Slot Lines Explained

Slot Lines Explained

The first slot machines in online casinos were almost exact copies of land-based one-armed bandits; they used 3 reels and only one payline, which ensured the most simple gameplay. Subsequently, developers began to create new variations of slot machines in which you can adjust the number of lines. Separately, there is a category of slots with cluster payouts, in which there are no usual lines. We have prepared an article about slot lines at casinos for US players that will help them understand their features better. Learning how the slot machine works helps you to increase your winning chances.

Slot Machine Lines Explained in Details

Payout lines are one of the most important features found in most slot machines. The payline passes through several reels and allows you to receive a win if one of the paid combinations is located on it. The number of paylines may vary depending on the characteristics of the slot machine.

Payout lines in the Lucky Larryโ€™s Lobstermania 2 slot
The 40 paylines in Lucky Larry’s Lobstermania 2 are represented by buoys around the edges of the screen

Each developer has its own corporate identity, which also affects the number of paylines.

What Are Lines in Slots

The winning combination has to be completely on the same line. The paytable allows you to understand how many paylines are available in the slot machine. If additional elements are available on the control panel for changing the number of paylines, then we are talking about a slot machine with a customizable number of lines.

Fixed Lines

Additional settings are not available in a slot machine with a preset number of lines. You will have to bet with the number of lines provided by the developer. For this reason, the winning chances will be the same on each next spin.

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Variable Lines

In a slot with a custom number of lines, you can influence how many lines will be in the next round. The more active lines, the more chances to win.

The bet is placed on each line, so the total bet will be higher in the round with the maximum number of active payout lines. Increased risk brings higher chances of winning.

If you are running out of money or free coins, you can always adjust the line number for the current situation. This option is not available in a slot machine with a static number of lines.

How Do Slot Paylines Work

Modern slot machines have gone through a significant evolutionary path from the classic slot machine with 3 paylines in the USA to slots with 100 lines. This helps you to choose exactly the slot which you consider the most comfortable to spend the evening with. In addition to the number of lines, it is necessary to consider the direction, bonus symbols, and their location features.


Existing payout lines have flexible orientation; they are not limited to the horizontal direction only. The payable combination can be calculated both from left to right and in the opposite direction; paylines can be located not only to the right or left of the playing field, but also below and above. Developers actively use the diagonal layout of the lines. Before betting on real money, it is better for you to check the directions in which the slot forms paid combinations.

Wild Symbols

This universal symbol contributes to the formation of a winning sequence. It can replace most of the symbols on the reels to complete the combination. Developers can provide different types of wild symbols.

Wild OptionFeatures
OrdinaryDrops on one of the reels of the playing field and replaces other images
StickyIs able to stay on the reels for multiple spins
ExpandingFills the entire reel, increasing the probability of receiving a paid combination

If the slot machine has a wild symbol, then this increases your winning chances. Wild symbol only counts when it lands on active payout lines.

Scatter Symbols

In addition to wild symbols, scatters can also be provided in slots; they perform various functions, for example, triggering a series of free spins. These symbols can be located not only on active lines, but also outside them.

It usually takes several scatters to trigger a particular feature. The more scatter symbols on the reels at the same time, the bigger the bonus will be.

In addition to a series of free spins, the scatter can also activate the bonus round. Another purpose of the scatter symbol is to increase the multiplier by which the win is calculated.

Bonus Symbols

If the slot machine has a bonus symbol, then it will be responsible for activating the bonus round. An interactive game usually takes place on a new playing field, where you will have the chance to multiply your winnings many times over. Depending on the requirements of the slot machine, bonus symbols can be counted on active lines only or on any part of the screen.

Winning Chances

We have tried to write this article with slot machine lines explained so that even newbies can understand their features. The more lines provided in the slot machine, the higher the probability of receiving a paid combination. The winning chances are also affected by the RTP, so we recommend using slot machines with the maximum return for real money bets.

Slot Paylines vs. Reels

There are a lot of criteria to consider when choosing a slot machine:

  • Volatility level
  • Return percentage
  • Number of reels
  • Number of paylines

The last two criteria indicate what structure the slot machine has. The reels are spinning vertical wheels on which game symbols are available. The number of reels can be different depending on the category it falls into, as well as the preferences of the developer.

The number of reels affects the number of possible winning combinations that have to appear on the paylines.

The same images or wild symbols have to be located on the same line in order for the sequence to lead to a win.

Types of Slot Machine Paylines

The number of payout lines is one of the criteria by which a casino can divide the presented slots. In most cases, slot machines have 1, 3, or more payout lines. There is also a line of slots where there are no paylines at all.

