6 Reel Slots
The real reel story is of five reels. The classic slot has blossomed from three reels to five, but the 6 reel slots remain an outlying trend at the moment.
That doesn’t me you shouldn’t get ahead of the fashion though. Adding an extra reel doesn’t – or shouldn’t – affect your playing experience. It won’t make winning more likely, but it does add the opportunity to look at a game in a new way with new ways of putting winning combinations together. And if you like a game with a lot of visual appeals, then 6 reel slot machines gives designers more space to explore their artistic talents.
6 reel slot games have been used as a way of shaking up the genre. Tumbling symbols and uneven reels are more likely to feature in six-reelers than standard five-reel machines, which encourage players to just turn off and go through the motions. So why wouldn’t games companies do just the same and not bother offering you something innovative and exciting!
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What the reels mean
The slot machine has become a massively complex, complicated and potentially sophisticated piece of software in the internet age. But behind all those beautiful graphics, animations and under those sound effects there sits something relatively simple – a computer reeling off strings of random numbers in order to deliver an unpredictable result.
You should try it sometime. Think of the slot machine as not a relative of the mechanical games you’ve seen in casinos, pubs or bars, but rather as a string of random numbers. It’s an interesting thought experiment and a reminder that when you play a slot you’re up against cold, hard computer logic, and there’s no way around it.
So what do the reels mean?
The reels do have an effect on the odds of winning or losing a particular spin. But not in a way that really affects the end user. The odds against any particular outcome in the random sequences that are used by slot machines are determined by the number of symbols and the number of possible outcomes.
The original slot machines were much simpler – and probably much less honest – then today’s machines. And they provide a great example.
These classic slot machines had three reels. Let’s say each of those reels had 10 symbols on it that repeat across the reels, and you win a prize for a set of three. That gives a 999 to 1 chance of hitting a winning combination of matching symbols.
That’s about as simple as this gets. If you want to examine this more thoroughly then you can, and you will find statistical breakdowns of some machines online. Suffice it to say that more symbols and more reels make the sums more complicated. Despite this, they are likely to turn out with a very similar result.
The odds on winning with 6 reel slots
That’s because machines are programmed to deliver a profit. That’s right. They’re not “rigged”, in the sense that there isn’t a genuine toss-of-the-coin moment, but the people who design them know very well what they’re doing.
And what they’re doing is delivering a business that makes money!
So they design machines that over their lifetime, and with random play, will deliver a return to the casino site. This is called the “house edge” in traditional casino games, and it’s more often shown as a theoretical return to player (RTP) figure in slot machine guides.
These figures are pretty good reading for players because they have big numbers, always upwards of 75% and usually – in the current market – around 95 to 97%.
But it is in this figure that the casino makes its profit. That 4% or so that goes into their pockets. People often misunderstand this figure as being a measure of how their session should be expected to go. It’s possible that you will get that sort of return on your money, but the RTP figure is a long-term measure, usually of how the machine will perform over its whole life.
These figures are usually regulated by law, and you should check that any site you play it is only offering machines that operate in the limit prescribed by the licensing authority.
An extra reel
So that extra reel in a six-reel slot should be considered by players as an aesthetic device. It should not – in fact, it can’t really – have an effect on your game in its fundamentals. Don’t be fooled by any reviews telling you that an online video slot is luckier or more likely to deliver wins because it has more reels and therefore more symbols.
You should instead take a look at the RTP, and see if it’s in reasonable current ranges. They almost always are, because that’s what players currently demand.
You should also check that you know what the volatility of a machine is. This might alter with the number of reels, because some outcomes – full houses, basically – will become less likely. Again, this will all be balanced out to produce an RTP in the usual range, but volatility is a useful measure because it tells you how likely a machine is to deliver regular smaller wins (low volatility) or less frequent big wins (high volatility).
The boring truth in this machine-governed world is that most online slots offer “medium” volatility. They want wins to be delivered often enough to keep players interested, but not so often that they’re losing cash! Again, this is a very imprecise measure, but it’s something you might want to consider.
Six reels of real fun
Gambling should be fun, and six reels is a way to add another dimension to that fun. However many reels you’re playing with you should always play safely and legally. 6 reel slots won’t make your money last longer or make a big win more likely, and it won’t stop you losing everything if you gamble irresponsibly or unsafely!
Check out safe gambling rules wherever you play. And check out the rules whenever you load up a 6 reels slot game. This is especially important because 6 reel slots are unfamiliar and you might find yourself scratching your head and wondering why you haven’t won a prize for a set of symbols if you haven’t properly studied the pay table.
Be a six-reel shooter, by all means, and you may well enjoy this exciting new dimension in slots at your favourite casino today!