Slot Machine Reels

slot machine reels types

This guide aims to clarify the concept of slot machine reels for beginners. It covers the following topics:

  1. The role of reels in a slot machine
  2. Exploring the most prevalent types of slot reels
  3. Debunking myths and misconceptions surrounding reels
  4. Highlighting the distinctions between land-based and online casino reels

Let’s jump into the details without delay!

Slot Machine Reels Meaning

At the core of every slot machine lies its reels, a fundamental and crucial feature. A slot reel is essentially a column positioned on the machine’s grid, and it rotates each time a player places a bet. Following each spin, different symbols emerge on each column.

The primary objective of the game revolves around spinning these slot reels, as the only path to securing winnings is by forming successful combinations.

Did You Know?

The straightforward nature of slot machines contributes to their widespread appeal among players, establishing them as the most popular game in every casino.

Exploring the Varieties Slot Machine Reels

Whether you’re playing at a brick-and-mortar casino or online, you’ll encounter a diverse range of slot machine reels.

The quantity of reels in slot machines differs from game to game, with options including:

  • Three reels
  • Five reels
  • Six reels
  • Seven reels
  • Ten reels

To simplify matters, we’ll uncover and examine each of these variations below.

3-Reel Slot Machines

As the name suggests, these are slot machines equipped with three reels.

When 3-reel slots are mentioned, players often envision the retro slot machines found in the early land-based casinos, characterized by a set number of mechanical reels.

A notable feature of these reel slots is that numerous online 3-reel slots maintain simplicity by featuring only one payline, reminiscent of the classic retro slot machines.

However, it’s essential to note that despite their mechanical appearance, online 3-reel slots utilize RNG algorithms, potentially offering better payouts than traditional mechanical slot machines.

5-Reel Slots

5-reel slots stand out as the most prevalent casino games, making it highly likely that your initial casino slot experience will involve a 5-reel slot.

Pro Tip

Slot machines with a 5×3 reel layout are the standard, widely adopted by most game providers.

Despite the abundance of 5-reel slot games in casinos, software providers consistently strive to enhance each game’s uniqueness and appeal. Competition among providers revolves around improving graphics and introducing new slot features.

The most captivating aspect of 5-reel slots lies in their bonus features, attracting players with the promise of generous payouts. Common bonus features in these slots include free spins and bet multipliers.

A noteworthy example of a popular 5-reel slot available for free on our site is Triple Red Hot 777 by IGT.

7-Reel Slots

Slot games with 7 reels defy industry norms by incorporating additional reels, offering a distinctive gaming experience.

Most 7-reel casino slots adhere to the familiar 5-reel layout but boast a larger 7×3 game board. Additionally, many of these slots feature expanding rows, thanks to special bonus features.

The inclusion of two extra reels adds an entertaining dimension to the slot game, especially for those seeking extended winning combinations.


If 7-reel slots include features like Stacked Wild symbols or Free Spins, they enhance the overall excitement of your gaming experience.

Some 7-reel slots go beyond the standard layout, introducing unique configurations with additional reels. With more reels, players have improved odds of landing the 3 or more Scatter symbols required to trigger the Free Spins feature.

For a deeper understanding of symbols like Scatter symbols and others in slot machines, explore our guide, which is easy to read and provides comprehensive insights in no time.

10-Reel Slots

Slots featuring 10 reels provide players with a distinctive gaming encounter, offering an extensive array of paylines and potential winning combinations.

Be Advised

Upon accessing the paytable of these 10-reel slot machines, you’ll observe their complexity, presenting an abundance of information that may be overwhelming.

Given the intricate nature of these slots, many players opt to engage in gameplay by simply spinning the reels and anticipating the landing of a winning combination, often neglecting to consult the intricate paytable.

While 10-reel slots are undeniably entertaining, formulating effective strategies can be challenging, given the difficulty in keeping track of every symbol across the expansive slot matrix.

Cascade Reels

Cascade reels, also known as tumbling reels, represent a contemporary slot mechanic that deviates from the traditional slot machine format.

In this innovative system, every matching symbol on the reels is removed from the game board, creating space for new symbols to drop into place.

Typically, achieving a winning combination triggers a multiplier, such as x2, x3, and x5, for each consecutive winning combination. This dynamic feature has the potential to yield significant payouts, contributing to the growing popularity of slot machines employing cascade reels.

A notable example showcasing cascade reels is NetEnt’s Gonzo’s Quest.

Myths and Misconceptions Surrounding Slot Reels

The rise in popularity of slot machines and online video slots has given way to various myths and misconceptions, often propagated by players unfamiliar with the inner workings of slot machines.

Myth: Virtual Reel Determines Payouts

A prevalent myth surrounding slot machine reels involves the belief that a virtual reel is in motion behind the visible reels, dictating the outcome of each spin.

This misconception often arises when players experience a near-miss, where the slot game halts with one symbol positioned just one space away from triggering a payout.

It’s crucial to understand that there are no tangible reels spinning behind the visible ones. The visuals displayed on the screen are purely graphical and have no impact on your winning odds.

Important Note

If there’s an option to manually stop the reels, it only halts the animation.

The result is determined the moment you press the “Spin” button, and the visual representation is solely for entertainment. The Random Number Generator systems generate a random outcome in a fraction of a second.

Myth: Casino Manipulation of Reel-Spinning

A prevalent misconception suggests that casino operators have the ability to control and manipulate the slot reels during each spin. However, this belief is inaccurate. Casino operators lack the capability to manually reprogram or influence the outcomes.

The programming of the game, including the operation of the slot reels, is solely the responsibility of the software providers. The games are consistently powered by Random Number Generators (RNG), ensuring the randomness and fairness of each spin’s outcome. Casino operators do not have the authority to manually generate or alter these results.

Differences Between Land-Based and Online Slot Reels

In the initial era of land-based casinos, slot machines featured three mechanical reels that spun when a player pulled a lever. These mechanical reels had fixed symbols and required physical manipulation by the players.

Each slot machine consisted of three reels, with ten symbols on each, resulting in 10,000 possible combinations. Over the following years, slot machines evolved to become somewhat more intricate while maintaining the same basic mechanics.

Today, slot reels have undergone significant transformations, differing substantially from their classic counterparts.

Conversely, video slots abandon mechanical reels and levers, relying on microprocessors to conduct the entire game. This departure from traditional setups means that modern slot reels no longer require pre-assigned symbols.

Interesting Fact

Before the advent of video slots, only two matching symbols could appear on a reel. Nowadays, entire reels can be covered with matching symbols, facilitated by Random Number Generator (RNG) software integrated into every modern video slot game.

Essentially, this software, embedded in the core of the game, randomly determines the outcome of each spin. For a more comprehensive understanding of slots, we recommend exploring our complete collection of slot guides.


In conclusion, it’s clear that slot machine reels stand out as a pivotal element in the realm of slot gaming.

With various types of slot reels available, each player has the flexibility to select the one that aligns with their preferences.

We trust that our guide has provided valuable insights. Armed with this newfound knowledge, you’re now equipped to test your luck on any slot game of your choosing. ReallyBestSlots presents an expanding array of up to 99,000 exclusive bonuses, offering an excellent starting point for your gaming journey.

Jack Barens, ReallyBestSlots writer
Jack Barens iGaming Writer
Last Updated: January 7, 2024

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Practice Slots for Free
See All Free Slots