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3 reel slot machines: characteristics and best slots

While the standard today is for 5 reel slot machines, it was the 3 reel slot machines that were the first to come into being. The first slot machine had only 3 reels. Its inventor, Charles Fey, created it in 1898. It was the Card Bell. The Liberty Bell, an improvement of the Card Bell, came out a year later in 1899. At the time, these were mechanical reel slot machines, a far cry from today’s electronic machines, and even farther from online slot machines.

Although today 5 reel slot machines are the norm, especially on online casinos, 3 reel slot machines are far from gone. Today we introduce you to this family of slot machines as well as a selection of our favourite machines.

What are the characteristics of 3 reel slot machines?

As the name suggests, 3 reel slot machines are characterised by the fact that they have a total of 3 reels. This type of slot machine has become quite outdated today, as 5 reel machines offer far more possibilities and potential. We’ll come back to this point later when we discuss the pros and cons of 3 reel machines.

Generally speaking these slots have 3 reels and 3 rows of symbols, for a total of 9 symbols present simultaneously on the screen. Due to the fact that they feature 9 symbols compared to 15 or 20 for 5 reel machines, the 3 reel slots have for most of them less potential. As you’d expect, only 9 symbols usually means fewer paylines, and often fewer or no bonus features.

While most slots allow you to get free spins when you get 3 scatters, most 3-reel slots don’t. This lack of free spins wasn’t a problem at the time, but it is today where it has become a norm. You will also rarely if ever find machines in this category with a progressive jackpot.

Where to play 3 reel slot machines?

Nearly all of today’s online casinos have a few 3 reel slot machines in their game library. You’ll have to look hard to find them though, as they rarely offer a dedicated filter for this category of slot machines.

Discover below a selection of some of our partner casinos on which you can find this category of slot machines. Upon rgistration, you will be eligible to welcome bonuses to start playing with a boosted balance.

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How to play 3 reel slot machines?

Rest assured, you don’t need to be a seasoned online casino player to play 3 reel slot machines. We’d even go so far as to say that it’s actually the opposite. Indeed, these machines only have 3 reels compared to 5 for the more common machines. Because of this, they are easier to understand, even for players with little to no experience in online casino play.

You have three options available to you to understand how a 3 reel slot machine works:

  • Playing with a low bet: The first solution to discovering a new machine is to play on it with a low bet (20 cents for example). This way, you won’t spend a lot of money and will understand the machine as you bet on it.
  • Read the rules of the machine: Each slot machine explains its mechanism from A to Z within the machine itself. Most often these explanations are hidden behind a button represented by the letter i (for information). Number of reels, paylines, scatters, symbols payout table… Everything is explained point by point.
  • Playing free slot machines: Did you know that nowadays almost all slot machines can be played for free, in demo mode? This demo mode is available on most online casinos. To access it, simply stay logged out of your player account. You will play with fake money (chips) and can discover how a slot machine works without spending a single Euro.

3 reel slot machines: strengths and weaknesses

As we said earlier, 3 reel slots are not as popular as they used to be, and this is for several reasons. Check out a summary of the pros and cons of this type of online slot machine below:

StrengthsWeaknesses
Fewer symbols = easier to understandNo free spins in general
Fast paced slot machinesLower potential
No visual overloadQuickly repetitive
Little or no special features

The different kinds of 3 reel slot machines

As of today, there are two kinds of 3 reel slot machines that we will introduce to you. The first is the more classic, with three fixed reels. What changes from one machine to another is its theme. While some will sport the classic symbols of slot machines (diamonds, 7s, hearts, spades…), others will go and explore themes like Ancient Egypt, Ireland, mythology…

Here are some examples of classic three-reel machines: Lucky Clover, Irish Gold, Bell of Fortune, 5xMagic, Charlie Chance in Hell to Pay, Triple Jokers…

charlie chance in hell to pay play'n go

On March 4, 2021 the El Dorado Infinity Reels slot machine was released. This is a 3 reel slot with a special feature that makes it extremely interesting: Infinity Reels. As you begin to play with three reels, each symbol that connects comes to add a new reel on the right of the machine, and this unlimited. Usually on these machines, you enter the bonus feature by reaching a given number of reels. It is the game provider Reelplay that invented this new feature with very high potential.

Here are some machines that we can name fitting into this category: Emerald’s Infinity Reels, Royal Dragon Infinity Reels, Giza Infinity Reels, Thor Infinity Reels, Zodiac Infinity Reels…

thor infinity reels

The best 3 reel slot machines machines

We’ve just given you an in-depth look at the concept of 3 reel slot machines. It is now time for us to introduce you to our three favourite machines from this category. They are not listed in any particular order. They are just games that we enjoy playing during our casino sessions.

Charlie Chance in Hell to Pay (Play’n GO)

Play’n GO released Charlie Chance in Hell to Pay on May 21, 2020. This three reel slot machine has a design inspired by Disney animated films from the 1920s and 1930s. Play’n GO has figured out how to make a 3 reel slot interesting by incorporating many random features into it. Some of these features are: instant cash prize, respin with random wilds, win spin, respin with multiplier. There are also free spins on this slot. You can win a maximum of 6.666 times your bet on this game.

charlie chance in hell to pay bonus play'n go
Preview of this slot machine’s bonus.

Aztec Gems (Pragmatic Play)

Aztec Gems is a beautiful 3-reel slot launched by Pragmatic Play on February 15, 2018. In order to make this type of machine more interesting, Pragmatic Play had the excellent idea of adding a win multiplier reel on its right side. During each spin, this reel is also spinning and multiplies your current win up to 15x maximum. This machine has a total of 5 paylines and a fairly standard RTP of 96.52%.

pragmatic play aztec gems

Big Win Cat (Play’n GO)

Big Win Cat is a well-known slot machine from the game provider Play’n GO. It was released on October 15, 2018 and features 5 paylines. It is a medium volatility machine. This machine gets really interesting when you manage to fill the screen with 9 identical symbols. When this happens, a multiplier wheel appears and can multiply your win up to 10x. On Big win Cat you can win up to 800 times your stake. As the maximum bet on this machine is 100€ per spin, you can win up to 80,000€.

play'n go big win cat
big win cat multiplier wheel

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Everything about 3 reel slot machines

Although they were the first slot machines to exist, 3-reel slot machines are now a minority. However, there are some very interesting ones, which we are going to introduce to you today.

Find out everything you need to know about this family of slot machines and play them on the best casinos.

tortuga casino logo
Tortuga
Informations
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cresus
Cresus
Informations
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wildsultan-logo
Wild Sultan
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