Getting Familiar With The Different Types Of Slot Machines

Getting Familiar With The Different Types Of Slot Machines

Types Of Slots

When slot machines were first invented, they were designed as a way to distract the wives of the “real gamblers” that were playing in the table games pit.

Casinos never intended slot machines to be money makers when they first hit the floor, but today’s modern slot machines are no longer your grandma’s favorite pastime, as slots have become high-tech and big business.

Not All Slots Are The Same:

While most slot machines look alike from afar, there are actually several different slot machine types that can commonly be found in casinos these days. Knowing the difference between these different slot machine types will help you find the game that is right for you on your next trip to the casino.

In this article, we are going to highlight the top 5 most common slot machine types that you are going to see in casinos today.

Whether you are playing an online slot machine or at your favorite brick-and-mortar casino, you can expect to find these slot machine types. Let’s kick things off by taking a look at the classic one-armed bandits, reel machines!


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Slot Machine Types

Do you want to know about all of the various slot machine types that you can play? Then check out TheSportsGeek’s top 5 slot machine types below!

Reel Machines

It wasn’t all that long ago that all slot machines were what are now known in the industry as reel machines. These old-school machines are called reel machines because there are large mechanical reels inside the machine. Unlike modern video slot machines, reel machines don’t use a random number generator to decide where the reels stop, they just spin until they come to a stop, and where they land, they land.

While video slot machines have long ago surpassed reel machines in terms of popularity, we still see reel machines on basically every casino floor to this day.

Gone are the days of feeding nickel or quarters into these machines and pulling a big handle, as most of these new-age reel machines use a ticket in/ticket out system, and you spin the reels with a button, not that long handle.

Please Note:

These games remain most popular amongst older players that are looking for a more classic gaming experience. Reel machines play a little slower, which some gamblers enjoy, as it helps stretch out their gaming budget. And while these machines might look like something from a different century, there is actually quite a bit of technology built into them on the back end. The main reason that casinos moved away from reel machines, towards more video machines, is because of all of the different ways that you could cheat when playing mechanical reel slots.

Savvy players found ways to drop slugs down the coin hole instead of money, they messed with the hopper to allow coins to freefall after a win, and there were even ways to physically manipulate the reels, to generate fake jackpots.

These newer reel machines may not look the part of a high-tech gambling game, but just know there is far more to these games than meets the eye when it comes to game protection.

Personally, I am not a huge fan of these games as they are a little slow for my liking and I prefer my slot machine action to be fast and furious. That being said, I can certainly appreciate the nostalgia that these games provide, and I am happy that they haven’t gone the way of the dinosaurs and completely disappeared from the casino floor.

Video Reel Machines

The vast majority of slots that you are going to play these days are video reel machines. Interestingly enough, from a technology standpoint, these video reel machines really aren’t all that different from the old-school mechanical reel machines.

Instead of big wheels spinning inside of these machines, when you push that spin button on a video reel machine, a random number generator decides where the reels will stop.

At first, many of these video reel machines looked and played almost identically as their mechanical forefathers did a generation before. But once slot manufacturers realized that without having to have spinning wheels set to specific pay lines, they could get much more creative when it came to game design.

It seems like every day we see new video reel themes pop up in casinos and today’s modern slots feature loud music, bright screens, and plenty of pop culture branding.

Instead of hoping for 3 cherries on a single pay line, you can now interact with countless of your favorite pop culture brands, playing in upwards of a thousand pay lines, with lots of spinning reels and flashing lights.

If it feels like you are playing a video game when you play a video reel machine, it is because you are, as many of these units can be highly entertaining multimedia blitzes!

One note of caution on these types of games would be that you are going to pay for all of that added fun and excitement, as video reel machines hold on average, anywhere between 10%-15%.

That doesn’t make these games the least player-friendly in the casino, but it’s close, as video reel machines can chew through your gambling bankroll in a hurry.

Progressive Slots

We already talked about how slot machines started out as more of a way to pass the time than anything else. Today’s modern slot machines have shifted the focus from passing the time, to truly being a form of entertainment, with high-end graphics, video, and music.

But no matter what the reason is that you are attracted to a game, we can all agree that winning a lot of money makes playing slots way more fun! That is where progressive slot machines come into play. Progressive slots can be both reel and video reel machines and they tend to be some of the most popular games in the casino.

Popular games like Megabucks are progressive machines and payouts of $10 million or more aren’t unheard of when it comes to the top progressive slot machines on the market.

Pro Tip: Play Max Bet

You must always play the maximum bet when you are playing a progressive slot machine. Just about every progressive machine that you are going to find requires a max bet to qualify for the jackpot.

With so much of the money going to this big progressive payout, playing a progressive machine with no chance of even winning the jackpot is silly. Either play the max bet or play another machine when it comes to progressive slot machines.

