How pay lines and pay tables on slot machines work

When you play slots on a regular basis you’re probably already quite familiar with pay lines and pay tables. For players with less experience or new players, slots can be quite tricky to get the hang of. But to make sure you enjoy a slot the most and don’t get any surprises while playing, it is important to know the pay lines and paytable of a slot. It is the same as accepting a welcome bonus without reading the conditions and then be surprised about wagering requirements.

Slot Machine Paylines and Pay Tables

Until a couple of years ago most slots were pretty straightforward and so were the pay lines and pay tables. But with the growing popularity of online casinos and slots, the developers come up with new creative ideas to make slots more exciting. This also includes how and when players are rewarded. Since playing slots does not require any special skills there are no other factors that influence your game.

What is a slot machine pay table?

Slot machines all vary in shape and form. Sometimes there are also slots that have many similarities, like Moon Princess and Rise of Olympus, or Bonanza and Goldmine. Similar or not, all slot machines have a paytable. This paytable tells you exactly how the game works and where and how wins in the game are calculated. Sometimes the opening screen shows a little bit of info related to the paytable, but the paytable itself is behind an info or question-marked button.

Most paytables have the following information:

  • General game rules
  • Symbols and their coin values
  • Bonus features
  • How to win free Spins
  • Detailed diagrams of every possible payline combination
  • Jackpot details

Sometimes you can even find more additional information but this is up to the developer to decide during the development of the game. Checking a payable should be an integral part of any gaming session. It will help you to pick possible bonus features in a bonus game and it will help you to identify the scatters and other special symbols. So a paytable can’t help you win but it certainly can give you a step in the right direction when you have to make decisions during your game session.

You’ll also learn your high paying symbols from your low paying symbols. It can be pretty frustrating trying to work out something if you haven’t bothered to check the paytable first. Now, don’t worry if you’ve checked the paytable but you still don’t understand something because you can open it at any time to cross-reference your wins and losses.

How slot machine pay lines work

Slot machine pay lines are also called betting lines or winning lines. Back in the days the slot machines only had one payline but now there are slot machines with multiple pay line games, referred to as video slots or even more in case of the videoslots with MegaWays combinations. The paytable of a slot machine will tell you exactly how many paylines are in the game and how paylines pay out. Most common is payouts on wins from left to right, but developers have become quite creative in creating new winlines.

For the maximum possible winning potential, you should play with all the paylines active. If it’s a jackpot game you’ll usually be required to have all paylines active to be in with a chance of winning the jackpot. However, with that being said you should only be playing with money you can afford to lose, so as long as you are playing responsibly it’s up to you how many paylines you have active in your game. And there can also be other reasons for you not to play with all paylines active. Games like Pimped or Masquerade have a guaranteed win bonus so when you play those games with one payline active, the bonus game will have to give you wins on that one payline too.

A lot of the newer generation video slots have fixed paylines which means you won’t be able to change how many are active, you’ll just automatically play and bet with all of them. Remember though if you are playing with reduced paylines the slot machine will of course not pay out for symbols that land on a payline that is not active. All symbols will need to land on active paylines for you to win. The only symbols that are most in most cases an exception to this rule are scatter symbols and bonus symbols. But this can vary per game so this is another reason to check the paytable.

slot games pay table and pay lines explained

Pay line direction and orientation

The traditional slots have paylines from left to right, but there is an increasing amount of video slots where you can win in different ways. For example:

  • Right to Left – This is just the opposite to the above. The symbols will need to start matching from the very last reel farthest to the right and continue in succession to the left.
  • Pay Both Ways – Games pay both left to right and right to left. The most popular game you’ll find with these paylines is without a doubt Starburst by Netent. There are very few games that actually pay just right to left. If a game pays right to left you’ll usually find it actually pays both ways.
  • All Ways – These kinds of paylines usually mean in excess of 100+. The most common one is 243 ways to win. So as long as you have a matching symbol on every reel (starting from left to right)­ ­reg­arding of where it is on the reel the game will pay out. Examples of these kinds of paylines are Immortal Romance, Thunderfist, Jurrasic Park and Terminator 2.
  • Cluster Pays – Symbols will need to form a cluster to pay, like for example Jammin’ Jars, Reactoonz and Lost Relics. This could be a cluster of 3 or 5 symbols to start forming a winning combination.
  • Give video slots a try?

    If you are new to video slots, then it is definitely worth to try. Especially the newer slots are quite some pieces of art where it comes to design and animation, music and sound effects and overall gameplay. Do make sure that you only play with money you can affort to lose and do not expect to make money from playing slots. If you decide to play, make sure you play at a trustworthy casino like the ones that we carefully screened and selected on this website. Have fun!