Slot Paylines

A slot payline is a pattern on the reels where the winning combination occurs. Payline in slots can be straight or zig-zag. The list of winning patterns for a given slot is found on its paytable.

In slots, a payline is a pattern on the reels where the winning combination occurs. Classic slots have a single payline while modern video slots tend to have multiple lines. Recently, casino game developers have even started slots with no paylines whatsoever.

A game of slot ends with a winning combination on the slot paylines. If you are an avid fan of slot machines, then the payline is one thing you should look into before a game. Nowadays, there are plenty of winning combinations in slots that add more excitement and thrills to slots gaming entertainment.

Slot machines are popular for a variety of reasons. It is easy to play, and you can get a quick win in a single spin. They also come in various slot themes, creating different adventures and unique enjoyment. But the multiple variations of slot play lines are what excite most casino players.

What Are Paylines in Slots Machine?

A slot payline is a pattern on the reels where the winning combination occurs. Payline in slots can be straight or zig-zag. The list of winning patterns for a given slot is found on its paytable.

For a player who wagers on a US slot machine, the slot paylines are what makes or breaks the game. Some players prefer to call it the betting line or winning line. Once the identical slot symbols show up on the payline, the game awards the player an instant win. 

The classic slots among UK and US online casinos have a single horizontal line with one direction from left to right. Modern slot machines have evolved to numerous paylines with varying prizes to break away from the boredom of the classic game. There are now vertical paylines, zigzag, diagonal, and all sorts of patterns. But regardless of the shape, you will come across two major types of slot paylines. We shall discuss each class for a better understanding of the game.

Fixed paylines

In simple terms, a fixed payline is an all-or-nothing game. You have to place a bet on all paylines before spinning the reels. The game distributes your bet across all paylines. So, if you place a one-dollar bet on a 10-payline online slot, you will be betting ten cents on each winning combination.

A fixed payline game provides numerous winning opportunities through tempting bonuses. Thus, giving you the chance to take home a larger payout. Some slot paylines have wilds, free spins, and scatter symbols for added fun. These features are the reasons why many players opt for fixed payline casino games of slots.

Variable paylines

Some players prefer to play on variable slot paylines since they offer more flexible wagering. Adjustable payline, as others like to call it, gives you the freedom to place your bets only on the paylines of your choice. You don't have to bet and activate all paylines.

If you are running low on your bankroll, you can adjust your bets to a few paylines to get a higher payout if you win. However, you will also lower your chances of winning. There is a chance to miss a jackpot if the winning combination falls on an inactive payline.

How Do Slot Paylines Work?

The evolution of the classic slot machines to online slots leads to massive variations, orientation, and presentations. There are now numerous themes to catch the attention of new players. Thus, creating unique adventures and a new level of entertainment. It becomes a battle of graphics and designs and feature-rich games as the competition gets stiffer.


Slot paylines have a flexible orientation. It is no longer limited to a single horizontal payline but comes with multiple lines that can go as much as a thousand or more. There are also multiple directions, not just from left to right. Modern slots have upward to downward direction or vice-versa, while others have a diagonal orientation. It is best to check the directions of the paylines before the game to better position your bets.

Wild symbols

A wild symbol is a filler on your payline that can take into any character to complete a winning combination. If you happen to have four identical symbols and a wild in a five-reel play, the wild will complete the winning combination since it can take shape into the same sign as the other four. Thus, a wild on your payline increases your chances of winning.

There are different types of wild symbols. One of them is the sticky wild, which stays in the same position in the next few spins. On the other hand, stacked wilds will show up on top of the other until they fill the entire reel. The expanding is similar to stacked wild except that they can grow to fill the whole reels.

Scatter symbols

A scatter symbol is something that you would like to see on your reels. It is a bonus symbol that unlocks a world of endless possibilities for your game. Unlike wilds, where you need to have them on your active payline, you can enjoy the benefits of the scatter symbols as they appear anywhere on the reels. But there are usually a minimum number of scatter symbols to unlock the features.

In most cases, three scatter symbols will give you a couple of free spins. But in some slots, the scatter symbols open a treasure chest of surprises like interactive bonus games, instant payouts, re-spins, and multipliers. If you have a multiplier on your scatters, you can win as much as 50 times your stake. Thus, a $10 bet will give a whopping $500 payout if you have a 50x multiplier from the scatter symbols.

Bonus symbols

Similar to scatter, the bonus symbols can trigger loads of amazing bonuses and multipliers. The prize usually comes in the form of bonus games with huge payouts. Different slots have varying terms of the bonus symbol. Some slots may require the characters to appear on the active payline, while other slots unlock the bonus games as long as the symbols appear on the reels.

