Slot Machine Lines Explained: What They Are and How They Work

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Eureka Reel Blast pay lines

We often gets asked about how slot machine lines work. So today we will approach slot machine lines, how they work and what they do for a slot machine.

Paylines are a form of determining how wins are awarded. The pay table demonstrates which symbol line ups award credits, and the pay lines show you exactly where the symbols need to land for you to win. 

The more paylines, the more chances to win, but also traditionally the more expensive the bet, as you need to play each payline to be eligible for its payouts. So if there are 20 paylines, traditionally paying 20 credits will ensure you’ve wagered on all 20 paylines. 

There are games like the Money Burst series, where you can get 2 paylines for 1 credit – the game offers 60 paylines but you can play 30 credits to activate them all. This tends to be the exception rather than the rule.

In the early days of slots, they’d traditionally have a single payline through the middle of the three reels. Multiple pay line machines would add a second and third above and below the original, and then even more would zig and zag the lines in different ways.

With the advent of video slot machines, and the introduction of lower denomination options like penny and nickel denominations, the number of paylines have exploded. Stinkin’ Rich and its sister games have 100 paylines, which are at the upper end of the scale.

The pay table will generally indicate what the pay lines are. It doesn’t necessarily make it less confusing when there’s so many lines, as you can see by the illustration above. But it can help you get a sense of what are lines and what aren’t.

Some games let you select the number of paylines you wish to play, in particular older games but some newer ones as well. Others require you to play all paylines as part of the betting options. Betting less paylines lowers your per-spin bet, but also reduces the number of ways you can win.

There are also slots that do not use paylines at all, instead opting for an all ways pays structure – as long as symbols appear on consecutive reels, and you get the minimum number needed to be paid, you’ll be paid.

So that is a general idea of how paylines work, and why they have such an important role in slots. If you’re not betting on a payline, or if symbols aren’t lining up on those paylines, that’s why you don’t get paid for a certain combination.


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