Learn all about video slot machines and how they work

slot machines

If you thought that big feature bonuses were the only way to win large sums of money or jackpots, you would be wrong. With a network of over 15K video slots from more than 200 game providers, there are a variety of different reel mechanics that can pay out real cash prizes.

Not only do online casinos have a plethora of themes to choose from, but they also offer a variety of reel mechanics to keep players engaged. This is why software providers are always releasing new games for casino lobbies.

Moreover, casinos that work with multiple software providers are more likely to see a larger variety of slots with varying reel mechanics coming online. For instance,  Kansino hosts around 40 software providers. On average, each developer releases one game per month but some release 3 or 4 per month. That’s 500 new slots every year on average!

Pay Line Slots

In order for symbols to create a winning combination, they must be aligned on the same payline starting from reel 1 towards reel 2, 3, and 4. For example, if you want to win with three matching symbols, those symbols must appear on reels 1-2-3 in that exact order from left to right. If you want to win using four matching symbols, then those symbols would need to appear on reels 1-2-3-4 from left to right as well. 

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Recommended pay line slot: gonzo’s quest


There are several online slot types that you can choose from, including 243-ways, 720-ways, 1024-ways, 45,500-ways and up to 250,000-ways. They work similarly to pay line slots except there are no designated pay lines. For symbols to count as a win, they only need to be on adjacent reels.

For example, to create a combination, the first symbol must be on reel 1. Subsequent symbols must appear on adjacent reels running from left to right.

A 3-symbol combination on the pay line slots will have alike symbols on reels 1-2-3, and a 4-symbol combination on reel 1-2-3-4 that all run from left to right. The distinction is these symbols can be in any position in their particular reel.

In other words, if symbols that match appear on reels 1-2-4-5, then this does not constitute a win because there is no symbol on reel 3.

  • If you’re looking for a great slot game to play, we highly recommend Playtech’s Age of the Gods Glorious Griffin. With 4,096 ways-to-win and four progressive jackpots up for grabs, it’s no wonder this game is so popular!

Pay Both Ways

The pay-both-ways reel mechanic is offered on ‘Ways-to-win’ slots and ‘Pay Line’ slots. The main distinction is that wins can line up from either direction, ‘left to right’ or vice versa,  ‘right to left’.

The latter can start on reel 5, as opposed to the first symbol in a combination starting on reel 1. Consequently, if 3 symbols create a winning combination, they will be displayed across reels 5-4-3 or 1-2-3. If 4 symbols make a winning combination, they will run from right to left across reels 5-4-3-2 or 1-2-3-4.

  • Slot Recommendation: If you’re looking for some great slots to try that use the pays both ways feature, look no further than Mermaid’s Diamond by Play’n GO and Samba Carnival by the same software provider.
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Cluster Pays

Slots with this reel mechanic do not have paylines. Symbols can land on adjacent positions to create winning combinations known as cluster wins. Depending on the slot’s design, these clusters can form L-shapes, T-Shapes, Squares, Rectangles, and other shapes. It is worth noting that cluster pay slots are high action games; they are feature-rich and always come with cascading reels.

  • Slot Recommendation: Some of the most popular cluster pay slots games include Aztecons Chaos Clusters by Quickspin.

Vertical & Horizontal Pays

Slots that use the cluster wins mechanic are quite similar to traditional slots, with a few key differences. Most notably, symbols cannot simply combine on adjacent reels. Instead, they can connect horizontally, vertically, and even diagonally. This creates a whole new level of excitement for slot players!

  • Slot Recommendation: Three Juicy Slots to Try: 1. BetSoft’s Triple Juicy Drops 2.

There’s More to Video Slot Reel Mechanics Than Meets the Eye

In addition to the five popular reel mechanics mentioned above, there are many others worth trying. For example, the ‘Pay Anywhere’ mechanic used by Wazdan and Pragmatic Play’s EGR operators in Gates of Olympus, which won the ‘Game of the Year’ award. Furthermore, Infinity Reels (Yggdrasil) and Infini Reels (NetEnt) also have a number of great slots that feature an unlimited number of reels!

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