What are the differences between these two online slots, and how can you take advantage? Here are our best tips.
Betway Casino boasts some of the best online slot games, from Microgaming, Netent and IGT.
Simple, classic 3-reel slots jostle for space alongside slick 5-reel games with multiple bonuses and big jackpots.
But what are the main differences between the two types of game, and how can you make the best decisions on what to play?
Let’s take a closer look at how 5-reel slots came to dominate the casino, and why 3-reel slots still have a place.
What are 3-reel slots?
When slot machines were first invented, the original bulk machines came with three simple reels.
As technology improved, so the number of reels expanded. “Classic” slot machines are still enjoyed in the US and in the UK, where the more familiar fruit machines took over the arcade and cafe.
Many popular 3-reel slots have been adapted for the online casino.
Betway Casino has a good range of classic 3-reel slots from Microgaming, and games in Betway’s Retro Slots lobby like Cash Crazy are still popular with players, despite the lack of bonus features and slick graphics.
They are notable for two features: minimal paylines and minimal features.
In Cash Crazy, there is one horizontal payline, but some 3-reel slots allow for diagonal paylines as well. While that can increase the variance (the frequency of losses vs the frequency of wins) it can also mean bigger jackpots.
In most 3-reel games with a single payline you may win a cash prize by hitting just one valid symbol on the payline.
In the case of Cash Crazy, it’s the cherry. Any three symbols consisting of a BAR or BAR-BAR will also earn you a prize.
Wild symbols can also come into play, substituting all regular symbols to help complete a combination.
What are the benefits of 3-reel slots?
The biggest benefit of the 3-reel slot is simplicity.
Playing the game takes seconds, and there are no long bonus rounds to get in the way of your base gameplay.
Your bankroll will also last longer as you play one or two paylines.
But to really enjoy the higher jackpots, these classic 3-reel games reward players with the bigger wallets. On some older 3-reelers, the jackpot is reserved for players staking the maximum bet.
What are 5-reel slots?
As the name suggests, 5-reel slots add an additional two reels to the classic 3-reel games. More rows are added, too, which allows the player to hit more available paylines.
A standard Microgaming 5-reel game like Thunderstruck II or Mega Moolah features 5 reels and 3 rows to give the player 15 possible paylines to hit.
But, while there are more possible paylines to strike it rich on, the general payouts can often be small.
It is essential to check the paytable before you start playing.
Not all 5-reel slots are built the same. Some games may have a higher frequency of top-paying symbols than others. Other games may load their reels with wild symbols or scatters.
This is usually reflected in the disparity between the highest and lowest payouts. If a slot has very low prizes generally, there is a chance that the game is loaded with low-paying icons.
What are the benefits of 5-reel slots?
It’s more common to find at least one bonus feature in a 5-reel video slot. A wild symbol that replaces all regular symbols in the game is a standard feature of most 5-reelers.
Players will also find at least one secondary bonus, such as free spins or an instant-win feature.
Keeping an eye on RTP and volatility
Whichever format of slot you pick, it’s important to check the RTP and volatility first.
The RTP (return to player percentage) is the long-term average payout made to the players. The higher the RTP, the lower the house edge.
Online slots tend to have an RTP anywhere from 93-98%. Classic 3-reel slots tend to be on the lower end of that scale. 5-reel games with big jackpots often boast a higher RTP.
While RTP can vary, so can the volatility of the slot. The volatility is related to how often losing or winning spins can occur.
A volatile slot may pay out infrequently, but when it does the returns will be big. A low-volatility slot will pay out lots of small returns, but they will come more frequently.
Always look at the spread between the top jackpot and the lowest payout. The wider the gap, the more volatile a slot tends to be.
Pick the right online slots for you
3-reel slots can be simple to play and feature basic graphics and gameplay.
If you want more animation, bigger bonus features, and a lot more action, a 5-reel game might be for you.
You will find a great range of freeplay slots at Betway Casino. Give the 3-reel vs 5-reel test a try today.