Slots have definitely come a long way since the standard “three reels one payline” machines. In fact, nowadays you’ll find slot games with hundreds of thousands of possibilities to win, - be it slots paylines or other mechanics. But what is the actual difference between slot paylines and ways-to-win? Which type is better than the other? And what exactly are cluster pays?
Not to worry, we’re here to clear up all the confusion so that you can better understand the slots you’re playing. Read on to find out more about the win mechanics in slots!
The paylines mechanic is the original ‘way to win’ when talking about slot machines. Think of the old school mechanical slot machines with three reels and a single payline. Getting three identical slot symbols to line up horizontally in the middle of the reels was how you won. Today, you will be able to find video slots offering hundreds of paylines, stretching vertically, diagonally, horizontally and in all kinds of patterns along the reels.
The idea behind slot paylines has remained the same nonetheless. In order for a win to occur, the same symbol needs to appear on adjacent reels on one of those paylines, starting from the leftmost reel. Take Mega Moolah, for instance, a popular slot that has 5 reels and 25 paylines - meaning that you have 25 different ways that symbols can align in order to trigger a win.
And let’s not forget that you’ve also got the opportunity to stack up matching symbols on several, multiple paylines all at the same time in multi line slots.
Although the standard payline format has the potential to conjure up some massive wins, there can only be so many pay lines in one slot. The Ways-to-Win mechanic, on the other hand, has completely made away with this limitation.
A winning combination on a Ways-to-Win slot machine happens when you land winning combination falls several identical symbols on adjacent reels. The position they land on, therefore, becomes irrelevant. This makes for a lot more winning combinations, with the most common Ways-to-Win slots today offering 243 ways-to-win.
MEGAWAYS slots take this mechanic one step further. MEGAWAYS are unique slots that have soared in popularity due to their possibility to offer up to 500,000+ ways-to-win!
So, how do they work? Regular slots have a set number of symbols showing on each reel, however, with MEGAWAYS the number of symbols showing per reel might change with every new spin, meaning the number of ways in which you can win during each spin will change. One example of a MEGAWAYS game is Machina MEGAWAYS slot offers 6 reels and winning symbol combinations with up to 46,656 ways-to-win.
Can you imagine a slot where there are no paylines or ways-to-win? “Reactor” slots work either over reels or on a grid, where a betting line to win occurs when there’s a so-called “cluster" in sight. Therefore, when there’s a pre-defined number of the same symbol in view.
One of the very first reactor slots to be released was Jammin’ Jars, cash wins are delivered from clusters of 5 to 25 symbols.
Online slots are always evolving, and one video online slot game that has combined the feel of ways-to-win with the cluster pay feature is Sweet Bonanza. The “Tumble feature” in this game counts 8 or more identical symbols as a win, no matter where they are on the reels, clustered or not!
It’s safe to say that there are a lot of exciting new win-types around and we’re excited to see what will be introduced next!
The deciding factor for how often and how much you win is normally a combination of the RTP (Return To Player) and the volatility of the slot. This means that you should choose a slot with a win-type that is comfortable and fun for you. Maybe you don’t really want too much going on and would rather focus on seeing your winnings appear on a few paylines, or maybe you love the thrill of not knowing if your next spin will generate 20 or 200,000 ways-to-win.
Always keep in mind that wins are randomly generated, and no slot payline or cluster play slots will ever give you an ‘advantage’ over that.
So, now that you know more about what goes on behind the scenes, it’s probably a good time to test your new-found knowledge. Lucky for you, there’s an abundance of great casino games here to play at LeoVegas! We picked up some of the best online slot machines based on the number of paylines.
These slot machines are close to classic slots and usually have only one winning line and one payline.
Wacky Panda 3 reels and one simple payline are all the rage in this slot by Microgaming.
888 Dragons 3 reels make up this hugely satisfying slot by Pragmatic Play.
Multi line slot machines are modern slots that have more than one fixed payline slots each.
Book of Dead This slot by Play'n GO is written over 5 reels and 10 paylines.
Wolf Gold Hunt alongside your wolf pack across 5 reels and 25 paylines in this wild slot game by Pragmatic Play.
Sweet Bonanza is a little bit unusual as a cluster pays slot. While it does use groups of symbols instead of paylines, symbols don't need to be touching each other to count as cluster fixed paylines slots. In order to land a win, you’ll need to see at least eight of any single symbol anywhere on the board.
Cluster Tumble is easily one of the most cinematic and action-packed slots out of slot games out there. The game is played on an 8 x 8 grid, although most of the board is closed off to start with. Every win blasts open the closed spaces next to it and symbols cascade down.
Reactoonz a popular cluster pays slot machine games along with the number of special powers that appear in the base game. Behind the light and cartoony appearance is a full load up of powers including extra Wilds, symbols that transform scatter symbols into higher-value ones, low-value symbols getting wiped from the board, and more.
Temple Tumble MEGAWAYS: The Cambodian jungle is calling in this Relax slot with up to 46,656 ways-to-win! Look out for destroying all the stone blocks in the base game to trigger 6 Free Spins. 3 Free Spins modes are available - with multipliers, extra spins, or both.
Temple of Treasure MEGAWAYS: Find out what's in for you in this slot about the Aztec civilization! Watch out for 4 Scatters for the bonus round where you select your preferred number of free spins and ways-to-win and the option to buy the bonus feature directly in the game!
Medallion MEGAWAYS: Reach for the stars in this mystical Fantasma, slot machine game featuring cascading reels, expanding wilds, Free Spins, and the Void Respin feature. With up to 46,656 ways-to-win and wins of up to 23,360x your bet, you’ll be over the moon!
Most multi payline slot games feature a 5x3 configuration, which means they have five reels and three rows.
However, modern online slots, which are run by computer systems and random number generators, feature more than one payline and can actually have up to variable paylines up to 100 or more paylines, offering up many more ways to win.
Wild Symbols can increase the chances of winning by filling in for missing symbols in a payline. For example, if you have four identical symbols and a wild in a five-reel play, the wild will complete the winning combination since it can take shape into the same sign as the other four symbols.
There is no evidence to suggest that payline selection can influence the chances of winning a progressive jackpot. Progressive jackpots are triggered randomly, and the odds of winning are the same regardless of the payline selected.
Bonus features in slot machines are separate from paylines, but they can affect the chances of winning and the payouts. Bonus features are additional games or rounds that are triggered by specific symbols or combinations of the same symbols used, such as scatter symbols, wild symbols, jackpot symbols, multiplier symbols, progressive jackpots, free spins rounds, and more.
Most online slots have around 20-30 paylines. However, the number of paylines can vary widely, with some slots offering as few as classic slots with one payline and others offering as many as 243 or 1,024 paylines.
Usually, you can find information about paylines in the game description.
Read more about slot mechanics in our guides: