Hold and Win’ Casino Games: From Basics to Pro Strategies


The ‘Hold and Win’ mechanic has become an increasingly popular feature in online sweepstakes slots over the past few years. As the name implies, Hold and Win centers around holding or freezing special symbols on the reels to trigger extended gameplay and bonus jackpots.

The origins of this mechanic trace back to physical slot machines in land-based casinos during the 1990s. Popular games like Reel ‘Em In and Wheel of Fortune introduced the concept of holding or locking reels and symbols to give players more control over outcomes. As online slots started gaining traction in the early 2000s, developers incorporated and expanded on the Hold feature for digital play.

One of the first widely known online Hold and Win slots was Money Train, released in 2019 by provider Relax Gaming. This game allowed players to freeze ‘Money Cart’ symbols during free spins for a chance to win escalating Grand, Major, Minor, and Mini jackpots. Following the huge success of Money Train, many other providers like Pragmatic Play, Booongo, Wazdan, and GameArt jumped on the Hold and Win bandwagon.

So how exactly does the Hold and Win game mechanic work?

The basic premise involves landing a specific number of bonus symbols (often denoted by their own unique icon) to trigger a round of respins. The triggering bonus symbols then stay fixed, or “held”, in place while the remaining reels respin. If additional bonus symbols land on the respins, they will also become held in place while resetting the number of remaining respins.

This allows players to progressively fill the reels with more and more bonus symbols over multiple respins. Filling a certain number of spots (such as an entire row or the full grid of positions) leads to escalating jackpot prizes.

The appeal of Hold and Win slots lies in the extended gameplay and anticipation generated through the accumulating respins. Compared to regular slot spins, players get more engagement with the game across the succession of respins while aiming to build up the reels for the biggest rewards possible. The holding element also adds skill and decision-making that is absent from purely luck-driven slots.

Comparing Hold and Win Mechanics

While unique in its own way, Hold and Win shares some similarities and differences compared to other popular slot game mechanics like Cascading Wins and Megaways:

Hold and Win Cascading Wins Megaways 
Bonus symbols are held in place during a round of respins to progressively fill positions. Symbols explode and disappear when they form winning combinations, causing new symbols to cascade down and fill the empty spaces. This can create chain reactions of multiple consecutive wins.  Games have an adjustable number of symbol positions on each reel, leading to thousands of possible winning combinations per spin. 
Creates anticipation through the controlled build-up of symbols over successive respins. Provides fast-paced, action-packed excitement through frequent payouts.  Provides huge win potential through the sheer number of combinations available.  
Adds skill by letting players choose when to start locking symbols for the highest wins.  No player input beyond selecting bet size. As such, outcomes are entirely random. No player input aside from setting bet amount. Outcomes are random. 

Mobile vs. Desktop Play

Modern Hold and Win slots can be played on online sweepstakes gaming sites across both desktop computers and mobile devices. However, the latter offers some advantages that make it the preferred option for most players:

  • Convenience: You can play on the go anywhere without being restricted to a computer. This is great for filling spare moments.
  • Better access: Gaming apps provide quick access without needing to log into an account each time.
  • Touch controls: These include optimized and intuitive tapping/swiping gestures and features.
  • Horizontal mode: The wider view of the reels is better suited to mobile screens.
  • Multi-tasking: You can easily jump between games and other phone apps.

On desktop, larger displays allow seeing games in more fine detail – probably the only major advantage desktops have over mobile. Tactile interactions like tapping held symbols and swiping through menus come very natural on mobile touchscreens. Also, both portrait and landscape orientation work well. This versatility cements mobile as the top platform for Hold and Win gameplay.

Top 10 “Hold and Win” Games

Hold and Win slot themes cover a hugely diverse range, from mythical worlds filled with magic to modern pop culture icons. Below are some of the most popular Hold and Win titles found across top online sweepstakes gaming sites:

Apollo Pays logo (1)

Apollo Pays

Apollo Pays from Big Time Gaming brings the Hold and Win mechanic to life through its innovative Win Exchange feature. Whenever you hit a winning combination, the triggering symbols remain sticky for a re-spin. If two or more new matching symbols land and increase the payout, you’ll earn another re-spin, which then allows you to steadily build up wins. With 117,749 ways to win and a generous 96.56% RTP, the potential is huge. If your payouts reach 100x your bet, you can even exchange them for free spins through the Win Exchange option.

Money Train logo

Money Train

Money Train from Relax Gaming kickstarted the popularity of Hold and Win slots. Set in the American Old West, its theme revolves around a train heist. Before the round of free spins starts, you will decide to play as either the Collector or the Player. As the Collector, this symbol gathers multipliers to increase in value. For the Player, multiplier values contribute to other symbol positions. With its famous respin feature, you can lock Money Cart symbols during free spins for chances at four jackpots: Mini, Minor, Major, and Grand. A generous 96.20% RTP provides excellent winning potential up to 20,000x your bet.

Thunderstruck Wild Lightning logo

Thunderstruck Wild Lightning

Thunderstruck Wild Lightning from Quickspin introduces Thunderballs as its Hold and Win symbols. These balls come in blue, green, and yellow colors, each carrying random multipliers up to 15,000x your bet. When you land a Thunderball, it remains sticky for the re-spin. Additional Thunderballs lock in place to steadily build up the multiplier value. Alongside free spins, wilds, and a 96.10% RTP, Thunderstruck Wild Lightning offers huge payouts through strategic use of its Hold feature.

