JeffBet by Matthew Gover |
Date of Publishing: 17 May 2023

5/5 - (9 votes)

Slot Reels Explained – How Reels In Slots Work


Reels are an integral part of slot machines, as their positioning decides the outcome of the game. Slot reels come in different shapes and designs, and different slots games are equipped with different numbers of reels. Their concept originated when physical casinos were common and mechanical reels was used to determine winning combinations. Ever since then, slot reels have come a long way.

Despite being a central part of online slots within the UK, few people know the function of slot reels and how they work. This article will cover all the aspects of slot reels, including their origin, function, types, specifications, and the myths surrounding slot reels. Keep reading to gain a better understanding of how slots function.

What are Slot Reels?

Slot reels are the vertical positions on the grid, which are spun when the player places a bet. This leads different symbols to land on the reels, where the player hopes to land matching combinations to secure a win. All slot games are equipped with reels because they are the basic foundation of slots. 

Slot reels originated in traditional physical casinos, where a lever was used to spin them. The reels were mechanical, and the symbols were limited and fixed. Typically, there were three reels, and each reel had ten symbols. With advancements in technology, slot reels became more complex and compelling.

Today, reels are still an integral part of both classic slots games and new slots games, but they operate differently. Technological developments have revolutionised the online gambling industry, giving video slots a thrilling twist. Game developers are constantly working on adding exciting features like jackpots, bonus rounds, free spins, and additional reels to their gameplay. This has transformed the slot experience for many players.

How do Slot Reels Work?

The function of slot reels is to determine and display the outcome when a player places a wager. Online casinos do not have any pre-assigned symbols, and the placement of these symbols is decided using Random Number Generators (RNGs) developed by software providers. This software is programmed to regulate the outcome of the spins on a random basis. 

Types of Slot Reels

Several different types of slot reels are available. This shouldn’t come as a surprise when we think about the large number of slot titles available. Each type has its own specific gameplay and mechanics, so discussing them is crucial. Below is a brief description of the different types of slot reels provided in online casinos. 

3 Reel Slots

3 reel slots are the most basic type of slot reels and are closest to traditional slots. They are usually found in fruit machines, a favourite among slot fans due to their simplicity. The paylines for these slots range from one to ten, and they operate vertically, horizontally, and diagonally. The most common symbols are fruits, bars, and 7s. Even though 3-reel slots rarely come with bonus features, they are easy to play.

4 Reel Slots

4-reel slots might not be as popular as 3-reel slots, but some of the best slot titles are optimised for mobile gaming. If you want to play something unique not usually found in a regular casino slot, 4-reel slots will be ideal.

5 Reel Slots

5 reel slots are commonly found in many online casinos, with the 5×3 reel grid being the most frequent reel slot. 5 reels mean players have a greater chance of landing a significant win thanks to the high number of winning paylines. Remember that these reels are not adjustable, and all five will always remain active. 5-reel slots are available in different themes and usually have bonus features, wilds, scatter symbols, and a free spins bonus. 

6 Reel Slots

6-reel slots are also unique and are rarely found in a slot machine. Some of them come with staggered reels, and most have a 3×6 or 5×6 grid. 

7 Reel Slots

7-reel slots are another less commonly found video slot game. These tend to have vertical reels, and the number of symbols can range from 20 to 50. This means these slots can provide a better chance of winning. The most common features of 7 reel slots are wild and scatter symbols, which have the potential to contribute to bigger payouts.

8 Reel Slots

8-reel slots are also optimised for mobile gaming and are equipped with many exciting features and bonuses. These include unique themes, jackpots, wild and scatter symbols, and free spins. Due to the increased number of paylines these slots are very popular among players.

9 Reel Slots

9-reel slots are a less common type of slot game where players spin nine vertical reels to land a winning combination. While they are not as common as 3 or 5-reel slots, they are still a very popular choice among players. With the increased reel count, 9-reel slots offer more winning potential and can provide an exciting gaming experience for players seeking a unique slot adventure.

10 Reel Slots

10-reel slots are popular due to their massive number of paylines and winning combinations. They require a bit of practice because it is difficult to monitor every symbol, but there is no going back once you get the hang of it. 

12 Reel Slots

12-reel slots also have a high difficulty level, but they can potentially provide a massive payout. 

If you are new to slots, we recommend that you start playing a game with fewer reels. However, if you like the potential for more consistent payouts, then definitely give them a try.

15 Reel Slots

15-reel slots are another type of slot reels that are optimised for mobile gaming. The 15 paylines and the bonus features can give you a chance to chase that big win! You will find unique themes, symbols, jackpots, and bonus features in these slots.

16 Reel Slots

The maximum number of reels in a slot machine game is 16. They are not very popular due to their difficulty level but are preferred by experienced players who want to have as many paylines as possible.


Myths Surrounding Slot Reels

At JeffBet, we want to clear up a few misconceptions about slot reels still exist. These continue to emerge thanks to players who haven’t understood how slot reels function. When luck hasn’t been on their side, some players turn to conspiracy theories to help explain their results rather than focus on the maths and logic in which all forms of betting are routed.

One such myth is that slot games are designed to stop the reels at a point where players are just one symbol away from a winning combination. This can happen when players are playing manually or using the autoplay feature. Such myths lead players to believe slot reels will never pay a significant payout. 

The truth of the matter is that all regulated slots use an RNG to determine the outcome. RNGs cannot be rigged and provide outcomes within a fraction of a second. This means that the spin is based entirely on chance, and the outcome depends on nothing but luck. 

Another myth is that real reels spin in the background, and the outcome is decided when they stop. The reels spinning on your screen are nothing but a visualisation, and the slot’s RNG software controls the animation you see when you stop the spin. 

Slot Reels FAQs

Here are some of the most frequently asked questions regarding slot reels.

There is no hard and fast rule regarding how many reels will provide a significant payout to players. If you want simple gameplay, you should choose the standard 3 or 5 reel slots. For a more unique experience, choose slots with more reels. You should not base your decision on the number of reels only. To ensure the best choice, make sure to check the RTP and the variance rates for the games.
Playing more lines on slot reels increase your odds of winning by giving you more opportunities to get matching combinations. It is important to understand that slot machines are based on random chance, though and while betting more lines improve your odds, specific outcomes are not guaranteed. Luck has a major role, and big payouts can occur even if you bet fewer lines.
Rows in slots are horizontal lines that consist of paying symbols, while reels are vertical lines that also consist of paying symbols. Both are an integral part of slot machines as they determine the outcome based on matching combinations of symbols.
Changing the number of active reels is not an option for online slots. The number of slot reels is fixed, and you must choose a specific slot already equipped with the number of slot reels you want to play.
In online slots, reels never actually spin. It is an animation designed to resemble traditional spinning reels in physical casinos. The outcome is determined using RNG software that bases your results on chance.

About the Author

Author: Matthew Gover.

After graduating, Matthew began working as an English teacher abroad, initially in Spain and then Vietnam before finally coming back to the UK to settle. Matthew has always had a love for writing and an even bigger love for the igaming industry... Read More

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