Understanding Slot Machine Paylines

Whenever you’re reading a slot machine review, you’ll need to take note of the reel format and the number of paylines the slot game has. The payline “count” will help you assess whether the slot machine will suit your bankroll. Your favourite mobile slots will have various symbols and a number of ways to win. Let’s take a look at what paylines are, how they work, and how to determine whether an online slot is worth playing based on the paylines and paytable.

What are paylines?

In short, a slot payline is a pattern on the reels where a win can occur if certain combinations of symbols land on it. Of course, certain symbols must appear in a specific order and form combinations for a win to be achieved. A payline can appear in a straight or zig-zag pattern – it all depends on the game title in question. If you want to see how a payline pays out, you’ll need to look at the paytable, which will be displayed on the game screen. The number of paylines can range from just one to 1,024, depending on the game mechanics.

For players who wager on a slot machine, the paylines will make or break the game. Classic slots are known for having a single horizontal line and only paying out in one direction, from left to right. Modern slot machines have so much more going on, and include numerous paylines with varying prizes up for grabs. The best mobile casinos will have a wide variety of online slots with various themes and paylines. And thanks to modern online slot machines, there are so many ways for games to pay out. Let’s take a look at the two major types of slot paylines.

Fixed paylines

In slot games with fixed paylines, such as Silver Seas from Microgaming, players have to place a bet on all paylines before spinning the reels. The wager is distributed across all the paylines. For example, if a player places a $1 bet on a 10-payline online slot, essentially, the player is betting 10c on each line. There are many amazing and tempting bonuses in a fixed-payline game, and it can provide numerous winning opportunities. Some games will feature wilds, free spins, and scatter symbols, which can increase the chances of landing winning combinations. These features are the reason why many players opt for fixed paylines when they play online casino slots.

Variable paylines

Variable paylines offer more flexible wagering which some players might prefer when they are spinning the reels. With these types of slot machines – one example being Atlantis Megaways by Yggdrasil Gaming – players have the freedom to place their bets on the payline of their choice. It’s not mandatory to bet on and activate all the paylines to spin the reels. The variable paylines will help if you’re playing with a smaller bankroll as you can adjust your bets accordingly. The disadvantage of a variable-payline mechanic is that there is the possibility of missing a jackpot if the winning combination lands on an inactive payline.

How do paylines work on a slot?

The evolution of land-based slot machines to mobile slots has generated a wide variety of fun slot games for players. And these diverse themes and game mechanics just keep them coming back for more. Of course, in addition to a game’s paylines and number of reels, players are also drawn to the graphics which captivate them. But let’s get back to how paylines work in slot machines.

The direction

In the early years of playing slot machines, players were only allowed to play on a single horizontal payline. Remember those physical, coin-operated fruit machines? These games were renowned for their single-payline format. Today, though, players are treated to paylines that pay out in multiple directions, not just from left to right. Some slots can pay in an up-and-down direction and vice versa, while other slots pay in a diagonal direction. If you’d like to know which ways you can land winning combinations in a slot, all you have to do is read the paytable.

Wild symbols

Before spinning the reels, many players will check the game’s features and see if there are any wild symbols found during the game. A wild can replace any other symbol on the reels to help form a winning combination. Of course, this means that landing a wild can help to boost the player’s chances of winning.

Scatter symbols

Scatter symbols differ from wild symbols in that they don’t need to be on an active payline for players to reap the benefits of them landing on the reels. Players must also land a minimum number of scatter symbols to unlock bonus features. Many online slots require that three scatters be present at the same time, which can then trigger a number of free spins. Other slot games will have scatter symbols that can reveal prizes such as a treasure chest that takes the player to another screen filled with bonus games, instant payouts, and multipliers.

Bonus symbols

The bonus symbols are great because they can trigger loads of fun extras in the game. Players are usually presented with bonus rounds and occasionally great payouts. Of course, each slot game will have different requirements for the bonus symbols to land mouth-watering prizes.

How many paylines should you play?

Casino sites will reveal how many paylines each slot game has. This will give you a good idea of whether you’d like to spin the reels. Ultimately, in terms of your bankroll, the payline is the most important aspect to look at when deciding whether to play a particular mobile slot. But you’ll need to consider a few other things too.

Maximum wins

If you lower the number of active paylines in a slot that has variable paylines, you will decrease the game’s hit frequency. Therefore, if you’re looking to get the most out of the game and hit the maximum possible winning potential, you should strongly consider playing with all the paylines active. Of course, it costs more to play this way, so make sure you’ve budgeted for this carefully.

Jackpot games

In most cases of jackpot slots, to stand a chance of winning the big one, all paylines must be active. So, if you’re aiming for the game’s ultimate jackpot, make sure that all lines are active. It’s also important to check the game’s paytable and rules so you know what’s what.

What type of player are you?

Choosing the number of paylines to play with during gameplay will also depend on the type of player that you are. If you don’t enjoy risking too much money but you’re in search of regular wins, choose a slot machine with lots of paylines that will allow you to bet small stakes. If you don’t mind fewer wins with the potential and excitement of a big payout, go for a slot game with fewer paylines and wager a larger amount on each one.

Remember your bankroll

It doesn’t matter what casino game you’re playing – whether it’s slot games, online roulette, or blackjack – you always have to factor in your bankroll budget. This will help you to determine if you can afford to play a particular game based on the betting strategy and its expected return-to-player.

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Neal / 25 November 2021