Slot Paylines – The Ultimate Guide

Have you ever wondered what those paylines are for exactly and what do they do for gameplay? Paylines are critical for the formation of winning combos – and for your payouts. So it’s important to know how you can use them to your advantage. Read our complete guide to learn how you can make the most of every game session!

Slot Machines Paylines Explained – How It All Works

All slot machines have something called paylines. Well, some don’t, but we will talk more about them later. And these slot machines’ paylines are critical to the way the games work. Namely, paylines on slot machines determine how wins are formed. That is essentially what they are there for. Symbols in traditional slot games need to land on an active payline to count as a winning combination. And usually, there will be a rule about the symbols needing to land on adjacent reels starting from the leftmost reel for that combo to pay out.

But with that in mind, the paylines don’t only determine whether you have landed a winning combo or not. They also determine the size of your bet. And for that reason, the paylines also define how big the payout size will be. Specifically, the paylines can help you decide how many coins you would like to stake per each of them. And then in most games, you can also adjust the value of each of the coins. And combined, all of that will give you the exact bet amount per spin. Then, as you well know, the size of the win is calculated based on the size of your stake.

Paylines: Are More – Better?

These days the online slot sites can offer slots with any number of paylines. You can find anything with only a single-payline slot machine, 100 paylines, and beyond. Why so many options in a slot machine? Multi payline titles certainly allow you a little more control over gameplay. For example, a 30-payline slot machine with adjustable paylines allows you to regulate the size of your bet more precisely. And this makes such online slots more inclusive, meaning they can be played by penny players and high rollers alike.

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Adjustable vs Fixed Paylines for Slot Machines

If we don’t consider their exact number, paylines for slot machines generally come in two types. They can be either fixed or adjustable, depending on the developer’s choice. Obviously, this distinction only applies to multi payline slot machines, as single-payline games can’t be adjusted by definition.

Video slot paylines that are adjustable allow you to decide for yourself how many of the paylines you want active. This will affect two things: the size of your stake and your winning chances. And these two go proportionately hand in hand. Hence, if you play with a higher number of paylines, you will also benefit from higher chances of landing winning combinations. And because the size of your bet will be higher, the cash prizes will be larger as well.

Alternatively, with games that have fixed payelines, you won’t have as much flexibility to regulate your stakes. But you can still control the coin value and the number of coins you bet per line. The main difference is that the minimum bet will be higher than if you could reduce the number of active paylines.

If you’re interested to see how this works for yourself, you can have a look at what we’ve found to be the best new slot sites to date. And you can test some of the games in demo mode to feel the difference.

Alternatives to Video Slot Paylines – Other Ways to Form Wins

The iGaming industry has come a long way, in terms of slot themes, structure, and technical aspects. With that said, video slot paylines aren’t the only way that wins are formed. Several other alternatives have come about from the desire to allow even more winning opportunities. That’s how casino software developers came up with games that have X ways to win (e.g. 243 ways to win), or cluster pays and paylines that pay both ways. Some slots even run on the trademarked Megaways engine, where the number of winning opportunities goes straight into the stratosphere.

X Ways to Win Slots

After having pushed the number of paylines in multi-payline slot games as far as 100, eventually developers ran out of room to put new paylines on the screen. After all, there are only so many unique combinations that can be formed on a 5-reel grid. So, where on from there? This is how the concept of “X ways to win” slots was born. And here, it’s no longer lines that we see in the paytable. Instead, we see combinations of symbols that are aligned in various ways, whether it be vertically or horizontally. Some of the most common games that are rooted in this principle are 243 ways to win slots.

But there are also plenty of other options out there besides 243 ways. Slot paylines, or ways to win in this case, can go as high up as 720, 1024, and even 3125! But of course, to accommodate such possibilities, the game will need to feature a larger grid. So if you happen to come across a slot game with that many ways to win, you might be able to recognize it instantly by the number and/or the height of the reels.

Megaways Slots

Following the above logic, you can guess that eventually even the 243 and 3125 ways to win were no longer enough. And that’s when Megaways came about. Megaways was introduced to the world by software developer Big Time Gaming and it offered a revolutionary way to play slot games. The main difference in slots that run on the Megaways engine is they have a random reel modifier that changes the height of the reels for every spin.

