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Slot Machine Lines and Pay Tables Explained

Slot Machine Lines and Pay Table: What Are They and How to Use Them?

Online slots can be tricky to get the hang of if you’re just starting out so lets us ease a bit of that confusion for you. In today's blog we’re going to be explaining slot machine paylines and their pay tables, so by the time you’ve read it, all you’ll be fully equipped to go and try a game at your chosen online casino. 

Slot Machine Paylines and Pay Tables 

Visit any casino and you’ll probably find their most popular games are their video slots. But if you’ve never played them before you’re probably wondering exactly how they work. While our blog How to Play Slot Machines: A Complete Guide for Dummies explains it all, today we’ll be focusing more on slot machine lines and slot machine pay tables. 

Understanding slot machine pay tables can be quite a challenging task depending on the game, but we’ll try our best to help you out as much as we can. 

Understand how slot machine paylines and pay tables work before you play.

Once you know how both the slot machine pay table works and how slot paylines work, you are pretty much good to go. Usually there’s no skill involved when it comes to playing online slots; you just need to rely on lady luck to be at the right place at the time.

What is a Slot Machine Pay Table

Every slot machine you play will be different in some way shape or form. The one thing that will link every single slot machine is its paytable. Every game will have one and they’re vitally important because it will tell you exactly how the game works.

Now, a pay table won’t automatically pop up when you open a game so you’ll need to know how to access it before you play. There’ll be a button to press somewhere on the reels, like a question mark for example. Add this to your to-do list every time you open up a new slot and make sure you’ve set aside a few moments to read the pay table because it could be the key to your success in the long run. 

A pay table can’t help you to win but it will explain to you the features of the game. When you open a pay table you can expect to find the following information:

  • Symbols and their coin values
  • Bonus features: How they work and how they are triggered
  • Free Spins: How they work and how they are triggered
  • Paylines: You’ll usually be shown detailed diagrams of every single payline combination
  • Jackpot details
  • Game rules

Of course, it’s a pretty difficult task to say exactly what every game paytable will entail but you’re usually guaranteed to always have those. Other games may also mentioned RTP, in-game tournaments, variance details etc etc. 

Checking a payable is an integral part of any gaming session. When it comes to some bonus features and Free Spins you may be greeted with several options of play, if you haven’t read the paytable, how are you going to know what to pick? So, like we mentioned earlier, a paytable can’t help you win but reading it could certainly could give you a step in the right direction. 

A paytable can’t help you win but reading it could certainly could give you a step in the right direction.

You’ll also learn your high paying symbols from your low paying symbols. It can be pretty frustrating trying to work out something if you haven’t bothered to check the paytable first. Now, don’t worry if you’ve checked the paytable but you still don’t understand something because you can open it at any time to cross reference your wins and losses. 

How Slot Machine Lines Work

Take away the bonus games and Free Spins, take off the symbols and strip a slot machine right back and what are you left with? Paylines. And almost every online slot in the world will have them. Of course there’s there’s always going to an exception to the rule and you’ll find some games that don’t have paylines but for today we’re going to look at the ones that do. 

Slot machine combinations will land you what's called paylines, also knowing as a betting line or a winning line. Going back to when these games were first invented you’d find just one payline but now there are slot machine multi payline games, referred to as video slots. Yes things may get confusing when you have multiple paylines, but this is really when it starts to get exciting too. 

Slots paylines can now vary from 1 payline right up to 1024 paylines and beyond!

Slots paylines can vary now starting from 1 payline right up to 1024 paylines and beyond! The pay table slot machine (mentioned above) will tell you exactly how many paylines are in the game you are playing. Casino slots paylines also pay in a certain way with the most common way being from the far left of your screen to the far right of your screen, but we’ll go into this in more detail below. 

The paylines are ultimately the most important thing in the game because to win you’ll need to land matching symbols on those paylines! Symbols that don’t land on an active payline won’t pay! So now you’re probably wondering how many lines should I play on a slot machine, right?

Well, for the maximum possible winning potential you should of course play with all the paylines active. If it’s a jackpot game you’ll usually be required to have all paylines active to be in with a chance of winning the jackpot. However, with that being said you should only be playing with what you can afford, so as long as you are playing responsibly it’s up to you how many paylines you have active. 

A lot of the newer generation video slots will now have fixed paylines which means you won’t be able to change how many are active anyway, you’ll just automatically play and bet with all of them. Remember though if you are playing with reduced paylines slot machine symbols won’t pay if they land on a payline this is not active. 

All symbols will need to land on active paylines for you to win. The only symbols that are an exception to this is usually a Scatter Symbol or Bonus Symbol. More often than not these can land anywhere on your reels in order to trigger a feature. Again this kind of information is found in the paytable. 

Slot Machine Lines Explained - Orientation & Direction

So, we’ve briefly touched on which direction paylines will pay out, but there’s actually quite a few different ways in which this can happen. Let’s take a look:

  1. Left to Right - Without a doubt this is the most common direction. This means symbols need to start matching from the very first reel farthest to the left. Any symbols will need to match in succession then from left to right, just like in the Gonzo’s Quest Slot.
  2. Right to Left - This is just the opposite to the above. The symbols will need to start matching from the very last reel farthest to the right and continue in succession to the left.
  3. Pay Both Ways - This is simply a game that pays both left to right and right to left. The most popular game you’ll find these paylines in is NetEnt’s Starburst Slot. There’s very few games that actually pay just right to left. If a game pays right to left you’ll usually find it actually pays both ways.
  4. All Ways - These kind of paylines usually mean in excess of 100+. The most common one is 243 ways to win. So as long as you have a matching symbol on every reel (starting from left to right)­ ­reg­arding of where it is on the reel the game will pay out. So for example it’s much easier to hit a 5-of-a-kind symbol combination as you just need the same symbol on each reel as opposed to landing the same symbol on a winning payline. An example of these kind of paylines is Microgaming’s Thunderstruck 2 Slot.
  5. Cluster Pays - These work quite differently to all the ones we’ve already mentioned and symbols will need to form a cluster to pay, like for example NetEnt’s Aloha! Cluster Pays Slot. This could be a cluster of 3 or 5 symbols to start forming a winning combination. You should probably read our blog Top 3 Cluster Pays Online Slots for a better indication on how these work

The Most Popular Slot Machine Combinations

So now you’re clued up on how paylines work, let’s take a look at some game examples to give you a rough idea on what to expect:

Still Don’t Understand It All?

Don’t panic! If you are still a little worried that you don’t quite understand just join over in the forum and start a new thread where we have lots of experienced members there on hand to help. See you there! 

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