It is impossible to imagine any land-based casino without a game of roulette. Online gambling, on the other hand, is dominated by slots. The selection is so large that no other game can compare to the number of slots on offer at any online casino.
By the number of reels
The 3 and 5-reel slots lead the casinos in terms of the number of reels. The reels are vertical sections of symbols (from 1 to 10). By setting the reels in motion with the ‘Spin’ button, players expect winning combinations on the lines built into the slot algorithm.
Slots with 3 and 5 reels and 3 rows are now considered standard variants. 3-reels slots are considered to be retro games. They are called such not only because of their primitive design. They have a minimum of features and paylines. Most often, their number does not exceed 5, much less – 9 units. At the same time, these slots often have high dispersion. The fact that the small number of paylines and lack of bonus options does not allow winning combinations are formed often. Thus winnings are rare but large. All this attracts those players who do not like complicated gameplay and are willing to wait for a long payout.
Along with the move to the online space came the 5-reel video slots. These once thrilled players with their bonus features and medium variance. Wins began to occur more frequently, which, from a moral point of view, encouraged players. And while they were slightly lower than in the 3-reel variants, users could see that the slot machine was really giving back. For the 5-reel slots, unlike their predecessors, there is no specific theme. They support Egyptian, adventure, humour and other genres.
The development of the industry has not stopped there. Recently, developers have been rapidly adopting a new approach to video slots. This is how 6-reels and 7-reels slots have emerged. New mechanics allowed the developers not only to add reels and thus a lot of innovative bonus features, but also new payout systems. That’s how Ways to Win, Cluster Pays and Megaways payouts came about. To summarise: the number of reels determines the gameplay, payout system and even the stories.
By the number of rows
Rows in slots are horizontal lines that appear when the reels are put together. Rows and reels form the playing field or grid. Models with 3 and 4 rows lead in the number of rows. They are enough to put on the field a small set of bonus features and 20-50 paylines. An incredible number of slot machines with three rows forced developers to move away from the standard. The first slots with 5 rows appeared.
The addition of just one row allowed the developers to add even more bonus features. The number of paylines has exceeded 100 units. Also on the larger size of the playing field, payout methods other than lines can be used. These are often Ways to Win. Thanks to this mechanic, the number of ways to win has increased to 1024.
There are fewer games on the market with 1 and 7 rows. In the former, there is likely to be a minimal set of features. In the second, the payouts are done with the Megaways feature. These games do not have a consistent number of rows. After each spin, a different number of symbols fall on each of the reels of the slot. For example, if in one spin on the left reel 3 symbols fell out, then in another they may be 7. The developer only lays down the maximum number of rows. In slots with 7 rows, the number of Ways to Win reaches 117,649 variations.
By the number of paylines
Lines in slots have, until recently, been the only payout mechanics possible. Over a long period of its prevalence, developers have created games with completely different numbers of paylines. The very first online games featured as few as 3 paylines. Such slots are now commonly referred to as classics. They are simple in execution and design, reminiscent of the old slot machines.
The next mechanic invented was 5 reels, 3 rows and 5-9 paylines. Even the 2022 novelties of some developers have this number of lines. The reason is simple – there is an ongoing demand for such games. They do not have the ability to change the number of lines, which is relevant for beginners. Also in such models, the variance is slightly higher than in the previous mechanics.
The next stage in the evolution of slots has been the 25-payline games. Such slots often have flexible line settings. This means that after any spin, each player is able to adjust their number of lines. Playing with the maximum number of lines gives more frequent but smaller payouts. Accordingly, if 25-paylines slots reduce their number, the variance will automatically become higher.
Finally, the developers came up with transitional mechanics, where paylines were transformed into Ways to Win mechanics with 243 and 1024 ways to win. In these games, the chances of winning became higher, because instead of falling out symbols on a line, they could be placed in any other place conceived by the developer. The more ways to win in a slot, the lower the variance.
By the features available
Another important parameter by which slots are divided is function. The first feature invented was Wild. This was followed by Scatter, Free Spins and Bonus game. These features were the very first and are still present in the games.
The first two involve replacing non-winning symbols with winning symbols. The only difference is that Wild must be placed on the payline, while Scatter can be placed anywhere on the playing field. Of the entire library of games, the models with these features account for over 90% of the options.
As for the latter two, they have a slightly different purpose. Free Spin is a spinning feature without any cash investment. It is only activated under certain conditions. The winnings from the free spin rounds often bring in an impressive amount of money. This occurs if the mechanics of the slot included additional features. The maximum number of free spins per round and the order in which they are received is always shown in the payout table.
The bonus game is one of the most creative features in slots. It involves drawing money and additional bonuses (free spins, multiplier, etc.). Many providers pay maximum attention to it so that users are more willing to bet. So it turns out that the bonus game is often a whole action on the theme of the slot machine.
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