Cluster Pays Pokies

by James Smith |
Date of Publishing: 22/08/2023

5/5 - (9 votes)

Cluster Pays Pokies – How Do They Work?

We created this article to discuss cluster pays pokies and offer information on how they work. We shall examine why they appeal to players and offer some strategies for playing popular cluster pays pokies.

We shall also examine and offer a brief introduction to the history of online pokies.

Why Are Pokies Popular in New Zealand?

To find out why pokies are a popular pastime in New Zealand, we must go back to the 1980s. It was then that pokies machines became legal. Found in game clubs, licensed casinos, and Returned Services Associations across New Zealand.

Besides physical pokie games, the online casino was also gaining in popularity. In 1994 Microgaming launched online pokies, and as the market evolved, so did the games.

Today’s NZ online pokies come with bonus rounds and special features. Games are innovative, with one of the more unique forms of online games being cluster pays pokies. 

An interesting fact.

Ever wondered why pokies are called pokies and not slots? When electronic games were first introduced to New Zealand, poker machines were usually set alongside slot machines. Now Kiwis love to shorten names, and instead of defining each form of machine, they were all grouped under the word ‘pokies.’ 

Understanding Cluster Pays

The concept that the iGaming giant NetEnt introduced (they invented cluster pays pokies) was for the pokies machine to have no pay lines attached. Rather, wins would be determined by the same symbols filling up the reels. 

You would have a winning combination if the same symbols were together on a cluster pokies (clustered together). 

Matching symbols clustered together offers more possibilities to win. When a winning combination is formed on a cluster pay pokie, the symbols are removed, letting the surrounding symbols cascade into the blank spaces, which could also create more winning cluster pays. 

Some Important Facts to Consider When Playing Cluster Pay Pokies

  • Playing a cluster pays pokie is nothing like traditional online pokies machines.
  • Cluster pays pokies are a collection of online pokies developed by the online gambling software giant, NetEnt.
  • A cluster pays pokie machine does not have traditional paylines. Instead, you trigger the cluster pays feature to create winning possibilities. 
  • Matching symbols must be adjacent in a cluster, touching any of the four sides to form a winning combination.
  • The appeal of cluster pays pokies for many is that wins vary due to the different clusters of symbols created. 
  • The worth of each symbol determines payouts, so the bigger cluster you create, the bigger the prize you will claim. 

How to Play Cluster Pays Pokies?

There are many cluster pays pokies to choose from. In this section, we shall discuss a few of the most popular cluster pays pokies available at an online casino and how they vary. 

Different Types of Cluster Pays Pokies

  • The Avalanche online pokie game – Many cluster pays pokies use the avalanche mechanic. The avalanche mechanic has symbols tumbling or cascading onto the reels, which form a cluster. Once a winning cluster combination is formed, it disappears to let other symbols fill the empty spaces, creating more winning opportunities.
  • The avalanche feature is exclusive to NetEnt, which offers some of the best cluster pays pokies today. 
  • The Megacluster cluster pays pokies was created and developed by Big Time Gaming (the Australian gaming provider). A mega-cluster online pokie game has a larger grid, so players have an increased chance of landing an all-important winning combination.

Megacluster pokie machines also have the added feature of bonus rounds.



A Step-by-Step Gude For Playing Cluster Pays Pokies

All pertinent information regarding symbol payouts, the minimum match, and whether there are any bonus features to trigger can be found at the game’s paytable when you pay cluster pays pokies. 

The paytable will also offer information about any free spins round, jackpots and the RTP (the return to player percentage). 

*Remember, when playing cluster pays pokies, there is no left-to-right order as there are no traditional paylines. 

Getting Started

  • Once you have signed up with your online casino, make your deposit and claim your welcome bonus. 
  • You can find the best cluster pays pokies in the virtual lobby and make your choice. 
  • Choose what you want your bet level to be and hit SPIN to play. 
  • You will trigger a win if you bring a minimum number of symbols together in a cluster on the pay board. Wins depend on the worth of the clustered symbols.
  • Any wins cause a cascade where new symbols will replace the old ones giving you more opportunities to win. 