Game of Thrones Power Stacks logo

Game of Thrones Power Stacks

This slot from Microgaming brings the epic fantasy world of Game of Thrones to life. The gameplay centers around unique coin symbols linked to house sigils. Landing six distinct coins triggers the Link & Win feature. All other symbols disappear, leaving only the triggering coins. You then get three spins to collect multiplier coins worth up to 500,000x your bet. This game has four jackpots and an RTP reaching 96.20%.

Money Cart 2 logo

Money Cart 2

Money Cart 2 from Relax Gaming is another popular slot game with a Hold and Win feature. When you press play, landing three bonus symbols triggers the re-spin mode. The sticky bonus symbols remain on the reels for three respins. If a new winning symbol lands, it resets the respin count. With a 98% RTP, you can steadily build up wins through the Hold feature. Compared to the original, Money Cart 2 also boosts the maximum payout to a staggering 5,000x your bet for even bigger potential.

Buffalo Power logo

Buffalo Power

This slot from Booming Games relies on the classic Buffalo icons like the majestic buffalo, eagle, wolf, and lion. The Hold and Win round requires six bonus and power symbols. You then get three respins with the triggering symbols held in place. Additional symbols reset the respin count. Filling the reels can lead to one of four jackpots worth up to 1,187x your stake. Alongside free spins and 95.04% RTP, Buffalo Power delivers a solid Hold and Win experience.

Vikings Fortune logo

Vikings Fortune

Vikings Fortune from Playson is best known for its stunning Norse mythology visuals. The gameplay centers on the Golden Coin symbols. Hitting five Coins triggers the bonus round and consequently awards three respins. The sticky Coins remain on the reels while you aim to land more for additional respins and bigger wins. The game offers two jackpots, expanding reels, and a decent 95.20% RTP.

Sunny Fruits logo

Sunny Fruits

Another game from Playson, Sunny Fruits uses the classic fruit machine theme for its Hold and Win game. The 10 payline slot offers three in-game jackpots: Mini, Major and Grand. Hitting five or more fruit symbols activates the Hold and Win feature. You’ll get three respins plus any additional respins from landing more fruits. The game has a 95.7% RTP.

Gold Digger logo

Gold Digger

The imagery in Gold Digger from BGaming centers around mining for riches. The key is landing the shiny Gold Nugget symbols. Getting five or more triggers the Gold Link Respin, awarding three respins initially. Additional landing Nuggets extend the round while filling the grid can lead to the Grand Jackpot worth 8,320x your stake.

Outback Gold logo

Outback Gold

In this Aussie-themed Hold and Win game, the scattered Gold and Platinum Coins are key to hitting the Hold and Win jackpot round. Just 5 coins anywhere trigger it – scoring more coins during the bonus unlocks even bigger riches. The triggering Coins become sticky while other symbols are removed. Blanks or Jackpot Coins then appear during the re-spins. With hundreds of ways to win up to 5,000x your bet and 96% RTP, Outback Gold is one lucky charm you need on your side.

Expert Hold and Win Strategies

A key advantage Hold and Win has over traditional slots is that you can apply some tactics and strategies to optimize your wins beyond simply relying on chance. In this section, we share a few of those tips to help boost your chances of winning big prizes playing these games:

Patience is key

The whole idea behind hold and win mechanic is to build up bonus symbols slowly. Don’t rush to lock all of them right away and instead wait for more to organically land.

Analyze paytable

Carefully study the paytable so you know exactly how many symbols you need for each level of jackpots.

High volatility = bigger wins

Highly volatile Hold and Win slots have less frequent but larger payouts. On the other hand, lower volatility leads to smaller but more consistent wins.

Bet max when close to jackpot

Increase your bet once you’ve built up symbols close to a big prize in order to maximize the payout value.

Review autoplay settings

Many games let you customize autoplay conditions. If provided, set limits to avoid missing big wins from unattended auto spins.

Use free spins strategically

Try to build up bonus symbols during any free spins when you have nothing at stake.

Quit while you’re ahead

After hitting a big win, strongly consider calling it quits and banking the earnings.

Avoid chasing losses

Have a predetermined limit on how much you’re willing to spend. Never desperately try to recoup losses.

Capitalize on bonuses

Reload bonuses, free spins and any other offers provide extra opportunities to play Hold and Win games using the house’s money.

Select games with higher RTP

Return-to-player percentage indicates how much is paid back over time. This is why slots with higher RTPs are recommended as they give you better odds.

Safety and Fair Play

When playing Hold and Win slots (or any other game) at a sweepstakes casino, safety and fairness should be top priorities. Here are some key features and pointers to consider:

  • RNG testing

All reputable game providers have their RNG software certified fair and random by regulators like eCOGRA and iTech Labs.

  • RNG transparency

Major game providers and casinos openly share technical details on the sophisticated RNG systems used to ensure random outcomes.

  • SSL encryption

Ensure that the casino you’re joining has a 128-bit or higher SSL encryption to secure your sensitive data including banking information.

  • Trusted sites

Only use regulated, licensed gaming/sweepstakes sites known for integrity like Chumba, Pulsz and Sweeptastic casinos.

  • Responsible gaming

Set deposit limits, take breaks, and keep gambling recreational. Never chase losses and always understand that over time, the house has an edge.


In just a few short years, Hold and Win has carved out a major niche within the competitive online slots vertical. For players, this mechanic opens up new dimensions beyond just passive spinning.

The dynamic pays and interactive holding features allow you to actively influence payouts using skill and strategy. Combine this with the innovative themes spanning every genre, and Hold and Win provides a slot gaming experience like no other.

Pick from the Hold and Win games we shared in this guide and put your skills to the test for a chance at striking gold! Good luck!