A real overview of reel slots

Since the introduction of slot machines in the early years of the 20th century, the devices have proven to be popular with gamers who want a simple, no-stress game that requires little effort and offers the option to achieve a nice level of payouts. In the early days, these devices were three-reel mechanical devices. Today, the slot machine industry has revolutionized slots entertainment with dozens of paylines, special effects, interactive features, Springbok Casino no deposit bonus codes and jackpots. 

Much of the change is due to the introduction of five-reel and six- and even seven-reel (rarer) machines. Once you understand a little more about the different reels and their functions, you’ll be able to find the slot machine that fits your individual needs and preferences.

General Information

First, some general information about today’s slot machines:


Slot machines have traditionally used random number generators to determine results. Today, those RNGs are computer-based. They determine the outcome of the game in a way that ensures that every result of every spin is random.  It’s important to remember that, just as with slot machines from decades ago, the outcome of the game is determined by random numbers, regardless of the number of reels on the machine. The casino will always have an edge over the player. So the payout is generally slightly lower than the actual winning odds.


Our slots at Springbok online casino have three, five or six reels, depending on whether the machine is a classic or video slots. The reel on the slot machine is a vertical image that spins on the slot machine’s screen. There are various symbols on the reel and when you line up a specific combination of those symbols, you win a payout – the payout is determined by which symbols line up on the machine. 

At one time, the reels were large metal hoops but now that slot machines are computer-based, they are simply images displayed on video screens. 

Stopping Points

The reels usually stop either on a symbol or on a blank space between the symbols. Those points are called “stops”. Modern slot machines have a weighting system and that system adjusts the odds. Weighting is what determines the likeliness of a spin stopping on a particular stop.


Computerization has changed the game significantly.  Before computerization, every symbol would have the same chance to appear. Due to computerization, the odds become more complicated.

Technology also added more symbols – in the beginning, the reels had only 10 symbols on them. Over time, this increased, giving players more opportunities to line up combinations and achieve payouts. Today the typical slot machine includes 20 symbols on each reel.


Another element that has increased possible combination formations is the use of microprocessors. Using a microprocessor, a slot machine’s digital reel can consist of 256 symbols which results in the possibility of more than 16 million combinations. Remember that, despite the big number of combinations, a player`s chances of winning is not affected since  payouts are determined by the rate at which the player hits the winning combinations. 

That means that a winning combination with a relatively big chance of being displayed delivers a relatively small payout and vice versa.

Payouts and hit frequency are set by the machine manufacturers as determined by the casino operator’s prescription. At Springbok, the slot payout rate hovers around the 96% mark.

Par Sheet

The par sheet determines the odds. All modern slot machines are designed with par sheets. These sheets specify the weightings for every stop which includes the blank stops. The par sheet shows the machine’s odds and the house edge.

Since land-based casinos don’t reveal the par sheets, players don’t get clear information about the actual house edge, payback percentages and odds - the payback percentage predicts the amount of money the slot machine will pay back over an unlimited number of spins.

Online casinos do publish this information on their sites.  We're proud that at Springbok, the slots payout rate hovers around the 96% mark.

What’s Available?

There are a number of different types of slot machines. The main difference is the number of reels. Some basic things to know:

3 Reel Slots vs 5 Reel Slots

The  reel on the slot machine is a vertical section which rolls whenever the player pulls the lever/presses the “spin” button. Today you can find three-reel, five-reel, six-reel and seven-reel slots. However, most slot machines are either three reels or five reels.  Six reel and seven reel slots are rather rare. 

Classic/Three-reel Slot Machines

The classic three-reel slot machine features three reels and one one pay-line. These are generally the slots with more of the traditional look. Many of the machines have the classic fruit, letter and number symbols (cherries and melons). Other machines have additional symbols including high playing cards and triple 7s. 

Five-Reel Slots

Today, most online slots are five-reel video slots. These machines feature interesting themes, engaging elements and special mini bonus games. There are multipliers, special effects and more. Some of these slot machines have a standard 20 pay lines but others have dozens, even hundreds, of pay lines.  Betting options range from low to high.

Six-Reel Slots

Six reel slots are unconventional but they do exist. Payouts on these machines are 3×6 or 4×6 and include features such as staggered reels and hundreds of pay lines.   Some of them have a 243-ways-to-win option while others feature up to 720 pay lines. In such a game, instead of hitting conventional pay lines, the player matches the symbols on the reels to win a prize.

Seven-Reel Slots

These are slots with seven reels and can be found online. They are not very popular and most players don’t find that they offer anything that they won’t find in a 5-reel or 6 reel game.