Paying Symbols in Online Slots: a Complete Guide

Paying Symbols in Online Slots: a Complete Guide

In online slots everything is circling around paying symbols. Those guys appear on the reels, and they basically do these two things:

Some of them have to be arranged in a particular pattern (called pay-line) in order to produce a winning, though another group does not have such limitations. Let’s elaborate on it and also discuss:

  • Types of paying symbols

  • Their characteristics (what is the difference between them)

What are Paying symbols in short

First thing first, there can be many paying symbols and they can be implemented in many different ways (depending on a particular software provider’s creativity). But what unites all of them is their crucial role in winnings distribution. So to speak, paying symbols are here to make winnings hierarchy possible, and, as a result of that, make the gaming experience much more diverse and exciting (opposite to classic casino games).

Without so many different paying symbols in place, it would be impossible to have such a crazy winnings distribution system. I am talking about a situation when you bet 1 EUR per spin, let’s say, and can win nothing, 1 EUR or even 10,000 EUR in some video slots (and many other outcomes somewhere between).

I guess nobody will argue this is a much more thrilling perspective than casual “double or nothing” bets in Roulette, for example.

Paying symbols can be divided into these two groups


This is the most widespread classification when it comes to paying symbols in online slots. So, let’s discuss features of each group.

Standard (Regular) paying symbols in online slots:

  • Card values are often used to represent Regular paying symbols. For example, you can come across A (Ace in card games), K (King), Q (Queen), J (Jack) , T (Ten) being used as paying symbols quite often. Though standard symbols are not limited to only them. Main characters of a particular slot game also serve as Regular paying symbols (each online slot has its own).

  • Regular paying symbols are always the lowest paying symbols in the game (in comparison to Special symbols). However, there are always some rankings among them as well. Thus, Standard symbols are not equal and pay pretty much differently (according to paytable).

  • Regular paying symbols always have to match some pattern (called pay-line) in order to produce a winning, whereas Special symbols do not necessarily have such restrictions (will be discussed further). In other words, the only purpose of Regular symbols (99% of the time) is to pay by lines. In this sense they are super different from Special symbols, and, I would call them, rather primitive.

  • There are relatively many of them. 8-10 Regular symbols is a very common thing to have in online slots, especially modern ones.

Special paying symbols in online slots:

  • There are basically only three of them: Scatter symbol, Wild symbol and Bonus game symbol. So, in comparison to Regular symbols, Special symbols are not so numerous.

  • Special symbols, as you may have guessed, are the highest paying symbols in the game. This is the reason why there is such a limited number of them, so to speak, because of their high value.

  • Special symbols not only pay by themselves (when they form an eligible pay-line), but serve as a trigger for bonus features of an online slot (such as: Free spins, Bonus game, Multiplier, etc.). And this is their main purpose in the game.

  • Also, Special symbols do not always require to form a line, as Regular symbols do. For example, Scatter symbol or Bonus game symbol needs only to appear anywhere on the screen (in some predetermined number, of course, usually at least 3 of them are required), so that their position does not matter.

  • Special symbols are usually well-designed and animated, which is quite predictable. The main character of the slot’s plot is often involved and depicted on Special symbols.

Regular paying symbols

Here’s not much to say. As I have implied earlier, Regular paying symbols can be also divided into two groups:

  • Card values. There are usually 4-5 of them in the slot’s gameplay, and these are the lowest paying symbols of the lowest, let’s put it this way.


Divine Fortune online slot

  • Plot’s characters are also used as Regular symbols, and they pay more in comparison to card values.


My assumption, why such division within the group takes place is to make players’ life easier. Otherwise we would get lost as it is not too easy to keep track of all 8-10 regular symbols, especially when there are thousands of online slots on the market. But due to such a smart approach, we have to remember only 4-5 plot’s symbols as Card values are basically the same in any slot game.

Special paying symbols


Wild Symbols.

Wild symbols substitute any other paying symbols (similar to Joker cards in 54-card deck), except for Scatter and Bonus game symbols.

You can learn more here: Wild Symbol in Online Slots: Expanding, Stacked, Sticky, Shifting, Multiplier

Scatter Symbols.

Scatter symbols almost always trigger Free spin rounds, though some slot producers refer to them as plainly Free spins. Those two terms are exactly the same. Also Scatter symbols do not require a particular position on the reels (that’s why they are called Scatter).

You can learn more here: Scatter symbol in Online Slots: Everything you have to know

Bonus game symbols.

Bonus game symbols are similar to Scatter, except for they trigger the Bonus game. They may require some pattern or not.

Multiplier symbols.

Multiplier symbol is a rare beast, and very few software providers implement them separately. Usually Wild symbols serve as Multipliers as well.

How much of paying symbols do online slots have on average

As a rule of thumb, modern online slots provide 8-10 Regular paying symbols (where 4-5 are card values plus 4-5 are plot’s characters) and 2-3 Special paying symbols on top of that. Moreover, I would add, 95% of online slots on the market easily fall into this category. So these numbers are super common.

Where to learn about paying symbols in a particular slot

Here you need to visit the “Info” section, which almost every online slot has. Just simply click on it, scroll a few pages if needed, and there you are going to be able to learn what paying symbols in this particular slot are, along with how much they pay.


As for me personally, I check what paying symbols are and how much they pay each time I try a new video slot. This brings much more fun to the table as you become aware what outcome you should be rooting for.