When it comes to winning over players, there’s nothing like winning
By John Grochowski
Slot machine manufacturers keep coming us back to their games because they’re fun; because we like the bonus events, or the frequency of wins; or because we’re wildly entertained by the animation and special effects.
But let’s face it: The game that’s most likely to keep us coming back is the game that’s given us a memorable win.
That doesn’t mean it’s a higher-paying a game than others around it, or that it’s the funniest, or has the most engaging gameplay. The right win at the right time imprints the machine on our brains as one we want to try again, and again.
What games are they? Every player has his or her own answer. I talked to a few players about the games they’re fondest of.
Laura: It’s Monopoly for me. I’ve played ever since the first ones came out. I don’t know if you remember, but they had the three-reel quarter games and then the nickel games on video. Nobody had pennies then.
I decided to give the video a try. All around me, people were cashing out thousands of nickels. They didn’t have the tickets in those days—it was all coins. I suppose that meant everyone I heard wasn’t winning; if you put $20 in the machine, that was 400 nickels, so even if you just cashed out what you put in, it made quite a noise. It was a fun atmosphere.
When you got to the bonus, you could go more than once around the board. I was doing really well, and then I landed on Boardwalk. That was exciting! I won so many nickels the machine couldn’t pay me, so a change girl and a supervisor came over and paid me. Yay!
I cashed out, and went over and played the quarter game, and I went to Boardwalk there, too! I was hooked. All this time later, if there’s a Monopoly game where you can go around the board, I’m going to give it a try.
Joe: My wife and I had the most unbelievable run of luck on Red, White and Blue. We play other machines, of course, but when we’re walking through the casino and one of us spots Red, White and Blue, we’ll look at each other and smile, and say, “Should we?” Of course we should.
On that occasion, Martha started playing, and was doing pretty well, while I was walking around and playing other things. A little craps, some blackjack. I was losing money, and I guess I had that look. I found Martha and she pointed to the machine next to her and said, “Play this for a while.”
You can guess what happened. Red 7, white 7, blue 7. I won $10,000 and she said, “I told you! I could feel it.”
Not 20 minutes later, she did it—red, white, blue, another $10,000. Unbelievable!
But that’s not all. Two weeks later, she went back one morning while I was at work. She went to her same machine, and she won it again. Yep. Red, white and blue 7s.
That was a long time ago, probably 15 years. But it’s still a game that keeps us coming back.
Audra: My first big jackpot came on a Blazing 7s three-reel game. I still remember the exact amount: $1,173 on a dollar progressive. It was so exciting! I was there with my boyfriend and another couple, and I think I had been in a casino only two or three times before that. They counted the money out to me, with 11 $100 bills, then the rest. I’m not sure I’d ever held a $100 bill before, and certainly had never held that much money at once.
I play a pretty good mix of games. A lot of pennies on video, and still some quarter and dollar three-reel games. One of the games I look for is Blazing 7s. I don’t play it every time, but it still has magic for me.
Jerry: You don’t see this one around all that much anymore: Cash Crop. When I see it, I play it. It’s a video slot, and in the bonus you grow crops in a field, then pick plants for bonuses. You get extra if you get a gold or silver plant, but you have to watch out and not pick one that a gopher eats. That can end the bonus.
My son and I were playing it in Vegas, and we kept going back to the bonus. On every crop, we kept picking the right plants, getting the bonuses and getting to raise another crop. We played for hours, and never hit a cold streak. We started with $20 in nickels, and must have taken $400 out of that machine. We raised our own cash crop, I guess. It’s still a game I can’t resist.
Emily: For me, it’s The Hangover. The first time I played, I won about $80. That’s not much, I know, but it was right when my girlfriends and I were about to leave. My husband and I had seen the movie, and I knew the game was out, but this was the first time I played.
I only played for 15 or 20 minutes, but I went to the bonus four times. Once I got to go to the Villa, where you go from room to room, touching swords and TVs and whatever, and before you knew it I had more than 10,000 credits. They were pennies, so it didn’t make me rich, but still I was $80 to the good. I took my husband out for pizza when I got home.
We went back a couple of weeks later, and I won another $20. I guess I’m hooked.