Classic slots is a category players will encounter again and again at online slots sites, but what truly defines a classic?

As with classics in any field, our understanding of what classic slots entail has evolved since Charles Fey invented the first automated, cash-paying slot in 1895.

What are classic slots?

In the world of online slots, classic slots is a term more often associated with slots from earlier eras, rather than slots titles that have gained classic status through popularity.

From the first ‘one-armed bandits’, to the ‘fruit machines’ or ‘fruities’ that continue to flash away in the corners of pubs and bars, seaside arcades and casinos, classic slots have a vintage, retro feel to them and three characteristics in common.

Three characteristics of classic slots

As yet there is no United Nations of Slots to provide an official definition of classic slots. A slot can be a classic without having all three of these characteristics, but if a game has most of them, there’s a good chance it’s recognised as being a classic slot.

Fewer symbols

Slots purists will agree that the closest thing to a dictionary definition of a classic slot would be a game with three reels, with three symbols in view on each and one payline, a straight line across the middle row on each reel.

However, most online slots of the classic genre feature five reels, with three symbols in view and multiple paylines.

This remains a stark contrast to the latest slots which can often have up to six symbols in view on each reel, a truckload of paylines and in the case of Megaways slots an amount of symbols per reel and paylines that vary from one spin to the next.

Classic symbols

True classic slots symbols will forever be linked to the birth of slots in the 1890s and unlike with other aspects of slots, there aren’t likely to be any new additions to their exclusive club.

Few would argue that playing cards, fruit, bells, bars, sevens and variations on those themes are the symbols you find on classic slots.

Simpler games

Again a purist’s understanding of a classic slot would be one where the action is limited to the basic game, where you stake, spin and get paid out if the symbols line up along a payline.

However, classic slots as we know them today do generally have bonus games, albeit of a simpler nature to more forward-looking slots.

Classics can include wilds and scatter symbols that trigger simple bonus games. Free spins and yes/no, high/low, or spinning wheel skill games are all types of bonus games that are found in classic slots.

Nostalgia and simplicity are two key reasons for the enduring popularity of classic slots, but it’s perhaps the latter where they have more to offer for players that have come of age long after the heydays of bandits and fruities.

Working out how to win on slots can be tricky for new players, especially given the multifaceted nature of the newest slots out there online. Classic slots are generally less complex and ideal for learning the basics.

Play classic slots at UK online slots sites

Want to play classic slots online? Check out our list of the best slots bonuses and sign up offers for UK players.

Try Reel Classic 3 at William Hill for a taste of the quintessential three-reel slot, or Super Hot Fruits at bet365 for an updated five-reel affair, with classic styling.