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Slot Machine Paylines Guide: How Do Paylines and Paytables Work?

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Slot machine paylines and paytable guide from Bob Casino.

Understanding the inner workings of slot machines need not be a tiring experience for online casino newcomers. In this article, we are going to shed some light on what slot machine paylines and paytables are and how they work.

Slot Machine Paylines and Paytables

Due to their steady popularity and ease of use, slot machines have become a common sight in most casinos and entertainment venues. Traditional slot machines are programmed to give a payout when reels line up to match symbols on a single payline. Paytables contain information about payline structures and how the game works.

Mechanical vs Modern Slots

The issue with older mechanical slots is that they tend to be less creative when offering ways to win because of their limited paylines. Winning combinations are also somewhat restricted on these early slot machines.

The modern slot machines are now run by computer software and random number generators. This means that more can be packed into a game and a lot can happen at a much faster pace. Not only that, but technology has improved and given us far more engaging and enhanced gameplay in the new slot machine games.

Nowadays, we even have story-based video slot games, which are increasingly becoming more popular.


Paylines, betting lines or winning lines are connected rows of matching symbols that result in a win. The payline is like an umpire or a referee. It tells you if you have won that particular round or not.

Modern slots are more captivating in that they offer more paylines for starters. Multi-directional and varying combinations of paylines are other huge improvements. Paylines numbering into double digits have also become quite common. These numbers can go even higher in video slots, although at increased wagers.

Payline Formations

Another exciting benefit of a computer system controlling the slot machine is the different payline formation. They can be matched vertically, diagonally, horizontally and even in zigzag patterns.

Besides the above, several other distinct ways in which paylines can match up are:

  • Left to right. The matching symbols start from the reel on the left and continue to the rightmost reel. This is the most common and prevalent configuration.
  • Right to left. In this instance, symbols line up from right to left. This is a rare payline as it is usually paired to form the below payline.
  • Pay both ways (or both ways slots). Instead of a win in either direction, matches are made in both directions. This instantly makes for a more entertaining play. Chi slot is an example of a both ways slot.
  • All ways. In this case, hundreds of rows of paylines are commonplace. Therefore, matching symbols are likely to be present on every reel. This configuration can be found in such branded games as Playboy slot and Battlestar Galactica slot.
  • Cluster pay. This payline system is set up in such a way that it groups symbols together. Symbols land horizontally and vertically forming a connected cluster. This payline formation is featured in such titles as Wild Worlds, Aloha Cluster Pays, and The Legend of Shangri La slot.


A critical and integral part of every slot machine is the paytable. It provides important information about the paylines, symbols and bonuses.

Paytables can be accessed before the start of the game and should always be consulted. A paytable is an instructional guide of sorts on how to play the game and what to expect. Familiarising yourself with a game’s paytable will allow you to be up to speed with the different components of the game. Things like game rules, bonus features, symbols and their values are explained in the paytable.

Placing Bets and Payouts

Adding to the overall variety of slot games are the adjustable payline slots and fixed payline slot machines. On the adjustable payline machines, a player can choose the number of paylines to play (or activate). On the contrary, it’s all or nothing on the fixed payline slots.

There is a catch with all slot machines. To be able to win as much as possible, you have to play as many lines as possible. However, it’s generally not advisable to continuously play all the paylines if you want your bankroll to last. Nevertheless, there are other ways to increase the odds in your favor. For instance, wild symbols, scatter symbols, bonus symbols and progressive jackpots. All of them are referenced in the paytable.

Things to keep in mind

In essence, all slot machines have the same basic functionality. This is regardless of their charming lights, melodic tunes.

The payline structures is the essential difference between slot machines.

That and additional helpful information — hence the importance of consulting the paytables. As a side note, it is worth noting that lower denomination slots usually have lower payouts in contrast to higher denomination ones.

Hopefully, this article would help you better understand several things. First and foremost, the way how slot machine paylines really work. Secondly, you should now know how to play online casino slot games better.

Don’t forget that payline technologies and game development changes frequently. In order to be caught up with all the latest additions, make sure to tune to the new slot reviews on Bob Casino! 

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