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Sep

18

2014

How Stacked Symbols Affect Video Slot Play

Every year, the bag of tricks slot machine designers use to keep the games fun to play and the customers coming back grows a little. Second-screen pick’em bonuses, free spins, bonuses within bonuses, shared community style events, mystery jackpots — the list goes on and on.

One wrinkle that’s become popular in the last few years is stacked symbols, as I showed my wife, Marcy, when we went on a little three-casino jaunt. The game was a new one from IGT called Cherry Mischief. It was a 40-line penny game, so I was wagering 40 cents a spin. All symbols were sometimes stacked, meaning the same symbol repeated on all three spots up and down a reel.

I slid a $20 bill into the validator, and quickly ran into the down side of stacked symbols. Symbols in a stack can block potential winning combinations, as when blonde fairies on reels 1 and 2 were separated from the match on reel 4 by a stack of red-headed fairies on reel 3.

But my luck turned. The “Q” for “Queen” symbols stacked on all five reels, a screenful of Qs for a 520-credit win. A few spins later, I got butterfly stacks on the middle three reels, launching a free spin bonus. There, a dark-haired fairy stacked all the way up and down the first three reels, bringing an all-payline win, and another spin brought three stacks of the redhead.

When you play stacked symbol games, that’s the kind of experience you expect. The stacked symbols add volatility, with fast losses, and a fair chance of big all-line wins. You’re just hoping the balance falls in your favor.

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