How Do Slot Machine Paylines Work?

paylines slots image
Slots Paylines. Image Credit: Shutterstock

Slot machine paylines represent the line on which a payout gets awarded depending on the number of winning combinations on a slot machine. 

Slot machines are considered by most gamblers the easiest casino games around. However, generating winning number combinations on slot machines can often be complicated. Slot machine paylines are formulated by random number generators (RNGs), meaning winning combinations are randomly selected by a computer.

A payline is the line on which a payout is awarded based on winning combinations. There is a corresponding amount of paylines depending on the number of random numbers. The number of available paylines is one of the essential features of a slot machine and figuring out how many lines to play is a critical part of winning.

Number of Reels

The spinning symbols players see on the front of the machine screen are called reels. While in the past, reels were metal hoops that spun inside a machine, today, they’re primarily displayed on video screens.

The original slot machines only had three reels, although contemporary slot games often have five to seven reels. The more reels the slot machines have, the larger the jackpot that’s up for grabs because of the higher odds of random numbers generated.

Three-Reeled Slots

Three-reeled slot machines are a great starting point for new players because they are simple and easy to understand. These games have a classic feel and are free from high-tech animations, making them ideal for players who wish to play a game free from distractions.

Many of the three-reeled slots also have bonus rounds and are more repetitive than higher-reeled slots. However, betting options on these games are limited, which means larger payouts are also limited. Typically, three-reeled games have 12 slot machine paylines.

Five-Reeled Slots

Five-reeled slot machines are the favourite of online and in-house players. These games are slightly more complicated and come in greater variety since these are the staple of the slot machine world.

Five-reeled games provide 20 slot machine paylines and have many variations that add to the excitement of the game. However, novice players may find these slots more complicated to play. Understandably, five-reeled slots carry bigger odds for bigger payouts and the risk of more considerable losses.

Six and Seven-Reeled Slots

Six and seven-reeled slots up the ante regarding the number of paylines, with some games having as many as 200. The odds are very high on these slots, but the jackpots are much more significant as well. The jackpot payouts can be worth millions on some of these slots.

Understanding the Strategy Behind Slot Machine Paylines

Usually, paylines are easy to understand, although they sometimes get more complex when they form zigzag patterns across the reels. Paylines can also run vertically, horizontally, and diagonally. However, a winning payline will only pay if you bet on it.

Some slot games, irrespective of the reels, have adjustable paylines, although most are fixed. If you play a slot with adjustable paylines, you can select how many paylines to bet on. If you play fixed paylines, you must bet on all paylines or no paylines.

The simplest explanation for playing paylines is that your play is based on your preferences. If you play a three-reel slot and select a single payline, you must understand that your winning chances are significantly reduced if you play one line.

However, you also don’t have to play every payline to score bonus games or spins, although that depends on the game. Some games require you to play all the paylines to be eligible for bonuses or free spins.

Nonetheless, there is an exception to these strategies. Should you play a progressive slot machine, which usually carries a very high jackpot amount, you must play all the paylines to be eligible for that jackpot.