Reel Slots Explained

reel spinning inside slot machine

Slot machines began as a betting game for entertainment with minimal stakes and modest rewards. Most these slots were mechanical devices consisting of three reels. However, these days slot machines have been overhauled into multi-reel and multi-line electronic devices controlled by the computer. Modern slots have bigger bonuses and have plenty of payouts and Progressive Jackpots among other many features. Let’s see how these slot machines work.

Slot Machine Components and How They Work

This text gives you an understanding of how the slot games work from the inside by explaining the slot machine components involved.

First, you should know that slot machines use random number generators. The first slot machines were coin/mechanical slots but still used the random number generator; the same way a deck of cards or a roulette wheel is a random number generator. Modern slots use computer-based random number generators to determine the outcome of the game. Even in the case where the modern slot machine uses actual reels, the outcome is still determined by the computerised random number generator. You should note that, though the outcome of the game is determined by random numbers, the casino will always have an edge above the player. This applies to all casino games since the casino uses large numbers and mathematical wits. This usually leads to a payout slightly lower than the actual winning odds.

Second, slots basically have three reels but can have five reels or more depending on whether its the classic or video slots. A slot machine reel is a vertical image that spins at the front of the slot machine. The reel contains various symbols on it. Lining up a certain combination of these symbols in a slot makes you win money. Traditionally, the reels were large metal hoops, but with the rise of computer gaming, they are just images displayed on video screens.

Third, you should know that the reels usually stop either on a symbol or a blank space between the symbols. The points where the reels stop is called “stops”. It is important to note that the modern slot has a weighting system used to adjust odds. Weighting is what determines the likeliness of a certain stop being picked.

reel components

Previously, every symbol would get uniform chances of coming up but due to computerization, the odds can be complicated. Additionally, the reels had only 10 symbols on them but this increased with technological progress. Manufacturers knew that more symbols increased the possible combinations with bigger winnings, hence attracting more players. With time, the typical three-reel slot machine included 20 symbols on each reel leading to increased possible combinations.

However, today, computerization working in hand with the microprocessors have enormously increased the possible combinations that can be found in the slot machine. A digital reel, for example, can consist of 256 symbols on it with a possibility of more than 16 million combinations. Despite the big number of combinations, it only shows the possibility of more combinations but does not reflect a player`s chances of winning. The payout chances are determined by the rate at which one hits the winning combinations. A winning combination with a relatively big chance of being displayed has a relatively small amount of payout and vice versa. More combinations, therefore, give a player an opportunity to win millions of cash with a little amount of money.

You should note that the payouts and hit frequency are set by the machine manufacturers in accordance with the casino operator’s prescription. The metrics can also be modified at any moment by just changing the chip.

Finally, the odds are determined by the par sheet. All modern slot machines are designed with par sheets which specify the weightings for every stop, including the blank stops on the reel. The par sheet shows the casino the house edge and the odds for the slot machine. The gambling companies never reveal the par sheets hence players would not clearly understand the actual odds, house edge and the payback percentage. Note that, the payback percentage gives a prediction of the amount of money the slot machine will pay you back over an unlimited number of spins.

Now that you know how the slots work, its time to know the various slot machines available. Apparently, there are different types of slot machines, basically involving the old and modern slot games with various numbers of reels. Let’s take a look at the various types of slots available.

The 3 Reel vs 5 Reel Slots

5 reel slot

One of the basic ways to classify slot a machine is by looking at the number of reels a slot machine has. A slot machine reel is a vertical section which usually rolls when the lever is pulled. Most slots are categorised into three-reel, five-reel, six-reel and seven-reel slots. In this text, we focus on the 3 reel vs 5 Reel Slots and the other slots.

Classic/Three-reel Slot Machines

The classic slot machines feature three reels with only one pay-line. These are the slots with more of the traditional look and are related to the slots that first appeared in the casinos. These machines have a variety of symbols some of which are completely unique though there are some of the traditional fruit symbols such as cherries and melons. Apart from the fruit symbols, there are other common traditional symbols which include high playing cards, lucky 7’s, triple barm and the single double.

Five-Reel Slots

This is so far the most popular slot machine among the video slot games. The five-reel slot machine is packed with plenty of mini-games, bonuses as well as engaging and interesting themes ranging from space aliens to cavemen and classic films. As opposed to the three-reel slots, most of the five reel slots have a standard 20 pay lines.

Other reel slots

Six-Reel Slots

These slots operate on unconventional six reels. They can come with either a conventional 3×6 or a 4×6 payout. These slots can also feature staggered reels in case of the WMS’s Reel Boost games. They come with hundreds of pay lines similar to the 243-ways-to-win slot or the 720 pay line slot. Instead of hitting conventional pay lines, the player wins prizes for matching the symbols on the reels.

Seven-Reel Slots

These are slots with seven reels and are not as popular as the others. You can`t find them in live casinos, but some of them exist online. Real Time Gaming and WGS Technologies sites are known to offer the seven-reel slot games. However, due to the increase in the slot releases, we can expect slot makers to start making their own seven-reel slot games.

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