As the name implies, classic slots have been around for quite a while. They first started making appearances more than 100 years before the online gambling industry’s birth, and that shows just how much history and effort has went into these games. While many players stick to their five-reel cousins, classic slots still have a huge base of fans, and they continue to be popular as software companies use new ideas and concepts to bring life to the three-reel format.
Play classic slots online
Even though the modern video slots now are the most popular game in any online casino, three reel classic slots are still present in most online casinos. Depending on which game providers a casino has games from, you can still play popular three reel slots such as Double Diamond and Triple Diamond from IGT at several online casinos. We recommend our readers to play classic slots from Mr Green, as they have a great selection of classic slots.
Five great classic slot games you can play online
We have picked out five great options in the classic slot genre to take a look at here. These titles have great levels of gameplay, and they exemplify the main themes and features that players look for when they pick out games from this genre to play. They all have some big differences, but what they all have in common is that they’re solid options that even video slot fans would find worth trying out.
The history of the classic slot games
If you want to really have a feel for how slots are handled today, you have to look back to the history of classic slots. The very first slot wasn’t actually the three-reel type of game that we associated with the earliest of the genre. Instead, it was a five-reel game that used poker hand rankings with different playing cards across the reels to make hands for prizes. This was created in 1891, but the problems with the game are what informed the three-reel format that came right after. It still has an important place in the history of the genre, however, because it’s why we still have card rank symbols in many of today’s games.
The main issue with the card-based slot above was that it was too mechanically complicated at the time for automatic payouts, and that meant players had to wave over someone to give them a prize if they hit a winning hand on the reels. This was solved by the switch to three-reel games in the late 1880s or early 1890s, which is where the format used in today’s classic slots originated from.
Games like the Liberty Bell and the “trade simulators” further continued this theme. The Liberty Bell and its clones are why bell symbols are still found in games today, and some of the “trade simulators” would have fruit symbols on them as well. The idea was that winning combinations of fruit would win gum in that flavor of fruit, and this was the birth of what are now known as fruit machines.
The Legacy of the first classic slots
What you can see from these early titles is that they provided the foundation for virtually all of the classic slots that we have today. Fruit machine throwbacks are used a lot by software companies, even in five-reel titles, and you’ll see bells in them a lot as well. Even the BAR symbols come from the BAR company that made a lot of the games early on. Just about every single thing you can imagine from the standard selection of classic slots comes from these early titles in one way or another. That includes the symbols, the payline schemes and many of the concepts for bonus features.
You can even see it in the five-reel styles of slots where you have card ranks for symbols and other types of things that carry over from these early games.
The characteristics of classic slots
The main identifying characteristic of classic slots is that they only have three reels. This is the main thing that restrains gameplay, including basic things like the number of paylines a game can have. There are a few ways of trying to overcome this limitation, and you can find games that use these ideas pretty easily.
The first way is by including both horizontal and vertical paylines along with diagonal ones. This leads to an issue where you can only get paid vertically if several of the same symbols were lined up in a row on the reel. The way the software developers get around this is by having each individual position on each of the vertical columns and horizontal rows spin independently. On a 3×3 game, this means you have nine symbols spinning independently of each other, and that takes care of any issues that would come from having both horizontal and vertical lines.
Another way to deal with it is by using atypical types of paylines. Video slots do this quite a bit, and they can be done on classic slots as well. Instead of requiring that the symbols on a payline go in an actual straight line, you can use some variations like V-shapes. You might use the middle position on the first reel, the bottom position on the second reel and the middle position on the third reel to create a payline, for example. You can add a few of these types of V-shaped lines to easily get up to around 9 to 12 different lines per spin.
Finally, one way that some three-reel games handle it is by using the “all ways” format that was made popular from video slots. The idea is that every symbol becomes a left-to-right scatter, so you actually end up with 27 ways to win on each spin. This approach doesn’t work exactly like paylines, but it does give you a lot of extra ways to win that you wouldn’t have received otherwise, and it can add a lot of action to a format that is typically thought of by many players as being somewhat on the boring side.
These are three big ways that software developers can get around the issue of having a little bit of a limited screen real estate, but there are others as well.
Three reel slots with features
Related to the issue of limited screen space with just three reels is the fact that many classic slots use second screens, or a second set of reels, for their features. This was much easier to put together for mechanical slots early on, and like many features and parts of the games that have lasted until this point, you’ll see them reflected in modern games as well. There’s a basic structure to how most of these second screen games work, and they’re actually an important part in understanding the best strategies for these slots as well.
What happens first is that you start playing on the main game like you normally would on any other slot. From there, when you have a winning spin that’s worth over a certain threshold, you are given an option. On one hand, you can collect those winnings to your account like you would after any other regular win. On the other hand, you can take those winnings to the second screen (or set of reels, depending on how it’s structured), and wager them on a separate game with different payouts.
The right strategy here is incredibly straightforward: You should play in the second game as much as possible until you hit big wins, and then you can collect some of those back to your main balance. The reason for this is pretty simple: The second screen game always has a better RTP (return to player percentage) than the regular game, so you should spend as much time as possible in it.
This second screen game can have a better payout rate for a number of reasons, but usually it’s just because there’s a better pay table. Sometimes it’s because there are also bonus features or jackpots that aren’t available in the regular game. Either way, the strategy is the same.
Why are classic slot machines still popular?
What you can tell from anyone who loves classic slots is that they really like solid gameplay more than they care about flashy graphics. A big part of that is because games from this particular genre never had an opportunity to have particularly impressive graphics, and as is the case with several of the other gameplay elements, the things that caught on early stayed on as major parts of the genre as a whole (fruit symbols, bells, etc.).
If you’re a fan of any kind of slots, even if you’ve only played five-reel video slots, you should check out some of the classic titles we have listed here. You may be surprised at how much you enjoy them because they tend to have a reputation for being much more boring and much less exciting than they really are. This is especially the case for games that have been created by more modern online slot developers because they have a way of breathing new life into older formats, which is exactly the kind of thing that has created a whole new generation of fans for the three-reel games once known as “one-armed bandits.”