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Understanding Slot Machine Paylines

Slot Machines: Understanding Paylines in Detail

Slot games are among the most famous and popular online casino games. At first glance, they seem to be the easiest games to play, especially if you are new to the world of online gambling. However, they can be deceptive. To avoid being on the downside of these enjoyable games, it’s important that you acquaint yourself with the basics. By understanding the main features and components of slot machines, you can certainly increase the possibility of winning.

Slot machines are sought after for several reasons – they are easy to play, and with just a single spin, you can get a quick win. Slot machines are also available in a variety of themes, which create unique enjoyment and different adventures. But what excites most online casino players are the slot playlines with multiple variations. Let’s find out more.

 

Components of a Slot Machine

Typically, all slot machines across the world consist of several significant parts. These include the paylines, the pay table and the reels, among others. While many slot machines are standardized, other complex machines require keen observation to fully understand how they operate.

Here are a few key components of slot machines:

  • Display box - This reveals to the player if they have won, plus the amount won.
  • Balance - This shows the exact amount of cash available in the player account.
  • Reels - This part of the slot machine reveals the spins and the symbols.
  • Pay table - Reveals the possible amount you can win on a payline.
  • Bet per line - The amount of cash you wish to bet per line in your next spin.
  • Maximum bet - This is the number of lines multiplied by the bet per line to give you the maximum stake.
  • Number of paylines - This allows you to select the number of paylines you wish to play. Applies to multi-line slots.
  • Play / Spin – In the form of a button or lever that spins the reels.

 

How Slots Work

Generally, slot machines have more than three reels, each consisting of a number of symbols. Mechanical slot machines usually have more than 20 symbols per reel – digital technology allows them to have many, as much as 256 symbols to present millions of possible combinations. The paylines then refer to this combination of symbols once you pay out on them.

Thousands of numbers can be generated per second by the random number generator contained in each slot machine, which relates to the different combination of symbols. The random number generated the moment you activate each play determines whether you lose or win. Each spin is random, independent and does not relate to future or previous spins. This makes it hard to predict what may happen on each spin.

 

Payouts and Winning Odds

The odds of winning and possible payouts depend on the number of credits you wager, the slot machine you’re playing, and the paylines you play.

Slot machines that cost little to play often tend to pay out relatively small prizes. Others that cost several dollars per spin will offer higher odds and bigger jackpots. For instance, let’s consider a three-reel slot with 20 symbols per reel. There’s a 1 in 8,000 chance of hitting a matching three symbol combination. Multiply this into five reels and the possible combinations can be in their millions.

 

House Advantage of Slot Machines

Typically, slot machines are programmed to pay out high or low odds. The average slot machine house advantage is about 8%, which means the average player return is 92%.

 

What is a Slot Pay Line?

If you’re a slot machine enthusiast, you know what can make or break the game – slot paylines. But what are paylines on slot machines? Without a doubt, paylines are the fundamental aspect of slot machines – they determine whether you lose or win. An instant win is awarded when the identical slot symbols land on the payline.

Also known as a winning line or betting line, a payline in slots is a pattern on the reels that forms a winning combination. It’s also known as a winning line or betting line. Any slot machine enthusiast should look at the payline before embarking on a slot game. You will, however, not need any special skill to play and win online slots – just rely on lady luck at the right time and place.

Going back to when the slot games were invented, you’d only find one payline. When it comes to today’s video slot paylines, we have slot machines with multi payline games known as video slots. With multiple paylines, things may become more confusing, but at the same time, get exciting.

The First-Ever Slot Machine Payline

In the past, only one payline was featured in slot machines. A player would qualify for a prize after landing three identical symbols on the payline.

The world's first-ever slot machine payline was invented by Charles Fey, a Californian car mechanic between the years 1887 and 1895. It featured five symbols on three reels, referred to as the ‘Liberty Bell’. A player had to hit three bells in a row to win the highest prize – 10 nickels (50 cents).

