A Pot of Gold

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U.K. fruit machines may resemble classic slot machines, but there are several; significant differences. For example, most provide players with an option to “hold” selected symbols in place. They remain motionless on the payline, positioned for a follow-up spin of the other one or two reels. Additionally, there are special “nudge” bonuses that allow a one-off symbol to be moved up or down onto the win line, or even an entire set of three matching symbols to be repositioned to create a winning combination. Because of these aspects of the game, a very different level of skill and strategy is required of the player than for classic slots.

JPM Interactive has brought several very popular forms of fruit machine out of the corners of pubs and into the online gaming environment. Among them is “A Pot of Gold,” featuring 3 reels, 4 symbols and a single centre payline. There is a jackpot worth 100 times whatever stake is wagered, in addition to a full line-up of fruit machine hold and nudge capabilities.

The display for A Pot of Gold has the reels slightly off-centre to the left of the screen, making room for the paytable nestled on the right. At the top is the Jackpot indicator, on the far left is the “Auto Nudge” indicator and the various controls are located at the bottom of the screen. As a backdrop to the game, an idyllic countryside scene appears, complete with a mossy stone wall, grassy hillsides, colourful mushroom, a lightly clouded blue sky and a full rainbow.

To begin the game, the player must choose an amount to wager by using the up/down arrows under the green “Stake” button in the lower right corner. Available values range from £0.25 to £10. The amount of the Jackpot will change, depending on the stake selected. The total amount of the bet can be seen in the “Stake” indicator on the right in front of an illustrated pot of gold. Clicking on the green “Start” button will set the reels in motion.

After the reels come to rest, there are several possibilities. If three matching symbols appear on the payline, the winning amount will be paid as show on the paytable. Three Horseshoes are worth a stake multiplier of 5X, three Rainbows in a row is worth 10X and three Shamrocks gain 25X. The fourth reel symbol is the Pot of Gold, appearing on the middle reel. It is wild and substitutes for any of the other symbols to form winning combinations, paying 27 ways. This is indicated by “X” marks appearing on the reel apertures and the relevant wins light up.

Holds are offered at random and will automatically freeze the highest single symbol or a matching pair. There is no way to cancel the hold or choose a different combination to hold. However, holds may be offered after a winning combination, thus allowing the win to pay out a second time or even a third in some cases, even for the Pot of Gold. Three “Nudges” are available randomly following spins, too. They automatically nudge to the highest possible outcome, either a win to the highest single symbol or a matching pair.

Some special circumstances apply to nudges and holds, too. Following a game with non-winning nudges, sometimes holds are offered. If there are two like symbols on the win line and these are not held, the corresponding three of a kind win will be spun in automatically. On occasion, the win will be promoted to a higher win. If two like symbols are held on three consecutive games, the third game will automatically result in a matching symbol appearing on the win line. And if there is a reel win above or below the centre payline, occasionally all three reels will hold and the win will either step down or up to bring the win onto the payline.

A message display directly beneath the reels shows what action is taking place at any given time, such as “Spinning” or the number of nudges as well as the funds remaining in the player’s balance, which is also displayed at the top right corner of the screen. Two other options on A Pot of Gold are “Turbo” to speed up play and “Autoplay” to enable from 5 to 100 spins at the same stake to be played without touching the controls.

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