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What are Pay Tables?

Every slot machine or slot game has a paytable. It is good practice to look at the paytable before you play a real money slot. The paytable provides all of the information you need to understand how the slot works, and knowing how it works can help you strategize and improve your chances of winning. It helps to know what symbols to cheer for when spinning the reels!

The information in a paytable is vital to players as it helps you understand how the game works, how it awards wins and how to play the game to enhance your odds of winning. By ignoring the paytable information, you will almost certainly lower your chances of winning by merely making uninformed decisions during gameplay.

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Where to find Slot Machine Pay Tables

The old mechanical slot machines were simple and straightforward, if you matched three symbols on the payline, you would win the corresponding amount displayed on the table. As the games advanced, the makers added Wild symbols and bonus features, but payouts remained easy to understand. These older or simpler machines often had the paytable printed onto the face of the machine near the reels.

Newer and video slot games often have many more reels and a large number of pay lines, so the pay tables can be lengthy, even complex. These longer paytables explain the set of rules that govern how the game plays out. You can access these paytables at will by pressing a button on the main screen, or an icon close to the bottom of the game screen that will then display the paytable.

Pay Table in Santa Wild Ride Slot

Pay Table as shown in Santa Wild Ride Slot

What Information is in a Pay Table?

Paytables are generally easy to understand even though they vary considerably from one game to another. This variation is a result of games having different designs and features, but nearly all paytables feature the same basic information:

  • The top of the paytable, or the first page if it is a long one, usually displays all the winning combinations of symbols along with coin amounts that you will win when they land on the reels.
  • The paytable also tells you which symbols are wild and which are scatter symbols, as well as explains how these special symbols function in the main and bonus games.
  • If the game has bonus games, free spins or other extra features, the paytable will tell you what combinations of special symbols will launch them.
  • The paytable will indicate the minimum and maximum prizes in bonus rounds and how they work.
  • In a game that features a progressive jackpot, you will find information about how to play for it on the paytable. If you are required to play all the pay-lines on the slot to be eligible for the progressive jackpot, this is information will be worth knowing before you start playing, and is also on the paytable.
  • With video and online slots, some developers make their paytables adjustable. The paytable can show the coin payouts or show these in actual cash. As you change the coin bets on the screen, the paytable will adjust the payout information accordingly.
  • In multi-pay-line slots with many pay lines, the paytable displays the various winning lines, all numbered, so you can see the lines and patterns on which to land the symbols.
  • When you look at the payouts listed in the paytable, you'll see how much you can win for hitting 3-5 symbols on a single line and this is a good indicator of how volatile a slot is. A highly volatile slot pays large, even massive prizes, but pays less frequently. A less volatile slot pays smaller prizes more often. A rule of thumb is to look at the size of the minimum jackpot. If the highest-paying symbol awards a few hundred coins for five in a row, it's likely to be friendly (low volatility). A slot that has jackpots in thousands of coins could be highly volatile.
  • Some pay tables tell you what the expected return to player (RTP) percentage of the game is so that you have an idea of your chances of winning.

Helpful Tip!

Complex games have paytables that run across multiple tabs, screens or pages. With these longer paytables, make sure you check through every page to get all the information.

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Senior Editor Gayle Mitchell

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Gayle Mitchell is the leading female expert on casino gambling and has written extensively, presented seminars and was editor of four gaming newsletters. She is the author of seven books, 12 Ebooks, and five Tips booklets. Online since 1999, Mitchell has owned and operated 4 gaming websites. Her writing and teaching style is targeted at educating novice and passionate casino players.

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** This page was previously maintained by a staff writer up until 26 February 2021