That’s a tough question. It’s more than just old because there is plenty of old stuff that doesn’t merit any sort of praise: we’ll quite happily call a 1960s Fender Stratocaster a “classic car” but few of us would refer to rickets as a “classic disease”, so we’re lucking for something with a bit of quality to it as well.
Best Classic Slots
The history of classic slotsSlots are probably much older than you think. There must be players around today who have played hundreds of online slots without ever setting foot in a pub, club, casino, bar or bookmakers to check out the machines that they are based on.
Slots are originally clever bits of mechanical machinery.
And the first slots had… not three reels but five. The games were an attempt to make poker into an automated game. And that meant five reels to represent the five cards dealt in a standard poker hand.
However, the early slots soon found themselves under attack from a barrage of anti-gambling laws. So slots went undercover. The cards were replaced with symbols, and as the cash prizes were phased out in favour of food and whatever else companies could come up with to get around gambling rules we started to see fruit and bars (a chewing gum logo) on the reels of slot machines.
The business being business, slot machine companies could also cut down the reels they had to manufacture and produce a much smaller and simpler machine.
And so we have the bones of what makes a classic slot.
The Features of a Classic SlotToday, we’re well into the second century of the slot. Things are changing all the time, and it is not possible to tie a genre or style down to a shortlist of characteristics.
But we’ll try.
This is what you will probably find in a classic slot.
3 Reels Good 5 Reels BadImmediately, you’ll be able to think of exceptions to this “rule” (as you’ll find for all these rules), but the majority of slots that are labelled classic slots have 3 reels.
As we’ve told you, this is a bit odd, as 5-reel slots are actually older, but 3-reel games were extremely popular when slots were real-life machines.
Fewer reels = fewer paysWith fewer reels there are naturally fewer pay lines. The classic slot in its purest form would have just a single pay line across the centre of the reels. This doesn’t mean you have fewer chances to win, by the way, the game’s mathematics will even things up, but it does make reading the game very easy indeed.
Just click spin and look along the middle line.
It’s not always true of course, but on a classic 3 by 3 grid, you will be extremely unlikely to see more than 9 pay lines on a machine.
Fewer reels = similar symbol setsThere are just three reels on these games, but they won’t necessarily have a simpler or smaller set of symbols.
There’s no limit on the total number of spaces a slot company can put on a virtual reel, so a slot reel these days can have any number at all.
The olde classics!There can be a lot of them, but for a classic slot, we expect to see some classic symbols. These come from the history of the slot and are most likely to include.
Fruits!That’s a big category and can include any number of styles of illustration, why each fruit is rated as it is we can only speculate on.
Here’s an example:
- Cherries at the bottom, then,
- Plums and
Fruits can be described in any pixelated form you like as well.
BarsBars are probably derived from the appearance of a packet of chewing gum or from the logo of a particular chewing gum company. This was back when slot machine makers were trying to convince the legal authorities in the United States that their games weren’t really gambling, or at least not the sort of gambling they wanted to bother too much about regulating.
Bars usually come in sets, with single bars being the lowest value, with two and then three bars on top of that. They are usually relatively high paying symbols.
They may be colour coded, presented in any way, and have extra properties. You must check the pay table of the game you are playing to be sure you know what’s going on.
BellsBells go back a long way to the Liberty Bell slot. This machine, released in 1894 is often credited as the first modern mechanical slot. The liberty bell – an almost legendary relic of the American War of Independence – is a patriotic symbol in the states and that’s why it’s there as the top paying symbol in this game.
Bells usually pay out decent amounts, and they may be doubled or tripled and otherwise differentiated to give them different prize values.
Diamonds and GemsThe slots world loves the shiny world of gems. There’s an obvious link, with slot games offering big prizes and waving the chance of a lifestyle where you buy your own precious stones at you.
Gems in slots world are usually colour coded or doubled or tripled to give different values.
7s7s are lucky!
In the western culture at least they have been regarded as a fortunate number. Such superstitions are worthless rubbish of course, but the 7 has maintained its place in gambling mythology because gamblers can tend to be superstitious. For gamblers, this is probably a bad thing that leads them to make bad decisions (see the Gambler’s Fallacy), but here it is in the slots of today celebrated with “lucky 7s”.
