Slot machines are fascinating inventions. What started with mechanical slots, featuring drums, reels, cogs, levers, and cash dispensing trays rapidly evolved into electro-mechanical devices, and digital online slots. Regardless, the fundamentals of slots remain intact. A set number of reels, or a varying number of reels (as in Megaways slots) work synergistically to deliver a set of symbols on paylines. When the right combinations of symbols land on activated paylines, specific payouts are possible. As a rule, players can expect larger payouts with bigger bets and high-paying symbols.
Slot machine games are broadly categorized as classic slots, video slots, and jackpot slots. Within each genre are many sub-themes, offshoots, and unique attractions. One need look no further than the symbols which pepper the reels. These same symbols present in the paytable of each specific slot machine game. As a rule, you can expect lower payouts for high-frequency symbols, and higher payouts for low-frequency symbols. It's the law of supply and demand working its way into the slots arena. As a player, you want to land a combination of high-paying symbols on the reels, on active paylines. The bigger your bets, the greater your winnings (when the right symbols line up). Naturally, responsible gaming is strongly recommended at all times. Never wager more than you can afford to lose.
People often mistakenly refer to slot machine symbols as slot machine icons. They are not quite the same thing. A slot machine symbol includes any symbol that is represented on the paytable. A slot machine icon represents the brand of the specific slot machine game in question. The slot machine icon can also be a Wild Symbol, a Scatter Symbol, or a Bonus Symbol. It is often the game name, or insignia. All of the symbols and icons are specifically created to appeal to players. When you play Starburst, Mega Moolah, Pirates Millions, Eye of Horus, or Rainbow Riches Slingo, you’ll see some pretty amazing in-game symbols.
More About Slot Machine Symbols
Consider a classic slot machine game with 3 reels, and 9 symbols on the screen at any given time. These types of slots feature three horizontal lines, but typically only have a single payline in the middle. When identical symbols line up on the reels on the active payline, you win the attendant payout. The symbols in a classic slot machine game include 7s (multi-coloured 7s), bars, double bars, triple bars, bells, cherries, and different types of fruits. You may see watermelons, pomegranates, grapes, lemons, or oranges.
The traditional classic slot game was popularized by Charles August Fey with his iconic Liberty Bell slot released in 1895. It was a tribute to the Liberty Bell which is a national treasure in Pennsylvania. While certainly a groundbreaking invention, his classic slot was one of many to be released to the world. It paved the way for fascinating game play in the form of one arm bandits in taverns, clubs, and casinos across the United States, and beyond. After Fay, the Bell-Fruit Gum Company created a different type of classic slot game based on chewing gum prizes because gambling was outlawed in the US at the time.
According to researcher D. Bailey, a standard 3-reel slot may feature 20 symbols per reel. Some of the symbols are blanks, and others include fruits, bars, and bells. If there is a single jackpot symbol on each reel, and the jackpot is awarded when that jackpot symbol lands on the centre line across all 3 reels, then the odds of winning the jackpot are supposed to be 1:8,000. This is calculated by multiplying 1 in 20 x 20 x 20. But we know that slot reels hardly ever line up in such a way that a full symbol is displayed on a payline. In fact, there are far more than 20 stops on any given reel – there are hundreds. Therefore, your odds of winning a jackpot by lining up specific symbols are really small. It's the random number generator that generates stops for symbols on reels.
According to Bailey (with a classic slot game), there may be 255 or 256 stops per reel. That means your chances of winning could be 1 in 255 x 255 x 255, or greater. BTW, the odds are roughly 1 in 17 million. Regardless of the number of symbols, there are also RTPs to consider. The RTP is the Return to Player Percentage. It indicates what percentage of every £ you can expect to win back over the long term. None of us ever gets to enjoy a long-term play with any game, since these odds are calculated over millions of slots spins. Regardless, it's best to pick slot machine games with high RTPs.
