More Paylines vs Big Payouts?

There are very few contentious issues involved in spinning the reels on your favourite online slot; we largely know which games we like to play and why we like to play them.  When new releases hit the casinos we give them a try and either add them to our list of favourites or discard them on to the pile of slots we probably won’t try again.  Many fans stick to a particular developer or a particular casino and that’s fine of course.

Describing this issue as contentious is probably a bit of an overstatement; nobody is going to come to blows over whether it’s better to play with a greater or lesser number of paylines, especially if they’re just conversing on forums.  Some mild flaming is perhaps the worst that can happen.

So what are we really talking about here?  We’re discussing whether it’s more profitable to play slots with more paylines which result in a large number of smaller wins or choose games with fewer paylines with bigger, but less regular wins.  There’s also a third option which is to manually select more or less paylines where there’s a choice.


When you play the basic, Vegas-style, three reel slots you don’t get much choice – if you get any choice at all it’s between one and eight or so lines; five reel slots however offer us an enormous variety of payline choices.  Simpler ones can offer as few as nine paylines but more complex games have features such as ‘ways to win’ which give the player many more lines – have a look at IGT’s Crown Of Egypt for an example of 1024 paylines.

So which options offer the best payback?  As a slots fan you may have already have guessed that the important number to look at when picking a slot is the payout percentage.  It’s going to be something like 94% – 97% and when you know that, you’re armed with the knowledge that the number of paylines you play don’t affect your profitability to any great degree.

Ultimately it all comes down to how and why you play slots – if you play to enjoy the experience (as most of us do) then spinning the reels with low stakes and lots of paylines will reward you with lots of small wins and a better chance of activating the bonus features.  If you prefer holding out for the bigger wins and the features don’t particularly interest you then perhaps upping your stakes on fewer paylines is the way to go.


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