Slot Machine Symbols: A Comprehensive Guide

symbols of slot machines

Slot machine symbols stand out as the central element in both land-based and online casino slot games, defining the game’s distinctive character.

Within this guide, you’ll discover valuable insights about slot machine symbols and their significance in the realm of casino games. Should you find this guide informative, be sure to explore our additional slot machine guides catering to players of diverse preferences.

Now, let’s delve into the subjects covered in this guide:

  1. Interpretation of slot symbols and their significance
  2. Exploration of the quantity of symbols featured in slots
  3. Examination of various types of slot symbols
  4. Insight into popular slot symbols
  5. A glimpse into the history of slot symbols
  6. Assistance in identifying and selecting your preferred slot symbols

Slot Symbols and Their Meaning

Slot symbols serve as the fundamental elements in creating winning combinations that bestow generous rewards upon players. These icons, each with unique designs, enhance the overall excitement of the gambling experience.

The meaning of slot machine symbols varies for each icon, often based on specific objects, frequently revolving around lucky charms such as:

  • Horseshoe
  • Four-leaf clover
  • Lucky 7
  • Pot of gold
  • Rabbit’s foot

In online casinos, slot machine symbols are tailored to match the theme of the respective slot. Reputable software providers prioritize sharp visuals, aiming to allure more players to their slot games by offering an enticing visual appeal.

Players utilize these symbols, following the rules and pay mechanics of the slot, to form winning combinations on paylines, typically requiring at least three matching symbols.


It’s crucial to note that some symbols can trigger bonus features, providing players with a unique opportunity to secure more substantial prizes than regular ones. Every payout a player receives is contingent on how well the symbols align on the reels.

Exploring Slot Machine Symbol Counts

The quantity of symbols in a slot machine varies, contingent on the number of reels the game employs. In a classic 3-reel slot machine, there are a total of 60 symbols (or 20 symbols per reel). This configuration results in over 8,000 potential combinations to achieve a jackpot. To delve deeper into slot machine reels, explore our comprehensive guide at ReallyBestSlots Academy.

In contemporary video slots, the number of symbols no longer impacts the likelihood of landing a winning combination. Instead, outcomes are determined by intricate random number generator (RNG) modules, ensuring a random result with every spin of the reels.

Varieties of Slot Symbols

Various types of symbols grace the reels of slot casino games, each distinct in its own way. The typical symbol types found in many online slots include:

  1. Standard symbols (both low and high-paying)
  2. Wild symbols
  3. Bonus symbols
  4. Scatter symbols
  5. Multiplier symbols

Below, we will elucidate each of these symbol types to help you discern the distinctions among them.

Standard Symbols

Every slot game incorporates various standard symbols, serving as paying symbols with no additional functionality in the casino game. Their sole purpose is to grant players a prize upon forming a winning combination on the reels consisting of matching standard symbols.

Frequently, slots utilize retro standard symbols like fruit, often employed as high-paying symbols:

  • Watermelons
  • Oranges
  • Cherries
  • Strawberries

Other prevalent symbols are the card symbols, representing the low-paying ones:

  • Jack
  • Queen
  • King
  • Ace
  • Card suits (Heart, Spade, Diamond, and Clubs)

In a fruit-themed slot, fruit symbols typically function as high-paying standard symbols, while card symbols commonly serve as low-paying symbols.

It’s important to note

standard slot symbols can land anywhere on the reels, with certain symbols appearing only on specific reels.

For instance

Flaming Fruits, a video slot from GameArt, showcases several standard symbols, including a 7 symbol, Watermelon symbol, Grapes symbol, Liberty Bell symbol, Cherries symbol, Lemon symbol, Plum symbol, and Orange symbol.

Wild Symbols

Wild symbols rank as the second most prevalent symbols in slot games, assuming the role of a “joker” with various functions. Their primary role is to substitute for other standard symbols, aiding in the formation of winning combinations.

It’s essential to note that Wild symbols cannot replace Scatter and Bonus symbols. Frequently, Wild symbols also take on the role of Wild Multiplier symbols, functioning as standard symbols while simultaneously multiplying the payout.

Several other types of Wild symbols include:

  • Expanding Wilds
  • Stacked Wilds
  • Shifting Wilds
  • Sticky Wilds
  • Transforming Wilds
  • Walking Wilds

Certain online video slots feature special bonus games for Wild symbols. For instance, a bonus game may transform one or more reels entirely wild when activated. An example of such a video slot is Power of Thor Megaways, developed by Pragmatic Play.

