appear?

Wilds can be found in various types of games, primarily in slot machines and video slots. They are strategically integrated into the gameplay to enhance the excitement and increase the chances of winning combinations. And by understanding where wild symbols commonly appear, players can anticipate their arrival and strategically plan their gameplay.

That said, let’s explore where wilds commonly appear:

Reel Machines

In traditional reel machines, also known as classic slots, fruit machines or pokies, wilds are featured on the physical reels. These machines typically have three or five reels, each displaying a set number of symbols. When the reels spin and come to a stop, this special symbol can land in any visible position, offering opportunities to complete winning combinations.

Video Slot Machines

Video slot machines, which have become the norm in modern casinos and online gaming platforms, utilize advanced graphics and animations. Wilds are a key element in the best video slots, often designed to match the theme and style of the slot.

The gross gaming revenue of the gambling industry in the United States exceeded $60 billion in 2022. The segment that generated the highest revenue was casino slots and table games, with a revenue of over $47 billion. And this can be attributed in part to the presence of wilds on slots. These symbols can appear on the virtual reels and, like their mechanical counterparts, substitute for other regular symbols to create winning lines.

Bonus Rounds and Free Spins

Many slot games feature bonus rounds or free spin features triggered by specific symbols or combinations. These bonus rounds often offer an increased frequency of wilds appearing on the reels. As players enter these special rounds, they can anticipate more wilds, enhancing the potential for bigger wins and additional rewards.

Video Poker Machines

Wilds can also be present in video poker machines. In video poker, wild cards are usually introduced to increase the chances of winning poker hand rankings. These wild cards can substitute for any other card in the deck, allowing players to create stronger hands and potentially secure better payouts.

Types of Wild Symbols

Wild symbols come in various forms, each with its own unique characteristics and gameplay mechanics. Understanding the different types of wild symbols is essential for learning how to win at slots and maximizing your winning potential. Below, we will explore the common types of wild symbols found in various games:

Standard Wild Symbols

Standard wilds are the basic and commonly found wild symbols in gaming. They substitute for regular symbols to complete winning combinations. Examples include a wild card icon or a symbol displaying the word “wild.” Standard wilds can be found in traditional reel machines, video slot machines, and online slots, enhancing the excitement and increasing the chances of winning. They serve as the foundation of wild symbols in various games, and can look like the following symbol in Wanted Dead Or A Wild:

Wanted Dead or a Wild Symbol payouts

Expanding Wild Symbols

Expanding wilds are a dynamic type of wild symbol that can greatly amplify the excitement of the gameplay. These symbols typically start as regular-sized symbols, but upon landing, they expand vertically or horizontally to fill the entire reel they are on. As a result, the expanded wild can substitute for other symbols on that reel, greatly increasing the chances of winning combinations. Expanding wilds are commonly found in video slots and online slot games.

Stacked Wild Symbols

This variation of wilds appears in stacks or columns on the reels, covering multiple positions vertically, and can fill an entire reel. When a stacked wild symbol lands on the reels, it can cover two or more consecutive positions, appearing as a stacked block of symbols. This stacked formation increases the chances of winning combinations, as the entire stack can act as a substitute for other symbols across multiple paylines.

Stacked wilds can be found in various slot games, both in traditional reel machines and modern video slots.

Sticky Wild Symbols

Unlike the standard that disappears after a single spin, sticky wild symbols “stick” to the reels, staying fixed in their positions for a specified duration. This means that with each subsequent spin, the sticky type remains in place, increasing the chances of winning combinations.

Some sticky wilds may remain sticky for a few spins, while others can stay locked in place for an entire bonus round. Sticky wilds are commonly featured in bonus rounds, free spins, or other special features triggered within slot games.

Walking Wild Symbols

When a walking wild symbol appears on the reels, it doesn’t stay in one position like the standard type. Instead, it “walks” or moves across the reels, typically one reel at a time, during subsequent spins. As the walking wild symbol moves across the reels, it continues to act as a substitute for other symbols, potentially creating winning combinations along its path. Walking wild symbols are often associated with bonus features, free spin rounds, or special game events. They can be triggered by specific conditions or randomly occur during gameplay.

Shifting Wild Symbols

Shifting wilds are an intriguing variation of wild symbols that introduce an element of unpredictability to gameplay. When a shifting wild symbol lands on the reels, it can shift or move to different positions during subsequent spins, creating new opportunities for winning combinations.

Unlike the standard type that remains static or walking wilds that move linearly, shifting symbols have the freedom to shift to different reel positions, usually in a predefined pattern. Depending on the game mechanics, this shifting movement can occur horizontally, vertically, diagonally, or in any other specified direction.