In the modern world, even mechanical slot machines are being rendered obsolete by advancements in computer technology. Manufacturers have implemented touch screen slot machines, for example. Machines of this type typically feature 15 to 25 paylines and 100 paylines in a few rare cases.

In a nutshell, the slot payline consists of a pattern of reel positions that read from left to right. A specific payline is activated when you bet on it. During a gaming session, you must adjust the preferred number of slot paylines to bet on before you spin the reels. The chances of winning increase as you increase the number of active paylines. 

Once the spinning of the reels is complete, the prize returned by the matching symbols is checked at the paytable. If a winning combination aligns on an active payline, you will be paid accordingly.

The classic slots consist of a single horizontal line featuring one direction (left to right). Slot machines that are being developed today have evolved, incorporating many paylines that vary in prize. There are all sorts of patterns – from zig-zag paylines to vertical, horizontal, and more. Regardless of the payline shape, there are only two major types of video slot paylines.

 

Types of Slot Machine

Traditional Slot Machines

Traditional slots are known to be the lifeblood of gambling cites such as Atlantic City, Macau, and Las Vegas. Slot machines come in a wide variety of options, from the simplest to the complex ones. No matter your experience levels or your area of interest, there’s a slot game designed to give you a chance to have a respectable payday and hours of enjoyment. Each type of slot game consists of three or more spinning reels, and you are paid when you achieve winning combinations of symbols.

 

Single Coin Machines

Nowadays, these kinds of machines are not easy to find. They have been replaced by more advanced ones that are almost being rendered obsolete as they get replaced by advanced machines such as multiple coin machines. These provide more entertainment to players. In fact, for some players, the key consideration is not winning the money but having fun.

These traditional machines are still owned by some gambling establishments, on hand for their players to enjoy classic spinning experiences in the less-modern machines. Another advantage of using these machines is that customers’ credits remain for extended periods.

 

Multiplier Slot Machines

These machines are also known as multiple coin machines. They take in more than one coin and provide the payout ratio based on the number of coins you play. They encourage players to wager a higher amount of money, which increases their chances of winning. 

For instance, if a one-bet coin reveals three sevens, you win, $10. If you bet two coins, you could win $20, given that the reels of the slot machine will produce the same result.

 

Buy-Your-Pay Slot Machines

While these slot machines can seem a challenge to comprehend, they are actually not very complicated. These machines usually accept 1–5 coins per spin. The number of coins used in the machine will determine the number of winning combinations. The machines also have a pre-set limit. 

 

Multiple Payline Slot Machines

This type of slot has only one payline, located in the middle of the screen. To be the winner, the winning symbol has to be lined up for the spin. Players need to note that while more than one payline could mean increased chances of winning, this could also result in losses.

 

Big Bertha Slot Machines

These are the largest slots found in land-based casinos. Often placed at the entrance of a casino, this type of slot showcases exciting opportunities and enticing features. They feature three or more than four reels but don’t offer high payout percentages.

 

Types of Online Slots

The beauty of online video slots is that they are based on computer programs – they are designed in a variety of ways to create different gameplay styles.

 

Three Reel Classic Slot Machines

These are based on the original mechanical machines and are easy to play. You just need to match symbols along the center of the reels along a single payline to win.

 

Five Reel Slots

With advanced programming, the five reel slots are more visually exciting and attractive. More reels mean increased payline possibilities and a chance to earn more cash prizes.

 

Progressive Slots

In these games, the value of the jackpot continues to increase by a small amount each time if not won. While the odds here are longer, the rewards are huge.

 

Mobile Slots

These slots are specifically designed to be played on tablets or smartphones, which allow players to enjoy games on the go. The visual effects of their desktop counterparts remain intact on these mobile formats.

 

Mega Spin Slots

Mega spin slots allow you to play many games in one go and on the same screen. They come with progressive jackpot features that you are able to keep track of.

Multipliers

These give players a chance to multiply their possible winnings by a predetermined figure. You can double or even boost your wins by 100 times. Most online slots feature multiplier functions.

