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What are slot paylines and how do they work?

For those of you who are still newbies when it comes to slots, we’ve prepared a simple explanation of one of the most important features of a slot game: paylines! This is one of the first things you should check out before playing a new game, which helps you determine whether a slot is worth playing for real money or not. Keep reading our short guide below to learn more about how paylines work and what you should be looking out for as a player; we hope that it will give you a few tips on how to choose the best paying slots!

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What is a slot payline? 

A slot payline is a line on a slot which would pay out a specified amount if you manage to line up a winning combination of symbols onto it. The old-style slot machines used to have just a few paylines (or just one single payline – normally the middle row), so that it used to be very simple to understand how the slot worked. Nowadays, an online slot can have dozens of paylines, which makes things a little bit more complicated - though it's not rocket science to understand how these work either. These paylines can be horizontal, vertical, diagonal or even in zig-zag shape across the reels.

You can view a slot’s paylines by looking up a slot’s Paytable, usually by clicking on the help button that’s normally found at the bottom of the screen. This is where all the slot’s paylines will be highlighted in a way similar to the screenshot below, taken from Cleos Wish slot:

slot paylines explained


Many games nowadays also feature adjustable paylines, allowing you to select on how many paylines you’d like to play. To have the best chance of landing a winning combination on these slots, you need to bet on all the lines, although this will of course cost you more. For example, if you want to bet 10p per payline, in order to activate 20 paylines you need to bet £2 per spin in reality. The exception for this would be if you trigger the slot's free spins, where you may get all paylines activated for free! On the other hand, fixed payline slots, as the name suggests, require you to be on all the lines.

Are there any slots with no playlines?

There are slots that work based on a different mechanism. One such mechanism is the cluster pays, in which case, you are required to land on a cluster of four or more symbols instead of lining up those symbols. Reactoonz slot is one example of a cluster pays slot.

Another type of mechanism which is getting increasingly popular nowadays is that behind 243 Ways to Win video slots. These slots have eliminated paylines so that players need not line up the symbols in a certain way to win. Instead, they have to land the same symbol on consecutive reels. The reason they are called 245-ways to win slots is because typically these slots have 5 reels, and the number of possible combinations will increase exponentially as follows: 3x3x3x3x3, which equals 243. Some slots are also offering even more ways to win, up to 1,024! One such slot you can try out is Stampede slot by Betsoft.

Although all ways to win slots come with a higher probability of landing on a winning combination, you should keep in mind that the payout amounts are usually lower than those awared by payline slots, to compensate for the higher frequency of wins. 

What else should I know about slot paylines?

It is worth remembering that usually, slots pay for winning combinations that are lined up from left to right on any given payline. This would mean that if a slot has five reels and you line up a 3-symbol combination starting from the third reel towards the fifth, this will not be considered a win. However, there are a couple of slots which pay both ways too. One such popular slot is Starburst slot – a 10 payline game which pays both from left to right and from right to left!

Would you like more info about online slots? Our articles about the Random Number Generator and about slots with the highest RTP may be of interest to you.

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