Different Types of Symbols on the Reels
Imagine a slot game – any slot machine game. You've probably already got images of the slot symbols in mind. That's because there are so many different types of symbols on the reels, it's impossible to list all of them. Luckily, there are standard reel symbols. These include typical slots symbols such as 9, 10, Jack, Queen, King, and Ace symbols. These are usually the low-paying symbols in a video slot machine game. In classic slots, you are far more likely to see fruit symbols such as watermelons, oranges, grapes, cherries, lemons, and melons. Many video slots games nowadays feature Bonus Symbols, Wild Symbols and Scatter Symbols.
- Bonus Symbols - these specific symbols trigger bonuses in the slot game. They are rare.
- Scatter Symbols – these usually form in combination to award free spins or payouts to players.
- Wild Symbols - these are like jokers in a deck of cards. They substitute for other symbols to form winning combinations except for Bonus symbols and Scatter symbols.
There aren't many Bonus Symbols, Scatter Symbols, or Wild Symbols in classic slots games. Classic slots are the traditional slots that were rolled out over a hundred years ago. They are simple, appealing, and entertaining to players. Now, with video slots and jackpot slots – it's a different ballgame. You will see plenty of in-game elements such as expanding reels, collapsing reels, exploding wilds, video animation across all reels, and so much more. The modern-day slots machine is more like an interactive video game with never-ending possibilities.
How Many Symbols on A Megaways Slot Reel?
Ever heard the term paradigm shift? Maybe you've heard about a quantum leap? Either way, Megaways are next generation video slots games. There are plenty of Megaways versions of video slots nowadays, since this new version has been licensed out to many different software providers across-the-board. You will instantly recognise games like Ted Megaways, 5 Lions Megaways, Bonanza Megaways, and so much more. This proprietary concept was created in 2015 by developer Big Time Gaming (BTG). It's an entirely new way to randomise the outcomes of slot games.
With Megaways, there is an in-game mechanic known as a random reel modifier. Most of the slots you will play have a set number of reels in play and a set number of paylines. On those reels, there are a specific number of symbols. With Megaways slots, RNGs mix things up so that there aren't any paylines. Instead, there are ways to win. Lots of them. Most Megaways slots feature 6 reels, with between 2-7 symbols per reel in play at any time. The precise number of ways to win is calculated by multiplying the number of symbols per reel together. If the reel modifier generates 7 symbols per reel across 6 reels, the number of ways to win is as follows: 7 X7 X7 X7 X7 X7 = 117,649 ways to win. To win with Megaways slots games, you simply need to land identical symbols on adjacent reels. The minimum requirement is 3 matching symbols, but up to 6 are possible.
The Number of Slots Symbols and Volatility
The number of slot machine symbols on the reels is directly related to the volatility of the slot machine game. When slot designers are looking to increase the difficulty of the game (and to increase the payout), they typically add more symbols to each reel. When high-paying symbols are low in number, it becomes much more difficult to land combinations of them across the reels. Volatility increases as the number of symbols on each reel increases. Typically, older slots have fewer symbols than newer slots. Therefore, volatility is lower on classic slots than it is on progressive jackpot slots.
The greater the number of symbols, the higher the volatility. When slot symbols don't need to be identical in order for payouts to be made, volatility decreases. When identical slot symbols are required, volatility increases. If you notice that there are a large number of symbols in the paytable, expect high volatility, and a low frequency of winning a big payout. By contrast, fewer symbols indicate much smaller payouts more frequently.
Summary: How Many Symbols on a Slot Machine Reel
The number of slots symbols on a slot machine reel will vary by slot machine category. Classic slots games feature fewer symbols per reel, and fewer reels in total. Many classic slots showcase 3 reels with this centre payline. Video slots are a different ballgame. Players will notice many more symbols per reel, and many reels in play. That's why there is higher volatility on video slots and jackpot slots games.
A unique category of slots with varying numbers of symbols on the reels is a Megaways slot. These contain up to 6 reels, with between 2 – 7 symbols per reel. There aren't any paylines in play, but they are well over 100,000 ways to win. High-paying symbols, low-paying symbols, wilds, scatters, and bonus symbols can combine to reward players. Symbols and icons are different. Icons represent the specific slot machine game a.k.a. the brand. They can be Wild or scatter symbols too.