Understanding Slot Reels

What is a slot reel

A slot reel is a term used for the vertical (and sometimes horizontal) columns in a slot game – whether online or offline. Players digitally “spin” them for a random outcome every time, which might or might not result in a winning combination of symbols.

The reels together in a slot game form an array. The arrays along with the rows form the entire slot grid. Those who play slots would know reels are an integral part of the setup. After all, the whole point of slot gaming is spinning the reels!

Slot reel

What are the Common Types of Reel Arrays?

The most basic array of online slot reels is 3X1 (3 reels, 1 row) with a single payline. In the world of iGaming, they are known as classic 3-reel slots. The second most common reel array is 5X3 (5 reels, 3 rows) with 25 paylines.

Of course, modern-day online slots are a result of continuous experiments of game developers to inject excitement in different forms. For this reason, we have unique slots with 6, 7, 8, 9, and even 10 reels.

Which Reel Array is Considered the Best?

There’s no reel array better than another. It’s the slot’s gameplay – the RTP, Volatility, and overall experience it delivers – that matters, regardless of the number of reels. Eventually, it all boils down to personal preference.

However, players should keep in mind that 3-reel slots are the simplest of the lot. These games come with basic gameplay and are often devoid of special features and bonus rounds. They are ideal for new players who want to test the waters without getting caught up in the complexities of the game.

On the other hand, slots with 5 reels and up might be a tad complicated, but they offer a gaming experience that is way superior. These games include special features and bonus rounds and are aesthetically better. The best way to understand what a slot can deliver is to test its demo version.

Check out demo versions of popular slots

Is it Possible to Change the Number of Reels in a Slot Game?

The number of reels in a slot game is pre-determined by the game developer. The reels are usually fixed and cannot be added, deleted, or changed. However, there are certain slot games where extra reels can be unlocked as you play. The feature is known as “expanding reels.” However, such games are hard to come by.

Do the Reels in a Slot Affect RTP?

The reels in a slot game have zero effect on RTP (Return to Player). Two slots with the same number of reels arranged in the same array can have two entirely different RTP percentages or even the same.

Read more about RTP in slots

Do the Reels in a Slot Affect Volatility?

Slot reels do not affect the Volatility of the game. Two slots with the same arrangement of reels might have different Volatility or even the same.

Read more about Volatility in slots

Are Reels in Online Slots Akin to Those in Offline Slot Machines?

Yes, the reels in online slots are akin to those in offline slot machines.

In the past, the most common forms of offline slot machines had mechanical reels that had to be physically spun using a lever. These machines featured three reels with 10 symbols on each. There were 10,000 different combinations of symbols possible.

Over time, slot machines have become more complex and technologically advanced. The moving parts have now been replaced by microprocessors. Reels no longer come with pre-determined symbols. RNG has been brought into play so the outcome of each spin is always random and different.

The same has also been translated into online slots where the reels must be digitally spun and RNG determines the results.

Do Slot Reels Really Cause the Near-Miss Effect?

In slot gaming – online or offline – a near-miss occurs when the game is stopped in a way a symbol in one of the reels is just one position shy of the winning combination (think cherry-cherry-lemon in a classic fruit slot). However, the reels aren’t directly involved in causing this effect. It is simply a fallacy.