Slot Symbols (examples)
Slot Symbols - Wild, Scatter, Bonus & Standard Slot Icons

Paylines vs Reels

When you start playing the slot machines for the first time, you will come across both "reels" and "paylines" often. These terms can be confusing for novice players. But understanding reels and slot paylines better should get rid of the confusion.

The reels in slots are the vertical wheels that spin. The number of reels may differ according to the slot machine's theme and manufacturer. Each reel also has a varying number of symbols - usually ten. So, a 3-reel slot with ten characters on each reel can produce about 10,000 possible combinations.

On the other hand, a payline is an active line or pattern on the reels that matches a winning combination from the paytable. The identical symbols should fall into the payline for you to win in the slots game. The number of slot paylines depends on the type of online slot you are playing.

Examples of Slot Paylines

Number of Paylines

The mechanical slot machines with a single payline still exist. Some players prefer the classic game over the new ones because of its simplicity and minimalist feature set. But more players are drawn to video slots with multiple paylines that come with many surprises and bonuses. A quick overview of each type of slot according to payline number should help you choose the best slot machine that suits your wagering character.

Winning Chances

More slot paylines do not necessarily mean higher winning chances! At the end of the game, it is still the Return-To-Player or RTP percentage that matters.

Do not give in to some offshore gaming operators' marketing styles claiming to have better odds with more paylines. Each slot machine or video slot software has a preset RTP percentage that determines your chances of winning, regardless of the payline - be it one, three, ten, or more. You can check the RTP of the game in the paytable to know your odds.

When betting on multiple slot paylines, you have to work out a winning VLT strategy to avoid depleting your bankroll. A slot with 25 paylines would require you to place a bet on all 25 lines, increasing your bet amount. This could ruin your anticipated spendings on online casino games.

Slots With No Payline

There's no limit to innovation when it comes to slots. Some offshore gaming operators reinvent the classic single payline and the modern video slots with multiple payline by offering slots with no payline. In this type, you don't need a line or a pattern to form a winning combination. You can win the game as long as a particular symbol shows up anywhere on each reel. You'll find below some good examples of slots with no payline.

  • Aloha - Cluster Pays by Net Entertainment
  • Shangri La Slots - Cluster Pays by Net Entertainment.
  • Game of Thrones Slots - 243 Games by Microgaming.
  • Jurassic Park Slots - 243 Games by Microgaming.
  • Immortal Romance Slots - 243 Games by Microgaming

One-Line Slots

Also called one-liners, you will enjoy single-line slots because they are devoid of complexity. Multiple paylines can be confusing. But with a single slot payline, you have nothing to worry about the payline patterns. You can focus more on the single line for the winning combination. A single-line slot is a great game for a quick play. Here are a few best single-line games to try out.

  • Wacky Panda by Microgaming.
  • Blackjack Bonanza Slots by Microgaming.
  • 888 Dragons Slots by Pragmatic Play.
  • Alchemists Lab Slots by Playtech.
  • Chicken Little Slots by Rival.

Three-Line Slots

Repetitive spins on a single payline will eventually become boring. You will soon crave more challenging games with bigger winnings. And bigger challenges you will find with a three-liner or three-line slots. Some of the popular three-line games are as follows:

  • Jewel Thief Slots of Microgaming.
  • 8 Ball Slots by Playtech.
  • Pharaohs Gold Slots by Real Time Gaming.
  • Fruit Siesta Slots by Microgaming.
  • Trick or Treat Slots by Microgaming.

Multi-line Slots

If you're a high roller looking for a big win, then the multi-line slots are perfect for your slot gaming entertainment. With more slot paylines at stake, you will surely enjoy the thrills of having the scatters and wild symbols on the reels. Just be careful when playing multi-lines since having more active paylines will also require bigger bets. Keep track of your bankroll to avoid overspending beyond your budget on a single spin. But if you are ready to win big from slots, the multi-line games are perfect. Below are a few good three-line games to try out.

  • Boom Brothers by NetEnt.
  • Book of Dead by Play N' Go.
  • Super Striker Slots by NetEnt.
  • Captain Cash by Microgaming.
  • Pistols and Roses Slots by Rival.
example of complex slot paylines
Example of a really complex paytable with 25 paylines.

Slot Paylines - FAQ

There are still more to know about slot paylines but the basics are already covered. Below are then frequently asked questions with corresponding answers about reels and paylines in slot machines.

What is a payline in slots?

Slot paylines are the patterns or lines where the winning symbols or characters should line up. Each reel in the payline should have an identical symbol from left to right in a winning combination. The payline doesn't have to be a single horizontal line. It can be a pattern like a zigzag, depending on the slot machine. Some slots give a payout to the player for two identical symbols in a row. Others would require all symbols to appear in a line. But there also slot machines with wild symbols that complete the winning combination in a payline.

