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Best of Slots 2011 – Games

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Our annual survey of best in the slot-playing world, as selected by our readers

 

Our Favorite Games

This year’s survey certainly confirms the strength of International Game Technology in the classic reel-spinning categories, with a surprise at the very top of the reel-spinning categories of our survey—a resurgence of the world’s oldest slot-maker, Bally. Video, with few exceptions, is the domain of WMS Gaming in our readers’ minds.

Here are the games you play.

 

REELS

 

Favorite Reel Slot Machine

The names of our favorite traditional reel-spinners always include the classics like Double Diamond, Red, White & Blue and others from IGT. But for their top pick, our players brought back an old friend.

The venerable Blazing 7s by Bally is your pick for Favorite Reel Slot Machine this year. This classic game—those multiple “7” wins, the familiar pay table—has been rejuvenated by new Bally technology, in formats like “Hot Shot” adding multiple progressive versions and a new Pro Series cabinet bringing the old favorite to new audiences.

Coming in second was the perennial favorite, IGT’s Wheel of Fortune. Double Diamond, which typically has switched places with Wheel of Fortune—which uses the game as a base slot—for years in the top spot of our survey, came in third. (Red, White & Blue and Triple Diamond, a derivative of Double Diamond, rounded out the top five.

 

Blazing 7’s, Bally Technologies

Wheel of Fortune, IGT

Double Diamond, IGT

Red, White & Blue, IGT

Triple Diamond, IGT

 

 

Favorite Reel Slot Graphics/Design

Not a lot has been done traditionally in the graphics department for reel-spinning slots, but few can beat the game-show look of Wheel of Fortune, which again tops this category. Right behind is the resurgent Blazing 7s from Bally—its classic graphic styling aided by newer versions with a video bonus game. WMS games round out the top five, with reel-spinning versions of Monopoly Grand Hotel, the Wizard of Oz and the original Monopoly reel game at the top of player favorites.

 

Wheel of Fortune, IGT

Blazing 7’s, Bally Technologies

Monopoly Grand Hotel, WMS

Wizard of Oz, WMS

Monopoly, WMS

 

 

Favorite Reel Slot Theme

As we say every year when this category comes up: Wheel.. of… FORTUNE! It was one of the first themed slot games ever, and that game-show atmosphere, complete with the familiar audience chant, still keeps players coming back. Second place goes to Blazing 7s, which has entertained for nearly two decades with the simple theme of multiple “7” combinations. Third place goes to Monopoly, the original board-game theme that has survived more than a decade in a variety of new configurations. (The Wizard of Oz and Double Diamond round out the top five.)

 

Wheel of Fortune, IGT

Blazing 7’s, Bally Technologies

Monopoly, WMS

Wizard of Oz, WMS

Double Diamond, IGT

 

Favorite Reel Slot Bonus Round

Again, at the risk of repetition, we always report the same result in this category: Wheel… of… FORTUNE! Fifteen years after its original introduction, players still love to spin that wheel.

Coming in second is a progressive bonus round, Bally’s Quick Hits. This is a simple method of winning a progressive—the more Quick Hit symbols landing on a nine-space grid, the higher the jackpot. Third place goes to Monopoly by WMS, a game theme that has yielded numerous versions over the years of that basic trip around the Atlantic City-themed game board. (Top Dollar by IGT and Blazing 7s by Bally complete the top five.)

 

Wheel of Fortune, IGT

Quick Hits, Bally Technologies

Monopoly, WMS

Top Dollar, IGT

Blazing 7’s, Bally Technologies

 

 

Favorite New Reel Slot Machine

Old is new, new is old. There has been a steady stream of new versions of Wheel of Fortune from IGT, the latest being the triple-wheel “Triple Extreme Spin.” Our readers’ votes most likely refer to the version of the Wheel on the giant “Center Stage” setup, “Wheel of Fortune Experience,” a version of the game with the familiar “hangman” game up on a big screen.

Second place for Favorite New Reel Slot goes to “Monopoly: Advance to Boardwalk” from WMS, with the general Monopoly theme coming in third. (Pick one of the last few Monopoly games for this one!) Fourth place goes to the latest reel-spinning “Wizard of Oz” game from WMS, with the newest Blazing 7s rounding out the top five.

 

Wheel of Fortune, IGT

Monopoly Advance to Boardwalk, WMS

Monopoly, WMS

Wizard of Oz, WMS

Blazing 7’s, Bally Technologies

 

 

Favorite Progressive Reel Slot Machine

This category gives another nod to IGT’s Wheel of Fortune, which is available more in progressive versions than in the stand-alone variety. Second place goes to the original big-money progressive, Megabucks, with the progressive version of Bally Blazing 7s Bally Quick Hits and Double Diamond progressive following.

 

Wheel of Fortune, IGT

Megabucks, IGT

Blazing 7’s, Bally’s

Quick Hits, Bally Technologies

Double Diamond, IGT

 

 

VIDEO

The video slot category can be summed up by three letters: WMS. The manufacturers’ games dominated every category but video poker, which IGT has owned since it originated video poker in the late 1970s. IGT had several games near the top in video slots, but WMS took every No. 1 award.

 

Favorite Video Slot Machine

Every year since its introduction four years ago, this game has topped our reader survey as Favorite Video Slot Machine. The Wizard of Oz by WMS Gaming still has players lining up to get a chance to sit down at the original “Sensory Immersion” version of the game, which uses the surround-sound vibrating chair and amazing audio and visuals to take the player on a virtual ride through the magical land as depicted in the 1939 blockbuster film of the same name.

