Three Reel Slots

three reel slots

Before slots became the computer-based games we play online today, they relied on mechanics to operate. The original slots at casinos were very much machines, requiring the players to pull a lever in order to initiate a series of processes that would ultimately spin the machine’s reel for the play. The very first slot was a 3-reel machine called The Liberty Bell, made of cast iron that weighed over 100 pounds. It had five game icons, including diamonds, spades, hearts, horseshoes and a Liberty Bell. Three Bells triggered the game’s whopping jackpot of 10 nickels.

For a trip down memory lane when you play, you can opt to play online slot games with three reels at Bovada Casino; the majority of online 3-reel slots are formatted to replicate the traditional slot machines of the 20th century. We’re talking cherries, lemons, BAR symbols, lucky Sevens, and soundtracks that create the ambiance of a bustling brick-and-mortar casino.

In this online free slots guide on how to play slots at all casinos, we’ll explain how 3-reel slots work and how they differ from their 5-reel counterparts. We’ll also go over the online real money paytables to make sure you understand how to read the different payouts associated with the various winning combinations. Finally, we’ll conclude our free online slots guide with the most popular 3-reel slots available in our online casino, and explain how to locate them easily. By the end, you should be playing the slots reels with the confidence of a seasoned slot player.

What 3-Reel Slots Are and How They Work

When you look at a standard slot game, you’ll see game symbols that appear to spin vertically. While computer technology has eliminated the need for physical reels, video slots still follow the same slots format of having the icons “spin” around virtual reels until they gradually come to a stop. In reality, as soon as you hit the “Spin” button, a complex set of algorithms compute several numbers that are associated with stopping points on the reels.

The majority of slots nowadays have either three or five reels, and are thus defined as a 3-reel slot game, or a 5-reel slot game. However, sometimes you’ll come across slots that don’t follow these two standard slots formats, such as Space Traders, which has nine reels to play that spin on a 3X3 grid. But for the most part, you’ll be choosing what to play between 5-reel and 3-reel slots, so we’ll explain how they differ at all casinos.

Three Reel vs Five Reel: What’s the Difference?

There are a few key slots play differences between 3-reel slots and 5-reel slots, including paylines, cost and bonus feature capacity.


There’s no way around it: when you reduce the number of reels in a slot game, you reduce the number of possible paylines too. That’s why 3-reel slots don’t typically have more than three paylines, while 5-reel slots can have 25, 50 and even 100 paylines. Fewer paylines mean you won’t be hitting as many real money wins per spin as you would with a slot that has a lot of paylines at casinos online.


But those extra real money slots wins per spin with 5-reel slots will come with an added play cost. When you bet on slots at casinos, you stake coins on every active payline, so as the number of paylines increases, so does the cost per round. That’s why 3-r eel slots are especially popular with casino players who have more restrictive bankrolls—you can stretch your gambling dollars further when you’re only wagering on one to three paylines per spin at any casino online.

Bonus Features

The bonus features found in 3-reel slots games are usually limited to wilds, multipliers and jackpots, and the games' jackpots require a max bet to be triggered. But 5-reel slots have the capacity for more complex and varied bonus features at casinos, such as expanding wilds and scatters. They also have random progressive real money jackpots, which don’t have any minimum betting requirements.

With that being said, there is an exception for every play rule at any casino, and Heroes Realm is an exceptional 3-reel slot game with a bonus round that can compete with those offered in 5-reel slots, see more in our 5 reel slots online guide.

How to Read a 3-Reel Paytable

With 3-reel slots, the real money online paytables are usually visible while you play, making it easy to track slots wins and payouts. The casino paytable has one column that lists all of the winning combinations, and the subsequent columns list the payout based on how many coins you’ve wagered. As you wager more coins, the payouts increase.

At the bottom of the casino paytable, you’ll find information on any bonus features that may be included in the game, like wilds with multipliers. A wild is an icon that takes the form of other icons in order to create a winning line. For example, you could land two Cherries and one wild, and that wild would become the third Cherry needed to trigger a payout. Every time you land a winning combo on the reels, the payout flashes on the casino paytable.

How to Bet and Maximize Payouts for 3-Reel Slots

The biggest payouts on the casino paytable are reserved for max bets, which is essentially betting three coins per payline for the vast majority of 3-reel slots (although some have a maximum of two coins). To bet max, you can use the “Bet Max” button at the bottom of the game screen, or you can use the “Select Coins” button, pushing it repeatedly until you get to the maximum number of coins possible for the game.

Three-reel slot games that include jackpots typically require a maximum bet in order to be eligible for it, so use game selection strategically to help stay within your bankroll budget. For example, casino games that have three-coin maximum bets will be more expensive than games with two-coin maximum bets (5X wins vs. Strike Gold). You can also take paylines into account, as the more paylines a game has, the more expensive it will be to play. Its all about strategy.

Most Popular 3-Reel Slots at Bovada

Unsure where to start with 3-reel slot games at casinos? The following five online games have big fanbases, and some even offer progressive jackpots too. Give them a try to see why they continue to make it onto our top five 3-reel slots games lists.

Gold Rush

Players sift through river beds and blast through rock as players search for precious gems in the 3-reel, 1-line slot Gold Rush. This online game has gold, silver and copper BARs, bags of money, a sieve for sifting, and a seasoned prospector, who is also a wild. Any time he helps create a winning line, he multiplies the payout by 2X or 4X, so keep an eye out for him while you hunt for gold.

Major Moolah

Fat stacks are on the line in this classic 3-reel, 1-line slot game that has the look and feel of a traditional slot machine. A 2,500-coin jackpot is up for grabs for anyone who lands three of the game’s signature logos on the horizontal payline. Payouts start with just a single Gold Coin icon landing on any of the three reels.

Sevens & Stripes

This all-American online slot game has the potential to make anyone rich thanks to its progressive jackpot. To win it, you must land three Sevens (one red, white, and blue) on its horizontal payline, while betting the three-coin max. You can bet up to three coins per round on the game’s single payline.

5X Wins

5X is the name of the game, and it’s also the top symbol for winning big bucks. The 5X icon acts as a wild, so it can substitute for any of the other game icons in order to complete a winning line, and on top of its wild benefits, it also multiplies payouts by… you guessed it—5X. There are two versions of 5X wins: a standard one and a progressive jackpot one. Be sure to bet the three-coin max to be eligible for the progressive jackpot if that’s the version you prefer to play.

Sevens & Bars

Sevens & Bars features Diamond symbols, which are powerful icons, in addition to the iconic Lucky Sevens and BAR symbols. As little as one Diamond on the reels is enough to trigger a payout. The Sevens are also a highly-coveted symbol, as landing one in each color will triple your payout. Better yet, try to land one in each color following the exact order of red, white and blue, and you’ll get 5X the payout.

Where You Can Find 3-Reel Games at Bovada

To find 3-reel slots in our online casino, follow these three easy steps:

1. Start by opening the Casino from the Bovada homepage.

2. Click or tap Slots at the top of the Casino page.

3. Use the Slots Games drop-down menu to filter based on “Three Reels.”

All of our 3-reel slot games will be populated on the page. Any 3-reel slots that include progressive jackpots will have a red jackpot banner advertising the current value of the prize, making it easy to compare them when searching for the biggest one. When you find a game that looks interesting, you can play it for free on Practice Play, or for real money payouts on Real Play. Enjoy your session and may the matching symbols fall your way when you play slots.

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