Since their appearance at the end of the 19th century (around 1895), slot machines changed the very essence of the term ‘entertainment’. They revolutionized the traditional way of gambling that people who were into that had practiced it until then with various card-based games. Of course, since then slot machines have changed beyond recognition. From mechanical appliances to today’s modern hi-tech ones, and from the ones that needed a croupier to pay out winnings to players to today’s online virtual machines whose contemporary software enables almost instant payouts.
However, although the machines have changed radically, the one thing that remained surprisingly consistent is the slot symbols. A lot of this consistency is down to tradition and the fact that most gamblers like familiarity. This doesn’t mean that they haven’t changed at all or that there’s a lack of innovation from the side of the casino industry. Modern icons are a million miles away from the traditional ones that dominated the casinos up to the 1970s. The earliest ones included diamonds, hearts, spades, and a Liberty Bell.
These come in various sizes and shapes: from famous historic characters to the ones borrowed from popular movies, TV shows, and popular culture in general. This is done mainly because it helps players to easily identify themselves with those games.
If you’re a newcomer to this type of fun, maybe you would like to get familiar with all those different symbols you can find in casinos today. It’s good to know that they are all unique in offering various game features and bonuses but that at times they can cause slight confusion too.
Before we get to the modern icons, maybe it would be useful to give a brief overview of the first symbols used by traditional machines.
Cards and poker
As it was already said, cards, especially poker, were commonplace in traditional American saloons, just like fistfights and gunfights. Therefore it was no surprise the very first, primitive slots used card symbols and colors – spades, clubs, hearts, and diamonds.
The poker symbols remained dominant until the reduction of reels from five to three. But even today you can find that there are still many casinos using machines with cards and these motives, and one of the most famous ones comes from there – lucky number seven.
Regardless of whether you are into these machines or not, you must have wondered why fruit appears in most of the slot machines you can find in today’s casinos and gambling houses. Fruit icons have become a standard, traditional symbols, and their usage started at the very beginning of the 20th century when these machines became widely banned. To get around this ban, gambling companies started creating slots that started paying out winners in gums and fruits instead of cash.
So, there’s the answer to the question of what do all those juicy fruit icons mean – these would actually be bubble gum flavors! Since then lemons, cherries, oranges, apples, and pears have become so popular that they are now inevitable in almost every major casino.
These icons are a common additional, bonus feature that most of the modern (traditional and online) slots have. They all have specific functions depending on the game you’re playing. In some slots, they might trigger various types of bonus features, while in others they might even act as multipliers or a substitute for other icons to help create a winning combination.
But, does this mean that all slots have Scatters? No, it doesn’t. Although they’re very common in many types of games, there are still many slots, especially the online ones, that don’t really feature these types of icons.
These are very similar to scatters but they trigger a special bonus game. Scatters and bonuses can often alter their functions – sometimes the scatters could trigger the bonus game, while special free spin symbols start the free spin rounds. In most cases though, the bonus icons are linked to the slot’s overall theme. Their mechanics often vary from game to game, so it’s a good idea to check it in advance, so that you may know what to expect.
Bonus games are usually the slot’s most innovative features. Bonus games could also require some decision-making, so you should be ready for some quick screen interactions, but since slots are universally liked for their simplicity, it’s very unlikely that you’ll find some gameplay elements that would actually be difficult for you. But at the end of the day, just like in any other casino game, bonus rounds always come down to luck.
For people who aren’t familiar with slot machines in general wild symbols could be a kind of mystery. But the truth is that these icons have been there from the very beginning of the machines. They are the equivalent of the Joker in a cards deck. The Joker is a Wild card.
The only reason for their existence is to make a game more interesting and more enjoyable. They have the ultimate power to replace any other symbol in the game and they even help when trying to complete a pay line and collect winnings.
The only exceptions when it comes to the substitution are the Scatter and the Bonus icons. The first ones will payout no matter where they appear, while a certain number of bonus icons trigger free rounds of extra spins. Just as there are different slot game types, there are also different types of Wild Symbols. Many modern online casinos like Slots-o-Rama have a plethora of special wild symbols, each bringing a unique zest to the game.
These are among the ones that you might rarely receive. Their purpose is exactly what their names say – they multiply your wins. They can appear on reels just as any other icons and can also multiply the prize of any winning combinations they join. Naturally, due to their purpose, not many slots feature multipliers, and their number on the reels is usually on the low side to compensate for their high cash returns.
Now that you know the history of modern slot machine symbols and what they mean, maybe you would like to try them for yourself. But whether you choose machines with more traditional icons or the modern ones, remember – it’s the passion that still rules the game!