Guide to Understanding Slot Machine Symbols

This guide offers a detailed exploration into the fascinating world of slot machine symbols, their history, and the significance they hold in games. Since the first mechanical slot machine, the “Liberty Bell”, introduced in the late 19th century, symbols have been at the heart of the slot game experience. Over time, these symbols have evolved, each carrying a unique meaning, often tied to the theme of the slot machine game. As we delve into this comprehensive guide, we will unveil the intriguing history and underpinning meanings of these symbols that transform a simple spin into a thrilling journey of chance.

What Are Slot Symbols and Their Meaning

Slot symbols are icons or images that appear on the reels of a slot machine. Each symbol carries a specific value and when lined up in particular combinations, result in wins for the player. The types of symbols and their values vary from game to game, most often reflecting the theme of the slot.

For instance, in a classic fruit slot machine, you would encounter symbols like cherries, lemons, and watermelons. In these games, different fruits represent different values – cherries are often the low-value symbols, whereas something like a golden bell or a lucky seven may represent the high-value symbols, producing a larger payout when lined up.

More contemporary slot games may feature a wider range of symbols, including wilds and scatters. Wild symbols can substitute for any other symbol to help create a winning combination, while scatter symbols often unlock bonus features or free spins. The exact function of these symbols can vary, adding an exciting layer of complexity to modern slot games.

Types of Slot Symbols

There is a myriad of slot symbols that light up the reels of your favourite slot games, each with their unique attributes and potential for big wins. As we delve further into this guide, we’ll explore the various types of slot symbols that you might encounter in your gaming experience. From traditional symbols that have anchored the world of slots since their inception, to more recent introductions that add a new dimension of fun and excitement to the games, understanding these symbols can significantly enhance your gameplay. Let’s set the reels in motion and dive into the fascinating world of slot symbols.

Standard Symbols

Standard symbols form the backbone of slot machine games, providing the base layer of gameplay. These symbols represent the most common icons that players will encounter on the reels. For instance, in a traditional fruit machine, standard symbols are usually depicted by classic images such as cherries, lemons, and bars. In more themed machines, these symbols are often aesthetically aligned with the game’s overarching concept, such as pirate insignia in a pirate-themed slot, or hieroglyphs in an Ancient Egyptian-themed game.

Standard symbols usually have a predetermined value, with the aim being to line up matching symbols on the payline to achieve a win. The value attributed to each symbol is often directly proportional to the rarity of the symbol within the game – the more uncommon a symbol, the higher the payout when it appears in a winning combination. Understanding the value and function of standard symbols is crucial for players, as these symbols make up the bulk of the gameplay and winning potential in most slot machine games.

Wild Symbols

Wild symbols, in the realm of slot machine games, embody a transformative power; they can substitute for almost any other symbol (except for scatter symbols and certain bonus symbols, in most cases) to help create winning combinations. Picture them as the jokers in a deck of cards, taking on the value needed to complete a winning string of symbols. For instance, if you have two ‘Bar’ symbols in a row and a wild next to them, the wild symbol will act as another ‘Bar’, granting you three ‘Bar’ symbols in a row – a winning combination.

Furthermore, wild symbols often carry multipliers, meaning that any winnings achieved with the wild will be multiplied by a certain amount, significantly increasing your winnings. Some games feature ‘Stacked Wilds’, where multiple wild symbols appear stacked on top of each other, or ‘Expanding Wilds’ which grow to cover an entire reel.

It’s important to understand the rules concerning wild symbols in the specific game you’re playing, as their function can vary. But regardless of their nuances, wild symbols undeniably add an exciting twist to the gameplay, elevating the thrill of anticipation every time the reels spin.

Scatter Symbols

Scatter symbols are another special type of symbol in slot machine gaming, known for their capacity to trigger bonus features within the game. Unlike standard and wild symbols, scatters don’t have to line up on the payline to bring rewards. Instead, they can appear anywhere on the reels, and still influence the game, hence the name ‘scatter’.

The exact functions and rewards linked to scatter symbols can vary significantly from game to game. In many slot machines, landing a certain number of scatters anywhere on the reels can unlock free spins, bonus rounds, or other special features. For example, in some games, three scatter symbols might award you with 10 free spins, while four could grant you 15, and five might offer an impressive 20 free spins.

On top of their bonus-triggering ability, scatter symbols often carry a high payout value, particularly if a player lands multiple scatters. The rewards can be multiplied by the total amount of the stake, rather than just the line bet, making scatters a highly sought-after symbol on the reels.