Cascading Wild Symbols

Also known as tumbling or falling wilds, cascading wild symbols have the unique ability to not only substitute for other symbols but also trigger additional tumbling effects. When a cascading wild appears on the reels and contributes to a winning combination, it typically remains in place while the other symbols involved in the win disappear or cascade off the screen. As a result, new symbols tumble down or cascade from above to fill the vacant positions, creating the potential for consecutive wins within a single spin.

The cascading effect continues as long as new winning combinations are formed, with the cascading wild symbol acting as a catalyst for continuous symbol replacements. This can lead to a chain reaction of wins and significantly increase the overall payout potential of the game on slots with the highest RTP. Cascading wilds are commonly featured in video slots and online slot games.

Multiplying Wild Symbols

When a multiplying wild appears in a winning combination, it not only acts as a substitute for other symbols but also applies a multiplier to the payout of that particular combination. The multiplier value associated with the multiplying wild can vary, ranging from 2x to much higher values like 3x, 5x, or even higher on the best online casinos for real money.

For example, if a winning combination includes a multiplying wild with a 3x multiplier and the payout for that combination is $10, the actual payout would be multiplied by 3, resulting in a $30 payout. You can find multiplying symbols in various slot games, including both traditional and video slots.

Overlay Wild Symbols

Unlike the standard variant that replaces other symbols, overlay wild symbols simply appear as an extra symbol or sets of symbols on the reels. They can cover one or multiple positions. Overlay wild symbols are often visually distinct from regular symbols, making them easily recognizable during gameplay.

When overlay wilds land on the reels, they can create winning combinations by complementing existing symbols or forming their own winning lines. They are commonly found in video slots and online slot games.

Strategies for Using Wild Symbols

Wild symbols can be powerful tools in your gaming arsenal, enhancing your chances of hitting winning combinations and increasing your payouts once you’ve learned how to play online slots. To make the most of this dynamic symbol, it’s important to employ effective strategies that leverage their potential.

And below, we will explore a range of strategies designed to help you harness the power of wild symbols effectively:

  1. Identify Paylines: Pay attention to the paylines in the game and identify which ones offer the highest payouts. Utilize wilds strategically by placing them on these paylines to increase your chances of hitting lucrative winning combinations.
  2. Maximize Coverage: Aim to place wilds in positions that cover multiple paylines or adjacent positions on the reels. This maximizes their potential to substitute for different symbols and increases the likelihood of forming multiple winning combinations simultaneously.
  3. Bet Max or Adjust Bet Size: Consider adjusting your bet size to maximize the benefits of wild symbols. Betting the maximum amount may unlock higher payouts or bonus features that offer more wild symbols.
  4. Take Advantage of Multipliers: If the game features wilds with multipliers, prioritize creating winning combinations that include these symbols. By doing so, you can amplify your winnings significantly, taking full advantage of the multiplying effect – here is a good example of Wild Multipliers appearing on Wild West Gold.
  5. Understand Game Mechanics: Familiarize yourself with the specific rules and mechanics of the game you’re playing. Different wilds may have unique attributes or trigger special features. Understanding how they work will allow you to make informed decisions and strategize effectively.
  6. Focus on High-Paying Symbols: Pay attention to the high-paying symbols in the game. When a wild appears alongside these symbols, it can create the most valuable winning combinations. Prioritize placing wilds in positions that align with these high-paying symbols to maximize your potential payouts.
  7. Utilize Wild-Triggered Features: Many games offer bonus features or free spins triggered by wilds. Take advantage of these opportunities by actively seeking out games with wild-triggered features. This way, you can benefit from additional wilds or increased chances of landing winning combinations during the bonus rounds.
  8. Play Free Demo Versions: Before wagering real money, consider playing free penny slots and free video slots that feature wilds. This allows you to familiarize yourself with the game mechanics, wild symbol behavior, and potential strategies without risking your own funds – remember to gamble responsibly.


Thanks to their ability to substitute for other symbols and unlock exciting features, wild symbols have become integral components of the gaming experience. Whether you encounter them in slot machines, video slots, or other casino games, understanding the nuances of wild symbols can greatly enhance your gameplay.

By strategically utilizing wilds, identifying paylines, maximizing coverage, and taking advantage of multipliers, you can increase your winning potential. That said, it’s important to familiarize yourself with game mechanics, practice bankroll management, and remember, while wilds can enhance your gaming experience, outcomes are ultimately determined by chance.


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