Three Reel Slots or Five Reel Slots?

By Ben Hamill - November 19 2016


If you’re a newcomer to slots gaming you may be wondering about your choices for slot machine entertainment. The industry today has developed to the point that slots aficionados have hundreds of options that range from simple fruit machines to 3D video slots.

Today slot machines are divided into two main sub-groups — three-reel classic slot machines and five-reel video slots. The differences between the two types of slot machines go far beyond the number of reels that are featured on the screen. Once you understand the differences between the two kinds of slots you’ll be better able to choose a slots that meets your individual needs and expectations.

History of Slots

The forerunner of today’s slot machines was the Liberty Bell, a mechanical slot machine that was invented by Charles Fey in 1895. Fey created his Liberty Bell with threespinning reels on which symbols spun. These symbols included diamond, heart and spade card deck symbols alongside images of a cracked Liberty Bell. If three Liberty Bells appeared on the reels simultaneously in a row a payout was delivered of 50 cents.

Fey’s Liberty Bell evolved and by the early 1900s these automated slots could be found in salons and other types of drinking establishments. The updated machines displayed fruit symbols and they paid out fruit-flavoured candy and gum for wins. People began to refer to them as “fruit machines” and that name is still used among slots enthusiasts in Great Britain. Pub owners also called the machines “chewing gum dispensers” in order to avoid censure by government officials who were charged with enforcing anti-gambling laws.

When Las Vegas began to develop as a gambling centre in the 1940s the casino operators, aware of the game’s popularity, incorporated slot machines into the gaming arena. Over the years these machines became increasingly sophisticated. New revisions helped to make the games more attractive to the players while modifications such as the electromechanical arm the bottomless hopper, the automatic payout and logic boards contributed towards reducing staffing needs and making the slots more valuable to the casino.

Arrival of Five-Reel Slots

Up until 1976 slot machines involved three reels and up to five paylines. The first video slot machine debuted in 1976. It was developed by the Fortune Coin Company and used logic boards to power the machine. Video slots continued to evolve and expand with the addition of new features and new elements.

Today most slots entertainment involves five-reel video slot machines but there are still plenty of three-reel classic slots available. What are the differences between the two?

  • Gameplay — Casino advisors generally suggest three reel slots as a more suitable slots option for beginning players and others who prefer a slow-paced, sedate pokies event. The 3 reel slot machines offer a simpler design so it’s easier for new gamblers to understand what’s expected and how to proceed in different situations. Players who want a more dynamic gaming event in which things move at a faster pace will find the five-reel video slots to be an option that better suits their needs.
  • You might think that a three-reel slots with only a few paylines gives you fewer chances to create wins but that’s not necessarily so. It’s true that your payouts on the 5 reel slots are generally higher but gamers tend to hit more often on a 3 reel slots which results in a higher number of total payouts.
  • The imagery of the 3-reel games is simple. In a classic slots you’ll see basic animal, fruit or other symbols on the reels. The five-reel game symbols are generally more complex including, in some games, 3-D images.
  • If you’re looking for a game with interactive game elements you should choose a five-reel slots. The 3-reel slots tend to be basic spin-and-win slots in which you simply line up matching symbols on the paylines but in a five-reel slot game you can look forward to multiple added features including 243 Ways to Win, Gamble Games, multipliers, bonus features, wilds, scatter combination payouts, expanding wilds, exploding symbols, stacked reels and more.
  • Free spins rounds are often featured as part of five-reel slot machines. These free spins give you the chance to spin the reels for free and collect the resulting payouts.
  • The five-reel slots often include multipliers, both for the regular game and the free spins rounds. There are multipliers that multiply specific payouts and multipliers that multiply your existing wins.
  • Bonus rounds such as Gamble Games are offered on five-reel slot machines.

Casino Bonuses

Casino bonuses are awarded for both three-reel classic slots and five-reel video slots. These are bonuses that are delivered by the casino as part of the gambling event. You collect your bonus promotions and apply them to your preferred games.

There are different types of casino bonuses. Some of the most lucrative include the Welcome Bonus that’s given to new players and the Loyalty Points which are presented to all gamers, both new and veteran gamers. The Welcome Bonus involves match bonus credits that match your deposits. You make your deposits during your first week of casino gaming and the casino will match those credits, giving you double the number of real money credits for half the deposit budget.

All players collect Loyalty Points for their gaming activities. The points are distributed based on the number of games played, the types of games played and the number of deposits made. The Loyalty points are redeemable for valuable casino and real world gifts.

There are additional bonuses that are applicable to both the three-reel slots and the five-reel slots as well as to the other casino games. These bonus packages include refer-a-friend bonuses, new game bonuses, seasonal contests and draws and more.

Slots Ideas

There are hundreds of slot machines. Some of the most popular three reel slot machines include Microgaming slots such as Spin Magic, Wheel of Plenty and Magnificent 777s. Some popular Microgaming 5-reel slots are the Avalon 1 and Avalon 2 slots, Jurassic Park and Thunderstruck 1 and 2.

As you consider your slots choices, look at

  • Your interests
  • Your gaming budget
  • Your prior slots experience

Then, make your decision and enjoy a fun-filled casino event of exciting slots entertainment.