Paylines vs Ways to Win in Slot Machine - Which One Should I Play?

Slot machines have come a long way from the time they were called “Fruit Machines”. The traditional game had a single payline system on a 3 reels x 3 rows grid back then. Fast forward to today, and modern slot machines at online casinos can have anywhere from 5 to 50 paylines, with some even reaching 100. Some games have the “ways to win” feature, an alternative to the paylines system used by many new game developers. In this article we continue to dig deeper into online slots and will answer the question how important paylines really are. 

While all types of slots are available around the world, there are distinct national preferences. 5 reel slots with a distinct theme, such as ancient or biblical themed slots, are very popular in the United States and Canada, but the Thai casino player appears to be less interested in the theme of the game and more focused on the number of paylines. All of the online slots favored by ThaicasinoCenter have between 30 and 100 paylines. It makes us wonder what paylines are, and what they contribute to the gaming experience. Is it true that more paylines are better or is it just a matter of preference?

What are PayLines in Slot Machines?

Slots' paylines are the preset patterns that run across the reels of a slot machine that, when matching symbols manage to land on them, in the proper formation, will trigger payouts. Each slot game features its paylines, which are usually available on the paytable. As mentioned earlier, the number of paylines in slot machines usually ranges from as little as 5 to as much as 50 lines, though, some slot titles feature up to 100 lines.  Paylines on slot games can come in two forms - fixed paylines, or configurable paylines. The fixed paylines have a total number of paylines that are fixed and always in play during every spin. Here, players have no other option than to use the entire paylines featured in the game, and this will influence the total bet size per spin. While the configurable paylines allow players to make any adjustments that they want to the number of lines active during gameplay. What this means is that players can effectively choose the total number of paylines they want active during the gameplay. This feature can be useful in reducing the bet size per spin.

Most slot payline mechanics usually run adjacently, across its reels from the first reels on the left towards the last reel to the right. However, some interesting titles feature both-ways-win payline mechanics, meaning that whether winning combinations form from the leftmost reel or the rightmost reel, the slot will payout to players.

Ways to Win Feature

One of the biggest problems that most slot enthusiasts have with the paylines mechanics is that players will often see matching symbols appearing across the reels that won't pay because they are not on the predetermined paylines for the slot or maybe the player chose to deactivate the payline to save money.

The ways to win mechanics do not have these shortcomings. When you are playing on a slot with the ways to win system, you will earn a win as long as matching symbols land on adjacent reels from the leftmost reel to the right. It doesn’t feature any line that matching symbols must land on before winning combinations triggers. Interestingly some video slots that use these mechanics even pay both ways - left to right and right to left. The number of ways to win for each slot machine fully depends on the number of reels and rows present in the slot machine. The most common one is the 243 ways to win that works on the frequently used 5x3 layout grid. Naturally, the higher the number of reels and rows on a slot machine the higher the number of ways to win it can feature. You will usually find 1,024 ways to win on a 5×4 grid, and more in some modern slots.

Main difference between Paylines and Ways to Win

One thing that differentiates the payline system from the ways to win systems is the payouts that both systems offer. Having more ways to land winning combinations, it is not surprising that many ways to win slot machines feature smaller payouts compared to paylines machines.

The ways to win slot mechanics have different synonyms that many slot enthusiasts in different circles use to refer to it, including, any way pay, all ways pay, multiway, betways, winning ways, etc. So, don’t get confused if you come across any. They mean the same thing.

Which Should I Play?

It is not easy making a choice on which system to use - paylines or ways to win. Each system has its advantages and disadvantages. Ultimately, it comes down to strategy, expectation, and most importantly gaming budget. If you have a bigger budget you can as well go for bigger payouts offered on slots with paylines, but if you have less cash, you can give on ways to win machines. Of course, the best method of knowing why one suits your taste is by trying out both types to explore the benefits of each of them.

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Last Updated: Mar 29, 2021