Friday, Feb. 12, 2021 was not only day 1 of the first long holiday weekend of the year but also the start of the Chinese New Year. It’s a celebration that continues for two weeks. That makes February an especially lucky month for NJ Gambling Website readers and the perfect time to celebrate with two fantastic NJ online slots–88 Fortunes and 88 Fortunes Megaways.
Either one or both of these action-packed games would be a fitting choice to bid farewell to the Year of the Pig and see what the Year of the Ox has in store.
This article describes both games. But the one I think most of you will prefer is the original 88 Fortunes. The main reason why is that besides being great fun to play and having a very high return to player, you have a chance to win any of four jackpots. It’s Barb’s Best Bet for the holiday weekend.
8 is a lucky number in Chinese culture. Is it yours?
The title of this slot is apropos. First and foremost, there are four jackpots up for grabs, so if you’re lucky, you can indeed win a fortune.
Secondly, the number 8 plays a prominent role in this slot game, as the minimum amount you can bet is not one coin but eight coins, and the maximum is 88 coins.
In fact, the optimal way to play this game is to bet 88 coins on every spin because that’s what you need to do to have a chance to win any of the four jackpots, including the mega jackpot.
88 Fortunes Basics
88 Fortunes is an online video slot created by SG Interactive and Shuffle Master. It consists of 5 reels, 3 rows, and rather than a fixed number of paylines like most slots, 243 ways to win.
But for avid, action-loving slot players, the more ways to win the better, so the same manufacturers now also offer the sequel 88 Fortune Megaways with 7 reels, a Cascading Reels feature, and a mind-boggling 117,649 ways to win! I’ll tell you more about that game and its special features later.
In both games, all you need to form a winning combination is for three or more matching symbols to line up on adjacent reels from left to right, starting with reel 1. It doesn’t matter which payline the symbols are on.
It’s nice to see that the Chinese theme is well represented in these slots in both the choice of symbols and the upbeat Oriental music. There’s even a gong sound to accompany your bigger wins. But you certainly don’t have to be Chinese to enjoy playing.
These brightly colored slots with red and gold the two predominant colors have been carefully designed to make you feel good with every spin you take. But especially when the screen lights up with a big win and gold coins are flying all over the place, the effect is magical.
Will you hit the jackpot?
The ultimate dream of any slot player is to hit the jackpot, Lots of slot games offer that possibility, but for players who are concerned about their bankroll, they can be an expensive proposition.
Much more often than not, in exchange for the potential for a mega-size payout that’s an extreme longshot, the game will reduce the frequency of other payouts, and/or the overwhelming majority of “winning” combinations won’t even pay enough to cover your bet size. So, the bottom line is that even when you think you’re winning, your bankroll keeps going down.
88 Fortunes Megaways does not offer any jackpots. But the original 88 Fortunes does, and with much better odds than most jackpot slots. Its return to player (RTP), instead of being below average for NJ online slots is well above average. There’s no progressive jackpot, but instead, you can win any of four fixed jackpots—a Mini, Minor, Major, and Grand Jackpot.
Regardless of how long you play, the amount of each jackpot does not increase. It is based solely on your bet size. Therefore, your best shot at winning a really big jackpot is to bet big—but only if you can afford it.
If you win the Grand Jackpot while only playing with 1 cent coins, you will win $2,000. If you win the Grand Jackpot while playing with $1 coins, you will win $200,000!
However, no matter what coin size you have selected, to maximize your chances, you must bet 88 coins on every spin. If you bet less than 88 coins per spin, while you can win a lesser jackpot, you have no shot at winning the Grand Jackpot. You can check the display in the upper right part of the screen to see exactly what each jackpot will pay.
88 Fortunes bet range
You don’t have to be a high roller to play these games. In fact, you can select a coin size starting with as little as .01. Or, if you prefer, you can choose any of the following larger coin sizes: .02. .03, .06, .10, .20, .30, .60, or $1.00.