Multi-Payline Slots

Multi payline slots provide many chances of winning. The paylines can be diagonal, straight, or in zig-zag formation. Players can be offered 3, 4, 5 or 25 paylines – it all depends on the game being played.

 

Mechanical Slot Machines vs. Modern Slot Machines

Which slots are easier to beat? Traditional slot machines or their contemporary cousins? Let’s compare them in terms of RTP and simplicity.

 

Traditional Slots

The Liberty Bell, which was the original slot, was a mechanical unit that had one payline, three reels, five symbols (liberty bells, hearts, spades, diamonds, and horseshoes) and a lever. Cash prizes could be won after matching three symbols on the reels. This formula was copied for the next 100 years or so, with a few more symbols and paylines being added. That being said, traditional slots can typically be defined as three-reel slot machines with just a few paylines.

Modern Slot Machines

Modern slot machines are powered computers and are typically connected online. As such, they consist of many more features than traditional slots. Modern slots possess colorful characters, strong narratives, multiple paylines bonus rounds, a variety of symbols, huge jackpots, as well as 5 to 7 reels.

 

Simplicity

Due to all the add-ons, modern slot machines are more complicated than their traditional counterparts. This means you must set betting stakes, choose the number of paylines, and deal with many symbols per spin. For the traditional slot, you simply just need to insert cash and pull a lever, which makes them easier to play than the contemporary slots.

RTP (Return to Player)

In terms of simplicity, traditional slots reign supreme. However, they fall short in terms of RTP, which simply refers to the odds in any slot game. When the RTP is high, your chances of winning are higher. In order to find the advantage that a slot holds, simply subtract the slot’s RTP from 100%. 

For many years, slot machines didn’t display their odds. Thankfully, nowadays, almost all online casinos are regulated and are required by law to display their slots’ RTPs. Since the introduction of this legislation, online slots have become increasingly transparent. As a result, RTPs have dramatically increased. Modern slots have been proved to be far more generous. While some traditional slots in land-based casinos are 75%, most online video slots feature RTPs of about 95% or more.

 

Payline Alternatives

Fixed Paylines

Typically, this is an all-or-nothing slot game. Before you spin the reels, you must place a wager on all paylines, and your bet will be distributed across the available paylines by the slot game. For example, if you wager $1 on an online video slot with 10 paylines, you will have placed 10 cents on each of the 10 winning combinations.

A video slot game with a fixed payline presents many chances of winning through tempting bonuses, giving you more opportunities to pocket a larger payout. For added fun, some video slot paylines will have free spins, scatter symbols, and wilds. Due to these fun features, many players will opt for fixed payline video slots.

Variable Paylines

Also referred to as adjustable paylines, this option gives you the flexibility of placing your bets on the paylines of your choice without activating all paylines. This flexible wagering ability in this kind of payline acts as a bait to many players.

You can adjust your wagers to a few paylines for an opportunity to win a higher payout and boost your bankroll. This will, however, reduce your winning chances. If your winning combination happens to fall on an inactive payline, there’s a possibility of missing a jackpot.

 

How Do Slot Paylines Work?

The advancement of the traditional slot machines to online video slots has led to massive presentations, orientation, and variations. This has produced several themes to attract the attention of new iGaming players, creating a new level of entertainment and unique adventure. As competition becomes stiffer across the industry, it becomes a battle of designs and graphics as well as feature-rich games.

All online video slots are played on grids, which are made up of five reels and three rows each. This gives each grid 5x3 =15 positions. Whenever you load a video slot, a selection of symbols becomes visible, with each occupying one position. When you place a wager and spin the reels, an alignment of new symbols appears.

But what exactly is a slot payline? When it comes to understanding paylines in slots, it’s important to understand that a payline crosses the reels to cover one position for each reel. You win and get paid whenever you land sufficient matching symbols on successive reels on that line.

