Slot Machine Paylines: A Simple Guide

You used to play slots with only 1 payline but now they often have tens, hundreds, thousands or even a million paylines! There is very little info about what paylines are and why you need them, and this guide aims to explain it all to you.

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Some of the slot machines are just 1 spinning reel with 1 payline while others have lots of special symbols, multiple bonus rounds and dozens, hundreds, thousands or even a million paylines! Information on how special symbols and bonus features work can be easily found in the paytable, but there is very little info on what paylines are and why you need them.

Starburst paylines

Paylines – what are they?

Let’s be like Captain Obvious and say that the paylines are the lines that help you to get payouts. When certain symbols land on them and form a combination, the win occurs. Paylines are also known as bet lines, win lines or simply lines.

At the time when slot machines were first invented, you could only find 1 payline, but now there are online slots with many paylines or even an absolutely crazy number of paylines. It’s easy to get confused when you have a lot of lines at your disposal, but we assure you that this is where things get interesting!

The number of lines can vary so much that you can first choose a game with only 1 line, and then start spinning the reels of a game with 1,000,000 lines!

Many lines vs few lines

There are 1-line slots that can only offer you 1 line and there are multi-line slots that have multiple paylines. While 1-line machines are classic casinos, slots with more paylines are a more advanced option, giving each player more dynamics, more emotions and of course more chances to create winning combinations.

Slot machines with a large number of paylines such as the Megaways series, Megapays series, etc. have become the most popular type of slot machines today. They give the player the opportunity to maximize their chances of winning by activating all available paylines from the start or gradually.


There may be a different number of paylines and you already know this, but did you know that the direction in which they pay can also be different?

Starburst paylines

The most common direction is from left-to-right. As you may have guessed, this means that combinations are made from left-to-right. Matching symbols must land from the very first reel, the furthest left.

Some slots have lines that create combinations opposite to the previous direction, that is, from right-to-left. In such slots, oak symbols must land from the very last reel, the one farthest to the right.

We need to point out that slots actually rarely use a right-to-left system. If the info section of the slot machine says that combos are created from right-to-left, most likely they can also be created from left to right, that is, Both Ways. To know exactly how combinations are created, take a look at the paytable or info section of the slot!

Some games are able to pay both left-to-right and right-to-left. Such a system is called Both Ways. The most popular slot machine that uses this system is Starburst.

The All Ways system gives you 243, 720, 1024 or 3125 lines. Such slots create combinations if there is a matching symbol on each reel. This means that you no longer have to try to land a certain number of identical symbols on 1 payline, just land them on each reel and that’s it! A great example of a slot machine that uses this payout system is Thunderstruck 2.

We have reached the most complex payout system, namely Cluster Pays. Casino games based on it are completely different! For the winning combination to be formed, the symbols must form a cluster, as in the Aloha slot machine. Cluster is a group of 3+ matching symbols touching each other. Slots based on the Cluster Pays system, like others, can come with Wilds that turn into an adjacent symbol and become a cluster part.

How many lines to choose

Well, it’s entirely up to you, but you should be aware that if you decide to choose a small number of paylines, the hit frequency will decrease. Want to increase the chances of creating a prize combination for the highest possible win? Then you should spin the reels of a slot with a large number of paylines.

By the way, you should also know that not all slots immediately give all possible paylines, often you will need to gradually unlock them in different ways. In some jackpot slots, you usually need to activate all paylines in order to have a chance to hit the jackpot.

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