Scatter Symbols

Scatter symbols rank as the third most common symbols in slot games. While they are often the rarest symbols to land on the reels, the advantage lies in their ability to reward players with a prize without being part of the payline. The most common bonus activated by Scatter symbols is the free spins feature.

In online video slots, Scatter symbols are among the highest-paying symbols. They can appear anywhere on the reels, triggering a payout and activating a bonus game. The payout increases with the number of Scatter symbols a player lands.

Scatter symbols are favored by players, as they often only require two or three to win a prize. They are commonly featured in 5-reel slots to enhance the gaming experience. The bonus is typically triggered when players land a specific number of Scatter symbols anywhere on the reels. An example of a slot game featuring Scatter symbols that trigger a free spins feature is Rome: The Golden Age slot from NetEnt.

Bonus Symbols

Bonus symbols play a crucial role in triggering specific bonus games within slot machines. They share similarities with Scatter symbols, but typically require the player to land a specific number of these symbols in designated positions to activate a bonus game.

The most common method to trigger a bonus game is by landing at least three bonus symbols on predetermined reels. In certain cases, bonus symbols may be required to appear simultaneously on reels 1 and 5. Alternatively, they might need to land in specific positions on the reels.

Pro Tip

For players wagering on a slot game featuring bonus symbols, it is advisable to consult the paytable to understand the criteria for triggering the bonus game.

An illustration of a slot game incorporating bonus symbols to activate a bonus round is the Lion Gems Hold and Win slot from Playson.

Multiplier Symbols

Multiplier symbols stand out as some of the rarest symbols to grace the slot reels, aiming to significantly enhance players’ winnings. These symbols make their appearance on the reels like any other type but come with the unique ability to increase the payout of a winning combination, often reaching up to 6x.

For instance

If a player lands a winning combination that would typically yield $30, a 5x multiplier would elevate the payout to $150.

Multiplier symbols can take the form of standard symbols with an additional icon indicating their multiplier bonus. However, the more valuable multipliers also function as Wild symbols, capable of multiplying the payout for any winning combination they contribute to.

While not commonly found in many slots, a rare example is Buffalo King by Pragmatic Play. In this slot game, the Wild symbol also serves as a Multiplier symbol during free spins, offering a random multiplier of 2x, 3x, or 5x.

The Most Popular Slot Machine Symbols

Software providers frequently incorporate certain symbols into their slot games, with classic slots often showcasing old-school symbols such as:

  • Lucky 7s
  • Bar
  • Horseshoes
  • Liberty Bell
  • Diamond
  • Star
  • Four Leaf Clover

Fruit symbols are also commonly found in classic slots, including Cherries, Lemon, Bananas, Oranges, Strawberries, Plums, Watermelon, Grapes, Pineapple, and Pears. Additionally, card symbols ranging from 10 to A and card suits (Diamond, Spade, Club, and Heart) are prevalent.

In contrast, modern video slots boast a more diverse array of symbols, with themes inspired by Ancient Egypt, Rome, Greece, Vikings, China, and others. These themes often incorporate popular symbols tailored to the specific slot’s theme.

The History of Slot Symbols

Slot games have been in existence since the late 19th century, and while much has changed over the years, some symbols have retained their relevance even today.

Did you know?

Many players might not be aware that the Bar symbol in slot machines originally represented sticks of chewing gum, specifically Bar chewing gum, a popular gum brand.

Among the oldest symbols featured on the initial slot machines were card suits, a Liberty Bell, and a Horseshoe. These were later joined by symbols such as the Bar, Lucky 7s, Four Leaf Clover, and card symbols like Jack, Queen, King, and Ace.

The introduction of fruit slot machines brought forth new symbols, including Lemons, Cherries, Grapes, Oranges, Watermelons, Pineapples, Strawberries, Plums, and more.

As video slots gained popularity, modern symbols started to emerge, with each slot featuring unique and distinctive symbols.

Discover Your Preferred Slot Symbols on ReallyBestSlots

Now that you understand the significance of symbols in slot games, explore our comprehensive guide on how to play slots and search for an enticing slot game to try with real money.

Visit ReallyBestSlots’s website to access numerous free online slots that require no download to play. Additionally, you have the option to engage in real-money slot games. Kickstart your gambling adventure with a free spins bonus code available on our website. To enhance your experience, we suggest selecting a trustworthy online casino for your wagers.

We trust that the insights you’ve gained about slot machine symbols will prove beneficial on your gaming journey.

Jack Barens, ReallyBestSlots writer
Jack Barens iGaming Writer
Last Updated: January 14, 2024

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