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When it comes to playing slots, variety is the spice of life

By John Grochowski


Ask slot players their favorite things about the games, and you’ll most often hear “winning,” followed by “jackpots” and “bonuses.”

But to dig a little deeper, a group of slot-playing regulars were asked what beyond those factors leads them to choose the games they play. Is it the theme? More jackpot levels? Bigger jackpots?

Readers gave just about as many answers as there are features in the games people play.



I’ll be honest. Themes and bonuses and all that are important, but the first thing I look at is the number of paylines and the minimum bet. If I can’t afford to play a game, it doesn’t matter how cool the theme is.

I’m a penny slot player on a budget. A hundred dollars is a big day out for me, and sometimes I’ll play with only $40 or $60.

I don’t expect to win all the time. That would be nice, wouldn’t it? But I do expect to get some play for a $20 bill. Give me some free spins or a couple of bonuses that keep me going for a while and give me a shot to win, and I’m happy.

I don’t get that with 40 or more paylines. A 40-cent minimum bet means I’m guaranteed only 50 spins for $20. The whole $20 can be gone before there’s even a fighting chance for a bonus.

Thing is, those games are taking over. I like the 20-line games, where I’m guaranteed 100 spins at 20 cents a spin for my $20. I’ll settle for 30- line games and at least 66 spins. But at 40 lines or more, I look for a different game.

As long as you’re letting me vent, I can’t stand it when a casino labels a game as a penny slot, but requires bets of at least two coins per line. A 40-line game takes at least an 80-cent bet. That’s crazy. In no way is a game that requires bets of at least 2 cents per line a penny machine. When I see that, I’m ready to pack up and go, never to return to that casino again.



I want some extras on the free spins, and I want a lot of spins. Sticky wilds are good, where any wilds that come up stay in place for the rest of the free spins. I’ve had some really nice wins with sticky wilds. Stacked symbols and getting rid of the low-paying symbols are good ways, too. I also like where you can choose fewer spins with bigger multipliers or more spins with bigger multipliers.

With any of those, I want a good-sized block of spins. I remember a game several years ago where the free spins came up way more often than on other games, but it would be one spin here and two spins there.

That didn’t do it for me. I want to see at least 10 spins and give me a chance at one big hit. I’ll play for a while with five free spins, I suppose, but unless I have a nice win early, I don’t stick with that kind of game.



My favorites have changed. I think it just takes me a while to get used to something new. When video slots came out, I clung to the three-reel games. Then I got used to picking bonuses. Remember Cash Crop, where you’d choose vegetables in a garden and had to avoid moles? That’s the one that made me change.

It got to where I was so into the picking games that I wouldn’t give the time of day to a game with free spins instead. Then I got used to free spins, and really, I’ll play any of them now.

My all-time favorite, though, is still a three-reel game, the original Wheel of Fortune. I’ll still make time for that whenever I see it. I just love the wheel spins and the noises. I’ve been lucky a few times and won big on the wheel.

I’ll try other games, video and three-reel, if there’s a wheel on top. Some of them are pretty cool. I had a good time with the Michael Jackson games that awarded different bonuses on the wheel. My favorite, though, is still the original.



Jackpots are what the games are all about to me. I want a chance to win a good-sized jackpot.

It doesn’t have to be something that will make me rich. I was never a big Megabucks player. The chance of winning just seemed too remote. Something in the thousands that will give me some mad money, maybe for a vacation of some luxury. I want a realistic shot at a jackpot that will make a difference in my life, if only for a few days.

Lots of the video slots with jackpots on several levels are like that at the top. The bottom jackpots might only be $10. Those are nice to keep you playing a little. By the time you get to the third level for a few hundred dollars or the fourth level for a few thousand, those are the ones I’m hunting.



I want more than one bonus round. Free spins are cool, especially if there are some extras and the spins aren’t exactly the same as the paid spins. But pick ’em bonuses are cool, too. So are wheels. I also really like those spins where money symbols hold in place and you can get extra spins when you get more money symbols.

It’s all good as far as I’m concerned, but I like some variety. If I can get free spins and pick ’em in the same slot machine, that makes me happy.

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