Understanding Paylines in an Online Slot Game

Understanding Slots paylines

In slots, a payline is one or several lines that stretch from the left to the right across the reels. To make a win, identical symbols are required to land on the same payline, usually as a minimum of 3, adjacent to each other starting from the first reel. This article discusses the nuances of slot paylines in detail.

Example of paylines in slots
Screenshot from Dead or Alive 2

Are Paylines the Same as Reels?

Paylines in a slot game aren’t the same as reels. Reels are the vertical (and sometimes horizontal) arrangement of symbols in the grid. They must be spun for a payline to appear. Slot reels do not have a direct impact on the payout. Paylines, on the other hand, do.

Read more about slot reels

How Do Slot Paylines Work?

The functioning of slot paylines is simple. Inside a slot grid, they can be arranged in a horizontal, vertical, diagonal, or any pattern the game developer sees fit. They can appear on the same reel or run across multiple reels.

Adjustable Paylines vs. Fixed Paylines: A Comparison

Depending on the slot you play, the number of paylines can be adjustable or fixed. Slots with adjustable paylines will let you choose a specific number of paylines out of the total to bet on. On the other hand, slots with fixed paylines have rigid rules; players must bet on all the paylines or none.

To help you understand better, we’ve discussed the differences in this comparison table:

Adjustable PaylinesFixed Paylines
Players can change the number of paylines before sending the reels spinning.Players cannot adjust the number of paylines before spinning the reels.
A $1 bet on 5 paylines of a 10–payline adjustable slot will be divided across the 5 selected paylines (20 cents on each). The payout from a winning combination specific to any of those 5 paylines will be based on the 20-cent bet.A $1 bet on a slot with 10 fixed paylines will be divided across all 10 paylines (10 cents on each). The payout from a winning combination will be based on the 10-cent bet.
The playing structure and format of the slot vary according to the paylines selected.The playing structure and format of the slot are fixed.
Players are offered flexibility in terms of Volatility.The Volatility is prefixed and remains the same.

How to Adjust the Number of Paylines in a Slot?

If a slot lets you adjust the paylines, there will be a visible feature for it marked as “paylines” or “betlines” on the dashboard. Along with it, there will be “+” and “-” buttons using which you will be able to change the numbers of paylines you want to bet on.

Adjustable paylines

Adjustable Paylines or Fixed Paylines: Which is Better?

When it comes to comparing fixed and adjustable paylines in slots in terms of profitability, none is better or worse than the other. It all boils down to the personal preferences of players.

Does Activating all the Adjustable Paylines Give You an Edge?

While playing, you can bet on as many paylines as you want. However, you would receive a payout only on paylines on which you place bets.

For instance, if a slot game with adjustable paylines has 20 of them and you bet on 10, you won’t win anything if a winning combination appears on a payline you didn’t choose. 

In our honest opinion, slots are best enjoyed and leveraged to the utmost with all the paylines activated. By limiting your options, you also reduce the possibilities of landing a win regardless of the paylines you choose.

Does Adjusting Paylines Affect RTP?

Adjusting paylines has zero effect on a slot’s RTP.

Read more about RTP in slots

Does Adjusting Paylines Affect House Edge?

The House Edge of a slot remains the same regardless of how many paylines you choose.

Read more about House Edge in slots

Does Adjusting Paylines Affect Hit Frequency?

Adjusting slot paylines has a big impact on Hit Frequency. For instance, let’s say a certain slot has 20 paylines with a Hit Frequency of 40% with all the paylines active. If you choose to bet on 10 paylines, the Hit Frequency reduces to 20%.

Does Adjusting Paylines Affect Volatility?

Adjusting slot paylines impacts Volatility the way it impacts Hit Frequency. The fewer paylines you choose, the higher would be the slot’s volatility.

Read more about Volatility in slots

Does Adjusting Paylines Affect the Paytable?

The paytable of a slot game remains the same whether or not you adjust the number of paylines.

Does Adjusting Paylines Affect the Maximum Possible Win?

Most definitely! The number of paylines is directly proportional to the maximum possible win. The more, the bigger.

Top 5 Slots with Adjustable Paylines

Top 5 Slots with Fixed Paylines

Are There Other Forms of Paylines in Slots?

There are several other payline forms using which a slot pays. We have listed the most popular ones below:

  • MegaWays – the number of paylines is randomly determined in every spin (e.g. Bonanza MegaWays by Big Time Gaming)
  • ClusterPay – matching symbols regardless of reels, positions, and lines (e.g. Aloha by NetEnt)
  • Ways to Win – matching symbols appearing on adjacent reels (e.g. Siberian Storm slot from IGT)

How Do Paylines Differ in Mechanical Slots and Online Slots?

Old mechanical slots with the classic 3 reels have only one payline – the one at the center across the reels. Online slots are the modern, digital version with more than one payline, which offer more than one way to win, of course for a bigger bet per spin.