Second place in video slots goes to IGT for Cleopatra, one of the most popular video slot games of all time; third place goes to the Monopoly series from WMS. IGT, though, cracks your top five choices with two other standouts, Sex and the City and Stinkin’ Rich.

 

Wizard of Oz, WMS

Cleopatra, IGT

Monopoly, WMS

Sex and the City, IGT

Stinkin Rich, IGT

 

 

Favorite Video Slot Graphics/Design

The Wizard of Oz repeats in this category as well. As we said last year, the attention to detail that went into re-creating the land of Oz in a video slot platform sets this game way ahead of competitors.

Second place goes to another WMS game, Lord of the Rings, another stunning example of a fantasy land brought to life through video graphics—in this case, J.R.R. Tolkien’s “Middle Earth.” Rounding out the top five are Monopoly by WMS, and IGT games Cleopatra and Sex and the City.

 

Wizard of Oz, WMS

Lord of the Rings, WMS

Monopoly, WMS

Cleopatra, IGT

Sex and the City, IGT

 

 

Favorite Video Slot Theme

What else? “We’re off to see the Wizard…” The Wizard of Oz takes one of the most beloved films of all time and uses the rich vein of characters, themes and subplots to create one of the best slot games of all time. Second and third place go to other masterfully executed theme slots from WMS, Monopoly and Lord of the Rings. IGT rounds out the top five with Sex and the City and Wild Wolf.

 

Wizard of Oz, WMS

Monopoly, WMS

Lord of the Rings, WMS

Sex and the City, IGT

Wild Wolf, IGT

 

 

Favorite Video Slot Bonus Round

Again, the Wizard wins. From “Flying Monkeys” that seem to fly from behind the player to turn symbols wild to the flying emeralds you pick to get one of the characters before the Great and Powerful Oz, one is hard-pressed to find a bonus round that can be considered better than this one. Second place goes to Cleopatra, for its classic, simple free-spin round, with Monopoly, Lord of the Rings and Sex and the City rounding out the top five.

 

Wizard of Oz, WMS

Cleopatra, IGT

Monopoly, WMS

Lord of the Rings, WMS

Sex and the City, IGT

 

 

Favorite New Video Slot Machine

Your favorite new video slot is Lord of the Rings by WMS, which uses the manufacturer’s interactive, networked “Adaptive Gaming” technology to allow players to earn “miles”—the games mirror the journey the novel’s characters took across Middle Earth—on the internet that can be applied the next time you sit at one of the games in a casino. The miles unlock successive bonus events.

Second place goes to Sex and the City, the IGT game that replicates the hit HBO series with bonus events involving shopping for shoes, picking out wardrobes and other female-favorite activities, all involving the hit show’s main characters. Third place is Wizard of Oz, which comes out with at least one new version every year, followed by The Hangover and American Idol, both mega-hits for IGT.

 

Lord of the Rings, WMS

Sex and the City, IGT

Wizard of Oz, WMS

The Hangover, IGT

American Idol, IGT

 

 

Favorite Video Poker Game

Video poker was invented by IGT, and IGT is the company that still makes nearly all the video poker games you find in casinos. Every year, our readers pick one of the video poker variations made by IGT—usually it’s the classic Jacks or Better or one of several Bonus Poker variations. This year, it’s the classic Jacks or Better video poker game again. It’s the easiest strategy to learn, and if you learn the strategy perfect, the 9/6 version (9-for-1 payout on the full house; 6-for-1 on the flush), returns 99.54 percent of what you put in over the long term.

Second place goes to Double Double Bonus, mainly because four Aces with a kicker gives you 2,000 credits—half a royal—followed by Deuces Wild, another game that’s easy to master, with the top pay schedule returning more than 100 percent with perfect play. Double Bonus and classic Bonus Poker round out the top five.

 

Jacks or Better, IGT

Double Double Bonus, IGT

Deuces Wild, IGT

Double Bonus, IGT

Bonus Poker, IGT

 

 

Favorite Video Poker Bonus Round

There are some video poker games out there with very slot-like bonus rounds, but our readers always go for the ones in which the bonus is tied to the game. Double Double Bonus, with its big money for four-of-a-kind hands, is your favorite. Second, third and fourth are Double Bonus Poker, classic Bonus Poker and Triple Double Bonus, respectively—again, that quads bonus is hard to beat. Fifth place goes to Deuces Wild, where the “bonus” is the big money for four Deuces.

 

Double Double Bonus, IGT

Double Bonus, IGT

Bonus Poker, IGT

Triple Double Bonus, IGT

Deuces Wild, IGT

 

 

Favorite New Video Poker Game

A new category this year, our readers voted for IGT’s Super Times Pay as their favorite new video poker entry. In this game, an extra credit wagered per hand qualifies you for a random “bonus multiplier” that can increase the payoff on a winning hand up to 5X.

Second place in the new-game category for video poker is Wheel Poker, which institutes a slot-style wheel bonus, activated on dealt quad hands. Bonus Poker and Double Double Bonus came in fourth and fifth, respectively, although the games themselves are not new. Fifth place goes to Spin Poker, the first game to add slot-like features to video poker.

 

Super Times Pay, IGT

Wheel Poker, IGT

Bonus Poker, IGT

Double Double Bonus, IGT

Spin Poker, IGT

 

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