The first-ever slot machine was the Liberty Bell, which was invented in 1895. It used three spinning reels and featured four kinds of symbols: diamonds, spades, hearts, and the Liberty Bell. If a player got three Liberty Bells in a row, they would receive a payout of fifty cents, which, in 1895, was no small prize.
You can still see the original Liberty Bell slot machine in Reno’s Liberty Belle Saloon & Restaurant. To this day, many slot machines pay homage to their predecessor by featuring the Liberty Bell as its lucky symbol.
Other popular lucky symbols include horseshoes, the number 7, scarab beetles, and BAR. Horseshoes have been regarded as a superstitious symbol for thousands of years. In fact, the ancient Greeks connected the shape with the goddesses Artemis and Diana, and ancient Celts used horseshoes to ward off fairies. The number 7 is considered to be lucky in many cultures and has underlying religious connotations. Scarab beetles represented immortality in ancient Egyptian religions.
You can see that there is an underlying theme for each of these lucky symbols, but why is the BAR symbol also considered lucky? Well, in the 1900s, slot machines were banned because of their poor reputation of ripping people off. So, many manufacturers turned to producing games with fruit symbols (such as cherries, lemons, bananas, and plums), and the prize would be gum, rather than cash. Modern slot machines often use these same fruit symbols, but now players can win cash instead of fruit-flavored gum. The “BAR” symbol that you can still see on modern machines replaced the Liberty Bell as fruit machines’ 5th symbol. The symbol is quite simple: a black rectangle with “BAR” printed on it. It is supposed to represent an entire pack of chewing gum!
Today’s Slot Machine Symbols
So, now that we’ve taken a look at the history of slot symbols, let’s look at the three types of symbols you can find today.
Standard symbols don’t have any unique features besides paying out money when they appear in a row on the player’s active payline. If a player lands at least three matching symbols on the active payline, this is considered to be a winning combination, and would then receive a prize. Some popular standard symbols used in today’s slot machines are fruits and playing card symbols (mainly 10s through Aces). However, newer video slots have become much more engaging lately and may feature a whole slew of interesting standard symbols to fit with their theme.
Wild symbols can replace any other symbol in a slot, similar to how a Joker does when playing some card games. If you hit a Wild symbol on the reels, it can act as a replacement for any of the standard symbols. There are a few different types of Wild symbols:
- Expanding Wild symbols: These symbols will turn adjacent symbols into Wild ones. The direction of the movement depends on the game. They mostly expand upwards and downwards, but sometimes side to side. Once in a while, they may even expand diagonally! Expanding Wild symbols will help you create more winning combos!
- Stacked Wild symbols: These symbols drop in stacked on top of each other, and often expand to fill the entire reel.
- Sticky Wild symbols: When Sticky Wilds appear, they will get stuck on the reel and remain there for subsequent spins. This type of wild symbol often pops up when a player is in a free spin bonus round. The symbol sticks to the reel and will stay for the remainder of the free spins, which will drive up the player’s wins.
- Moving Wild symbols: Like Sticky Wilds, Moving Wild symbols will stick to the reels across spins, but their positions will move.
There are other types of Wild Symbols besides these that could show up in a slots game. Just make sure to read the game’s paytable to understand how its Wild symbols work.
A scatter symbol’s primary function is to enable a player to unlock a slot game’s bonus features. These symbols don’t have to be lined up in order to be activated. A specified number of scatter symbols just have to appear on the reels. Once the requirements are fulfilled, the player will receive a bonus, such as a mini-game or some free spins. Scatter symbols are usually unique in design and align with the game’s theme.
Scatter symbols are commonly found on slot machines with 5 or 7 reels, but are not as common on 3-reel machines. Make sure to check your game’s paytable to see if it features scatter symbols.
Here is an example of a scatter symbol and the bonus it activates:
Bonus symbols act in a similar way to Scatter symbols, meaning that a bonus round will be activated once three bonus symbols land on the reels. In most cases, the symbols must land on consecutive reels, and it will only count if they land on an active payline.
Multiplier symbols work in a very simple manner: they multiply your wins! When these land on the reels, they can increase your payout by a predetermined figure (up to 600% in most cases). Multiplier symbols are most commonly found during a player’s free spins round. Some slot games also use wild multipliers, which is, as it sounds, a wild symbol that also happens to be a multiplier.
It is always a good idea to look at your slot game’s paytable to familiarize yourself with its symbols. In the image above, you can see Savanna Sunrise 2’s paytable, and it clearly shows the Wild, Multiplier, and Scatter Bonus symbols.
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