One-Line Slots

Most of the slots with one payline are available in the category of classic slots. It is very easy to figure out what are lines in slots in demo mode. They do not require additional actions before starting the reels, since it is impossible to change the number of lines. It remains only to hope for your own luck and choose a slot with the maximum return percentage.

Three-Line Slots

Slots with three paylines allow you to increase your winning chances; at the same time, it takes 3 times more coins to bet on them than on a slot machine with one payout line.

Gladiator slot machine with three active lines
In the Gladiator slot, you can adjust the number of active lines

They represent the next stage in the development of slots, allowing you to make the gameplay more varied and interesting. Combinations usually start on the leftmost reel and end on the rightmost reel.

Multi-Line Slots

Slot machines are gradually becoming more complex, which is in line with the customers wishes. The number of paylines in them often reaches 20-50, which allows us to talk about multiple paylines on slot machines. These slot machines include:

  • Boom Brothers
  • Captain Cash
  • Pistols and Roses
  • Book of Dead

They often provide the ability to change the number of active lines in accordance with the existing bankroll.

Slots with No Paylines

Some developers offer you to use slot machines that do not have a classic linear payout system. Instead of lines, there is a cluster system or payment paths; this category includes the following slot machines:

  • Aloha from NetEnt
  • Shangri La from NetEnt.
  • Jurassic Park from Microgaming.
  • Game of Thrones from Microgaming.

You don’t need to think about how many paylines to activate. It is enough to place a bet and hope to win, since it is impossible to additionally influence the possible outcome of the rotation.

Coins & Bet Levels in Slot Machines

The bet level refers to how many coins you are willing to bet during the next spin. You have to determine the coin size before the game starts. For example, in the slot machine with three payout lines, it will look like this:

  • Coin size 0.1 โ€“ the bet level is 0.3, 0.6, 0.9.
  • Coin size 0.2 โ€“ the bet level is 0.6, 1.2, 1.8.
  • Coin size 0.5 โ€“ the bet level is 1.5, 3.0, 4.5.

The bet level allows you to experiment with the bet size, adjusting it more precisely for each slot machine. When setting up, you should always consider your own bankroll.

Payline Alternatives

We have tried to describe to you what are paylines on slot machines, but what kind of slot machines exist without the classic scheme for accruing winnings? You can play without paylines on slots with cluster wins. In this case, you need to wait for the moment when several identical images are grouped on the reels, for example, 6 symbols. Slot machines with cluster payouts often have additional multipliers that increase the amount of possible winnings.

Differences Between Slot Paylines & Ways

When using a slot machine with classic structure, you always have to consider the limits in the amount of active lines. For this reason, there is a possibility that the winning combination will be formed outside of one of the payout lines. Slots with the Megaways mechanic can be a solution; they have 243 or more different ways to win.

Slot machines with Megaways mechanics
The range of slots with different number of paylines

There can be from 3 to 7 or more reels in these slot machines. The number of cells varies with each spin, which leads to a change in the structure of the slot machine and allows you to diversify the number of game situations. When betting in this mode, the number of templates for which payments are made also changes. The technology is actively used by the Big Time Gaming provider.

Mechanical Slots vs. Modern Slot Machines

One-armed bandits were distinguished by simple rules of the game and a flamboyant style, which allowed them to quickly increase the customers number. Any slot machine with single payline that received its digital copy and became available in online casinos is in this category.

Developers create modern slot machines considering the preferences of customers, so they allow you to fine-tune the gameplay.

In new slots, you can change the number of paylines, set the bet level, and activate bonus rounds. By using the options correctly and choosing slot machines, you can increase the theoretical expectation of winning.


Wild is able to replace other symbols on the reels, with the exception of the scatter, continuing the paid combination. Also, a wild symbol can bring free spins or increased multipliers, depending on its functions in a particular slot machine.

The more paylines are available, the more likely you will be able to receive a winning combination on one of them.

Among the popular slot machines with three paylines are Quick Hit, Triple Diamond, Bullion Bars, Ultra Hot, Gold Rush, and others.

All certified slot machines have a demo mode, and classic slots are no exception.

Free spins, as well as bonus rounds and a risk game can be distinguished among the bonuses.

In most classic slots, the paylines are indeed horizontal. In multi-line slots, the lines are arranged from left to right, in the opposite direction, as well as from bottom to top and top to bottom.

Publication Author
Ashton Stewart
Author of articles
Ashton was born and raised in the USA. In 2012 he entered The University & Jepson Herbaria, University of California, Berkeley, and graduated in 2017. There he got acquainted with gambling and realized that there was not enough information about reliable websites on the Internet.
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