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Jester’s Jackpot pokies are poker machine games designed by Microgaming Solutions available for online play exclusively at Internet casinos that run the popular Microgaming suite of gambling software. Jester’s Jackpot is a classic pokie, a category of poker machine games that is readily identified by a small number of spinning reels and pay lines. This title fits well into that category, as it has just three reels and one pay line, the most basic possible arrangement of reels and lines that Microgaming produces.
Classic games, sometimes called traditional pokies, are based on old versions of poker machines from when the games were totally mechanical. That means in some ways Jester’s Jackpot is similar to the machines first produced more than a hundred years ago in America by Charles Fey, the original designer of both poker machines and a basic version of the game known now as video poker.
Traditional-style poker machine games are popular for a number of reasons; their lack of features like bonus rounds and three-dimensional graphics is not a deficiency in the eyes of gamblers who seek out these games. Instead, gamblers seeking simple games that don’t require a lot of concentration, with simple rules, a layout and pay table that is all in one place and easy to take in all at once.
Of course, not even the simplest classic style machines like Jester’s Jackpot are true throwbacks – some modern features are popular additions to these games, though this particular Microgaming design doesn’t make use of scatters, wilds, or bonus rounds. One way this title differs from actual antique pokies is the size of the jackpot; bettors a hundred years ago weren’t likely to win a reward of $12,000, the value of the top fixed pay out on this title.
The title gives away the theme, though using that word is kind of a stretch. Microgaming’s traditional poker machines aren’t complex enough to support a true theme. Instead, some of the symbols, imagery, and colours used revolve around a court jester character. The game’s logo is written in a stylized font (one that players will recognize later on the reel symbols) and the character wearing the trademark multi-coloured hat with bells is poking his head through the letters.
Behind the reels is a field coloured in a motley pattern common in fool costumes, or at least in our modern version of what they wore. This theme is a natural fit for a poker machine since the fool’s job was to distract and entertain royals and their guests. This traditional game is uncomplicated and perfect for a short distraction, much like the slapstick antics and bad puns used by entertainers in the royal court.
Only four symbols are used to determine winning combos – the tri-corner hat with bells worn by royal fools, a special bar symbol with the game’s logo scrawled across it, the traditional poker machine cherry symbols, and the also traditional poker machine bar icons. Each can combine to form different values of pay outs, the most valuable of which is the fool’s cap and bells.
One feature common to this designer’s classic games is the simple layout of reels, pay table, and buttons, all of which are on a single screen with no need for navigating away from the field of symbols to look at a supplemental set of rules or pay outs. The simplicity of the game’s interface mirrors the uncomplicated rules and straightforward betting variety, all of which are appealing features for bettors who prefer classic pokies.
Bettors familiar with other traditional poker machine designs by Microgaming will recognize the bet variety available on Jester’s Jackpot – three reel, one pay line, with bets of one, two, or three coins per spin. Coins can be set to any of five values: $0.25, $0.50, $1, $2.50, or $5 each. That gives this game a total wager range between $0.25 and $15 per round. This variety might keep away penny poker machine players unwilling to wager the $0.75 per spin necessary to win the best pay outs, and it certainly won’t appeal to high rollers for whom a wager of $15 per spin for a maximum payout of $12,000 just isn’t worth it.
The biggest prize on this poker machine comes from a combination of three jester’s hat symbols; one coin bets that lead to this combo pay out 800 credits, two coin bets pay out 1,600, and three coin wagers that lead to a trio of fool’s hats trigger the machine’s largest prize of 2,400 credits. No other combination comes close to this value – the second highest payout combo rewards prizes of 50, 100, and 150 credits, triggered by the special game logo bar symbols. Playing this machine is all about chasing the fool’s hat combo, especially since the title does not use a wild or scatter symbol.
At the end of the day, it doesn’t really matter that this pokie doesn’t have any real contemporary game features (besides a decent top prize) or impressive animations, video scenes, or bonus rounds. A court jester’s job often required him to do anything he could to make the King smile. If that meant falling on his face, the fool had a line-up of pratfalls at the ready. This game is similar to a real court fool if for no other reason than its lack of sophistication.
With a theme that is barely there, a collection of prizes that aren’t all that valuable (except the top jackpot), and a run of the mill wager variety, this title is ideal as a lark to pass the time. The king’s fool was no George Carlin or Lenny Bruce . . . and like the crude humour of actual jesters, Microgaming’s fool-inspired classic poker machine is good at what it is designed to do; namely, to keep a gambler entertained for a few mindless minutes.