Slot Machine Symbols: A Comprehensive Visual Guide

Slot machines, a staple of casinos worldwide, have a rich history and a vibrant present. At the heart of every slot machine's appeal are the symbols that spin on their reels. These symbols are not just eye-catching graphics; they are the key to understanding the game and potentially unlocking big wins. This guide will delve into the fascinating world of slot machine symbols, from their historical origins to their modern incarnations, and how understanding them can enhance your gaming experience.

The Evolution of Slot Machine Symbols

The first slot machine, invented by Charles Fey in 1895, was a mechanical marvel of its time. Named the Liberty Bell, it featured symbols like hearts, diamonds, spades, horseshoes, and the eponymous Liberty Bell. A lineup of three Liberty Bells offered the highest payout, a concept that has persisted in slot machines to this day.

As slot machines evolved, so did their symbols. In the early 20th century, the Bell-Fruit Gum Company, a slot machine manufacturer, introduced fruit symbols to represent different flavors of gum, which were given out as prizes. These symbols included cherries, lemons, oranges, and plums. The BAR symbol, which is still commonly seen on slot machines today, originally represented a stick of gum.

Basic Slot Machine Symbols

Slot machine symbols have come a long way since the days of the Liberty Bell. While the variety of symbols depends on the game and its theme, there are some common types of symbols that appear in most games. Let's take a closer look at them:

Fruit Symbols

Fruit symbols are arguably the most iconic slot machine symbols. Originating from the early 20th century when slot machines paid out in chewing gum and the flavor of the gum corresponded to the fruit symbols on the reels. These symbols typically include cherries, lemons, oranges, plums, and watermelons. They are often associated with a lower payout.

Number and Letter Symbols

slot machine symbols: Number and Letter Symbols

Many slot machines use numbers and letters (often A, K, Q, J, 10, and 9) as symbols. These symbols are usually borrowed from a deck of playing cards, adding a familiar touch to the reels. They are typically low-paying symbols.

BAR Symbols

slot machine symbols: BAR Symbols

The BAR symbol traces its roots back to the early logo of the Bell-Fruit Gum Company. It's a common symbol in classic slot machines and is usually associated with higher payouts. Single, double, and triple BAR symbols are common and their value increases respectively.

Lucky Number 7

slot machine symbols: Lucky Number 7

The number 7 is often considered a lucky number in many cultures, and this belief has been transferred to slot machines as well. It's common to see this symbol in a variety of styles, such as flaming sevens, golden sevens, etc. The lucky number 7 is usually a high-paying symbol.

Liberty Bell

slot machine symbols: Liberty Bell

The Liberty Bell symbol pays homage to the first-ever mechanical slot machine created by Charles Fey in the late 19th century. While not as common as the other symbols, it's often associated with high payouts when it does appear.

Each of these symbols has its own unique history and significance in the world of slot machines. Understanding them can add a new level of appreciation for every spin.

Special Slot Machine Symbols

While basic symbols form the foundation of slot machine gameplay, special symbols add an extra layer of excitement and potential for big wins. These symbols come in various forms, each with its unique function.

Wild Symbols:

slot machine symbols: Wild Symbols

Often represented by a clearly marked 'Wild' or a symbol fitting the slot's theme, wild symbols can substitute for any other symbol (except for other special symbols) to help create a winning combination. Imagine them as the jokers in a deck of cards.

Scatter Symbols:

slot machine symbols: Scatter Symbols

These symbols are unique because they don't have to appear on a specific payline to be effective. They can 'scatter' anywhere on the reels, and if you get enough of them, they can trigger bonus features or free spins. Plus, they often come with their own hefty payouts.

Multiplier Symbols:

slot machine symbols: Multiplier Symbols

As the name suggests, these symbols multiply your winnings by a certain amount. They can appear during regular play or during bonus rounds, and they can significantly boost your payout.

Bonus Symbols:

slot machine symbols: Bonus Symbols

These symbols trigger bonus games when you land a certain number of them. Bonus games vary widely but often offer the chance to win extra prizes beyond the regular game.

Strategies for Winning with Slot Machine Symbols

Strategies for Winning with Slot Machine Symbols

Understanding the symbols is just the first step. To maximize your winnings, you need to develop a strategy that takes into account both the symbols and the slot machine denominations. Here are some tips to get you started:

Know the Paytable:

Before you start playing, take a moment to review the paytable. It shows how much each symbol pays out for a specific combination. Knowing this can help you make informed decisions about your bets.

Bet Wisely:

While betting the maximum amount can potentially lead to bigger wins, it can also deplete your bankroll quickly. Balance your bets according to your budget and how long you want to play.

Choose High RTP Games:

RTP, or Return to Player, is a percentage that indicates how much a slot machine pays back to players over time. Choosing games with a high RTP can increase your chances of winning in the long run.

Take Advantage of Special Symbols:

Special symbols like wilds, scatters, and multipliers can significantly boost your winnings. Make sure you understand how they work and take full advantage of them.

FAQs about Slot Machine Symbols

FAQs about Slot Machine Symbols

In this section, we'll address some of the most frequently asked questions about slot machine symbols. These questions cover a wide range of topics, from the basics to more specific historical queries.

What are the icons on a slot machine?

The icons on a slot machine, also known as symbols, are the images you see spinning on the reels. They can range from traditional symbols like fruits, bells, and numbers, to thematic symbols based on the slot's theme, to special symbols like wilds, scatters, and multipliers.

How many symbols are there in slot machines?

The number of symbols in a slot machine can vary widely depending on the game. Traditional mechanical slot machines might have around 10-20 symbols, while modern video slots can have hundreds of symbols, especially when you consider different variations of wilds, scatters, and bonus symbols.

Are there any signs a slot machine will hit?

Slot machines use Random Number Generators (RNGs) to determine the outcome of each spin, making it impossible to predict when a machine will hit. However, understanding the game's paytable and special symbols can help you maximize your potential winnings.

What is the symbol on a slot bar?

The BAR symbol on a slot machine originated from the logo of the Bell-Fruit Gum Company, which used to produce slot machines. The company's machines would dispense gum as prizes, and the BAR symbol represented a stick of gum.

Which three symbols were used on slot machines during Prohibition?

During Prohibition, slot machines were disguised as vending machines and would dispense items like gum as prizes. The symbols used during this time were typically fruits, such as cherries, lemons, and plums, which represented the flavors of gum being dispensed.

What is the oldest slot machine symbol?

The oldest slot machine symbol is the Liberty Bell, which was used on the first-ever slot machine created by Charles Fey in 1895. Other early symbols include hearts, diamonds, spades, and horseshoes.


Slot machine symbols are more than just pretty pictures. They're the key to understanding how the game works and how you can maximize your winnings. From the classic fruit symbols of yesteryear to the complex wilds and scatters of today's video slots, these symbols add depth and excitement to the game of slots.

According to experts who write for us on casino and gambling, no strategy guarantees a win every time, but by understanding the basics behind slot machine symbols, you'll be better equipped to make informed decisions and potentially hit the big time. So the next time you sit down at a slot machine at a casino, take a moment to appreciate the symbols spinning in front of you. They're your ticket to fun and, just maybe, a big payout.

If you want to learn more about slot machines, you can read our guide on slot machine denominations.

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