As a result, the number of ways to win in these slots can go up to a jaw-dropping 117,649! Most commonly in Megaways slot games, you are likely to see 6 or 7 reels. And each of these reels can feature any number of symbols on any spin. Stakes are usually offered as a selection of fixed options, so there isn’t as much flexibility with slots games that have regular adjustable paylines. Nevertheless, the Megaways engine has proven to be a major success with players. And there are several highly popular games that have become genuine hits over the years. For example, both BGT’s Bonanza and the Megaways edition of slot game classic Rainbow Riches are very sought after titles.

Win-both-ways Paylines

The win-both-ways approach builds on the regular paylines and is kind of the logical step before the “ways to win” concept. Let’s explain. When you have exhausted the number of paylines you can add to a game, but you still want more, you can reverse their order. Regular paylines say that winning combos have to be formed from the leftmost reel. Well, with win-both-ways paylines, wins can be formed in the reverse direction as well. So however many winning opportunities you had – by introducing win both ways, you automatically double them. It’s a simple way to easily maximize the number of winning possibilities while still using a traditional slot game engine.

Cluster Pays Slots

Cluster pays is very similar to ways to win, in that combinations of matching symbols don’t need to land in a line. However, it’s different in that matching symbols can also be on the same reel and still count towards the same winning combo. But there’s more. In addition, these combinations of identical symbols don’t necessarily need to start from the leftmost reel. They can be smack in the middle of the screen. And this in and of itself further boosts the possibilities for landing wins!

The only requirement is for the symbols (3 or more) to be adjacent to one another. So whether they are aligned vertically or horizontally (or both!) you can expect payouts. And with titles that use the cluster pays engine, you will find they don’t often have the traditional 5×3 grid. The grid size can range dramatically, and some rare games don’t even have a grid. Another thing worth mentioning here is that cluster pays very commonly go hand-in-hand with the falling reels feature. Called differently by different providers, but the idea is that winning combos explode and disappear. And thus, they allow new symbols to fall in their place and potentially form new winning combinations.


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Coins and Bet Level – How to Make the Most of Gameplay

Whether you are playing a slot game with traditional paylines or some of the newer alternative engines, most of them will have something called coins and bet levels. Coins and bet levels essentially help determine the size of your stake. Hence, they are crucial to gameplay.And as we well know, the size of your bet impacts the size of your winnings, on one hand. On the other hand, it also determines the way you manage your bankroll. And especially if you’re on a tighter bankroll, you want to be smart about the way you place your bets.

Now, in games that provide more freedom to form your stake, you can adjust the number of coins you would like to bet per payline. And in addition to that, you should also be able to customize the value of each coin. Here is an example of what that may look like in a slot title that has 20 adjustable paylines. Say, you choose to bet 1 coin per each of the 20 paylines. And you set the value of the coin to be 2p. That means your stake per spin will be calculated as follows:

1 coin x £0.02 x 20 paylines = £0.40 per spin.

If you choose to adjust the coin value, as well as the number of coins you bet per payline to 3 coins worth 1p each, then you will get the following total stake:

3 coins x £0.01 x 20 paylines = £0.60 per spin.

And if you look at the paytable of any given slot game that allows you to customize the number of coins you bet, you will notice that the payout ratio increases substantially. Hence, even though it’s more expensive, bets with more coins per payline are usually awarded more.

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What are slot paylines?

Slot paylines are lines that run across the reels, connecting the leftmost and rightmost ends of the screen. Winning combinations in slots are formed when matching symbols land on these lines (on adjacent reels, usually starting from the leftmost reel).

What are ways to win?

Ways to win go a step above paylines in that they do not necessarily form lines on the screen. Instead, combinations of symbols can land anywhere, as long as they are on adjacent reels.

Is it better to play with more paylines?

That depends on your personal gaming style. Playing with fewer paylines will usually mean that you can stake less per spin. However, more paylines give you better odds of landing winning combinations.

Can I regulate the paylines in all games?

No, not in all games. Some slot games come with a fixed number of paylines, and you won’t be able to choose how many paylines to bet on.

How do the coin size and bet value affect gameplay?

Both of these factors can help players adjust the size of their total bet per spin. But in addition to that, bet levels (aka the number of coins bet per payline) determine the payout ratio, where higher bet levels enjoy a higher payout ratio.

What are cluster pays?

With cluster pay slots, winning combos are formed by matching symbols landing anywhere on the screen, as long as they are adjacent to one another.


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