Playing Online Pokies for Real Money – Our Guide

You can play online pokies for real money or for free. We like the former, of course, because when you put actual cash on the line, you have a chance of winning something of value. With free pokies, you can play as long as you want, but your odds of winning anything that matters are virtually nil.

On this page, you’ll find a complete guide to how to play online pokies for real money. We’ve included a look at the pros and cons of playing such games. We also offer suggestions for the best places to play. And we have all kinds of information about the sizes of the jackpots available and practical tips for how to get your money to and from the online casinos hosting these games.

We’ll start with some casino recommendations—you’ll find the rest of the detailed guide after that list.

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Should You Play Pokies for Real Money Online?

If you enjoy playing pokies in a traditional land-based casino, we see no reason why you wouldn’t want to enjoy your hobby on the Internet, too. The games on the Web play almost exactly like the brick and mortar games you’re used to. The random number generators work the same way. The payback percentages are similar or better.

Let’s back up and define both of those terms for those of you who might not be as familiar with the innards of these machines:

A random number generator (RNG) is the software that powers the results behind these machines. It’s basically a computer program that does nothing but cycle through thousands of numbers per second. When you hit the “spin” button on your favorite poker machine, the program stops on whichever number it’s at on that millisecond. Those numbers correspond to various reel combinations, which in turn trigger your payouts.

The payback percentage is a long-term, mathematical expected result for the gambling machine you’re playing on. It represents the amount of each bet that the machine is programmed to pay back to the player in winnings over time. Payback percentage is always expressed as a percentage.

Here’s an example:

You’re playing on a 50 Lions pokie, and this particular machine has been programmed to have a 96% payback percentage. (That’s a fictional number, by the way. We don’t have any special insight into the payback percentage for this game or any other pokies game.) For every $100 (AUD) you bet, the casino expects to keep $4 (AUD) and pay you back $96 (AUD).

But that’s a long term average. You won’t see that over the course of a few spins or even an hour’s worth of spins. These long term expectations take thousands, maybe even tens of thousands, to start resembling your actual results.

Let’s assume you’re a well-financed player, and you’re playing 50 Lions for $2 (AUD) per spin, but you’re betting on all 50 paylines. That’s a $100 (AUD) spin every time. Let’s also assume that you play a little more slowly than the average gambler, and you only make 450 spins per hour.

You’re putting $45,000 (AUD) per hour into action. The casino expects to keep 4% of that, which is $1800 (AUD). But you probably won’t lose $1800 (AUD) the first hour. You might win $2000 (AUD) your first hour and then lose $4000 (AUD) the 2nd hour. It takes hours of play before the long term results start to resemble your expectation.

In fact, the short term deviation from the mathematically expected results is why some people can walk away from a session or a trip with winnings in their pockets.

The only people who should avoid playing online pokies for real money are people with impulse control problems. If you’re a gambling addict or think you might have those tendencies, you should seek help. But normal recreational gamblers have no reason to avoid playing these games online for actual cash.

Who has gambling problems? People who gamble away their entire salary before meeting their other responsibilities count. So do people who can’t seem to enjoy the wealth they occasionally win. If you ALWAYS lose every penny you win, you might have a gambling problem and need to seek help.

Where Can You Play for Australian Dollars (AUD)?

According to one reputable source, you can find casino games that can be played for Australian dollars (and coins) at over 300 different online casinos. Of course, not everyone on the Internet has your best interests at heart. If you spend a little time reading player forums, you’ll quickly realize that some casino sites have trouble following through with their promises, especially when it comes to payouts.

We recommend finding a reputable gambling information portal (like ours) which offers even-handed reviews and recommendations. Not all gambling information portals offer legitimate information, either. Many are nothing more than shills or fronts for the Internet casinos listed there.

How can you tell the difference?

Read the reviews carefully. Do they include the pros and the cons of the casino? Or is everything at the casino perfect?

In fact, take a look at multiple reviews from the same site. Pay attention to whether or not ANY of the casinos have any negatives at all. If everything about every casino listed on the site is positive, then you’d be justified in thinking that maybe these aren’t real reviews.

We also recommend looking for reviews that are well-written by someone who’s clearly literate in the appropriate language. When you’re using a search engine like Bing or Google, some bad apples pop up from time to time. Not every result returned by a search engine is a good answer to your query.

Many websites make a lot of to-do over where a site is licensed and regulated. It’s been our experience that reputation is far more important than regulation when it comes to online casinos. You can easily find gambling sites that have been licensed by some of the strictest bodies in the world who still have dozens of player complaints.

We also recommend starting out with the free games at a casino site. If you don’t like the software, why would you want to wait until after you’ve deposited money to find that out?

Do You Have to Be a High Roller?

