Slot machines have always been the simplest games at land-based casinos. Since they were first introduced, they have worked the same way for decades – players would put a coin, spin the reels and wait for matching symbols to appear on all three reels. The development of online casinos and digital games, however, gave gaming studios the opportunity to create new and innovative slots, adding more reels and paylines to the conventional slot mechanics.
One of the latest and most entertaining enhancement to modern video slots has been the so-called “all ways win” payout system. Also known as “win ways” or “243 lines” slots, these games replace the traditional paylines with an entirely new concept – every possible combination of three or more identical symbols across from the leftmost reel will win. This is a noticeable improvement from how slots have always paid out. The new system solves one of the most frustrating problems when playing – when the symbols you get simply do not fit the exact paylines of the game.
How All Ways Win Slots Work
1Paylines in Conventional Slots
The paylines in conventional video slots derive from the first slot machines where you had 3 reels and a row of symbols across the middle of them. This horizontal row became known as a payline and over the years, game developers just added more reels and lines in order to give players more chances to win – if players were willing to pay for them, of course. Machines paid only if three or more matching symbols appeared on one of these lines, starting from the leftmost reel.
The classic slots available online typically have 1, 3, 5 or 9 paylines, while more advanced games, usually referred to as video slots, feature 10, 15, 25, or even more fixed or configurable paylines. In these games, players can activate as many lines as they wish but their bet will be multiplied by the number of paylines they play with. If they want more chances to win and activate 25 lines, their $0.02 bet per single payline will become $0.50 – the cost of each round.
Moreover, the amount they win is determined by the bet they make on each line. If we use the same example, we bet $0.02 on a 25-line game and hit a win of 12 coins on one of the paylines. So, we will win a total of $0.24 (12 coins x single line bet of $0.02). As you can see, the more paylines we play with, the more we pay, and the more we can win.
2Combinations on Consecutive Reels
The concept of ways to win is, however, completely different. All ways win slots do not have any predetermined paylines and instead, they pay for every possible combination of 3 or more identical symbols that land on consecutive reels. Of course, the combination has to start from the leftmost reel but the exact position of the symbols is irrelevant. So, let us compare the two systems.
In a conventional 3-reel slot with 3 rows of symbols on each of them, we have 3 paylines – the horizontal line in the middle of the reels, as well as the two diagonal lines that can be formed. If the same game uses ways to win, however, things would be quite different. The number of possible ways to win will be 3x3x3 or 27 – significantly more than the lines in the regular slot game.
Another interesting aspect of these games is the amount we need to bet on each round. Since there are no paylines we can activate and the number of possible combinations is huge, the game charges us a flat rate for each spin. This rate is different for each game but usually, players are allowed to choose the coin denomination and the bet level. This way, they are able to cover all 27 ways to win without placing a bet on each of them.
Popular All Ways Win Formats
243 Ways to Win
1,024 Ways to Win
3,125 Ways to Win
Usually, all ways win slots have the phrase 243 Ways in their name. In fact, most video slots of this type have that exact number of ways to win. But why 243 exactly? Let us go back to the classic 3-reel slots – as we have established, they have 27 ways to win (3x3x3). If we have a game with only 2 reels, the possible combinations will be 9 (3×3). In a 4-reel slot with 3 positions on each reel, there will be 3x3x3x3 or 81 possible ways. As you can see, the logic and the math are quite simple.
However, most video slots today come with a 5×3 reel structure – this means 5 reels with 3 rows of symbols on each of them. Following the same pattern, we can calculate the number of possible ways to win – 3x3x3x3x3, which is exactly 243. In 243 ways to win slots, players are not required to bet on all 243 ways – this could be quite expensive and unappealing. Instead, they are offered to choose between several different bet levels where there is a fixed rate charged per round, and usually, it is between $0.10 and $0.50.
If we expand this to a 6-reel slot with 3 rows, we will have 3x3x3x3x3x3 or 729 ways to win. Such games are rare but they do exist, providing players with even more chances to hit a winning combination. There are also a handful of 720 ways to win games available right now but they do not come with the standard reel grid. The reels have a rhombus shape and we calculate the number of possible ways to win we use the equation 3*4*5*4*3, which is 720.View more...
How to Play All Ways Win Slots
1Adjust Your Bet
In terms of rules and gameplay, all ways win slots are not very different from games with standard paylines. What players should pay close attention to, however, is the cost of each round. Since there are no actual lines they can bet on, their wager is spread across all 243, 1,024 or more ways to win. In other words, the cost of each round is fixed and players are allowed to only change the coin denomination.
Some games also offer them to adjust the so-called “bet level”, which is basically the number of coins multiplied by the cost per round, which is predetermined. Correctly sizing your bet is very important to avoid spending too much on a single game round. These slots could be quite costly, often requiring minimum bets of $0.50 or even more.
Another important factor to consider before playing an all ways win slot is its volatility. These games usually have low to medium volatility, which means that they tend to bring frequent, yet smaller prizes compared to slots with conventional paylines. Of course, this does not apply to all slots of this type, which is why players should always check the paytables.
With low variance or low volatility slots, they would usually see lower payouts even for 4 and 5-symbol combinations. Let’s take two similarly looking slots by the same game provider – the first game has 30 paylines, while the second one features 243 ways to win. The mechanics and visuals of the two slots seem pretty similar but you will immediately notice that while the top payout in the standard game is 1,000 coins, it is only 150 coins in the game using the all ways win system. As a general rule, these games are not highly volatile and the real-life returns do not deviate dramatically from the theoretical RTP percentages.
The expected returns from these slots are not particularly high, nor are they lower than the payback of regular video slots. The RTP (return to player) is more or less the same as in games that use standard paylines. What players should know is that in most all ways win slots, they will be able to hit winning combinations quite frequently, even though these combos would not be paid too generously. After all, for many players, it is better to win more times than to win big after dozens of lost rounds.