Are There Strategies For Cluster Pays Pokies?

As mentioned above, cluster pays pokies do not have traditional paylines. The best way to win is to gather the minimum number of symbols adjacent to each other (vertically or horizontally) in a cluster to make a winning combination. 

At every online casino game, outcomes are determined by an RNG (Random Number Generator), so traditional strategies like the martingale do not work. However, there are some tips you can follow to ensure you are in with the best possible chance of a win.

  • Bankroll management is vital. A pokie game of any type can soon run away with your bankroll, and as cluster pays pokies are exciting to play, you might spend more than you planned. Never chase losses; always know when something stops being fun and becomes more of a problem. 
  • Check the house edge of the cluster pays pokie game you are playing. The house edge varies from game to game, so knowing what you can expect to lose over a longer period is useful. 
  • At the same time, check your online pokie’s RTP (return to player percentage). Again these do vary from game to game. The RTP is the theoretical percentage you can expect to win from the online casino over a longer period (the direct opposite of the house edge).

*Developers determine the RTP of each game they create. Some modern online pokie games are now created with variable RTPs, meaning the same game could have a different RTP at different online casinos. 

Enjoying Cluster Pays Pokies

Aloha! is the first cluster of pays pokies developed by NetEnt and playable over all devices. You need nine or more symbols to trigger a win. Tropical in design and easy to play!

  • 6 reels x 5 rows 
  • The minimum spin is ten up to $200
  • The base game can activate the sticky win re-spins feature, where winning symbols are fixed in place whilst all other symbols re-spin. You may fill up the entire screen with the same cluster. 
  • A substitution symbol transforms into an adjacent symbol, offering you the biggest cluster wins.
  • A free spins feature is triggered by getting three or more symbols. Low win symbols are removed, increasing the possibility of winning on the remaining free spins.

Sugar Rush cluster pays pokies has an RTP of 96.50% attached and was developed by Pragmatic Play. As you can imagine, the symbols are all of the sweet variety, with gummy hearts and jelly beans included.

  • Sugar Rush is available to play on all devices. 
  • The Scatter activates the free spins feature. Three or more scatters activate the free spins feature. Seven Scatters award 30 free spins. All activated multipliers remain on the reels for the duration.
  • A multiplier overlay appears after every symbol wins and will transform into a multiplier. Multipliers start at 2x and then double for each matched symbol up to 128x. 

The legend of the Shangri-La cluster pays pokies was also developed by NetEnt. The online pokie has a far-eastern animal theme where the red panda monk can trigger a random feature to help create wins on any spin. 

  • You can win up to 1,000 x your bet in a spin (with the cat symbol).
  • The minimum bet is ten up to $200
  • There is a jackpot of 10,000.
  • The animal guru symbols appear stacked on the reels. If you form a cluster of nine or more symbols, you will trigger a win. 
  • A substitution symbol transforms into the adjacent symbol to offer the best winning combinations in this popular cluster pays pokies. 
  • A random substitution feature triggers when at least two clusters land in the base game. When activated, it will create the nine-symbol cluster win. 
  • A sticky re-spins feature remains in place when at least two non-winning clusters appear anywhere on the reels. The re-spins stay in place whilst the other symbols spin. 
  • Three or more free spins symbols trigger a free spins feature, which can activate a nudge feature, where a final free spin symbol can be nudged back onto the reels to trigger the free spins feature. 


If you love online pokie games, don’t hesitate to try cluster pays pokies for an exciting change. It’s worth setting aside a little of your bankroll to try. The unique gameplay adds a definite change from the norm.

About the Author

Author: James Smith.

James Smith has been writing about casino games and strategies for over a decade. He is an expert in the industry and loves to help people get started with online gambling. In his free time, James enjoys reading books by other successful authors, cycling around town, or playing poker.