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Video pokies are a type of poker machine which focuses on bonus features and advanced graphics, combining features typically found in classic video games. These games sometimes offer interactive multiple paylines, bonus rounds, wild symbols, expanding wilds, scatter symbols, multipliers, free spins, autoplay, a gamble option, and a host of other features. Some even offer accumulated or progressive jackpots.
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Though the video pokies have plenty in common, most of them have subtle differences. This makes choosing your favourite a little more difficult than it was in an earlier era, when the 3-reel classics had so much similarity. In this article, I’ll discuss many of the features I’ve already listed, along with a few others. Once finished reading, you should be able to spot a video pokies game within seconds of seeing it.
While games had additional paylines before video pokies were invented, this style of play takes the multi-line game to a whole other level. One characteristic of video pokies is a focus on nine or more paylines on the machine. You’ll find 9-line, 15-line, 20-line, 25-line, 30-line, 40-payline, 50-payline, and even 100-line games on the gaming floor. If you see a game with a dozen or more paylines, you can assume it’s a video pokie.
Maximum Coins and Multiple Denominations
The jackpots are usually higher when you make a maximum coin bet on the video pokies. While this isn’t a 100% prerequisite for getting the most out of the machine, it’s a safe bet that you’ll need to make the max bet to trigger the top payouts. Luckily, these games often have a large range of coin denominations, from one penny up to $10, $25, or even $100 per payline.
Read the pay schedule thoroughly and make sure you make the max wager if you have to do so to activate the maximum jackpot. This is true even for the flat top or fixed jackpots (non-progressive pots). If you need to use a lower coin denomination to be able to afford the max bet, then drop down to the lower denomination. Again, this isn’t always the case, but it is enough of the time that those who don’t want the trouble of reading the rules should play accordingly.
A wild symbol is a reel icon which substitutes for most or all of the other symbols on the game. If you have are one symbol away from a winning and the wild icon appears in that final place, it substitutes for the winning reel symbol. This gives players many more possible winning combinations and much fewer near misses. The only symbols that wilds (usually) won’t act as a substitute are scatters and multipliers.
Expanding and Stacking Wilds
Special wild symbols are used by a handful of games. These work much like the standard wild symbol, but have special features which make them either more restricted or less restricted. The expanding wild expand to cover an entire reel. This means any icon showing on that reel can fill out a winning combination, making this a powerful symbol to appear. Stacked wilds expand across the reel, but usually only cover 3 to 4 positions, instead of the entire reel. It’s not as useful as the expanding icon, but it’s still pretty good. Cascading reels jet across the screen like a shooting star, appearing at random locations on the screen icons. This randomises the positions, but can be quite useful.
Scatter symbols are icons which trigger an exciting feature anytime they appear on the screen. They don’t have to appear on an active payline for you to win. Often, you’ll need 2 or 3 scatters to appear on the screen at once for them to trigger an event. Common uses of the scatter symbol are to trigger a bonus game, a free spin mode, or a multiplier. On certain games, some combination of the three are triggered by scatters. Often, the more scatters you receive, the more free spins you win or the higher the multiplier. Once again, wild symbols usually won’t substitute for scatter icons, because they are so lucrative when they do appear it would unbalance the game.
One of the most popular features on the video pokies is the free spin game or freeplay mode. Punters love the chance to win money without risking anything. When certain symbols appear, this activates free spins. These spins can be anything as low as 3 spins all the way to 100 or more. The standard number of spins is between 5 and 25, though the placement of icons or a certain combination of scatters might trigger higher numbers. During the free spin mode, a special coin total keeps count of what you win. When the game is over, these are added to your standard coin total. Some games allow players to re-trigger free spins, while others don’t allow this option.
Another favourite option is the multiplier. This multiplies your wins by a certain set number. So if you have a 2x multiplier, this increases whatever coin total you win by a factor of two. If you’re playing with a 100x multiplier, then anything you win is multiplied by a factor of one-hundred. Most multipliers are between 2x and 10x, but some games offer crazy amounts of increased coins. Often, these are paired with scatter symbols. An example of a multiplier formula would be 2x for two scatters, 3x for three scatters, 5x for four scatter symbols, and 25x for five scatter icons on the screen at once.
The autoplay simply allows a gambler to program in the number of spins they want to play without hitting the spin button. Auto-play is for the gambler who’s tired of putting out the effort. For example, you could program 100 spins without hitting a button and, as long as you have the funds, the game would continue automatically. The drawback to this play mode is the fact you could lose a lot of money in a short time. The game plays much faster, so you could win a bunch of coins and lose it back on auto-play, or you could lose 100 spins in a row in a handful of minutes.
The gamble option lets a punter make an additional bet on their winnings on any given spin. For instance, if you win 50 coins on a spin, a video pokie with the gamble option would offer you the chance to go double-or-nothing. Either you would win 100 coins total or you would win nothing at all. This feature keeps the same house edge, at least so long as the gamble option is a 50/50 proposition.
The bonus game mode is similar to the free spin mode. When this is triggered, you have a chance to win money without risking any. Often, these games have a set amount of money you can win (sometimes thousands of coins). As long as you don’t trigger the end of the game, you can keep on winning.
Some bonus games simply play out without your interaction. Other video bonus games allow you to make a decision which affects the outcome of the game, somewhat like a video game. These are called interactive bonus games. At present, most of these require decision making with no clues as to which decisions are best, so the interactive nature doesn’t involve skill on your part. A few pokies now have an element of skill to them, such as requiring you to memorize what’s under certain icons.
Another feature of the video pokies which is becoming more coming is 3-dimensional graphics. Several slots design companies are leaders in this field. These games have the best art renderings in the pokies business. In 2012, Microgaming put out its first 3D poker machines, which is called Sterling Silver Pokies. In the near future, expect most pokies development companies to put out their versions of the 3D games.
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