Getting To Grips With Paylines

Learn more about paylines

Why are we talking about paylines today?

Well, in this line of work, some terms become second nature. Something that regular people never use is one of our most frequently uttered, or typed, words.

But we do acknowledge that from time to time, people in the industry, us included, can take it for granted that everyone who’s reading our posts understands every single term we use.

But that is just not the case. So that’s why we figured we’d go back to basics and take a deep dive into the world of paylines.

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What are paylines?

Pretty much any review of a slot will include talk of paylines. And if you look at almost any slots how-to-play guide, you’ll see paylines mentioned there too.

But what is a payline?

Well, it’s pretty simple really. A payline is the pattern symbols have to be in to trigger a win. Historically, slots only had a single payline. The oldest slot machines had just three reels and your symbols had to match up along just one line for your payday.

But now multi-payline games are what it’s all about. It doesn’t matter if you play online or offline, almost every slot game nowadays has lots of different ways to trigger a win.

And they don’t just follow a straight line any more. Sometimes these paylines zig-zag across the reels making unusual shapes.

Using paylines to unlock special features

As well as triggering wins, certain paylines in certain slots also dish out something else. They give you access to special features not usually available in the base version of a slot game.

Some of the things you can trigger, depending on the payline and of course the slot, can include:

  • Bonus rounds
  • Mini games
  • Free spins
  • Multipliers

Variable vs fixed payline slots

Traditionally, like the one-armed bandit we discussed above, the number of paylines on a slot is fixed.

But increasingly, as slot manufacturers and designers are looking to push boundaries, the variable payline slots have become more prevalent.

That means that you can decide how many you want to have in action during your slot game. Typically, the more paylines you have, the more your spin is going to cost you. Having said that, your chances of winning also increase.

Should I choose a game with more or less paylines?

Well it really depends on the kind of slots player you are.

For example, if you adore the kind of games that are bursting with special symbols and different types of bonus rounds and features, you’ll probably gravitate towards a payline-heavy slot game. Typically, these are a little more futuristic and a little more complicated.

But if you want to really understand what you’re aiming for every time and tend to prefer playing old-school or simple slots games, then you should go for ones with less paylines. Traditional, old-fashioned slots tend to have fewer. And that’s no criticism. There’s no shame in loving a classic.