LeoVegas Complete Guide to Slot Paylines

Guide to Slot Paylines

Slot machines and video slots are some of the most popular casino games across online and land-based casinos. And one of the most critical aspects of these games is paylines. If you want to hone your video slot expertise, you’ll need to know all about them and how best to use them.

The Basics of Slot Paylines

Whether you’re spinning through your favourite online video slot or hitting the slot machines at your local brick-and-mortar casino, slot paylines are fundamental elements to these games. In essence, a payline refers to the line symbols needed to align on for you to bag a winning prize. It’s ultimately how slot machines and video slots determine wins.

Traditional slots have a single line to calculate wins that generally runs horizontally across the middle row of the reels. On these games, you need to land a combination of symbols on this one payline, as specified in the game’s pay table. While it’s an incredibly simple concept to understand, it is also pretty limited.

That’s where multi-line video slots step in. Modern video slots come with multiple paylines that take on all kinds of patterns using straight and diagonal lines and even zig-zags that cross through all the slot’s reels. You bet on multiple lines simultaneously, and in doing so, increase your chances of landing a winning combination. The rewards here are more diverse and frequent, making the game all the more interesting to play.

How Paylines Work

Paylines are the core of slot machines and video slots. They decide how and when you score a winning spin, based on the matching symbols you land across them. But exactly how do slot paylines work?

Picture a traditional slot machine grid. It consists of three reels and a single horizontal payline that runs across the middle row. If you land identical symbols across all three reels on that single payline, you win. The particular payout you get is determined by the symbols themselves, which have different prizes according to the game’s pay table. Special symbols and Wilds tend to feature the biggest payouts.

When it comes to modern video slots, that basic concept is significantly expanded. You get several paylines on the grid. Some zig-zag, others crisscross and loop around the reels, and many run diagonally, horizontally and vertically. The more paylines there are, the better your chances of landing a win. In most cases, you can choose how many paylines you wish to bet on and your selection will be taken into consideration once you start spinning the reels.

For many games, it’s a five reel and three row grid. Paylines connect specific positions across the reels and can get very creative in doing so. Some will simply cut across from one side to another, while others go up and down on each new reel, covering as much ground as possible. Once the reels stop spinning on any given round and the symbols settle into place, if they happen to form a winning payline, you win the respective reward.

A lot of video slots come with fixed paylines. A fixed payline means you’ll be betting on all available lines during every spin. Other games offer more flexibility, allowing you to pick your paylines on each round. This may become a personal choice in the end!

Different Types of Paylines

Single Payline Slots

The most traditional type of payline is a single payline slot. These slot games have been around since the earliest slot machines were launched and are based on a simple concept - land identical symbols on the payline to win. Their biggest advantage is their simplicity, which makes them ideal for beginners who are looking for a straightforward experience. Simplicity however, is a double-edged sword, and it ultimately proves to be these games’ biggest setback. A single payline limits creativity and winning possibilities, so games are potentially less engaging and rewarding. Still, some of the most celebrated slots of all time have had a single payline, including the likes of Mega Joker and Double Diamond. Although they lack the finesse and complexity of modern slots, they bring lots of charm and nostalgia to the table.

Multi-Payline Slots

Multi-payline slots revolutionised the slot experience by adding more dimension. Rather than having one payline determine every single win, multi-payline slots feature several lines. This adds more winning opportunities using exciting patterns compared to simpler single-line games.

Playing a multi-payline slot, you’ll come across diagonals, zigzags and all kinds of unconventional shapes that cross the reels to create winning lines. Popular video slot providers like NetEnt and Microgaming have given us some of the most memorable multi-payline slot experiences over the years, including iconic titles like Immortal Romance and Gonzo’s Quest.

Fixed vs. Variable Paylines

In a fixed payline slot, all lines on the reels are always active and cannot be adjusted. So, whenever you place a wager, you’re automatically betting on all of the game’s lines. With variable paylines, you can pick the lines you wish to activate or deactivate on any given spin.

Fixed paylines offer simplicity and make sure you never miss out on any winning combinations, but they also limit customisation – forcing you to play in one set way. On the other hand, variable paylines give you more control over your bets, allowing you to customise your wagering strategy. The downside is that you can miss out on potential winning paylines and the system can be a bit more complicated for beginners. It’s ultimately a personal decision on which payline slot games you prefer to play.


Multi-line paylines may have revolutionised video slots back in the day, but Megaways pushed them to a whole new level. Unlike fixed paylines, Megaways come with dynamic and ever-changing ways to win on every new spin. The mechanic was developed by Big Time Gaming and it introduces a variable number of symbols on each reel, leading to different ways to win on every spin.

Megaways adds another layer of unpredictability, where you can have a couple of hundred paylines on one round, and hundreds of thousands on the next. It has quickly become a favourite among providers and players, which has prompted both the release of new Megaways games and the reworking of old classics to incorporate this popular, engaging mechanic.

Cluster Pays

Cluster Pays discards the idea of lines completely and takes an altogether different approach. Here, you are rewarded for forming clusters of matching symbols. For most Cluster Pay games, the symbols need to ‘cluster’ and be adjacent to one another. The larger the cluster, the bigger the payout. It’s a refreshing departure from the usual system and loads of fantastic slots out there, including Sweet Bonanza have put the concept to good use.

Volatility and Paylines

Volatility is another crucial aspect of video slots. It refers to the risk and reward level associated with a particular game and influences the frequency and size of payouts. A high level of volatility comes with larger, albeit less frequent wins. Slots with a lower volatility rating frequently reward players, but on average, the prizes are much smaller.

Paylines ultimately affect volatility because they decide a game’s potential for wins. When looking at highly volatile slots, more paylines can lead to infrequent, yet substantial payouts. Playing in low volatility games, spreading bets across many paylines can produce a steadier flow of smaller wins. Pick your paylines wisely, based on the game you’re playing to get the particular experience you prefer in your gaming session.

Slot Paylines FAQs

What exactly is a slot payline?

A slot payline is a line that determines a win within a video slot. You must land identical symbols on a payline to get a win.

Do more paylines always lead to more wins?

Not necessarily. In most cases, more paylines offer up more chances of success, but this is also determined by the slot’s volatility.

How do I choose the right payline configuration?

It’s up to you to decide how many paylines you’d like to have in play. When in doubt, play across all paylines for the chance to hit all possible wins.

Can I change the number of active paylines during gameplay?

When playing a game with variable paylines, you can change the number of active paylines on each spin. Fixed payline slots however, cannot be adjusted.

Is there a connection between paylines and bonus features?

In some cases, bonus features can increase paylines but this purely depends on the rules of each particular game.

Are my odds of winning better with specific payline arrangements?

Slots are ultimately a game of chance, so there’s no specific strategy to follow. In some cases, setting the right paylines can increase your chances of success simply by their nature of providing more winning opportunities.

How does the volatility of a slot game impact paylines?

Volatility can impact the frequency of payline wins, depending on how high or low the setting is.

Should I always bet on all paylines?

Not necessarily. But if you’re unsure and don’t want to leave any winning opportunities out of the game, then you should bet on all paylines.

Can I win a progressive jackpot through any payline?

This largely depends on the game in question, but most progressive jackpots aren’t triggered with a particular payline.