But here’s the catch. The cost of each spin must be a minimum of eight coins. In other words, the actual minimum bet is not 1 cent but 8 cents
Moreover, in order to be eligible for each jackpot, including the Grand Jackpot, you must multiply whatever coin size you decide upon by 88. This makes the minimum bet per spin .88 and the maximum bet per spin $88.
Although you can bet less than 88 coins, (by choosing to play at level 1, 2, 3, or 4 rather than level 5), it is not a good strategy. You will forfeit any chance you might have otherwise to win the top jackpot. If you need to reduce your bet size, the best way to do it is to select a smaller coin size so you can still bet 88 units.
Alternatively, if you’re not sure what would be a good bet size for you, or if you simply want to get a better feel for the game before you risk real money, you can play for free in demo mode.
88 Fortunes RTP and volatility
As mentioned, many slots that offer a jackpot have a mediocre RTP. That is the price you have to pay in return for the opportunity to chase what could be a ginormous windfall.
However, 88 Fortunes, with an RTP of 96.00 percent, is the exception.
Therefore, as long as you play within your means and don’t overbet your bankroll, you shouldn’t have a problem. You should be able to stay in the game and be sufficiently capitalized to play again even if you’re not a big winner.
This slot also has medium volatility. That means there is enough variation in the results from one spin to the next to keep the game interesting but not so much that the risk of huge negative bankroll swings becomes a major concern.
By the way, 88 Fortunes Megaways, which doesn’t offer any jackpots but instead offers many thousands of ways to win, has an even higher RTP of 96.36 percent. It also has medium volatility.
Which NJ online casinos offer 88 Fortunes and 88 Fortunes Megaways?
You can play both games on your computer or currently used iOS or Android mobile devices. They are available on the following NJ gambling websites:
- DraftKings (88 Fortunes only)
- 888 (88 Fortunes Megaways only)
- Golden Nugget
- Hard Rock
- Harrah’s (88 Fortunes only)
- Mohegan Sun
- PlaySugarHouse (88 Fortunes only)
88 Fortunes Symbols
This game includes 11 regular symbols, a wild symbol, and a bonus symbol.
The five higher paying regular symbols are easy to recognize because all of them are gold. They are listed below in descending order of value.
- Pile of gold ingots
- Chinese dollar
We already mentioned that in order to be eligible to win any of the four jackpots, you must select bet level 5 and bet 88 coins at a time. Another important reason to bet in this manner is that you need to do so to have all five of the higher paying regular symbols in play.
The remaining six lower paying regular symbols are the playing cards 9-A.
A Fu Bat icon (a Chinese character) is the wild symbol for this game. It is a gold symbol with an intricate red background.
It can only appear on reels 2, 3, and 4. But it is capable of substituting for any other symbol, including the bonus symbol, to help form winning combinations or trigger the Free Games feature. It can even randomly trigger the Fu Bat Jackpot Game.
The bonus symbol is a gong. When three or more of these symbols land simultaneously on adjacent reels starting with reel 1, you will trigger the Free Games feature.
88 Fortunes Special Features
88 Fortunes includes two special features, which not only make the game a lot more exciting, but open the door for some potentially spectacular wins.
Free Games Feature
In order to trigger the Free Games feature, three or more bonus symbols (or wild symbols) need to line up on consecutive reels starting with reel 1.
Getting four or five bonus symbols won’t award you with extra spins. You get the same 10 free spins that you get for three bonus symbols. However, during the free spins, all of the low paying playing card symbols are removed, so you have a better chance for high payouts.
The Free Games feature can be retriggered.
Fu Bat Jackpot Feature
If you’re very lucky, like I was when I played in demo mode betting the $88 max, one or more wild symbols will trigger the Fu Bat Jackpot Game.
This game is played on a different screen displaying 12 gold coins. Each coin hides a certain mystery symbol, Your task is to keep picking one coin at a time until you get three matching symbols.
The type of symbol you match will determine your prize–a Mini, Minor, Major, or Grand Jackpot.
Unless you have been making big bets, the mini and minor jackpots won’t pay much. But one great thing about the Fu Bat Jackpot feature that you can take to the bank is that everybody who triggers this feature is guaranteed to win something. No one walks away empty-handed.
