5-Line Slots

For many years, 5-line slots were the norm in the online casino world. However, with many games now offering dozens, hundreds, even thousands of lines, why might you consider playing 5-line slots today? Let us find out...

Online slots have been around for over twenty-five years. Many of the first online video slots (games with multiple paylines and special features) delivered five paylines. While the typical 5-line slot machine has sort of fallen out of fashion in the last decade or so, many of them still exist, and newer ones are still being produced.

At a time when you can play slots with hundreds of thousands of paylines, you might scratch your head wondering why anybody would choose to play with just five lines. However, these games are naturally cheaper, often have fair and decent prizes, and typically come with fewer symbols, making them easier to land wins on, even if the number of paylines is reduced.

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What Are 5-Line Slots?

Of course, the defining characteristic of 5-line slot games is that they all feature five paylines. However, while single-line slots are quintessentially classic slots and fruit machines, and 243 ways to win slots are always video slot games, 5-line slots can be both. It is possible to find classic slots and fruit machines (played over three reels with virtually no special features) with five paylines spanning them. It is also possible to find games that are jam-packed with goodies over their five reels also carry just five paylines.

One of the perks of playing five-line slots is that they are extremely easy for new slot players to get to grips with. You do not really need any experience to play them. As there are only five lines, they make for the ideal introduction to paylines and how they work when playing slot games.

Moreover, a five-line slot will typically allow you to adjust the number of lines you play with.

In most five-line slots, the same payline configuration is used. Three of the paylines will run horizontally across the reels from left to right. A fourth payline will run diagonally from the uppermost spot of the first reel, the lowest position on the fifth reel. The final payline typically stretches from the bottom of the first reel, diagonally up to the top right-hand spot on the fifth and final reel. While it is possible for some five-line slots to alter this setup, most do not. This means that you should not be surprised by what you find in most five-line slots.

How Does Having 5-Lines Affect RTP, Volatility and Hit Frequency?

The number of paylines in slots may (or may not) impact some of the features of a game. You can see how this works by playing 5-line slots for free online. Alternatively, you can read up about some of the changes involved below.

  • RTP: RTP (Return to Player) tells slot players how much of each stake will be made available for players to win. RTP is the opposite side of a coin that also includes the house edge (the amount of each bet the casino keeps). Generally speaking, the number of paylines does not impact the RTP rate in games, with that figure determined by the software provider outright.
  • Volatility: Many five-line slots are typically low variance games and not highly volatile at all. This means that the RNGs (random number generators) are designed to facilitate frequent wins, even if there are only five active lines. The downside to this is that wins tend to be quite petite.
  • Hit Frequency: The hit frequency can also be known as the win rate. This is determined by the software provider, with the number of playable lines having little to do with it. Moreover, you cannot often find information about hit frequency rates easily, as software providers tend to keep quiet about them. You should not need to be worried about hit frequencies in five-line slots as most are low variance games, so wins tend to come thick and fast.

The Pros and Cons of 5-Line Slots

Every payline configuration has pros and cons. It is up to you to weigh up how beneficial five-line slots are in comparison to how you want to play. To help you understand the advantages and disadvantages of 5-line slots, we have detailed some of those below.


  • Most five-line slot machines will permit you to alter the number of lines you wish to play with. This can make a game even cheaper than usual. Bear in mind, though, that five lines is really the minimum number you want to win decent prizes in a slot, so adjusting them is not really advised.
  • Because there are only five lines, you are hardly going to break the bank gambling. If the coin denominations are low, and you can wager just a single coin per line, you could be looking at stakes costing as little as $0.05 per spin, with all five lines active.
  • Five-line slots are not limited to being either a video slot or a classic slot/fruit machine. There are not many payline configurations that appear in both types of slots, but five-line options are one of them. This gives you a choice between playing two quite different types of slots over five lines.
  • Slots with five paylines are handy for first-time slot players. If you do not want to get bogged down in terminology and need a learning curve to help you learn the ropes of slot gameplay, playing five-line slots is ideal. There is not much to get used to, and stakes are not expensive. This gives you time to practice and see how things work without risking too much money.


  • Five-line slots, in a word, outdated. This is an older payline mechanic that is not commonly used anymore. A few software providers still develop new five-line games, but these are few and far between.
  • While they typically represent low variance games, five payline slots can be troublesome if you have a surplus of symbols on the reels. The more symbols there are in a five-line slot, the less likely you are to win.
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