Pokies machines – or slot machines, as many other countries know them – have evolved tremendously throughout the last century. When they took on electronic programming, powered by sophisticated computer chips, manufacturers got the brilliant idea to create multi-line pokies.
What are multi-line pokies machines? Simply put, they are games with more than one payline. The classic 3 reels and fruit machines of old had only a single payline. Back then, winning symbols had to be lined up across the very middle of the screen in order to initiate a payout.
Today’s multi-line pokies can line up winning combinations on anywhere from three to more one thousands paylines per spin.
The Original Multi-Line Pokies
In the beginning, manufacturers started adding multiple paylines to the reels by allowing players to win on 5 lines, on a 3×3 or 5×3 reel grid. The winning combinations would have to be lined up straight across (left to right) on the first, second, or third line, or diagonally, top-left to bottom right, or bottom-left to top right. Players were required to insert one coin for each payline they wished to activate.
This gave birth to the idea of incorporating even more paylines. Some used 9, others 15, and eventually they grew to 20, 25 and even 40 paylines.
Manufacturers tried to incorporate higher numbers, but with little success. The screens became too jumbled, and players were scared away by the thought of paying so many coins for a single spin. That’s when they came up with…
Multi-Coin, Multi-Line Pokies Machines
To keep players interested, and willing to pay more per spin, manufacturers decided to keep the number of paylines relatively low, and add multi-coin options. Instead of paying 25 credits for a 25 payline pokies machine, a player could choose to play 2, 3, 4 or even 5 coins per payline.
Thus a penny machine that would normally cost $0.25 to play all 25 paylines, could now take in $1.25 per spin. Of course, the player would have to choose to pay 5 pennies per line.
Why would they do such a thing? Pokies makers had a solution for that too. What better way to encourage them to bet more than by offering much higher prizes only to players who ‘bet max coins’?
These multi-coin, multi-line games often carry a jackpot, or even better, a progressive jackpot prize. But the only way a player has access to that prize is betting the full amount of coins on all paylines.
‘Ways To Win’ Multi-Line Pokies
Finally, an online pokies company, Microgaming, took the multi-line concept to ultimate heights by introducing ‘Ways to Win‘ pokies machines. These games didn’t use traditional paylines. Instead, they offered 243 ways to win (equivalent to 243 paylines), without making players pay for each line.
If a player bets $1, then the amount they win is based on the quotient of $1, relative to 243 paylines ($1.00 / 243 = 0.004115). So the value of every winning combination is about $0.0042 x number of credits won. That’s less than half a cent. Seems impossible, right? But with so many ways to win, players often hit numerous payouts on each spin.
For example, if a player bets $1, and lines up winning combinations on 17 lines, each paying an average of 5 credits… we multiply 5 x 0.0042 = 0.021 x 17 = 0.357. So the player would win $0.36 on that spin.
That is, of course, less than the player wagered, totaling a loss of $0.64. But as pokies manufacturers and casinos found out long ago, giving the player a sense of winning, when they’re actually losing, is the easiest way to keep them playing. Which explains why some ‘Ways to Win‘ pokies offer well over 1,000 ways to win (i.e. every possible payline combination, left to right, right to left, and sometimes even bottom to top/top to bottom.)