88 Fortunes Megaways: An exciting new way to play online slots
This game might not be every player’s cup of tea, and keep in mind that while the original 88 Fortunes has four fixed jackpots up for grabs, this slot game doesn’t have any. But the more adventurous players among you who would welcome an exciting change from the traditional might want to give 88 Fortunes Megaways a try.
The theme is the same, and so are most of the symbols. But having taken away the added lure of the Fu Bat Jackpot feature, what does 88 Fortune Megaways offer you instead? 117,649 ways to win, made possible by adding two extra reels a Cascading Reels feature, and multipliers to your Free Spins!
88 Fortunes Megaways basics
Instead of the far more traditional five reels and three rows, this slow has six main reels and four rows. On any given spin, reels 1 and 6 can each reveal 2-7 different symbols while reels 2-5 can each reveal 2-6 different symbols per spin.
The 4th row in this slot is actually a bottom reel that spins horizontally rather than vertically. As if you don’t already have enough potential for lots of winning combinations on the main reels, the extra reel gives you even more by acting as an extra row for reels 2-5.
Winning combinations are formed in the same way as in 88 Fortunes. You need three or more matching symbols (which can include a wild symbol substitute) to appear anywhere on consecutive reels starting with reel 1.
88 Fortunes Megaways bet size
This game uses the same range of coin sizes as 88 Fortunes. Also, as in 88 Fortunes, the optimal way to play is to make each bet 88 coins. You need to bet this much to have all five of the high paying gold regular symbols in play. If you use the minimum coin size of 1 cent, your cost per spin is 88 cents. If you use the maximum coin size of $1, your cost per spin is $88.
88 Fortunes Megaways symbols
Whereas 88 Fortunes gives you a total of 13 symbols, this game adds four more, for a grand total of 17.
Just like in 88 Fortunes, the five highest paying regular symbols, all of which are gold. In descending order of value, they are as follows:
- Pile of gold ingots
- Chinese dollar
However, each of these symbols except the Chinese dollar can also appear in a different color. These non-gold symbols are worth considerably less than their gold counterparts. In fact, they pay no more than the playing cards 9-A.
That’s a bummer. But there’s an easy way to get rid of all of those low paying non-gold symbols, and that’s to bet the maximum number of 88 coins per spin.
The wild symbol is–you guessed it–the Fu Bat. In this game, it can only appear on reels 2, 3, 4, and 5.
The Fu Bat is capable of substituting for any other symbol except the scatter symbol
In addition, it can randomly trigger the Picker feature (described below).
The scatter symbol is a gong. This symbol can appear on any of the six main reels but not the extra reel at the bottom of the screen. However, one, two, or even three of them won’t do anything for you. You need four or more gong scatter symbols to appear simultaneously anywhere on consecutive reels starting with reel 1 to trigger the potentially highly lucrative Free Spins feature.
88 Fortunes Megaways special features
We can’t guarantee that you’ll win a fortune playing 88 Fortunes Megaways. But one thing we can guarantee is that the action is nonstop. There’s never a dull moment because this game comes loaded with special features, including all of the following:
Cascading Reels feature
Each time you form a paying combination, it could be the start of a long string of wins. That’s because each symbol contributing to the win explodes, leaving an empty space for a new symbol to cascade down from above. This exciting feature continues until no new winning combinations can be formed.
Whenever one or more Fu Bat wild symbols appear on the reels, coins are added to the Coin Pot. Also, at that point, the Picker Feature can be randomly activated.
At the start of the Picker feature, you will be taken to a new screen displaying 15 coins. You will be asked to keep picking coins until you get three of a kind, which will reveal your reward.
The possible rewards include 10, 12, or 15 Free Spins with a 6x, 4x, or 2x multiplier, respectively.
Free Spins feature
If you trigger this feature during the base game, depending on whether 4, 5, or 6 gong scatter symbols land on the reels, you will receive 8, 10, or 12 Free Spins, respectively.
If you trigger the Free Spins this way rather than via the Picker feature, you always start with just a 1x multiplier. However, with every win, the multiplier will go up by one.
