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Slot Paylines – How Many Should I Play

by Louise W. Rice
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A staple of both land-based and online casinos, slot machines have a good reason for remaining ever-popular.

After all, they’re one of the few games that you don’t really need a special knowledge to play – and win at. Anyone can just sit in front of the best new online slots ireland, try their luck out, and ‘go home’ with potentially big winnings.

Yet, it’s important for you to know the basics before you start playing. At the end of the day, smart gamblers need to know how to calculate their budget, the money they’re willing to invest, and their odds of gaining big.

That’s why we’ll now cover all the basics; what slot lines and pay tables are, how they function, and, most importantly, how many lines you should play if you want to maximize your chances of winning.

Explaining the Basics: Slot Lines and Pay Tables

A crucial thing you need to know before playing at a slot machine is what are slot lines – or paylines – and how they work. Well, they are the basic layout through which you find out whether you’ve won or not.

What is a Payline?

By definition, a payline, slot line, or just line, is the line on which a group or sequence of symbols and patterns appears. If they are lined up in a specific way or formation, it results in a winning combination.

Different games and slot machines offer different numbers of lines available for you to play. While classic slot machines only offer one available line, and physical machines tend to offer around 3-5 lines, some online games can offer up to 100, or even more.

Your odds of winning and the amount you can win depends both on the number of lines you decide to play, on the specific value of each symbol and/or combination, and the amount of bet you place.

This brings us to the pay tables.

How Does a Pay Table Work?

A paytable is, basically, the list that explains what value each symbol on the paylines has, and how much you can earn from each combination. It is, essentially, the manual that you need to read before playing.

On physical slot machines, the paytable can usually be found above or below the playing screen. On online slot machine games, you just click an icon and it’ll open automatically.

A paytable is also important because some online games have bonus features, wild cards, and scatter symbols. By properly reading the paytable, you’ll know exactly what you’re playing and what your chances of winning are.

Still, while paytables explain the details for most particular slot machines, most types of payline combinations are fixed, so once you learn them, you’ll know how most slot machines function.

Types of Payline Combinations

There are, overall, five basic types of payline combinations. Some are more common than others, but it’s useful to be acquainted with all of them.

  • Left to right – symbols on the payline need to match starting from left to right (most common)
  • Right to left – symbols on the payline need to match starting from right to left (least common)
  • Both ways – symbols on the payline can match left to right, or right to left to get you a win
  • All ways – there are, usually, 243 ways to win; symbols don’t need to match on a single line, but to appear anywhere, on any of the reels
  • Clusters – in order to win, symbols need to be grouped in certain clusters; usually, a cluster has a minimum of 3-5 symbols

How Many Lines Should I Play on a Slot Machine?

Finally, the big question – what is the recommended number of lines that you should play on a slot machine?

At the end of the day, it all comes down to how much you can afford to gamble. The more lines you play, the better your chances of winning. However, the bigger the number of lines, the more expensive each spin will be.

It’s quite simple, really. The more you risk, the bigger the chances for winning, and vice versa. Moreover, considering how you’re increasing your chances of winning by playing more lines, the casino will, understandably, charge you more for spinning.

So, all in all, we’d recommend that you play the most lines that you can, provided that you can afford it. At the end of the day, it’s your wallet that dictates the answer to this question.

What to Consider Before Playing

Now that you’ve mastered the basic payline combinations and have decided on the number of lines you’ll be playing, there are a few additional things that you’d need to bear in mind before you actually start.

Firstly, check the minimum number of aligned symbols you need in order to win, and whether the available matches include vertical and diagonal combinations, in addition to horizontal ones. These things vary between games, so always check before playing.

Secondly, check the cost for spinning each line, and calculate your best odds when it comes to investment and payout. The relationship between spinning cost and the number of lines doesn’t always increase proportionally, so you need to know what your best odds are.

Final Word

As soon as you’ve checked all this, and informed yourself about the basics, you’re ready to play! Find a slot machine – physical or online one – read the paytable properly and decide on the number of paylines you’ll be playing.

The rest is up to your luck!

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