For it to become a winning payline, you typically will only need three similar symbols. You will win more if there are many matching symbols on a payline. However, for each payline, you only get paid once. If you land five similar symbols on a payline, you’ve technically won with five symbols (or 4 and 3 matching symbols). However, you will receive a payment for the biggest five-symbol win on each line. Thankfully with slots, you can win on more than one payline per bet. You could even be in for a huge payout if you land on lots of high-paying chain paylines on a single spin.

Direction

Online slot paylines feature flexible orientations – they are not limited to single horizontal paylines. These paylines come with multiple lines, as much 1,000. Multiple directions also exist besides left to right. With a downward or upward direction or vice-versa, or a diagonal orientation, it’s always important to check before the game begins in order to better position your wagers.

Wild Symbols

A wild increases your chances to win. It also acts as a filler on your payline and can conform to any symbol to make a winning combination complete. If you have a wild in a five-reel play or four identical symbols, the wild will complete the winning combination as it can shape itself to take the same sign as the other four. Thus, your chances of winning are increased by a wild on your payline.

There are various different kinds of wild symbols – sticky wild being one that remains in the same position for the next few spins. Stacked wilds, on the other hand, will keep showing up on top of the others until the entire reel is filled. Expanding wild can grow to fill the reels, similar to a stacked wild. The only difference is that the expanding wild can grow to fill up the reels.

Scatter Symbols

This is a bonus symbol you would be happy to see on your reels. It unlocks endless possibilities in your game. Unlike wilds, scatter symbols can benefit you more dynamically as they can appear on any part of the reels – they must not be on your active payline. However, to unlock this feature, you need a minimum number of scatter symbols.

Three scatter symbols, in most cases, will offer you several free spins and open treasure chests of surprises in other scatter symbols, including instant payouts, interactive bonus games, multipliers, and re-spins. If your scatter symbols have a multiplier, you can win up to 50 times your bet. This can see a $10 wager giving you a whopping payout of $500 if the scatter symbols are 50x from your multiplier.

Bonus Symbols

Just like scatter symbols, it’s also possible for bonus symbols to trigger a myriad of amazing bonuses, with prizes that come in the form of high-payout bonus games. The bonus symbols offer varying terms for different slots. While some slots may require the bonus-symbol characters to be on the active payline, other slots will unlock the bonus games, provided the symbols appear anywhere on the reels.

Paylines vs Reels

When you get started with slot machines, you will likely encounter the terms ‘paylines’ and ‘reels’ quite often. For novice players, this can be pretty confusing. Getting to understand what slot paylines and reels are will get rid of this confusion.

In slots, reels are the vertical spinning wheels. Depending on the manufacturer and theme of the slot machine, the number of reels could be different. Also, each reel has a number of symbols, up to 10. This means that a three-reel slot featuring 10 characters per reel can produce a large number of possible combinations in the thousands.

A payline, on the other hand, is an active pattern or line on the reels that outlines a winning combination similar to that on the paytable. In order to win a slot game, identical symbols should land on the payline. The type of video slot you play determines the number of slot paylines.

Number of Paylines

Single-payline mechanical slot machines still exist – this type of game is preferred by some players due to its minimalist feature set and simplicity. Video slots draw players in because of the multiple paylines, which present many bonus possibilities and other surprises. Based on the number of paylines, a quick overview of video slots available should assist you in selecting the best slot that suits your preference and character.

Winning Chances

The number of slot paylines does not always dictate winning chances. Even if a slot has many paylines, it is the return-to-player (RTP) that matters by the time your game completes – as highlighted above.

A pre-set RTP percentage is inbuilt in each video slot, and this is what determines your probability of winning. To know your payline slot machine odds, endeavor to check the RTP of that particular game in the paytable.

It’s also advised to work on a winning VLT (video lottery terminal) strategy to avoid exhausting your bankroll when gambling on slots with multiple slot paylines. For instance, in a video slot with 25 paylines, don’t place a wager on all 25 lines, as this will just increase your bet amount and ruin your anticipated spending on casino games.