While the Free Spins are in progress, you can retrigger the feature by getting 3 or more scatter symbols to land properly on the reels. Depending on the total number of scatter symbols—3, 4, 5, or 6–you will trigger 8, 10, 12, or 15 Free Spins, respectively.
The bottom line
There you have it—two exciting online slots that can elevate your Chinese New Year celebration (and your bankroll) to a whole new level.
Whether or not you entered the January 2021 Race or any of last year’s races at Golden Nugget Online Casino, anyone who’s registered with the Golden Nugget NJ gambling website is invited to participate in the Golden Nugget February Race.
Each month’s race, although it also counts as a leg in the yearlong race, is a separate competition of its own. So hold on tight. The Golden Nugget February Race with a total prize pool of $250,000 and a top prize of $30,000 just got underway last week.
How to participate in the Golden Nugget February Race
If you would like to participate in the Golden Nugget February Race but haven’t yet opted-in, it’s not too late. But keep in mind that every day counts and February is a short month. Many players have been racking up points since day 1, so if you hope to catch up, time is of the essence. Here’s what you need to do ASAP to get started:
- Log into your GoldenNuggetCasino.com account.
- Go to Available Bonuses and opt into the February Race.
- Make a single deposit of at least $20.
- Start playing!
Climb the leaderboard by earning as many points as possible
The minimum number of points required to be eligible for a prize this month or any month is only 50. But in practice, you will need to earn many times 50 points to have a realistic shot of finishing high enough on the leaderboard to make the cut.
As of today, Feb. 8, the player at the top of the leaderboard already has over 86,000 points while the player in 1,000th place has 327. Also keep in mind that finishing in 500th to 1,000th place is hardly worth the effort, except for bragging rights, since your prize is a measly $10 bonus. However, the prizes for the top 100 players are huge.
So, how do you accumulate the thousands of points you will need to win a decent prize? It’s simple. Keep making deposits and keep playing!
All online casino games count, as do sports bets, towards earning leaderboard points in both the February race and yearlong race. However, slots count 5x as much as other games, and the fastest way of all to rack up points is with deposits. Each deposit needs to be at least $50 or, if possible, at least $100. The following table shows the exact number of points you will earn for each qualifying activity.
What can you win in the Golden Nugget February Race?
The monthly races used to require waiting until the entire month was over for the awarding of any prizes. But starting in 2021, every month, participants get two opportunities to win.
The first comes in the middle of the month when the top 2,000 players on the leaderboard each receive 50 free spins. The second comes at the end of the month in the form of bonus money
50 Free Spins
The exact day when Golden Nugget awards the free spins varies from month to month. For February, it is February 17.
The free spins must be taken on designated eligible games. It’s entirely up to you whether to take them the same day they’re awarded or wait until later in the month. However, before you start, you must claim the offer from Available Bonuses. You then have up to seven days thereafter to complete the free spins.
All winnings from the free spins will be credited to your account as bonus money that you will have up to another seven days to clear with the casino games of your choice. Depending on which type of game you choose, the additional wagering requirements are as follows:
- Most slots: 1x bonus
- Video poker, blackjack, roulette, and other table games: 4x bonus
- Excluded slots (see the Golden Nugget website for the complete list): 5x bonus
End of month bonus money prizes to the top 1,000 players
Regardless of whether or not you qualify for the mid-month prize of 50 free spins, you are potentially eligible for a bonus money prize at the end of the month. Where you stand on the leaderboard at the conclusion of the last day of February will be the sole determinant of what prize, if any, you will be entitled to then.
