Connecting Pay Lines to Cost
Many blackjack players don’t really grasp how things like deck density (six-deck shoe versus eight-deck) or the dealer’s action on soft 17 hands can affect their bottom line, so beginner blackjack strategy involves dissecting these minutiae.
Within the world of online slots, the prime factor for new players to wrap their mind around concerns the connection between payline count and cost per spin.
Before diving into that discussion, however, let’s run through a quick crash course on paylines.
As an online slot player, you’ll usually see games displayed using a particular format, often read as X-reels and Y-paylines. Some of us prefer turbocharged five-reel, 100-payline virtual slots that fill the game screen with action, while others enjoy the leisurely pace of a three-reel, single-payline holdover from the good old days.
In any event, online slots are now offered in a wide range of payline counts – from one to 100 and everywhere in between on standard games, and up to 1,024 paylines using special features like IGT’s Multiway Xtra system.
And while that spectrum presents players with a seemingly endless array of online slot options, that payline count is directly linked to how much you’ll be spending per spin.
Most players have heard of the “penny slots,” and while those machines manned by armies of grandparents at your local land-based casino might truly cost $0.01 to spin, that’s not always the case online.
Take one of those five-reel, 100-payline games. A quick check of the coin denominations shows the minimum stakes set to a penny, before climbing to a nickel, a dime, a quarter, and a dollar.
Theoretically, then, you could hop on the game and fire away while spending only one cent each time the reels whirl.
But truthfully, the game was designed to be played with all 100 paylines activated. Sure, you can toggle back in increments of 10, but doing so removes many of the most desirable in-game features, such as free spins and bonus rounds.
Even worse, with 100 paylines crisscrossing the screen, but only half of them activated, you’ll invariably land “winning” combinations that fail to pay because they fell along a dead payline.
For these reasons, smart slot strategy involves turning on all paylines whenever possible. Even at the penny stakes, doing so on the game in this example turns it into a $1 per spin experience ($0.01 x 100 paylines = $1 per spin).
That’s a huge gap, and one which can sink unsuspecting players who don’t bring enough money to survive the swings.
Imagine sitting down with $100 to work with, thinking you’ll have plenty of room to maneuver at the latest high-profile penny slot. After all, that’s enough to survive 10,000 spins.
But when you start the reels up, you quickly learn that the game is lackluster without all 100 paylines activated. Thus, you turn them on, only to find that your comfortable $100 bankroll is good enough for just 100 spins.
As we all know, losing streaks can and will happen, so it’s imperative to bring a sufficient bankroll to any online slot. And you can only do that properly when you fully understand the connection between a game’s payline count and its cost to cover per spin.