A beginners guide to online slot machines should include a number of different explanations of what makes up virtual fruit machine, as we call it here in the UK. Bonus symbols, reels, jackpots and themes are all important but in this article we’re going to talk about paylines, perhaps one of the more confusing aspects of the slot industry.
Physical slot machines have been around for a long time and there has always been a certain sort of standard attached to the way you win money. Traditional Vegas slots such as one-armed bandits have just one payline meaning that you have to line three symbols up on the centre line to win anything. Fruit machines in the UK will have a variety of other features and mini-games but they’ll still just have one payline – straight across the middle.
Australian Pokies are perhaps the closest thing to an online slot in terms of paylines; the machine will give the player the option to choose how many paylines to play and the stake will increase proportionately to that number – if one AUD$1 is the wager for one payline then ten paylines will cost you AUD$10.
So a payline is essentially the line on which matching symbols must land to win a prize; the more paylines you choose, the more expensive it is but the more chance of winning a prize. When playing online slots, most people will generally play the maximum number of paylines; a common number is 20 or 25 but how do you know what the paylines are? Fortunately each slot incorporates a guide which tells you all about the game including which combinations of symbols are live paylines. The picture below is the paylines for Muse Wild Inspiration from Net Entertainment which shows 25 possible wins.
You can clearly see that if you choose just one line, you’ll need to land a winning combo on the centre line but choosing 25 lines will offer a variety of different possibilities.
Many newer games use a payline structure described along the lines of ‘all ways’ or ‘all pays’ – in fact there’s no real paylines when this model is used and wins can be formed as long as there are matching symbols in adjacent rows starting from the left hand side. This can result in huge numbers of winning possibilities as in the case of Bonanza from Big Time Gaming with a staggering 117649 available combinations.
It’s worth mentioning that as you become more familiar with online slots and especially if you’re using the Autoplay feature, you’ll rely totally on the machine to let you know whether you’ve won or not. This becomes more evident as you start to play games with many more paylines.
Also see our article discussing the merits of more or less paylines here.