Are All Ways slots better or worse than traditional payline slot machines?
For nearly a century, paylines were the king of the casino’s slot gaming world. The very first slot machines had a single payline, requiring players to line up specific symbols across the center of the reels. It didn’t take manufacturers long to incorporate multiple paylines, developing 3-reel games paying out on patterns that mimicked a tic-tac-toe board.
5 reel video slots opened a whole new can of payline worms. For decades, slots makers launched thousands of games with anywhere from 9 to 40 pay-lines, some scaling up to 50 or even 100.
Players loved the idea of having so many ways to win, but payline slot machines all had one thing in common. Every payline had to be activated by inserting another coin. That got awfully expensive, and discouraged manufacturers from unleashing too many high-line machines onto the casino floors.
In the meantime, they sought to find a way to attract players by delivering a plethora of lines, minus the higher cost to play. What they came up with are what we know today as ‘Ways to Win‘, and ‘All Ways‘ slots.
243 Ways to Win Slots
The first to arrive was the 243 Ways to Win slot machine. If you’ve ever played Microgaming‘s online slots, you’ve probably experienced some of these before. They look like a standard 5×3 reel slot machine. Instead of using paylines, though, they pay every possible winning combination starting from the left-most reel, and running across to the right.
All Ways Slots
All Ways slot machines are a bit different. These games pay every possible way, left to right, and right to left. All ways slots can have anywhere from 720 ways to win, scaling up into the thousands, depending on the number of positions on the reels.
Are Ways Better Than Paylines?
In one regard, these newer slot machines are better than traditional payline slots. As you might expect, they do land winning combinations at a much higher rate. An all ways slot machine is likely to deliver some type of payout on almost every spin, making them much more exciting to play.
Then again, manufacturers and the casinos that employ their games would never install a device that’s going to pay out more than it takes in. In order to keep the slots raking in wins for the casino, developers did the only thing they could do. They decreased the value of winning combinations to a mere fraction of what payline slots award.
It is all-too common for a game that pays all ways to strike 5 or more winning combinations all at once, but still deliver a payout that is far less than the total bet. In fact, on a $0.40 spin, the most common winning combinations will only pay $0.02 each. In effect, they give players the exhilaration of a win, when most of the time, the player has actually lost more than they wagered.
This doesn’t make them bad games, though. The truth is, one variety is really no better than the other. Ways-to-win and all ways slots still enforce a similar house edge. They average about 90% in land-based casinos, and 97% at online casinos. The volatility (win frequency versus win amount) may vary, but the long-term payouts will not.