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When you’re playing any slot machine game, be it online or in real life, you want to make sure that you understand exactly what you stand to win. It’s the best way to ensure that you’re playing the games that offer you the best chance of a big jackpot.
However, modern slot machines have a huge variety of different icons, symbols, as well as winning combinations and bonus features. To understand what you’re getting into, it’s recommended that you reach the slot machine paytable that every machine and game provides.
However, knowing what to expect and how to read those paytables can help. For that reason, we’re going to provide information that explains that different slot paylines and what you need to know before you sit down in front of your favourite machine or online slot game.
- What are slot machine paylines?
- Paylines and bet levels
- Single Payline and Multi-line Slots
- Different Types of Payline
- How to play games with multiple slot paylines
- How many slot paylines should you activate?
- Common Bonus Features in Multi-line Slot Games
What are slot machine paylines?
To put it simply, a payline is the line determines whether or not matching symbols count as a winning result, as determined by the slot machine. Some paylines will also accept certain combinations or orders of different symbols to result in a win, but those have to fall along the paylines to count as a win. If you get the winning combination, sequence, or matching symbols, but they are not on a payline, then you cannot win.
The most basic paylines are those that go horizontally across the slots, connecting symbols from left to right. However, games can get a lot more complex than that. Some games may have a single payline while others can have literally dozens of paylines. Bonus features, free spins, and the like can affect how easily you can win, but the core mechanic that determines your chances of winning are the paylines.
Furthermore, slot paylines are always static. Unlike the spinning symbols, they are never going to move place. Many games will, however, allow you to decide which paylines you activate in the game. This can be determined by the bet level.
Paylines and bet levels
The bet level is, effectively, how many coins you are wagering on the roll of the slots. The bet level will change per pay level. As such, to understand how much you’re better per spin and how much you stand to win, it’s important to understand how each payline affects the bet levels.
Typically, increasing the bet level means spending more money to activate more paylines than just the base amount. The money you spend is usually a number of set coins with a predetermined value.
Many slot games allow you to not only activate more paylines with each coin, but also determine how many coins you bet on each payline, which can increase the winnings you stand to get from that specific payline.
Most slot machines and games will determine the bet level of each payline, based on how many coins you insert and how they are weighted across different paylines so you can see how much you’re betting for each spin, and how much each line multiplies your winnings by.
Single Payline and Multi-line Slots
The single payline slot is the traditional design of the slot machine. Once upon a time, all slot games only used a single payline. Nowadays, however, the vast majority of slot machines and games are multi-line games, meaning they have multiple paylines. Here are the differences between the two kinds of games:
These games tend to offer more simple bet level mechanics, making them great for beginners. They’re good for those who like to keep things simple without bonus games and best resemble the classic casino slot machine setup.
These games allow players to take advantage of multiple different chances to win, usually also bringing themes and bonus features that can boost winnings even further. They tend to be more mechanically complex than single payline games but also allow players to better control their own winning chances.
Different Types of Payline
When you’re looking at the paylines a machine offers, it’s critical to understand how they work to better understand your chances of winning. Usually, paylines work on different orientations and directions, as we will describe below:
Horizontal and diagonal
Most slot paylines will either go horizontally across a line of slots, while others may travel diagonally, usually meaning the symbols have to land from one corner to the other. The more rows a slots game has, the more room for multiple horizontal and diagonal paylines there are.
Left to right
The traditional setup, this payline rule means that winning symbol combinations have to travel from the left of the machine to the right of it.
Right to left
The inverse of the left to right rule. The last reel on the right of the machine has to have the first symbol in a winning sequence, with following symbols travelling left.
Pay both ways
A combination of both the paylines mentioned above, allowing players to win from both left to right and right to left. It is worth noting that most games use pay both ways rules as a default, but some do not.
This means that you don’t have to have the winning symbols in a combination in a particular line or direction. So long as you get the individual symbols you need visible on each reel on the machine, you can win.
A rarer type of payline that can differ from game to game, but it usually means that three to five symbols have to cluster around a single point on the reels to activate a winning combination.
