The Games People Play
What’s your favorite slot and why? Here’s what our readers have to say.
By John Grochowski
Why are slot machines the most popular games in casinos today? Lots of reasons.
They’re easy to play, with no complicated strategies to learn. You don’t have to worry about a dealer who’s in a bad mood or a player who might hassle you over strategy mistakes. There’s a chance at a big jackpot. An investment of pennies—a couple of dozen of them anyway—could bring thousands of dollars in return.
Add to that the entertainment value built into video clips, surround sound, motion effects, bonus rounds, free spins, multi-tiered jackpots, mystery prizes and community play, and modern slots are practically all-in-one entertainment consoles. The shot to win is still important, but with everything that’s going on players just like to play.
Most of the breakthroughs in technology and game design in the last decade and a half have come on video slots. The video segment has been the gaming industry’s fastest grower ever since their big breakthrough in the late 1990s.
Want some specifics? Players across the United States have chimed in on why they play video slots.
Why Video Slots: I have kind of a tight budget, and I know my limits. My friend doesn’t have a ton of money either. If I’m really splurging, I bring $100 with me, and sometimes it’s just $60 or $70. She brings about the same. We always get lunch at the buffet when we play, which isn’t that much money, and sometimes it’s comped. But still it means there are times I’m making sure $50 lasts a couple of hours in the casino.
When I was playing three-reel slots for quarters, that usually wouldn’t keep me going for the day. But on the pennies now, I can play games where I can cover all the lines for 20 cents, maybe 40 cents at most. Besides that, you get more winning spins than you used to. I know they’re not all really ‘winners,’ but if you’ve bet 20 coins and get five back, at least it’s something. I remember a whole lot of spins getting nothing back when I started playing.
I don’t get a lot of big jackpots, but I’ll usually get a pretty good bonus sometime during the day. That keeps me going, and I have a good time”
Preferred Game: Jackpot Party, even though it’s been around for a long time. I like the bonuses where you pick your prizes best, more than the free spins. That’s probably because the first time I played one of those free spin games, I didn’t win anything. I mean it was literally nothing. No coins at all. I want to have some fun, and I want to make my money last. That didn’t help at all.
I’ve tried the different versions, like Super Jackpot Party where they have the surprise party, and Jackpot Block Party where you have four bonus screens going at once. My money seems to go farthest on the original. I always play when I can find it.”
Why Video Slots: I played some of the first video slots, and was kind of “meh.” They were all nickels them, you might remember. The pick’em bonuses were kind of fun, but you’d finish the bonus and hadn’t really won all that much. I like the feeling that I can win big.
What’s strange is that I get more of that feeling on penny games now than I ever did on the nickels. You get the free spins going, and sometimes you’re not going to win anything, and sometimes you’re going to win and win and win. Sometimes you get it both ways within a few minutes. One of the first times I played Queen of the Nile I got the free spins and had 15 losing spins in a row. But just a few minutes later I got the free spins again, and hit just about everything except the top jackpot. I retriggered the free spins TWICE during the round, and won thousands of credits—it was more than $100, even though it was just a penny game.
Preferred Game: Queen of the Nile is the one I’ve played the most, but I think my favorite is More Chilli. One time I kept getting the Chillis stacked all down the column, three at a time, and got all four reel sets working at once in the free spins. When that happens, all the symbols on the fourth and fifth reels are wild on all four screens. I won almost 4,000 credits in that bonus round.
Why Video Slots: The games are fun and interesting. There’s a lot more to them than watching the reels spin, and you win or you lose. Now you have games within the game, little extras to keep you interested. The videos are pretty cool on some of them. My wife really likes those Breakfast at Tiffany’s slots, with the movie clips and petting the cat when it walks across the screen. I like the way they work in the movie themes in things like Lord of the Rings and The Hangover. It’s really cool to have the clips and highlights from movies you really liked.
Preferred Game: The Hangover. I loved the movie, so I’d have tried it no matter what. It didn’t hurt that the first time I played, I hit the biggest progressive. In the bonus, you pick pictures, and match them up to decide which game you’re playing. I got Alan’s game, which is the hardest to get. You have to match five pictures instead of two or three. It’s not a big jackpot game, but I won more than $700. That’ll do.
Why Video Slots: I like games that give you something to do. Interactive, right—isn’t that what they say? Things like the suitcase bonus on those Deal or No Deal games, or those new Pawn Stars games where you haggle over the price you get make it fun. If there’s a little skill, that helps keep it interesting, too. Blood Life Legends, where you use the joystick and fly the bat through the cave, that one’s right up my alley. My mom hates that one. She sticks to the old three-reel games.
Preferred Game: You’re not going to believe this. It’s NASCAR. I don’t follow the racing at all, but my boyfriend is a fan. When we saw the game, he just had to try it and I went along for the ride, so to speak. He really got into who all the drivers were and the little pop-ups. I just played the game, and when I got to the racing bonus, wow. I was whooping and hollering all around the track. My boyfriend couldn’t believe it. He said, “You haven’t had a couple of drinks when I wasn’t looking, have you?”
Why Video Slots: The bonuses. It’s all about the bonuses. The rest of the game is marking time until you get to the bonus. That’s where all the fun is.
Preferred Game: I’m all about Monopoly. The first time I played was at the Tropicana in Las Vegas. There was this little room off the main casino floor where they had the games, and I gave it a go. It was the first Monopoly game, where you could go around the game board three times and build houses and hotels. I went to the board so often, it was funny. All the other players were watching and cheering, and guys in suits kept walking by and looking at me funny. I landed on Boardwalk FIVE TIMES. I put $20 in the machine, and wound up with buckets and buckets of nickels, more than $500 worth. Needless to say I try every Monopoly game now, and the ones with the trip around the Monopoly board are always my favorites.
Location: New Jersey
Why Video Slots: I guess the bonuses are the main reasons, but I like that there’s this play together option on the slots now, too. I used to get jealous when I’d hear people over at the tables and see craps players high-fiving each other. Now we can win together at the slots too, and it’s fun. I play single games too— more than the play together ones—but if you get a good crowd winning together that’s when the slots are really fun.
Preferred Game: There are a lot of the win-together games I like, like Reel ’Em In and the Wheel of Fortune game where three players take turns picking letters (Wheel of Fortune Experience). But I don’t really have a favorite. I play whatever I’m in the mood for; single games, win-together. That’s the really cool thing. There’s lots of variety and I get to choose.