Slot Machine Pay Table: A Game’s Rules, At a Glance

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Buffalo Link pay table

When you go into a casino, a level of confidence can be instilled by knowing what the rules are. When you play Blackjack, for instance, it tells you how much is paid for a Blackjack, whether you can double down or surrender, and so forth – these rules can be helpful for knowing how to play, and also how you’ll get paid.

Slot machines are no different in that regard – regulations require each slot machine to explain how a game works and how players get paid. The core of this information is what’s called the pay table.

On earlier slot machines this information would be displayed on glass, but as slots have moved to video reels and become more complex, the rules have fallen into a set of screens accessible from the main slot screen.

Do you read a pay table before playing a slot machine?


Although the information is out there, most players that answered a recent poll on Brian Christopher’s YouTube page said they don’t read one before playing a slot – about 40 percent read it at least some of the time, but the remainder say they don’t.

The pay table explains what symbols are needed, and how many are needed to achieve various pays. Often symbols pay better as you get more of a kind on a line. In the case of all ways pays games, the pay table indicates how many on consecutive reels are needed and how much that arrangement will pay, then multiplied by the number of ways it occurs.

The pay table helps visualize the hierarchy of symbols – there’s always some symbol that pays the best, and knowing that one can help you more quickly spot bigger line hits.

Some games also have what are called “mixed symbol” payouts, meaning that multiple symbols can align together to pay. Usually these will be things like bars or 7s where a single 7 might pay mixed with a double 7, or a triple bar with a double bar. Mixed pays are generally smaller than three of the same symbol.

Ultimately, a quick glance at the pay table can get you on even firmer footing to better understand how a game is set up, and fortunately for us every machine has to put its pay information readily accessible to the player, whether in the menu or directly on the glass somewhere.


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