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Why Should You Read a Slot Machine’s Pay Tables?

Super Spin Sizzling 7 by IGT pay table
Written by Joshua

The image of a slot machine in many minds remains a simple machine where you place a bet, pull the handle and see if you win or not. And for the most part, that’s basically what is going on.

But even decades ago, there were a variety of scenarios that were created by manufacturers that, if you weren’t paying attention, could cost you as a player, to the benefit of the casino.

So today, let’s take a look at why it’s important to read the pay table on a slot machine.

You Understand What is Going On

Every slot machine has one or more goals in mind. This can include, but is not limited to:

  • Massive line hits
  • Scatter pays
  • Free spins bonus
  • Other sorts of bonuses
  • Hold and respin features

Knowing what you’re aiming for is sort of a step one. On most slots you can start to figure it out based on the size of the symbols, the various sounds that are being made and so on. The game may also message the key things to watch for near the reels as part of its education during game play, which is a pretty common feature.

But if you’re new to a game, a pay table read can quickly give you an understanding of what’s happening.

You Don’t Miss Out on Pays

A percentage of slot machines on the casino floor require players to play max bet to get access to all the pays (Quick Hit games are a pretty common example). Some require a minimum bet to access a top progressive, like Monopoly Money Grab.

Games will sometimes, but not always, message when you need to bet max to get access to everything. The pay table used as the hero image for this article shows a more complex scenario on Super Spin Sizzling 7 where a fourth reel’s features are unlocked but only on a three-credit bet.

I recently was shared the story where a player was playing one credit per line on a game that had an enhanced bonus on two credits per line – fortunately they upped their bet, got the bonus, and won a significant amount more than they would have if they had not noticed it.

Some Slots Have More Complex Bets

Some games have two tiers of betting options, and it’s quite easy to miss it at a glance if you’re unfamiliar with a game, as many modern games have you focus on the bottom row of bets without looking at the top row of options.

The earlier Mighty Cash and Dancing Drums games are great examples of this; a more recent example is the Rising Jackpots series of games from Aristocrat, which introduces their own version of the gold symbol betting format.

The pay table will help explain what the various bets unlock, so you can decide how you want to play the game.

You Know What Feature/Side Bets Exist

Some games have a side bet that let you basically wager on an additional feature. Konami is particularly prolific with this, such as Jackpot Streams and Treasure Ball games.

The WMS style of game to have a more/better bet continues to proliferate, including games like Zeus Power Link where you can bet $1 for a 2x line bet or $1.50 for a 2x line bet with upgraded features. Interestingly on some newer games there’s not two rows of bet options anymore – it’s all one continuous row, so it looks like you’re stepping up to x3 but you’re really activating a more/better bet.

Sometimes the bet panel is clear about this; sometimes it’s not. On games like the original Flintstones and Monsters Return, the more/better bet activator isn’t as obvious and you could miss whether it’s activated or not. So it helps to know what’s available.

Knowing Your Slots Makes You More Aware

The pay table may only take a minute to scan, but the end result will be a much more comfortable understanding of what a game is doing for you. A little time investment upfront can help you be more aware of what’s happening when you push that button.

About the author


My name is Joshua, and I’m a slot enthusiast who works in tech as a marketer by day, and dabbles in casinos periodically during off-times. Know Your Slots will reflect my interests in understanding the various ways you can play slots, travel, casino promotions and how you can get the most out of your casino visits.

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