Follow the simple steps outlined below to try and maximize your chances of winning at the slots:

  • Play within your budget.
  • Select the slots that fit your playing personality and goals.
  • Start small to win big.
  • Choose higher denomination slots that are known to have higher RTPs.
  • Ensure you bet enough to qualify for the jackpots.

 

Slots with no Payline

When it comes to slots, there is no limit to innovation. Some game developers have reconfigured modern video slots and classic single payline games to realize video slots with no paylines. In this case, you will not need a pattern or line to form a winning combination – so long as a specific symbol appears anywhere on each reel, you can win the slot game.

One-Line Slots

One-liners, as they are often referred to, are devoid of complexity. They’re great for a quick play. Unlike the multiple payline slots, you don’t have to worry about the payline patterns. To hit a winning combination, you can focus entirely on the single line. Here are some examples of the best single-line slots games you can try out:

  • Chicken Little - by Rival
  • Alchemists Lab - by Playtech
  • Wacky Panda – by Microgaming
  • 888 Dragons – by Pragmatic Play
  • Blackjack Bonanza - by Microgaming

 

Three-Line Slots

After playing repetitively on a single payline, you may soon crave bigger winnings by exploring more challenging games, which you will experience with three-line or three-liner slots. Here are some popular three-line games:

  • Trick or Treat - by Microgaming
  • Pharaohs Gold - by Real Time Gaming
  • Fruitful Siesta - by Microgaming

Multi-line Slots

Are you a high roller looking for big wins? Well, you can try multi-line slots. They are perfect for gaming entertainment on slots and are known to have the best payouts. You will surely enjoy the thrilling experience of having the wild symbols and scatters with more slot paylines at stake. However, you need to be cautious with multi-lines as having many active paylines will need high stakes. To avoid overspending on a single spin beyond your budget, keep track of your bankroll and control yourself. Examples of the best multi-line games to try your luck at:

  • Book of Dead - Play N’ Go.
  • Boom Brothers - NetEnt.
  • Super Striker - NetEnt.
  • Pistols and Roses - Rival.
  • Captain Cash - Microgaming.

Slot Lines and Pay Table Explained

Today’s slot machines can feature several icons and symbols, attached bonus features, different ways of winning. You can easily access this information on the paytable of every slot machine.

Nowadays, slot gaming presents plenty of winning combinations that add more thrill and excitement. After getting the hang of all the buttons, it’s important that you learn how to master slot machine paylines lines and read the payout tables. That being said, you’re set to enjoy any slot game! 

One-Line Slots vs Multi-Line Slots

One-line slots, also known as classic slots, feature one line, while multi-line slots have multiple options of paylines. One-line slots have existed for a long time and most iGaming enthusiasts have tried them at least once. 

As technology advanced, varieties of multi-line slots were developed and are widely appreciated across the iGaming realm. The more advanced multi-line slots give players higher chances of hitting winning combinations. This makes gameplay sessions more appealing, interactive, and enjoyable. By activating all available paylines, you can maximize the possibilities of winning.

Direction and Orientation

Having touched on the direction of paylines, there are different ways on how this can occur. Let’s look at this in more detail.

Left to Right – In most cases, this is the direction that is most common to many slots. In this case, symbols start matching from the first reel that is farthest to the left. The symbols involved usually match in succession, and finally, from left to right. Gonzo’s Quest slot is an example of this.

Right to Left – Opposite to the above, symbols start moving from the last reel that is farthest to the right and proceeds towards the left in succession. 

Pay Both Ways – Applies to a slot game that pays on both right to left and left to right. The Starburst slot from NetEnt is the most popular game found with these paylines. For those slot games that pay just right to left, both ways winnings are a possibility.