Though we have described some of the different types of paylines above, these can all have different bet levels and win values depending on the machines that you are playing on. Usually, the lines that have a higher chance of a winning result typically have a lower win value than those that might be more difficult to get, but there are always exceptions when it comes to the varied world of slot games.
How to play games with multiple slot paylines
As mentioned before, each slot game and machine has their own rules, which are worth taking the time to understand before you put any money in. However, here, we’re going to look at how the traditional multi-line slot game works.
Just remember, any time you sit down in front of a slot machine or online slot game, you should take the time to read the pay table first. It’s here that you’ll see all information on different pay lines, coin values, bet levels, as well as how the different bonus features of the machine works.
The paytable should also show you the direction of the paylines, as well as what the different symbols are worth and what any specific symbol combinations and sequences can offer you.
One you understand the paytable, this is typically how the game goes:
- If it’s a real money game, the player will have to put money in before they can play, usually in the form of a deposit in online games or with coins on physical machines.
- The player decides how much they want to bet on the spin by adjusting the bet amount, which is usually displayed beneath the reals with a pre-set minimum and maximum bet. This bet amount can be adjusted between every spin as well, allowing you to control your bankroll. Of course, the more you bet, the more you stand to win.
- The player selects which of the multiple paylines they want to activate. The bet amount is usually spread evenly amongst multiple paylines, but some games allow players to bet more on individual paylines. Only active paylines will contribute towards wins. If you get a winning combination on a payline that isn’t activated, you won’t get the winnings from it
- The player hits the Spin button to start spinning the reels once the bet amount and paylines are decided.
- Many slot machines will allow you to make use of gamble features if you land on a winning combination. This usually acts as a multiplier, such as a “double or nothing” on your existing winnings, though it can triple, quadruple, or go even higher depending on the rules of the machine. Players need to learn how to manage their risk to know when to gamble and when to take their winnings.
- Once the player is finished, they can then decide to cash out, either by using the site’s banking page for online slots or by depositing coins from the physical machines.
It’s crucial to remember to only bet what you can reasonably afford to spend and keep in mind that slot machines and games should be played for entertainment purposes only. It can be a thrilling experience to get a big win, but you want to make sure that you’re not spending too much while chasing that thrill.
How many slot paylines should you activate?
Aside from knowing the basics of how to play games with multiple slot paylines, you may be wondering just how many lines you should activate to improve your chances of walking away with big winnings. As mentioned, you typically only start with a single active payline and have to spread your bet out further to activate multiple.
So, how many slot paylines should you activate to make sure that you have the best chances of winning? Is it better to pay more on a single line than to spread your bet across multiple lines?
The advice you get from different players may differ, and the rules and paytable of each slot game has to be considered, as well. However, most will agree that the key feature of winning any slot game is to make the best use of the paylines that you can.
You are always going to have a greater chance of winning by playing with as many paylines active at once time as possible. If you want to spend a little less on each bet, then it’s usually recommended you reduce the bet value rather than reducing the number of paylines you’re playing with. That way, you always have the maximum chance of winning a jackpot.
Once more, what’s most important is that you play in a way that you can afford. Keep in mind a lot of slot games, including the newer generation of slot games, will have fixed paylines, meaning that there’s no way to change them.
Common Bonus Features in Multi-line Slot Games
While not always strictly related, a lot of the bonus features in slot games will make use of the multiple paylines you see in multi-line games. As such, let’s take a quick look at some of the most common bonus features and how they can affect your game:
Much like in card games, Wilds act as a replacement for other symbols that might be needed for a winning combination or a sequence. Aside from standard wilds, there are also multiplier wilds, shifting wilds, sticky wilds and more, all of which can adjust your odds of winning.
Aside from the winnings you can earn with each spin, many games have progressive jackpots that go up for every spin you make.
These special symbols can give you a win even if they are not on an active and winning payline. You usually just have to hit a certain number of them to unlock whatever bonus they confer.
Are you ready to win with slot paylines?
Hopefully, the above information helps you better understand how slot paylines work, the different kind of slot paylines you can come across, and how to best control your chances of winning the jackpot at any time. Once again, always read the paytable to better understand the specifics of the game that you’re playing and only bet what you can comfortably afford to spend.
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