What are paylines in online slots?

When you first start spinning slot game reels, you will notice a number of words and phrases popping up whenever you read about them. One of these is paylines. What are they and how do they affect your play?

What is a payline?

Also known as betlines, win lines or winning lines, or even reels.  Paylines are a very important feature for any kind of slot game, whether it’s an classic build or a brand-new title.
In the simplest terms, a payline is a line of symbols that pays out a win if a winning combination lands across it. For example, a very basic payline would go from left to right across the reels in a straight line. If a winning combination appears in that configuration, then a win will be paid out. The most common slots can have between 1 to 12 paylines, 4 and 6 paylines being the most common.

Slots can have small or large numbers of paylines, ranging from just the one to all the way over 1,000. Another important thing to keep in mind is that you will only be able to claim a win on paylines that you have bet on. If a winning combo lands on a payline you have not bet on, you will not be awarded anything. For the most part, players like to activate all the paylines on each spin, to improve their chances of winning

Paylines through the ages

Where did the idea of paylines come from? Well, on the early pub fruit machines and slot machines, these mechanical devices usually offered a very simple form of play – just a 3×3 game format and a single payline, usually right down the middle row.

Similar machines have retained their popularity in places like Las Vegas and other land-based casino hubs, with classic 3-reels being a permanent fixture on the casino floor.

As slots became big in the virtual online world, possibilities opened up that were simply not available to the more rudimentary machines. Online slots can offer hundreds of paylines at a time as well as a much more responsive game screen in general.

How do paylines work?

Paylines are essentially a template for reel combinations. Land a combination of symbols within that template and you win! Paylines can be straight across or zigzag up and down. They can also be diagonal, horizontal or vertical. The payline patterns for any slot will be available via the paytable, usually access via a button on the game screen.

Slot games can offer fixed paylines or adjustable paylines. The former requires players to bet on all available paylines. A slot with adjustable paylines allows players to choose a specific number of line on which to bet.

An important consideration to note is that most slots will pay out on combinations that match paylines from left to right. Some slots, however, will also pay out on combos that go in any direction. This information can be found in the pay table, where you can also learn about that game’s payout odds, the accepted winning combinations, and details about bonus games.

Try out the slots at these casinos to watch paylines in action.

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Last updated: 26 Feb 2020

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