How to Choose Between 3 Reel vs. 5 Reel Slots

In a traditional casino, most gamblers’ activities happen at the slot machines. Much has not changed in that regard, even with online gambling. Slot games are still the most popular online casino games.

3-reel and 5-reel slots are the two most played slots. The 3-reel version has been the trademark design since the first fruit machine was designed in the 1890s. With technology and improved graphics, sound and videos, 5-reel slots offer immersive entertainment with more chances of winning. The differences in the two slot variations go further than the spinning reels feature.

Paylines / winning opportunities

One distinct difference between the 3-reel slot and 5-reel slot is the number of paylines. The classic 3-reel version is often limited to a single payline with a maximum of 5, while up to 100 or more paylines are common in 5-reel slots.

More paylines means more possible winning combinations. Though betting on more paylines means you have more opportunities to win, there are other values such as the house edge and RTP of the slot games that determines your chances at winning.

With 5-reel slots, you can optimize your opportunity to win and the size, but you need a sizable bankroll to stay in the game for long, especially if you’re not winning yet.

Low volatility vs. high volatility

Volatility is the frequency of winning or losing spin on a slot. It is one of the most critical factors to look out for when choosing an online slot. 3-reel slots are known to have lower volatility than 5-reel volatility.

If you have a modest bankroll or budget, you will have a more extended game session and rack up a few small wins playing on 3-reel slots For you to maximize the chance of winning big jackpots and other prizes, 5-reel should be your preferred kind of slot. 

In essence, 5-reel slots give higher RTP and lower house edge than 3-reel slots.

Graphics and sound

Most 3-reel still maintains the classic, old school feels. They have minimal graphics with special symbols. On the other hand, 5-reel slots have few technological enhancements, but added complexities.

The older generator still loves the simplicity and the nostalgia feeling they get from the 3-reel slots. The younger generation wants as much as immersive entertainment they can get while trying to make money.

5-reel slots come with a video introduction, 3D graphics, engaging sounds and animation to make every minute you spend playing slot fun than 3-reel.

Jackpot opportunities

For many slot players dreaming of winning a life-changing progressive jackpot of millions of dollars, 5-reel slots are where you should be trying your luck. Generally, they offer higher prizes but less frequency than 3-reel slots. It is much more challenging to land a winning combination.

Though winning on 3-reel is not that rewarding. It has its benefits, slot players, especially the beginners, who want to get the thrill of winning will find 3-reel as a good starting point.

 Unlike 5-reel slots, the winnings are more frequent and it will take a while for your bankroll to vanish even on a losing streak.


Along with Jackpots, Gamble features, multipliers, bonus rounds and other higher payout functions are offered on 5-reel slots while 3-reel slots continue to be simple even in its bonus opportunity. Some 3-reel slot games have limited random multipliers, one or two bonus rounds. That is often as good as it gets. 

Slot Players often look forward to free spins and they are the most prominent bonus function is the slot games. They are additional spins that increase your chances of bigger wins. They can be won in several ways or combinations on 5-reel slots.

Other popular gameplay features usually found in 5-reel slots include Wild, a symbol that replaces other symbols like a Joker in Poker. There is also Scatter, a symbol that does not need to line up on paylines before you can win.

Final Verdict 

3-reel is still in fashion despite its long history for a reason. Its clean, easy to play, low wager amount and frequent payouts advantages make it perfect for newbies, while oldies still prefer it for its classic feel. Overall, 5-reels slots edge it in areas that matter most, which are immersive entertainment and winning opportunity, which makes them the most popular slot types among slot players.