How 5-Reel Slots Work
Both classic and video slots operate roughly on the same principle. The objective of the player is to land a winning combination of matching symbols on one (or more) of the active paylines in order to collect a payout. Video slots typically have five vertical sections, known as reels, which are set into motion when the player presses the Spin button or pulls the lever. Each of the five reels contains a specific number of symbols as well as a given number of “stops”, which varies depending on the game. Each 5-reel slot is weighted or pre-programed so that it returns a certain payback percentage over the long run.
Advanced 5-reel slots have a greater number of paylines, allowing players to land more winning combinations and increase their profitability. The number of paylines on advanced 5-reel slots may sometimes exceed one hundred but most titles offer between ten and fifty paylines. The lines can run across the reels horizontally and diagonally or may even zig-zag and take on V-shapes.
In many cases, the paylines are adjustable which provides players with the opportunity to select the lines, they wish to activate and bet on. However, if a winning combination hits on a deactivated line, this will not count as a win and the slot will not pay out. On some 5-reel slots, the number of paylines is fixed which means players cannot choose which lines to bet on, but are required to bet on all lines per each spin.
Whether or not a particular set of winning symbols appears on one of the paylines depends on a program, called a Random Number Generator. The latter produces long sequences of numbers to ensure randomness so that all players have equal chances of collecting a payout.
Typically, game screens in 5-reel slots feature three or four rows of symbols to make a 3×5 or 4×5 grid. The increased number of symbols makes more paylines possible. This way, 5-reel slots usually feature anything from 10-50 paylines.
Other developers, meanwhile, can cram in every conceivable payline (left-to-right AND right-to-left) to reward prizes across 243, 720 or 1,024 paylines. Instead of linked combos of symbols, these ‘multi-way’ games award cash wins even if only two symbols connect. As such, a set stake is spread over all possible paylines to keep the wager down.
Wilds and Scatters are typical features in 5-reel slots. Wilds substitute for all regular symbols in a game to help form winning combinations and ‘fill the gaps’. Scatter Pay symbols, meanwhile, pay out winners regardless of where they land on the reels.
And 5-reel slots feature all the usual extras common to modern video slots: Autoplay and Gamble functions, and stacked symbols and Wilds which can add to your wins.
Due to the technology associated with 5-reel online slots, cool software touches can be found in many modern slots.
Expanding Wilds will stretch to fill the entire reel and bump up your winners, while replicating Wilds copy substituting symbols across reels.
But with five reels, the scope for triggering potentially lucrative bonus features is great. Three Scatters are usually enough over the 3×5 or 4×5 grid to trigger a Free Spins or Instant Win bonus feature, while some bonuses are activated by landing Scatters on Reels 1 & 5 or 2 & 4.