Understanding Slot Reels 

Slot Reels

Whether you are new to slot games or have been playing for a while, understanding all the moving parts of the games and their terminology can be quite a feat! And, one of these jargonic words you’ll often see – and potentially be baffled by – when playing slot games online or land-based slot machines is ‘reels’. 

So, without further ado, let’s take a look at what slot reels are, how they work, and the differing reels that you might come across whilst playing, helping you to understand slot games a little bit better!

What are Reels in Slots? 

In traditional slot machines, the reels are the three cylindrical moving parts that spin when you pull the lever, landing on a symbol each – hence the name ‘reel’. When playing online slot games, instead, you’ll see a grid. The reels are the lines that run vertically. 

How Do Slot Reels Work? 

As we’ve said, in traditional slot machines, the player pulls a lever to spin the reels. With online slot games, the player hits the ‘spin’ or ‘play’ button, at which point the digital reels will all spin and stop at random to reveal a set number of symbols. 

To ensure that online slots are left up to chance, the reels need to land on symbols randomly, which is where a random number generator (RNG) comes in. The RNG generates a random outcome of each reel’s spin – in other words, which symbols land, and where – establishing and maintaining randomness of results.

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Types of Slot Reels 

When playing slot games online, you’ll come across a wide range of different reels – be it the number of reels in play or the way they work. So, let’s take a look at the different slot reels you might encounter. 

3 Reels

Three-reel slots are exactly how they sound – slot games with three reels from left to right. As such, they mirror the clarity and understandability of classic slot games, keeping it simple-yet-effective. Just a few examples of three-reel slots at McLuck include Epic Joker, Leprechaun Song, and Tree of Riches.

5 Reels

Five-reel slot games are arguably the most common type of online slot – particularly those with five reels and three rows. Due to this, five-reel slots have a wide range of unique features and design elements. Some of the most popular ones include Hit the Bank, Lion Gems, and Grim the Splitter.

6 Reels

A sixth reel helps to make different grid structures and winlines. In Piggy Bank Bills, the even number allows you to match up the two half bills. In Fury of Odin Megaways, it creates 117,649 ways to win. And, Buster’s Bones has a unique square grid of 6×6. 

7 Reels

As seven-reel slots have two more than the norm, this gives more space for symbols to land in the game, and so are typically combined with bonus features like extra wilds, random multipliers, cluster wins like Sugar Rush, or tumble features such as in 5 Lions Megaways.

8 Reels

As you can imagine, eight-reel slots can host even more interesting mechanics, modifiers, and progressive functionality. For example, Gems Bonanza has a variety of spin modifiers and a progress bar, whilst Santa’s Wonderland has tumbling and exploding symbols, and Wild Walker has a progressive level bonus feature. 

9 Reels

Nine-reel slots are rare, but not extinct! The complexity of the design might seem intimidating at first, especially as there are more winlines to understand. Nevertheless, they are a unique game to switch up from classic slots. 

10 Reels

Just like nine-reel slots, 10-reel games have a huge number of winlines. That said, for this reason, the gameplay of ten-reel slots tends to be easy to understand and instinctual to counterbalance this.

12 Reels 

12-reel slot games are another that are recommended for seasoned slot enthusiasts. The gameplay can be difficult to understand for beginners, but do offer large amounts of winlines.

15 Reels

15-reel slots are probably the highest number of reels you’ll see in an online slot game. There’s a high number of ways to win, and make for exciting and immersive gameplay once you get the hang of it.

Multi-Reel Slots

Put simply, multi-reel slots can have any number of reels above. The reels spin when the player spins, and they land on a symbol for each row. This is the traditional slot game mechanic.

Cascading Reels

With cascading reels, the reels are spun as normal to land on the required number of symbols. Then, any winning symbols disappear from the grid, and new symbols ‘cascade’ or ‘tumble’ into the gaps. This means you can potentially get multiple wins in just one spin. 

Copy Reels

Copy reels in slot machines are a special feature where certain reels duplicate themselves onto other reels, typically triggered by landing specific symbols. Once activated, a reel with, for instance, a full stack of wilds, will mirror itself onto additional reels. This replication can significantly boost the player’s chances of forming winning combinations by spreading identical slot symbols across more of the game grid. Games such as Gold Party feature these types of reels.

Wrapping Up 

With this information at your disposal, you’ll hopefully be better placed to understand how slot reels function, what they do, and what you might encounter during gameplay. Armed with this new-found knowledge, why not put it into practice?

Check out the wide selection slot games at McLuck, with tonnes of different numbers and types of reels to explore!

FAQs About Slot Machine Reels 

Still got some questions about what reels are or how they work? Don’t worry – we’ve compiled some of the most frequently asked questions by both beginner and seasoned slot players.

How many symbols are on a slot machine reel?

The number of symbols on a slot machine reel can vary widely depending on the design and mechanics of the specific slot game.Typically, a traditional mechanical slot machine might have around 20 to 22 symbols per reel. However, modern video slot machines, which use virtual reels, can have many more symbols per reel, sometimes over 50 or even 100.

Should you stop the reels on a slot machine?

Stopping the reels on a slot machine, known as a skill stop, does not affect the outcome since it is determined by a random number generator (RNG) at the moment the spin button is pressed. This feature is primarily for enhancing player engagement and does not provide a strategic advantage.

How many reels are on a slot machine?

Slot machines commonly have three or five reels, but the number can vary. Some modern video slots may feature even more, such as 15 or multi-reels, offering more complex layouts and increased ways to win.

Can I change the number of reels in a slot?

Players cannot change the number of reels in a slot machine, as this is a fixed feature determined by the game’s design. Some games may offer special modes or bonus rounds with different reel configurations, but these changes are automated and not controlled by the player.

Does the number of reels matter?

Yes, the number of reels in a slot machine matters as it directly impacts the complexity of the game and the odds of hitting winning combinations. More reels typically mean more symbols and paylines, which can increase both the potential for larger, more varied wins and the overall volatility of the game. This affects how often and how much you might win, shaping both the gameplay experience and the strategy a player might adopt.



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