Classic slots consist of 3 reels and 1 payline. In addition, they are traditional games that are based on the kinds of slots games that first appeared in land based casinos. Classic slots are also known as three reel slots.
A San Francisco machinist named Charles Fey invented the ancestor of today’s slot machines, the Liberty Bell, in the late 19th century. These were completely mechanical machines, since electronic components had not been invented at the time.
With only three reels and a limit of five unique symbols, Fey was able to devise an accurate automatic system for determining payouts. These simple mechanical games quickly gained popularity. Fey’s Liberty Bell slot machines could be found in cigar shops, bowling alleys, saloons, brothels, and more all across the country by 1908. Today, three-reel slots have been almost completely replaced by video slot machines. It can be incredibly difficult to find an original machine anymore. Should you be lucky enough to find one, though, there are a few things to consider.
First, the odds of winning at a three-reel machine are higher than those for video slots. Video slots use extremely large, digital reels covered with as many as 256 stops. This is possible because the computer-driven games are not constrained by the size of physical reels.
Mechanical three reels, however, use printed reels, meaning the symbols never change and their numbers are limited by the size of the reels. With fewer stops available on the reel, the odds of hitting a winning combination are much higher. For instance, a mechanical three-reel might have 20 symbols on each reel while a video machine could have 256. So the three-reel machine has a 1 in 8,000 chance of winning, compared to the video machine’s almost 1 in 17 million.
There is one problem with limited symbols: With higher odds of winning, the machine cannot maintain the higher payouts available in video slots. People win more often at three reels, so the machine pays out more money. The low odds of a video slot machine help it provide higher jackpots because fewer people are hitting any combinations.
Another drawback to the three-reel machine is the lack of bonus rounds. Video slot machines offer players mini-games with more chances to win money. Mechanical three-reel slots can only ever be mechanical three-reel slots. This doesn’t mean, though, that three reels aren’t fun. There’s something to be said for hearing the clanging and spinning of physical reels. The experience can feel a bit more authentic than digital games. Players may even feel a greater sense of accomplishment because their winning combination is real, not simply programmed code.
Three reels are the genesis of the modern slot machine. They’ve become old-fashioned these days, but they can still offer quite a bit of fun. If you’re looking for a more tangible, traditional slots experience, try hunting down a three-reel machine.