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Blog Posted on 04/05/2022 | Author: Karen Macarthur

Everything You Need to Know About Slot Machine Symbols

Slot machines have been around since the beginning of time, well, 1890. But who counts? Slot machines have been entertaining us for years. 

Even though the machines have evolved beyond recognition, the slot machine symbols remain remarkably consistent.

Many similarities can be attributed to how many gamblers are familiar with gambling rules. However, that doesn’t mean there aren’t any innovations in the casino industry. 

The symbols used in themed slots, which can be based on a person, a character, or a musician, are almost always new. Let’s go back in time to the beginning of American saloon life.

What is the oldest symbol for a slot machine?

The oldest slot machine symbols are often card symbols from three suits: diamonds, spades, and hearts. These symbols range in age from 10-card to the Ace. You’ll often see the lucky number seven on your reels in addition to these high-paying symbols. But we’ll get to that later.

There’s also the traditional lucky symbol, the horseshoe, a superstition icon that has been around for a long time. This symbol is especially popular when it comes to online slots play. 

There’s also Liberty Bell. You’ll be able to tell if you are a veteran player that Liberty Bell was the first slot name. This is probably why it’s one of the most popular slot machine symbols.

What Symbols are on a Slot Machine’s Reel?

You might be asking yourself how many symbols are actually on a slot machine’s reel. It’s simple with classic 3-reel slot machines. 

There are usually 20 symbols per reel. This means that there are 60 symbols total (20x20x20), more than 8000 combinations.

Modern electronic games make things a little more difficult. Your exact chances do not determine the reel composition. It’s all down to the complex RNG hidden within every machine.

Different types of Slot Machine Symbols

While we all know there is a vast ocean of slot machine symbols, there are three essential types: wild, scatters, and standard symbols. 

Knowing the differences between them is important because certain combinations of slot symbols can activate many features that increase your payouts when combined with standard slot machine symbols.

Standard symbols

Standard symbols have a common function, they pay out money when they appear in a row on an active payline. If you land three or more matching slot machine symbols on an active line, you will get a prize. We will tell you more about the “special” symbols on online slot machines and land-based ones.

Wild Symbols

Wild symbols are important because they can be used to replace any symbol in a game. The Joker card also acts as a substitute for other slot machine symbols. They will replace any other symbols once they are landed on the reels. 

The exception is the scatter and bonus symbols. Wild cards cannot substitute for them. There are several special wild symbols, including Expanding Wilds (sticky wilds), Stacked Wilds, Walking Wilds(shifting wilds), and Transferring Wilds.

Expanding Wilds extends across the reels and can help you create more such combinations. Expanding Wild symbols are easy to spot. 

They can appear on any reel position. Once they do, they can expand up and down, sometimes from side to side, and sometimes diagonally. 

They help you create more combinations by turning adjacent icons on the reel into the Wild. Sticky Wild symbols get stuck to the reels and give you another spin. Stacked Wild symbols stack on top of one another. 

Although wild slot machine symbols may not be the same as regular symbols, they can be replaced randomly to give you better results. 

There are also Soaring Wild symbols (or Random Wild symbols) and Floating Wild symbols, and they will usually be attached randomly to one or more reels depending on the game’s rules.

Scatter Symbols

Scatter symbols are a favorite because they can activate bonus Games or free spins. To unlock interactive features, you must land a minimum number of scatters on one spin. These features may require you to land at least three scatters in some slots. 

Others may require just 2. They will trigger free spin rounds, usually between 5 to 15, which can prove very profitable. Here’s an example: You’ll get 5 free spins if you land three scatters simultaneously. 

You’ll get 10 free spin rounds for landing 4 scatters while landing 5 scatters will give you 15 free spins. Each slot game is different, so you can find the information about scatters and other symbols by clicking on a paytable.

How do you get scatter slots? To activate the Free spins bonus round, you must land at least three of these simultaneously. 

Another benefit of scatter symbols is that they can offer game payouts by themselves. However, this is not always possible with all scatter symbol slots. 

To avoid disappointment, make sure you check the paytable. Sometimes scatter symbols can trigger free spins with a multiplier. But we’ll get to this in a moment.

Bonus Symbols

Bonus symbols can activate different bonus games, as their name implies. They are similar to Scatter symbols in that you must land three or more of them simultaneously on the reels before the bonus round is activated. This means that they must be landed on consecutive reels.

Multiplier Symbols

Last but not least, multiplier symbols are on our list. Multipliers multiply your earnings, which is exactly what their names suggest. You can find them on the reel as special symbols, which have an additional icon indicating the multiplier bonus’s value. 

However, they will usually increase your payouts by up to 6x. The more valuable multipliers may also appear as wild cards or part of the free spin feature activated by scatters.


You now know the history of slot machine symbols and what they mean. It’s time for you to play them yourself. 

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