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The basic differences between 3 reel and 5 reel slots

Published on December 23, 2016, 7:43 am

by Jeff Grant Twitter account Jeff Grant LinkedIn account

Nowadays, all we get to hear is the term “video slots”. As if we have forgotten how and where it all started. 3 reel slots are the ancestors of today’s modern video slots, which evolved in 5 reel slots with the advent of technology.

At the dawn of slots, there was Liberty Bell. Then the Fortune Coin was introduced. Today, we have a plethora of slot games with various themes, diverse designs, which won’t leave any slot player indifferent.

Although they all function on the same principles, there are certain differences that allow us to put a fine line between them. And yes, one the most obvious distinctions is the appearance, the layout of the slots.

The Basic Layout of the Slot Machine/ Slot Game

It’s not rocket science, but we have to point it out. After all, the slots are titled according to their layout, or as experienced slot players call it, the grid layout. As the name suggests, 3 reel slots have 3 individual reels, whereas their counterparts come with 5 individually spinning reels.

Bingo Bango Boom (3 reel slot)
A classic 3 reel slot - Bingo Bango Boom (Microgaming)

Payline Count - Bigger Is NOT Always Better

Modern 5 reel slots, or video slots, usually come with 9 to 50 paylines, but there are a number of slots that deviate significantly from this range with 100 paylines. In addition, there are harder to digest slots for a lot of novice players, 243 ways pays slots.

On the other hand, in regards to the payline count, 3 reel slots are modest, starting with 1 payline at the very least, up to 5 paylines at maximum. However, not long ago, Play’n Go released a 3x3 slot called Eye of the Kraken. It comes with distinctive, mind-blowing 50 paylines. This just goes to show what the game designers can do with the latest generation technology.

Lower VS. Higher Volatility

This is probably the most important criteria on which players choose what type of slots they’re going to play. Players who enjoy long play sessions, with modest cash balance, yet they strive to win big eventually, should play 3 reels slots. In other words, 3 reels slots are less volatile than their counterparts. 5 reel slots require bigger bets if you want to tap into their full potential.

This is why 3 reel slots are losing their popularity amongst the younger player base. It’s all about flashy, video effects, frequent prizes which is not always as good as it sounds.

5 reel slot battlestar galactica
Battlestar Galactica - Having advanced features, modern 5 reel slot are more enticing than older ones

Gameplay, Features, Video and Audio Effects

Volatility and the payout potential is just the tip of the iceberg. We can all agree that 5 reel slots are way more entertaining than 3 reel slots due to abundance of video and audio effects, and special bonus features which we all like. Even if we’re dealing with a 3 reel video slot, a 5 reel video slot will always have the upper hand, at least in this market as it currently is.


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