Understanding how scatter symbols function within your chosen slot game can significantly enhance your gaming experience and winning potential. Just like the wild symbols, scatters inject an extra layer of excitement into the gameplay, keeping players engaged and eager for the next spin.

Bonus Symbols

Bonus symbols are a thrilling addition to many slot games, functioning as the key to unlocking special features and enhancing the overall gaming experience. These symbols often fall outside the remit of standard, wild, and scatter symbols, holding an allure all their own.

When a player lands a certain number of bonus symbols on the reels, they often trigger a bonus game or feature, which may include free spins, mini-games, or pick ’em bonuses. For instance, a bonus symbol might unlock a ‘wheel of fortune’ mini-game, where players can spin a wheel for a chance to win cash prizes, free spins, or even a progressive jackpot.

The exact rules and rewards linked to bonus symbols can vary significantly from game to game. Some may require bonus symbols to align on an active payline, while others may only require their presence anywhere on the reels. In some cases, bonus symbols may need to land on specific reels.

By introducing bonus symbols into a slot game, developers add another layer of unpredictability and excitement. Understanding the function of these powerful symbols can greatly enrich your gaming experience, keeping you on the edge of your seat with every spin of the reels.

Multiplier Symbols

Multiplier symbols are another exciting feature found in many slot games, known for their ability to drastically increase your winnings. These symbols, as the name suggests, have the power to multiply the payout of a winning combination by a predetermined amount. Multipliers can range from doubling your win (2x multiplier) to increasing it a thousand-fold (1000x multiplier).

The way multipliers are awarded varies from game to game. Sometimes, they might be a feature of the wild symbol, multiplying your winnings whenever the wild completes a winning combination. In other games, multipliers might be associated with scatter or bonus symbols, or even be a feature of the main game or a bonus game. For example, during a free spins bonus round, all winnings might be subject to a 3x multiplier, effectively tripling any wins you earn during the free spins.

There are also more complex multiplier symbols. For instance, ‘Increasing Multipliers’ are a type of multiplier that increments after consecutive wins or each time a certain event occurs within a game. ‘Multiplier Meters’ are another interesting feature, where a meter fills up to award multiplicative boosts to your winnings.

Understanding the role of multiplier symbols in your chosen slot game can significantly increase your winning potential and make your gameplay all the more thrilling. These special symbols add a layer of suspense to every spin as you have the potential to greatly increase your return on each bet.

The History of Slot Symbols

The history of slot symbols is a fascinating journey that takes us back to the late 19th century. The first slot machine was invented by Charles Fey in San Francisco in 1895, known as the Liberty Bell machine. This mechanical gambling device used symbols like horseshoes, diamonds, spades, hearts, and a Liberty Bell.

With the prohibition of gambling and a ban on cash prizes in the early 20th century, slot machines underwent a transformation. The machines started using fruit symbols, and winnings were dispensed in the form of sweets or chewing gum. This is where the BAR symbol first entered the scene. The Bell-Fruit Gum Company, a producer of slot machines, used the logo of a chewing gum pack, which happened to be a stylised image of a bar. This logo was incorporated as a symbol in their slot machines.

The advent of the BAR symbol added an element of fun and intrigue to the game. Players began to associate the BAR symbol with the prospect of winning gum treats. Over time, as such restrictions on gambling eased and cash prizes returned, the BAR symbol was already deeply engrained in slot machine culture. It was carried over into electronic and, later, online slots. Today, despite the significant transformation of slot machines from mechanical devices to digital platforms, the BAR symbol has stood the test of time, remaining a prominent fixture in modern slot games. A symbol born from circumventing a prohibition, it adds a sense of nostalgic charm and serves as a nod to the rich history of slot gaming.


In this comprehensive guide on slot symbols, we’ve journeyed through the various types of symbols found in slot games, including standard symbols, wild symbols, scatter symbols, bonus symbols, and multiplier symbols. Each symbol was explored in detail, highlighting their unique features and functions that enhance the gaming experience and increase winning potential. We also delved into the fascinating history of slot symbols, starting from the late 19th century with the creation of the first slot machine, to the introduction of fruit and BAR symbols due to gambling restrictions. The rich history and evolution of these symbols serve as a testament to the enduring popularity and nostalgia of slot games, which continue to evolve with technology yet maintaining a firm connection to their roots.