Slots Reels Guide

When you are learning how to play slots for the first time, the reels will be the first thing you discover. Watching the reels spin and seeing where and how they land is essential to playing online slots, but have you ever stopped to consider how the reels themselves work? In this guide, we are going to take a look at the inner workings of slot reels and tell you everything you need to know.

Slots Reels Explained

Slot reels, in their most basic form, are the vertical positions in a slot that spin around when you hit the spin button. There are typically multiple reels, each of which will display a predetermined number of symbols. The aim of a slot game is to land matching combinations across the reels. 

Each reel will play host to a huge number of symbols, meaning there are potentially tens of thousands of different combinations that can be formed on each spin. Slots are in a constant state of development, and the emergence of the internet has seen the way reels work alter, with developers constantly looking for new ways to improve gameplay and create more engaging slots. Regardless of these changes, the fundamentals of online slot reels have remained the same, and there is still so much fun to be had watching them spin.

Common Reels in Slots

Let’s take a look at some of the most common reel set-ups you will encounter in online slot games.

Example of a three reel slot game

3 Reel Slots

Three reel slots are what most people think of when they think of old-school fruit machine slots. While most three-reel slot games you will encounter at online casinos are designed to mimic old-fashioned slot games, there are also plenty of developers that have played with the formula, combining the old with the new to create a unique slot experience.

Example of a five reel slot game

5 Reel Slots

The most common type of slot you will encounter is five reel slots. The 5x3 slot grid has become the blueprint for modern video slots. These are the best place to start if you are new to the world of online slots, with most of these serving up a selection of bonus features and great winning potential.

Example of a ten reel slot game

10 Reel Slots

Over the years, developers have pushed the limits with the technical aspects of an online slot. You will now find huge games that feature ten reels and a massive selection of paylines and ways to win. Slots like this will often feature complex mechanics and a big paytable, so you are best adjusting to more traditional slot grids first.

Example of a cascading reel slot game where symbols drop from above the reels

Cascading Reels

Cascading, or tumbling, reels have become incredibly popular in recent years. Titles like Gonzo’s Quest, as well as a hoard of Megaways slots, have helped bring this mechanic into popular use. In these games, whenever players land a win, a cascading sequence is triggered, with the reels spinning again or symbols tumbling down. This then continues happening if new wins are formed from the resulting cascade.

Other Types of Reels in Slots

The above-mentioned are some of the most common numbers of reels you will find in online slots, but there are plenty of other variations you will encounter, too.

4 Reel Slots

Four reel slots are not too uncommon, with most developers opting for a slot that is slightly smaller than normal but bigger than old-school games. These can make a great alternative, especially to retro-slots.

6 Reel Slots

Six reels slots have become incredibly common, especially thanks to the emergence of the Megaways slot mechanic. While it is not exclusive to the Megaways model, this is where it is most commonly used.

7 Reel Slots

You will also find some slots that have seven reels. In some cases, as with many higher-reel count slots, the seventh reel may not always be active or may need unlocking. These games then have a higher number of ways to win.

8 Reel Slots

Eight reel slots are not hugely common, but they do exist. You will find some Megaways slots with bigger potential will opt for this set-up, and you may find more experimental developers trying this out.

9 Reel Slots

Like eight-reel slots, nine-reel slots are not that common. However, the existing ones will likely boast a wealth of bonus features and some strong winning potential or progressive jackpots.

12 Reel Slots

Twelve-reel slots are extremely complex and likely have a high difficulty level. These will have complicated maths models and are likely to be loaded with bonus features.

15 Reel Slots

It is extremely rare you will encounter a slot that has 15 reels. In most cases, these are enhanced versions of standard five-reel slots. We would advise checking through the paytable before you tackle one of these games.

16 Reel Slots

The highest number of reels you can have in a slot at the moment is 16. Needless to say, the extreme difficulty levels mean that these slots are very rare. Slot developers are always looking for new ways to push the limit, so there is every chance this number might increase in the future.

Reels and Symbols in Slots

The biggest challenge that faces physical slot machines is the number of reels that you can physically get into a machine. However, this problem does not exist with video slots, with developers constantly finding new ways to enhance the number of reels, symbols, and ways to win in slots. While five-reel slots are the most common, developers are constantly looking to find ways to improve on these and find new ways to entertain players.

How does RNG work on Slots?

A random number generator (RNG) is the name of the microprocessor that is used to determine the outcome of each spin in a slot game. RNGs guarantee total randomness on each spin, ensuring that neither the players nor the operator can impact the outcome.

Online Slots Reels Misconceptions

There are a lot of misconceptions when playing modern online slots and how their reels work. One of the most common is the idea of a near-miss, which is the idea that a slot was just a fraction away from landing the symbol you needed to make a winning combination.

The idea of reels being hot or cold is also wrong. RNGs determine all slots, and reels do not have hot streaks. Players also believe using different slot strategies can secure wins, but this is not the case. Strategies are just a way of managing your bankroll and minimising your potential losses.

Slots Reels Final Thoughts

Slot reels have changed a lot over the years and will continue to do so. One thing that hasn’t changed, however, is the fact that players should always gamble responsibly when spinning the reels. Players should remember that slots are a game of chance and that their behaviour will not impact the outcome of a spin.

Slots Reels FAQs

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