With slots easily accessible online, traditional slots, where you have to pull a lever to spin mechanical reels, turn into sentimental predecessors.
The brief history of slot machines began in 1891 when the first five-drum gaming machine containing poker-based card faces was invented in New York City. Although popular among players in bars, this machine did not have a payout mechanism, which meant players could only win food, beer, or cigars.
The revelation followed when Charles Fey of California invented a simplified version with just three real reels and five different symbols. Soon after, an improved replica of this slot machine appeared with the iconic chewing gum dispenser accessory.
Images of fruit were placed on reels as symbols to represent the flavours of the chewing gum. And that was the start of the classic three-reel fruit slot machine as we know it.
What Exactly are Slot Machine Reels?
You can think of a slot machine reel more like a wheel, covered with images (aka slot machine symbols) in random order. These wheels (or reels) spin when you place your bet, and they all stop at random positions, either on their own or by pressing stop.
On a 3-row slot machine, three symbols from each reel will be visible when the reels stop spinning. If you are lucky and the different reels come to a stop with the corresponding symbols displayed, you could win a payout! Although it depends on the slot machine’s payline.
What are Multi-Reel Slots?
Gone are the days when you could only play classic 3-reel slots. While the 1890s brought the first mechanical reels, the 1990s saw the rise of multi-reel slots with five, seven and more reels, and sometimes no reels at all.
Their popularity is no coincidence since multi-reel slots contain multiple bet lines, meaning more ways to win. Additionally, multi-reel slots utilize additional bonus features, imaginative graphics, and sometimes even multi-level gameplay for an extended gaming experience.
Types of Slot Machines
Typically, slot machines fall into the categories of classic slot machines and modern slot machines defined by the number of reels they have. Here are the four most popular types of reel slots you’ll find online today:
Classic 3-Reel Slots
Characterized by three reels and fruit symbols, 3-reel slots are the most popular online slots derived from traditional land-based casino games. Although simple in gameplay, classic 3-reel slots can nonetheless offer lucrative bonuses and high payouts.
7s on Fire is a good example of a classic 3-reel online slot machine.
Designed by Barcrest, known for its popular slots, the game comes with a standard three × five reel setup, five paylines and a potential of 1,250 times your bet. Typical of the 3-reel slot’s design, the game is easy to understand without the burden of many complicated bonus features, which is ideal for beginners or for relaxing games.
Modern 5-Reel Slots
Modern 5-reel slots are among the most popular online games among casino players at the moment. Unlike the classic fruit slot machine design, 5-reel slots come with multiple lines and cool bonus features that potentially give you a better chance of winning big and overall more fun.
The second best thing about these slots is that they are based on many different slot machine themes like popular Egyptian Slots, Adventure Slots or Sexy Slots, among many others.
To get a feel for a modern 5-reel slot machine, try NetEnt’s Dead or Alive, the player’s favourite.
It stands out from the crowd with its fantastic Wild West theme, stunning graphics and exciting bonus features. The stars of the show here are free spins with sticky jokers and multipliers that will double your winnings – a great choice for new and seasoned slots players.
Slot Machines With 7 or More Reels
Unlike 5-reel slots, which occupy the majority of the industry’s slot market, Lucky 7-reel slots are pretty niche slots. 7+ Reel Slots are unique next-generation online games that provide players with additional ways to win through multiple paylines and additional bonus features.
Played on a seven × seven configuration, the Viking Runecraft Slot Machine is the perfect example of an entertaining 7-reel slot machine.
Not only does it offer a stunning Viking theme and excellent key stats, but it also offers supercharged multi-level gameplay for any slot player. Play’n Go is known for its immersive and enjoyable slot games. Viking Runecraft takes things to a whole new level with this amazing seven reel slot!
Slot Machines Without Reels
Game developers are continually looking to reinvent slot machines by creating new dimension gameplay to wow gamers. As a result, we have reelless slots, also known as Cascading Grid Slot Machines or Cluster Slots.
These slots work because you have to match multiple identical symbols adjacent to at least one other symbol in a cluster to win a win. When you form a cluster, the symbols disappear, leaving room for new symbols on the grid for a chance to create new winning clusters.
Play’n GO’s first cascading hexagonal grid slot machine, Honey Rush, is a perfect illustration of a slot machine without reels.
This grid slot is used to create settlements and charge the Rush meter to unlock additional features. Plus, Sticky Wilds come with multipliers up to 27x for exciting payouts.