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A Beginner's Guide to Understanding Slot Machine Paylines

When you check the reviews on Jazz sportsbook and casino site, you’ll see that paylines are an essential feature of slot games. Paylines dictate how you land winning combinations in a slot game. Classic slot machines can come with one, two, or three paylines, while modern ones offer up to 1000 paylines.

To get the most out of your slot gaming experience, you need to understand how paylines work. This article will explore paylines, how they work, and how they affect your winning chances.

What are Paylines?

Paylines are the patterns in which symbols in a slot machine have to line up for a player to win. Traditional payline patterns are usually horizontal or vertical, but modern slots are more versatile. The paylines in a modern slot machine could be diagonal or even shaped like a zigzag.

So, when identical slot symbols appear in these predetermined patterns, the player wins a cash prize. Sometimes, a winning combination doesn't need only identical symbols because wild symbols can also help. So, in a slot game, you can win if you get a mix of wild and identical symbols.

How Many Paylines Are Required in a Slot Game?

There is no particular number of paylines required for a slot machine to work. Although slot developers restricted traditional slot machines to 3 paylines, that’s due to the nature of their reels. Modern slots have far larger reels than traditional slot machines, so their paylines can be bigger.

Nonetheless, you shouldn’t make the mistake of assuming that more paylines mean more winning chances. More paylines equate to higher risks, as the game would become more complicated at that point. As such, many bettors prefer a game that has few paylines; that way, they can easily make a plan for winning.

The easiest way to win at a slot machine is with a single payline. That’s because the winning combination only needs to come up in one way. 

This is the charm of classic slot machines, as they are very easy to understand. Multi-payline slots, on the other hand, confuse many players since they might not know when they’ve won until it’s displayed.

A higher RTP means that you have a higher chance of winning. If you want to increase your winning chances, the Return To Player (RTP) percentage is the place to look. 

How Can You Read the Paylines in a Slot Game?

The payline in a slot machine is usually displayed in its paytable section. When reading the paytable of a slot machine, the first thing you need to consider are the numbers. The number of paylines in a slot will tell you how many ways you can trigger a winning combination.

The next factor worth considering is the shape in which the paylines appear. Vertical and horizontal lines are prevalent, but sometimes V-shaped, X-shaped, or other alphabet-shaped paylines can also occur. Apart from these alphabets, they can also appear as weird shapes born from the developer's imagination. Once you know the shapes of your winning combinations, you can think about the symbols that can trigger a win. 

Some special symbols correspond to the slot theme, wild symbols, and scatter symbols. Sometimes, slot machines have been known to disregard the paylines to offer winning combinations for some special symbols. You can see this when some slot machines allow you to win even when the scatter symbols are not on a payline.

How Does a Payline Pay You in a Slot?

Most paylines pay from the leftmost reel in a game to the right. So, even when a higher win is possible with symbols on the extreme right, the game won’t consider them.

For example, you could have two groups of three adjacent identical symbols in the same row in a 6-reel slot. The second group of three matching symbols in that row would offer a higher payout than the first. Nevertheless, the slot would only consider the first group of identical symbols and ignore the others.

While the situation above is true for most slot machines, it's not true for all. Some slots count from both sides. This means that if you have a higher payout with identical symbols on the right, the slot will start with them.

In many modern slots, you can now change the number of paylines that are in use. So, you can play the game with its maximum paylines or reduce their number for a less complex game. 

Note that reducing the paylines in a game also restricts the maximum amount you can bet. So, if you want to bet the maximum on a game, you’ll need to use all its paylines.

Can the Number of Symbols in a Paylines Affect Your Payout?

The number of symbols on a payline can affect your payout in a casino game. All paylines show the maximum number of symbols to offer a winning combination. However, this doesn’t mean that payouts won’t come from using lesser symbols.

A typical example is when a slot machine lets you land a win with 3-5 identical symbols. Winning with 3 symbols on that payline would offer a lower payout while winning with 5 symbols would offer the highest payouts.

The type of symbols that appear on the reels can also determine your payout. Lower-paying symbols offer a lower payout when they appear on a payline, while higher-paying symbols offer higher payouts.


Paylines are one of the many things to consider when playing a new slot machine, like its volatility and maximum payout. Paylines in a slot machine vary from one to two, three, four, five, or even as much as 1000. It's all dependent on the number of reels in the slot and the whims of the slot developer.

A higher number of paylines doesn’t equate to more winning chances; you just get a more complex game instead. On the other hand, smaller paylines below 5 allow for more accessible games. Nonetheless, a higher payline means you get to bet more and win more in a slot game.

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