April 14, 2021

Paylines vs Ways-to-Win

Kwabena Ofori
Written byKwabena OforiWriter
Researched byPriya PatelResearcher

If you’re reading this article, the chances are that you’re puzzled by multiple video slot terms, including the common paylines vs ways-to-win comparison. In the past, traditional slot machines featured only one single payline. Essentially, this means players either win or lose. Nowadays, though, you can get as high as 40 paylines. So, this article will clear up some confusion about these popular video slot mechanics.

Paylines vs Ways-to-Win

What is a slot machine payline?

When talking about slot machine paylines, think about the one-armed bandit 3-reelers featuring only a single payline. A payline is the line where winning combinations will land on the reels. In the old-school slot machines, players won by lining up matching symbols horizontally on the reels. However, today, players enjoy tens of paylines, stretching horizontally, diagonally, vertically, you name it!

For example, the all-time popular Mega Moolah is a 5-reel by 25-payline video slot. In this case, players have up to 25 varying ways to line up a winning combination. It’s also important to remember that you can land matching symbols on multiple paylines concurrently. This can be valuable when playing games such as Starburst.

What is a slot machine ways-to-win?

In the standard payline format, there can only be specific winning lines in one slot. However, the ways-to-win mechanic does away with this limitation. With this feature, players only create a winning combination after landing multiple similar symbols on adjacent reels. In other words, the position the symbols land on is irrelevant. In return, ways-to-win offers plenty more winning combinations than paylines.

An excellent example of ways-to-win slot machines is MEGAWAYS, which offers more than 500,000 ways-to-win. Unlike regular online casino slot machines with a specific number of symbols on each real, MEGAWAYS’s symbol numbers indicate on the reels and change with new spins. The Mystery Reels slot features a massive 117,649 ways-to-win with just six reels.

How to differentiate the two pay mechanics

For starters, paylines are just paylines, whereas ways-to-win can have multiple synonyms. Therefore, don’t be surprised when you come across the term winning ways or betways because they all mean the same.

On a more serious note, paylines have smaller numbers and come in tiny groups. That can be as low as 3 and up to 40, in some cases. Any payline above 40 is a way-to-win. The standard 5x3 reel design typically features 243 ways-to-win. If you’re playing in a 5x4 framework, expect 1,024 ways-to-win. Meanwhile, the most uncommon 6x4 grid boasts a massive 4,096 ways-to-win.

Payline vs ways-to-win: which is best?

Up to this juncture, it’s evident that the most visible difference is the quantity. Usually, paylines can’t go beyond 40 combinations. But for ways-to-win, the amount is next to infinite. Some online casino game developers, like Big Time Gaming, have even designed innovative features to take the amount even further. Their video slots allow up to 117,649 ways-to-win.

But when playing at online casinos, always remember that wins are random. In other words, the paylines or the betways won’t boost your odds against the house edge. Also, the slot volatility and the RTP (Return to Player) determine the amount you can win. All in all, it depends on your preference, although winning ways will give you more winning combos.


Online slots are constantly innovating and evolving. Some video slots combine the feel of the cluster pay and ways-to-win to boost your winning chances. For instance, the “Tumble feature” on Sweet Bonanza will give you a win after landing more than eight identical symbols on the reels. To conclude, the online gambling industry is yet to see the last of varying win types.

About the author
Kwabena Ofori
Kwabena Ofori

Kwabena is a dynamic digital aficionado, adept at fine-tuning and localizing online casino guides tailored for Ghana's vibrant gaming community. With a perfect blend of cultural understanding and tech-savviness, he is reshaping how Ghanaians navigate the online casino landscape.

Send mail
More posts by Kwabena Ofori
undefined is not available in your country. Please try:

Latest news

GambleAware's Financial Windfall: A Deep Dive into the £49.5 Million Donation and Its Implications for UK Gambling Laws

GambleAware's Financial Windfall: A Deep Dive into the £49.5 Million Donation and Its Implications for UK Gambling Laws