Both the total prize pool of $250,000 and the manner in which it will be allocated to the top 1,000 players are the same for February as for January. Therefore, the following table showing how this month’s prizes will be distributed is identical to the table for the January prizes. But we repeat it again here for your convenience.
|1st place||$30,000 free play bonus|
|2nd place||$25,000 free play bonus|
|3rd place||$20,000 free play bonus|
|4th place||$15,000 free play bonus|
|5th place||$10,000 free play bonus|
|6th place||$9,000 free play bonus|
|7th place||$8,000 free play bonus|
|8th place||$7,000 free play bonus|
|9th place||$6,000 free play bonus|
|10th place||$5,000 free play bonus|
|11th -15th place||$3,000 free play bonus|
|16th-20th place||$2,500 free play bonus|
|21st – 25th place||$2,000 free play bonus|
|26th – 50th place||$1,000 free play bonus|
|51st – 75th place||$750 free play bonus|
|76th – 100th place||$500 free play bonus|
|101st -125th place||$250 free play bonus|
|126th-150th place||$100 free play bonus|
|151st-200th place||$50 free play bonus|
|201st-250th place||$25 free play bonus|
|251st-500th place||$15 free play bonus|
|501st-1,000th place||$10 free play bonus|
Additional wagering requirements for all bonus money prizes
Golden Nugget will tabulate all of the prizes and notify the winners by 5 p.m. on Wed., March 3.
However, none of the foregoing prizes are in the form of immediately withdrawable cash. Instead, they come in the form of bonus money credited to your account.
Accordingly, all bonus money prizes won in the Golden Nugget February race or any other race this NJ online casino holds are subject to additional wagering requirements. Players have up to seven days to complete this wagering before they will be permitted to withdraw either the bonus itself or any additional associated winnings.
Unlike the bonus money won from the free spins awarded in the middle of the month, you can choose to clear your bonus with either casino play or sports bets. However, you cannot combine the two.
If you choose the Casino bonus, you can pick any casino game you like. However, depending on which type of game you choose, the wagering requirements will vary as follows:
- Most slots: 1x bonus
- Video poker, blackjack, roulette, and other table games: 4x bonus
- Excluded slots (see the Golden Nugget website for the complete list): 5x bonus
Alternatively, you can select the Sports bonus with a wagering requirement of just 1x the bonus.
Your best bet
Obviously, your best bet would be to clear the bonus with either slots that count 100 percent or with sports bets
Either way, you only have to play the bonus 1x (with the casino’s money), thereby making it a risk-free bonus. However, if you decide to play slots, to maximize your chances of winning, you should limit your play to games with a return to player (RTP) of 96 percent or higher.
2021 Golden Nugget 5 Million Dollar Race
Lastly, keep in mind that all of the points you earn in the Golden Nugget February Race also count towards your grand total in the yearlong Golden Nugget 5 Million Dollar Race. That race has its own separate leaderboard, and it’s a golden opportunity for the best of the best to compete against each other for a chance at a spectacular prize. Only the top 50 players for the entire year will receive prizes.
The 2021 Golden Nugget 5 Million Dollar Race is the biggest race this NJ gambling website has ever held. You can learn all about it in my Jan. 12 article “Kick Off 2021 With The Brand New Golden Nugget 5 Million Dollar Race,” which you can read here.
Do you have what it takes to finish in the money in the Golden Nugget February Race and yearlong Million Dollar Race?
There is no doubt that many of the prizes in the monthly races and all of the prizes in the 5 Million Dollar Race are extremely impressive. But unless you make daily or near-daily deposits of $100 or more and play every day or nearly every day at a very high level, your chances of finishing high on the leaderboard are slim to none
In other words, if you’re a small to mid-range player, these races are probably out of reach for your budget and playing style. You would be far better off watching from the sidelines and participating instead in other less demanding Golden Nugget Online Casino promotions.
Keep in mind, too, that even though the top 1,000 players on the February leaderboard will all win prizes, unless you finish in the top 200, the amount of bonus money you win will be $25 at the most or possibly as little as $10. That’s a very small return indeed for the thousands of dollars you will need to wager to qualify for the prize.
Under no circumstances, should you bet more than you can comfortably afford to try to win a prize.
On the other hand, if you have the bankroll and determination to keep racing to the finish, go ahead and go for the gold. Golden Nugget updates both the monthly and yearlong leaderboards daily, so you can check where you stand as often as you like.
In the February race alone, you could win up to $30K. And with 10 more monthly races to go followed by the biggest prizes of all at the end of the year, the sky is the limit.