A Brief History of Slot Paylines
Slot games have undergone substantial changes throughout history, from land-based one-armed bandits to modern video slots played online. In the past, slot machines had only three reels and a single payline in the middle horizontal reel.
As the technology progressed, developers found room to add more paylines, increasing the winning chances by a considerable margin. Nowadays, online slots feature up to 243 paylines, making them more appealing than ever.
What Are Slot Paylines
Paylines are among the most crucial aspects of online slot games. In essence, paylines determine a win based on a combination of matching symbols. Although you can't see them, they are programmed into every slot to determine a win on each spin.
Reels vs Paylines
While paylines determine how much you can win in a slot game, slot reels are merely horizontal columns containing a specific number of symbols. That is not to say that slot reels and slot paylines do not have a connection: the more reels you have, the more paylines there can be.
Modern Slot Machines vs Mechanical Slot Machines
When we talk about modern slot machines, we commonly think about online video slots as opposed to mechanical slot machines, aka classic slots. Broadly defined, classic slot games are three-reel slots, whether physical machines or online games. They offer a limited number of paylines, usually one, and are ideal for casual gamblers and people who are only getting into the world of slots.
With variable paylines, players have more flexibility when wagering, which many punters may appreciate. When playing a slot with variable paylines, you can choose the payline you want to bet on.
In these games, playing on all playlines is not mandatory; you can spin the reels all the same while skipping the paylines you don't think are worth your time.
Playing with variable paylines is particularly handy when having a smaller bankroll, as it allows you to adjust your bets accordingly. However, there is a downside to these slot titles: you might miss a jackpot if the winning combo lands on one of the inactive paylines.
Choosing a slot with fixed paylines requires you to bet on all available paylines. Your wager is, therefore, distributed across all paylines. For instance, when you bet $1 on a 10-payline online slot, you are wagering 10c on each payline.
These games offer excellent and tempting bonuses and offer greater winning opportunities. Add wilds, free spins, and scatter symbols into the mix, and the winning combinations increase exponentially.
How do Paylines Work in Slot Machines?
In the olden days of slots, players could bet only on a single horizontal payline. Nowadays, players are offered more flexibility, with paylines that pay out in multiple directions, from left to right, right to left, top to bottom, etc.
Sometimes, there are so many that it's impossible to memorise them. But don't worry; the game will know what to do once you hit a winning combo. Whenever you try a new game, we suggest you take a look at the paytable, which will show you all combinations for a specific game.
Multi-Line Slots vs One-Line Slots
As we said, one-line slots have only one payline, whereas multi-line slots feature several paylines. Otherwise known as classic slots, single-line slot games have never relinquished their popularity, with providers constantly developing new designs for them.
In contrast, multi-line slots offer more opportunities to win, making gameplay more engaging and attractive.
Orientation and Direction
The technology has allowed providers to experiment not only with the number of paylines, but also with the direction they pay out the winnings. Up until fairly recently, paylines in video slots worked only from left to right, and although left-to-right orientation remains a standard in the industry, the possibilities are far greater and providers offer numerous other options as an alternative.
Here are some of the most popular payline directions (coupled with examples):
What Are Winning Chances on a Payline?
The winning chances depend on the slot you're playing. But the formula is fairly simple: the more paylines you bet on, the greater your chances to land a win. However, paylines are only one of the things to factor in; you should also pay attention to the RTP and volatility to determine which slot is right for you.
On a Slot Machine, How Many Lines Should I Play?
We advise playing as many paylines as possible to maximise your winning chances. However, always keep your budget in mind. Limiting yourself to fewer paylines may be the best course of action if you're on a smaller bankroll.
High rollers, on the other hand, don't need to worry about this and can make the most of all available paylines, distributing their bets evenly.
Our slot machine lines explained guide could help you grasp the logic behind paylines and paytables, so give it a read to equip yourself with the technical knowledge.
The Most Common Number of Slot Machine Paylines
From three-reel slots to the Megaways mechanic, modern online slots offer virtually endless possibilities regarding the number and orientation of paylines.
Here's a convenient list of the most typical payline structures in slot machines to make your browsing as efficient as possible:
What Is the Difference Between a Slot Payline and Slot Paytable?
A paytable is where you get information about the game, including how much you can win on every payline. Paytable also includes a list of paylines, symbol explanations, game rules, and more.
Meanwhile, a payline is a pattern on the reel grid where potential winning combinations may land. All of these patterns are clearly displayed in the paytable, so if you're curious about them, we suggest opening any slot game and scrolling through the game's info to see how they work.