While you can’t usually beat a classic, when it comes to 5-reel pokies we are torn as they are far more advanced than their 3-reel predecessors.
We do enjoy the classics and you can read all about 3-reel slots by clicking here, but when it comes to graphics, bonus rounds, and bigger payouts, 5-reel pokies take the cake. Both land-based venues and online casinos offer 5-reel slots, so if you have ever spun the reels before you would have more than likely spun five of them.
We have all the details regarding the history of the 5-reel slot machine, what they are exactly, and even list some of our favourites.
History of 5-reel slots
There are rumours floating around the Internet that a pair from Brooklyn, namely Sittman and Pitt, developed a low-tech, 5-reel slot machine back in 1891, though it was not received well since a 3-reel version was available at the time and this was simpler and easier to use. Besides, if we were thrown an iPhone 6 before even experiencing the first iPhone we would be a little perplexed with the invention and all its extras.
Basically, the mainstream public have proven we need to ease our way into things, and the invention of 5-reel slots is no exception.
Charles Fey, a mechanic from San Francisco, developed the first 3-reel slot and created the reels out of metal hoops so players could see the reels spin when they pulled the attached lever (this is how the reels term was coined). These were modified and changed to suit players over time, but it wasn’t until the 1970’s when a man named Walt Freely introduced video-slots, that the idea of 5-reel slots could really be made a possibility.
Freely’s video slot, which was called Fortune Coin, ran via a coin hopper and a computer, with the reels projected onto a TV screen. Many were quite sceptical that these type of slots weren’t fair, since they could no longer see the reels spinning. However, people changed their view, despite the host having more control on the outcomes than the prior versions, when video poker was introduced. Many people tried video poker and once they were experiencing fair results, video slots became incredibly popular.
This popularity meant that the video slot could advance, and it has so, from the 3-reels that it use to be, into the 5-reel format we are talking about today.
What are 5-reel poker machines?
While it may just seem like 5-reel pokies are just 3-reel slot machines with two extra reels, this is not the case. 5-reel pokies do have two extra reels with more winning paylines but they also include special symbols, bonus rounds, added features, video animations, themes, backstories and more. This creates an immersive experience which is entertaining for those who find the simple 3-reel slots a little bit boring.
While the basic concept of hitting spin and watching the reels land in position to determine the result still exists, there are some major differences that see additional features and ultimately bigger wins, which players need to learn to look out for.
Differences between 3-reel and 5-reel pokies
The biggest difference between the two slot machine formats, besides the obvious reel count, is the symbols, and we aren’t talking about the lemons and cherries that line the 3-reel fruit machines. Additionally, bonus rounds, paylines, themes, and features are other major differences that set 5-reel pokies from 3-reel gaming machines.
Players generally only need to remember one symbol for 3-reel slots, and that’s the winning symbol that needs to appear a number of times. With 5-reel slots, multiple symbols are important for wins.
Scatter symbols generally exists to award players with free spins and in order to do so there is a general rule of thumb that three or more need to appear. Some pokies even see four and five Scatter symbols landing even more free spins than what three rewards players with.
Wilds generally help create wins as they substitute for every single symbol, except for Scatter symbols, to land the player a winning payline. They can also create bigger wins when players land a winning payline with a Wild, as it usually multiplies the prize. Depending on the slot, if you hit five Wilds over the reels, you will score yourself the jackpot.
Some online pokies may not include a bonus round, or may just feature the free spins as the bonus round, while others do include an additional feature, and sometimes two, that can be triggered by bonus symbols. Here you can win cash, multipliers, casino credits, and more. Generally the bonus round coincides with the theme and can see you slaying dragons or opening doors to reveal prizes, depending on the 5-reel slot you are playing.
While 3-reel slots now have more than a single payline, they can only go as high as nine. 5-reel slots on the other hand can have as many as 100, sometimes more, though 20 paylines are generally the most common. You can activate paylines, as they are what you win on, via your bet size and the more paylines you activate the more likely you will win.
There is only so much you can do with a theme for 3-reels, especially since there are no bonus rounds or video intros. That is why 3-reel slots are quite limited in terms of their themes and generally only vary in name, colour and symbols. 5-reel slots on the other hand vary due to modern technology customised to fit their format, and the themes see video animations and introductions to coincide. So expect to see some of your favourite movie characters, original mythological characters, and more.
More ways to win
The more paylines there are, the more ways there are to win, and the bigger the winnings are on 5-reel pokies, especially with the Wild symbols. Some 3-reel slots offer up to nine paylines, but this is rare and in comparison to 5-reel slots, which can offer more than 100 paylines, you can’t win as much. Additionally, 3-reel slots only allow wins from left to right, whereas 5-reel slots can have a win both ways option implemented, and can even offer up to 1024 ways to win sometimes.
Since 5-reel slots have multiple paylines there are bigger wins, but at the same time there can be bigger losses so keep this in mind too.
Best 5-reel slots
There are an incredible amount of 5-reel slots available online so it can be hard to find the best. We have listed some of our favourites based on their payouts, themes, additional bonuses, and overall ambience from various leading software developers so you can spend more time experiencing the benefits of extra reels and paylines.
Mega Moolah is a 5-reel progressive slot, created by Microgaming, that has made many people millionaires. While 3-reel slots also offer progressives, such as Major Millions, 5-reel slots have a better track record of seeing their players win seven figures. Mega Moolah has awarded players a total of $70 million since it went live online. With one Mega jackpot and three smaller prize pools on offer, there are plenty of chances for players to win. Featuring 25 paylines and a maximum of $6.25 per spin to hit the jackpot, this is probably one of the best 5-reel slots available on the Internet.
Spiñata Grande hasn’t been around as long as Mega Moolah but it has intriguing features and potential big wins on offer. With 5-reels and four rows, rather than the usual three rows, this slot has a feature called Colossal symbols, where a grid of 2×2 symbols or 3×3 symbols cover the reels. This sees even more ways to win with symbols overlaying other symbols, which are also in play. Created by Net Entertainment, featuring incredible 3D graphics Spiñata Grande offers the chance for big wins all the while enjoying a Mexican fiesta.
Dragon’s Myth is another 2015 release and has been created due to a relationship between Rabcat and Microgaming. Featuring 5-reels, this slot offers incredible 3D animations over 20 paylines. It follows a girl attempting to slay dragons and if you help kill them you will be rewarded. There are also Wilds that allow players to win even more with a winning combination, Scatters that score players free spins, and even multipliers that can help you win big.