The way that a progressive slot machine works is that every time someone pushes spin, a portion of their bet goes towards the progressive prize pool. This jackpot prize pool is generally funded by multiple machines to help it grow even faster.

Please Note:

Some of the bigger brand name progressive machines link up machines from all over the state, which can generate those whopping 8-figure payouts that we see get hit from time to time. Chasing huge payouts sure can be a lot of fun, but you do so at your own risk. All slot machines are set to hold a specific percentage for the house.

These hold percentages can vary quite a bit from game to game depending on the theme and denomination. For this example, let’s say that the progressive slot machine that you are playing has a casino hold of 10% for easy math.

An Example: House Advantage

That means that for every $100 of coin in that gets processed through the machine, the casino holds 10%, and 90% is paid back to the players.

Now, you do have to remember that casinos work in volume, so obviously, some players are going to win, and others are going to lose. That 10% hold is based on the entire life of the machine, not a single play by a single guest.

You know what really messes with that player return rate? A $10 million dollar jackpot.

Every dollar that gets paid out by a machine counts towards that casino advantage percentage. That means that unless you are the lucky player that actually hits it big, the hold percentage is going to be far higher for you, and every other player that doesn’t hit it rich, than it would be on other games.

Please Note:

That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t play progressive slots, as somebody is going to hit that jackpot, and it could be you, it just means that a lot of players are going to have to lose to fund that big progressive jackpot.

From a very high level, the casino advantage for most players playing a progressive slot is going to be about double that of a non-progressive game, with so much money going towards that eye-popping top payout.

Multi-Game Machines

If I had to pick my personal favorite type of slot machine, it would be a multi-game machine. Multi-game machines are just that, slot machines that offer multiple different game options.

Sometimes that is completely different games like a machine that has video poker, keno, and video reel games all in one. Other times, that is a game that has a single theme, but multiple denomination options for you to choose from.

The key here is flexibility, as multi-game machines give you lots of different options when it comes to what you are playing and how much you are playing it for. You will find a lot of these games at bar tops, which are always one of my favorite places to play slot machines as I enjoy the camaraderie with the bartenders and other players.

If I had to make a prediction on the future of slot machines:

My prediction would be that we see more and more of these multi-game machines. They are convenient for players and great for the casino, as players don’t have to get up and wander around the casino looking for their favorite game, as all they have to do is click a couple of buttons to change things up.

Want to know what the casino of the future looks like? Expect a bunch of multi-game slot machines as it just makes too much sense not to have that added flexibility on every game.

Video Poker Slots

The final type of slot machine that we are going to talk about today are video poker machines. Just like reel and video reel machines, video poker has evolved a lot over the last 50 or so years.

It used to be 1 hand of jacks or better or deuces wild were your only options and nowadays there are nearly endless versions of video poker available to play. You can play 1 hand, 3 hands, 5 hands, heck you can even play up to 100 hands when playing video poker.

There are lots of options when it comes to pay tables and bonus poker options, which continues to keep video poker as one of the most played games in any casino.

Pro Tip: Check The Pay Tables

Check out the pay tables before you choose your video poker machine. Not all video poker games are alike, as some have player-friendly pay tables, whereas others don’t.

Knowing which game that you are at is a key to long-term success when playing video poker. If you search around hard enough, you can even find games that have 100% payback!

Personally, I don’t love video poker as it can get monotonous at times. I mean, how many times can you hold 4 to your flush or straight and miss it, before you get bored of the game? That being said, I am in the minority with that opinion as there are lots of slot players that exclusively play video poker.

If you ask me, the single largest redeeming quality for video poker is the house advantage.

Video poker does have a skill component to it, and if you play it perfectly, some video poker games feature house advantages of as low as 1% or less.

That makes video poker the single best game you can play when it comes to the casino advantage, even better than games like baccarat, blackjack, and craps. If you are a serious gambler, playing for big money, video poker is your best bet to win a boatload of cash. What the game lacks in flair, it more than makes up for with a fair gamble and great odds!


Slot machines are constantly evolving, and I am sure that a couple of years from now, we are going to have even more new games to play, as slot manufacturers are always looking for the next big thing. If you are looking to stay on the cutting edge of slot machines, the best place to find all of the new games is online!

With the exception of the old-school reel machines:

The online experience when playing slots is essentially identical to playing a slot machine at a brick-and-mortar casino. Online casinos have huge selections of game themes and denominations, and you are never going to have to look very far to find your favorite game.

If you are looking for a way to get in on the online slot machine action, make sure that you check out TheSportsGeek’s online casino page, where we bring our reader’s exclusive offers at all of the best online casinos. Thank you for reading and good luck playing online slot machines!


Author: Lucas Carlson