Typically these are high scoring symbols.
Card symbolsThe first slots games were modified and automated card games. And cards have been hanging around the slots world ever since.
In 3-reel games, you will still find hearts, clubs, diamonds and spades used as symbols on the reels. Jokers are also a popular feature of classic slots and they are often linked to jackpot prizes – a reminder that they stand in as wild cards in most poker hands.
There can be any number of other symbols, but if you see a game built largely from the ones we have listed above then there’s a fair chance you’re looking at what we’d call a classic slot.
Classic slot bonus featuresClassic slots are usually more simple than their more high-tech counterparts. Usually – again, you’ll know loads of exceptions yourself.
This means that bonus features are often cut down, and some of them pay tribute to particular features of the older games.
Free spins are the most popular feature in slots. However, they are less likely to be found in a classic slot than in a video slot.
Wilds are more likely to be found on the reels of a classic slot. These are symbols that stand in for others in order to complete bigger wins.
Respins can also be found in classic slots. This is a second spin of the reels after a game has paid a prize.
Gambles. Win gambles are a real old favourite in the slots world. This offers players the chance to risk their win on a simple, usually binary, choice. The most common gamble is a card choice. Players are asked to guess the colour of a hidden card – if they get it right, they will be awarded a double prize, if they get it wrong then they will lose everything. These gambles can sometimes go on and on creating some big wins.
Nudges. Nudges are a real relic of the physical world of slots. Nudging allows a player to move a reel (or reels) up or down another slot or two in the search for a better pay-out. Nudges are often won, and stored up, to be used by the player when they think they have a chance of paying out.
Skill games. A whole subgenre of classic slots mimics very exactly the old-style cabinet games. These games can appear slightly more sophisticated than some classic slots because they very often feature the double-screen view of these old machines. Typically the second screen was used for bonus games, and these often included games of skill that asked players to stop a light from blinking or climbing a ladder in the right place to win a prize. Hi-lo gambles are another popular prize in prize ladders for these games.
Big wins on classic slotsClassic slots do not always have all the features that you’ll find on video slots. Those games usually have a bigger playing area and they usually have more developed visual worlds and even bonus games. Some are involving character games with multiple skill games and bonus rounds that are linked to the action of character development.
Without these gimmicks, the classic slot needs to deliver something else. Quite often this is hard-core gambling thrills.
That can mean that classic slots are more likely to have bigger prizes. They are also more likely to be highly volatile. High volatility games deliver bigger prizes, but they do it by paying out their prizes less often. Games like this are often preferred by gamblers who are more risk-tolerant and perhaps have more money to play with.
Classic slots also commonly have quite high staking limits.
Classic slots you might like
Here are some of the classics you might like to check out today:
- Reel King Mega a classic with a twist, in its 5 reels set up, but it’s got massive win potential.
- Blue Diamond big prizes and precious stones.
- Fruit Stack 5 reels again, but all the classic fruit symbols are in place.
- Mystery joker really a perfect classic.
- Captain Cash a mock-up of a classic cabinet game that’s the perfect example of this type of game.
Classic Slots FAQ
Usually, it’s 3-reels with fruits, cards, gems, jokers, bars and bells as the main symbolic palette.
You need to make sure you’re using a safe site. In most places that means a site that is licensed by the local gambling regulator. You also need to keep your personal safety in mind too, so make sure you’re in a good frame of mind and you’re only playing with money that you can afford to lose.
We can’t tell you that. We can give you a load of great advice on playing safely – budgeting, low stakes, time limits – but anyone who tells you that they can tell you how to win a slot game is lying to you and should be avoided.
Beware of free offers in the gambling world. Things that look too good to be true often are, but you should be able to play games at licensed casino sites on demo mode and that’s a safe way to go. If you find review sites that you trust you can often play free games there too.
Take a look up the list again and check what the main criteria we have here: you need to be safe. To play for real money you need a top-quality and legitimate casino site, you need some money (that you can afford to spend) and you need some money in your account, probably via a bank, e-wallet, or mobile app, then cross your fingers and click to spin.