Don’t let the rocking chair fool you - Grandmother Florence is sitting on a mountain of cash. She may look like the average grandma; blue hair tucked under her kerchief, a purring cat curled up in her lap, and a bowl of hard candy always within reach. But this granny has a secret – or, rather, a billion secrets. The stacks of cash and gold coins on the slot’s display are up for grabs. Three reel and single pay line games aren’t known for handing out huge prizes, but this Microgaming title (like Granny Florence’s ATM receipt) comes with a few surprises. Players that line up the right combinations of symbols and know how to use the machine’s hold and nudge features can win as much as $20,000 on a single spin.
Classic slots don’t normally include a lot of game features but Billion Dollar Gran has more extras than some of Microgaming’s larger and more expensive titles. Microgaming’s success comes not from fancy three-dimensional licensed progressive HD games like some of their competition, but from including player-friendly features on less-expensive and less-complicated games. The popularity of their software (and the longevity of their traditional games) is the most obvious sign that they cater to what online one-armed bandit fans want in their slots.
A good example of this tactic is Billion Dollar Gran’s nudge and hold options. These are randomly-triggered, used one time each, and affect a reel for one spin. Players use the hold button to lock a valuable symbol on a reel. The nudge option “bumps” a reel, moving it one stop up or down. Nudges are designed to complete a specific combo when a symbol is one stop too low or too high. Usually found on mid-range UK pub machines and Asian pachinko games, the nudge and hold feature wasn’t used in Web-based single pay liners before Microgaming put them on this game in 2009. Players can also choose to gamble a nudge or hold prize, giving them a 50% chance of doubling the amount of nudges or holds.
The action of the game is different from the play style of most low dollar slots. Rather than spin combos that pay credit prizes during the standard game, players are hoping to spin combos that lead to the largest number of free spins. Uncommon in classic games, free spins rounds are the main action on Billion Dollar Gran. Each round of WinSpins (as they’re called here) is guaranteed to pay a credit prize, which varies from one or two to 500 credits. The largest number of WinSpins awarded at once is twenty-five, triggered by the appearance of three Gran symbols on the main game’s pay line.
WinSpins are one of two ways players earn credit prizes; the other is the bonus game which is played on a separate screen, a three by three grid of animated icons. The prizes during this round are bet multipliers; the biggest jackpot in Billion Dollar Gran is a 2,000x multiplier which, at the largest credit denomination of $10 is cash prize of $20,000.
Nudges and holds are valuable enough to avoid using the gamble feature unless you’re the type of player that really enjoys the gambling aspect of the game; if it increases the value of your play, go ahead and gamble them away. After all, slot play is supposed to be fun, and anything that makes the game more enjoyable is a good investment.
Since the WinSpins round and bonus round are the only truly games that are actually valuable (in terms of cash), one good strategy is to limit the size of your credits until you enter either the WinSpins or bonus round, then set the credits to be worth as much as possible. Higher bets during those two rounds will increase your prizes enough to justify the extra cost.