Multi Payline – These paylines mean more than 100 ways of winning in most cases, the most common being 243. This means that from left to right, every matching symbol on a reel is a payout, based on where it is placed on the reel. For instance, it’s easier to hit a symbol of a five-of-a-kind combination since it’s the same symbol that is needed on each reel. It’s not like a tougher scenario of landing similar symbols on a winning payline. The Thunderstruck 2 slot from Microgaming is an example of such a payline.

Cluster Pays – These are quite different from all the above in the way they work. For the symbols to pay, they will need to form a cluster. In order to form a winning combination, a cluster of 3 or 5 symbols to start with would be a requirement. An example is Aloha Cluster Pays from NetEnt.

 

What Are the Chances of Winning on a Payline?

As discussed earlier, the more slot paylines you select to play with, your chances to have more winning combinations will increase. However, you also have to keep in mind that the more paylines you choose in your slot, the more you will pay for each spin. Typically, on an active payline, a minimum of three identical symbols have to be matched in a row.

If you happen to activate several slot paylines, you will have more ways of winning. A standard way to win is to form a winning combination on a single payline (if you’ve activated one payline). On the other hand, your winning potential will increase with multiple lines when you make matches both diagonally and vertically.

 

Slots Pay Table

Many newer generation machine slots feature fixed paylines, which means you can’t change the number of those that are active in any way. You will play and bet automatically with all of them. An important point to note – if symbols land on an inactive payline, this is not active, they won’t pay if you’re using reduced payline video slot machines.

For you to win, symbols must land on active paylines. The exception to this is a ‘bonus symbol’ and ‘scatter symbol’. These can land on any position on your reels, more often than not, to trigger a feature seen in the paytable.

 

Popular Combinations in Slot Machines

Having learned about paylines and how they work, here are some game examples that can give you an idea of what to expect:

 

Number of Paylines

Slot game

1024

Dwarf Mine Slot

243 

Immortal Romance Slot

20

Rise of Olympus Slot

15

Multiplier Mayhem Slot - Drive

9

Dead or Alive Slot

5

Inferno Star Slot

3

Major Millions Slot



Understanding Slot Machine Pay Tables

The key feature characteristic of pay tables is to give information on how you can open the bonus games available. Besides the appealing soundtrack and graphics, modern video slots combine multiple bonus features and paylines with symbols and scatters. Each video slot has its own paytable, featuring a different set of rules that provide information on how games work and how to determine wins.

A paytable will also detail how the bonus rounds work, the game’s wild card, and the scatter symbol. You just need to click on the paytable icon and a pop-up window will appear, where you will see all explanations in detail. The paytable also highlights the symbols you must match to trigger the bonus games and the amount will receive after particular symbols land on the reels. You will also get to see the full list of all win combinations.

As you can see, getting to understand the video slot payout table is easy – you don’t need any special skills! Just match specific symbols, and before you know it, you will have landed on a winning combination. You could even trigger free spins and bonus games within the video slot if you are lucky enough.

The slot pay tables can tell what your slot game’s scatter is, the wild card, and how the special features can be activated.

 

Making Sense of Slot Paylines

While online slot machines look different due to the themes they feature, they share many similarities when it comes to gameplay. Nevertheless, it’s important that you get to know the number of paylines you should bet on, as well as the symbols and configuration you will encounter during gaming sessions.

First of all, check the paytable and familiarize yourself with the range of paying symbols from the lowest to the highest. It’s also important to know if a slot machine will return a prize when symbols land on a payline(s) from left to right, or otherwise, to avoid being disappointed if you’re not given a prize after hitting a winning combination.

Bottom line – you are sure to have more fun with more winning possibilities if you play when all the paylines are active. However, this type of bet will cost you more. As such, ensure to start with a minimum bet and gradually increase while you plan your budget wisely.

Of the number of ways that are available for you to win, play with large numbers and opt for slots that use the ‘all-ways-win’ system, or try out regular slots with standard paylines. Always remember to first check the paytable to see what slots paylines are there and get ready to enjoy amazing sounds, vibrations, and lights as you explore the world of online slot machines.

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