You can see them on every slot game out there; paylines are mandatory for this type of casino games. In fact, game companies use the number of them for advertising – the more the better! But what are the pay lines, really? Is it true that they raise your winning odds? “The more the better” is a proven fact? Let’s take a closer look.
First, we need to talk about the basic principles of slot games to understand the paylines. Think about your ordinary slot game with five reels. Each reel has four slots, right? To get paid, you need to land at least three same symbols on those slots – but on which order? Pay lines are the answer to that question. These are real “lines”, combining the slots from one end to another.
To get a visual idea, think about a horizontal line which passes through the middle slots of those reels. Yes, that is a pay line. In other words, you need to land those three same symbols on it. Now keep adding lines onto the slots, horizontal, vertical, cross – until you can’t draw straight lines. Don’t worry, we can continue in zig-zag patterns. These may look weird –like an ECG machine put out- but they still count as pay lines. Mathematically, you can put 243 lines on a 5 reels – 4 slots game using all of the combinations available.
Now, two questions come into mind: If 243 is the limit, then how can we see slot games with more pay lines available, 1024, for example? Another question is, should you play with higher numbers or prefer lower ones? Let’s answer one by one.
Slot games with 1024 pay lines don’t really contain 1024 lines. This is how they promoted – but their pay line count is still 243 maximum. The reason they are called “1024” is a simple mathematical formula: 4 x 4 x 4 x 4 x 4. In other words, the multiplication of four rows on five reels. Microgaming was the first company to produce 1024 ways to win slots and they did that by removing the necessity of pay lines to win. In this type of games, each symbol counts as a scatter and pays out wherever they land on reels. In other words, with each spin, you have 1024 possible combinations to win.
Now the other question: higher pay line count is a good thing? Your winning odds are higher too? Well yes, but it is not as simple as that. Of course, your winning odds raise up with higher pay lines but don’t forget – the cost per spin also becomes expensive. Let’s give a simple example: In “1024 ways to win” games, each bet per line costs 1 coin. If you bet on all lines, each spin costs you 1.024 coins. Even if you win, you still lose on 1.023 lines – your winnings may be lower than your bet amount.
You can find all types of slot games with different pay line amounts on this page and play them for free.