How many paylines can a slot machine have?

Classic slot machines have one, three, and five paylines. But modern online slots have multiple paylines like nine, fifteen, twenty-five, and even one hundred.

The number of paylines can go more than a thousand. But the game becomes more complicated with higher risks. It is best to focus on a few slot paylines so you can work out an excellent strategy in your games. In the end, the number of paylines will not affect your odds. The RTP percentage determines your winning chances.

Are slot paylines always horizontal?

Horizontal slot paylines are typical in traditional slot machines. But online slots have various patterns and multiple lines. Some paylines are vertical, while others have diagonal slot paylines. There are also slot machines with irregular shapes and unique designs for the payline to stand out from the rest.

In fact, other slot variations have no paylines at all. They are called no payline slot machines. Payout is awarded to the player when the winning combination shows up on each reel without following any line or pattern.

Where to find the list of paylines for a specific slot game?

The best place to find the list of paylines for a specific slot game is the paytable, which contains all the games' vital information.

The paytable is very helpful in multiple-line slot games since it will show you the diagrams of the list of payouts. The paytable also contains other aspects of the game, such as the payout, the game rules, the characters, and symbols present in a game. The game features, the jackpot prizes, and the bonuses are also there in the paytable.

Do multi-line slots payout more?

It is wrong to assume that more slot paylines will give out a bigger payout. In fact, it is the reverse. Payout is determined by the amount of your wager.

If you have a dollar to wager on a 10-payline slot, your bet is only 10 cents per payline, which will give you a lower payout. But if you place the same dollar bet on a five-line slot, your bet is 20 cents per payline. Thus, giving you a bigger payout.

What are the best multi-line online slots?

There are plenty of multi-line online slots from various software developers. The choices are massive, that choosing one can be a challenge. But you will do great if you start with the most famous online slot games with multiple slot paylines, as listed below.

- Gonzo's Quest by NetEnt: The slot has a wild Aztec theme with  20 paylines featuring free spins, wild, and scatter symbols with multipliers up 15x the stake.
- Lil' Devil by Big Time Gaming: You will surely enjoy the fun Lil'Devil has in store for you with over 4,096 ways to win and a whopping 50,000x your bet payout.
- Vikings Go to Hell by Yggdrasil: This 25-payline game will take you back to the ancient times of barbaric Vikings with a chest of treasures of goodies for your games.
- Jungle Jim El Dorado by Microgaming: You will love the adventures of El Dorado as it takes you to a mountain of treasures in this 25-payline game that comes with a 5x multiplier bonus in the base game and 15x free spins.

Are single payline slots worth it?

The winning chances are the same as multi-line, as long as the RTP rates are the same for both. Moreover, the single-line is best for conservative players who do not want to take risks on placing multiple bets on all paylines in a single game.

Despite the amazing offers of multi-line slots, you will still go back to playing the single payline slots on some occasions for several reasons. One of them is the ease and simplicity of the gameplay. If you want a quick game of slot, then a single-line is the perfect machine that can make your day with an instant win for only a few seconds of playtime.

What is the difference between multi-payline and multi-way slots?

Multi-payline refers to the number of patterns or lines for the winning combinations to appear on the reels. You can bet a few or all paylines, depending on the terms of the game you are playing.

On the other hand, multi-way slots are the number of ways you can win in the game. A good example is the 243 ways slot concept pioneered by Microgaming, which is a five-reel slot. You will enjoy plenty of opportunities to win in a single game. But this also comes with a higher wager.

Do more active paylines payout more than fewer paylines?

There is no correlation between active slot paylines and payouts. Payout is determined by the amount of bet on each payline.

For a ten-dollar bet on ten active paylines, your bet per payline is one dollar. But if you place the same amount of bet on a five-payline slot, your bet per payline is two dollars, giving you a bigger payout than the former. Thus, it doesn't follow that more active paylines payout more than a few paylines.

Are 100-payline slots worth it?

A hundred payline slot provides more opportunities for a bigger take-home payout for high rollers since the minimum bet is also bigger. But the risk is also high. You can incur a huge loss if you do not win. It is all or nothing in a single spin. For the same amount of bet, you can play numerous spins with smaller payouts. You have more chances of winning with more spins than a single spin on 100-payline slots.

What is the difference between a payline and a paytable in slots?

A paytable is where you can get all information about the game, such as the list of paylines, jackpots and bonuses, the symbols, and the game rules. On the other hand, a payline is a pattern on the reels where the winning combination occurs.

The concept of paylines in slots is front and center to the entire gameplay. While some casino game developers try to come up with no-payline slots, nearly all of the best online slots are currently based around straight and zig-zag paylines.