You do not have to be a high roller to enjoy online pokies. In fact, you’ll find a greater variety of stakes available online than you would at a traditional brick and mortar casino. Since Web-based casinos don’t have to worry about things like rent and the electric bill, they can afford to offer a wider variety of games at a wider variety of stakes.

This means that if you only have a couple hundred dollars to spend, you can get plenty of action in. In fact, you can take advantage of casino signup bonuses to stretch your bankroll even further.

How Big Are the Jackpots Online?

You’ll find jackpots online of every size, just like you would in a traditional casino. The games with the best payback percentages are called “flat top” machines. That just means that the highest jackpot on that game is a set amount.

You’ll also find an incredible variety of progressive jackpot pokies online. These are the games with the jackpots that have tickers tracking how big the prize has gotten. Some players love to play these games because they enjoy imagining what they’ll do with that life-changing amount of money.

These progressive jackpots are fuelled by contributions from your betting amounts. For example, if you’re betting $1 (AUD) per spin, a penny from that bet might be added to the jackpot. This has the net effect of lowering the overall payback percentage for the game.

But if you win the progressive jackpot, the payback percentage usually doesn’t matter anymore.

Casino Bonuses and Pokies Players

Casino bonuses are how online casinos entice pokies players to deposit money and start playing. These bonuses take the form of extra real money credits that you can gamble with. You should think of these signup bonuses as a way to stretch your bankroll.

Here’s an example:

You’re considering a casino that offers a 100% matching bonus of up to $400 (AUD) on your first four deposits. This means that when you deposit $400 (AUD), you get $800 (AUD) to play with. And you can repeat that over the first four deposits, meaning you can deposit $1600 (AUD) and play with $3200 (AUD).

This seems like an insanely good deal for the player and an insanely bad deal for the casino, but there are strings attached.

The first is that you have to wager a certain multiple of your deposit plus bonus before being allowed to cash out. Most online casinos require you to wager as much as 25X your deposit plus bonus.

What does that look like in actual practice?

Let’s say you’ve made your first deposit for $400 (AUD) and claimed your bonus. You have $800 (AUD) to play with. 25 X $800 (AUD) = $20,000 (AUD).

If you’re playing that 50 Lions game we talked about earlier for $100 (AUD) a spin, you can knock out $20,000 (AUD) in wagers in half an hour. That’s only 200 spins.

On the other hand, if you’re like your money to last a little bit longer, you can wager less per spin. At $10 (AUD)per spin, you’re looking at 2000 spins, which will keep you in action for at least 3 hours.

If the payback percentage for the slots are set to 96%, you’re mathematically expected to lose 4% of that $20,000 (AUD) in wagers. 4% of $20,000 (AUD) is $800 (AUD), which is, of course, your entire bankroll.

The casino has a mathematical expectation of winning all your money.

But that doesn’t mean you can’t win. One of our best sessions ever involved winning $6000 (AUD) early in our session. After we lost the other $1000 (AUD), we were still up $5000(AUD), even after achieving our wagering requirement. We were able to cash out with no problem.

One other string that’s attached to these bonuses—you’re almost always limited to using this money to play pokies. You’re generally not allowed to try to fulfil your wagering requirement with extremely low house edge games like blackjack or video poker.

Deposits and Withdrawals

Making deposits on the Internet can be tricky, but luckily, most Internet casinos allow you to use Visa or MasterCard to fund your account. Some card issuing institutions automatically decline transactions from online gambling companies, but not all of them do. The only way to find out is to try to make a deposit and see what happens.

Another option is to use an online wallet (or e-wallet). PayPal is a good example of this kind of service. These companies are similar to bank accounts, but they have a more limited service to offer. They just allow you to store money and transfer it to and from various individuals and companies.

Either of those deposit methods also work as withdrawal methods, although if your winnings exceed your deposit, you probably won’t be able to just get a credit on your MasterCard. In a case like that, the casino can also send you a wire transfer or a paper check.

Either way, reputable casinos will have customer service departments who will eagerly help you get your money to and from their site.


Online pokies for real money are great. We hate playing free pokies, although we know some people who love those games, too. But for us, what’s the point in gambling if you don’t stand to win anything and don’t risk losing anything? Risk and reward are the entire point, in our view.

These games offer the same perks and payout percentages as their traditional land-based cousins. In fact, you’ll often find better payback percentages available at an online casino than you would at some ritzy glamorous casino. The online casino has fewer expenses, for obvious reasons—so they can afford to offer a higher payback percentage.

We recommend various properties on our site. You should get recommendations from a site like ours or another reputable information portal. Don’t just follow a blind Bing or Google search into the arms of a rogue online casino operator. You’ll be really disappointed when it’s time to cash out. We’re confident that all of the casinos we recommend on this page will offer you excellent customer service and timely payouts.

Online pokies for real money offer a lot of perks and few downsides when compared to traditional casino games.