Before I jump into my experience with Virginia Cash Expander, an instant win game from the Virginia Lottery, first a little background.
There is no truth to the rumor that I spent my 21st – or was it maybe my 18th birthday? – at a riverboat casino playing slot machines.
OK, maybe it is true.
I don’t remember the exact spot in Baton Rouge (maybe The Belle?). But I do remember I won enough money to take the boys out for a nice dinner.
So, I like slot machines. I like the sound, the action, the options. Of course, I like to win too.
The VA Lottery recently did a bracket contest – everyone does a bracket in March, it seems – to crown its online game champion. Lotto players voted, and the winner was the ever-popular Virginia Cash Expander instant-win game.
Lottery officials won’t call these types of games “slot machines.” But if we’re being honest, they’re basically digital slot machine games. You know, a 3×5 reel. Lots of symbols. The whole thing.
I told myself (OK, my editor suggested) that I give it a try in demo mode. I said 30 minutes tops for this test run. Then let’s see if the title of “Bracket Buster champion” is justified.
Virginia Cash Expander: Prepping for expansion
I log in to the site. It’s 10:32 a.m. I read up on all the various VA Cash Expander symbols on the game page. There’s a purple horse show, blue star, green dollar sign and pink, um, block? Couldn’t really tell what that was. These are the small prize winners.
The big ones are the diamonds. The single glowing green. Then the double purple. And the red-ish triple diamond is the biggest one.
The demo balance starts you off with 50 bucks. You can bet $1, $2, $3, $5, $10, $20, $30 0r $50.
I’ve decided I’m going to stay mainly at a buck per play. Why? Because my theory in playing the slots is you have to put in the time to win the dime, ya know what I mean?
The first round
I win 25 cents on my first spin. That’s a good omen. On the seventh spin, I get my first “chain” – you know where a reel pays off, drops off, then more symbols pop in and they pay.
On Spin 15, I see my first double-sized horseshoe. Oh wow. These are good. They take up almost half the screen.
I notice you can hover over each symbol, and it will tell you what it does.
On my 18th spin, I win 30 bucks. My balance is around $60. On Spin 23 (approximately, I’m not charting each spin), I see my first free spin token.
I am now enamored with the free spin symbols. Some are gold, some are silver. If you get three, it’s 10 free spins on a new 6×4 grid.
Hey, this is new. There is a key and a keyhole, and when they both appear on your screen, it unlocks a payout. This one was eight bucks.
Upping the bet
I am hovering right around 50 bucks, my initial virtual stake. Nothing too big, but paying out consistently to keep me even. But I want my FREE SPINS!
Since this is all fake money, I decide to go against my core belief. I’m at 50 bucks, so let’s up our play to five dollars per spin.
Boom. I’m completely wiped out in 14 spins.
(Yes, this time I did keep track.)
You can’t keep a good man down
All right, let’s go again. Round 2. Another fake 50 bucks.
This time I set it up for autoplay. You can set the number of plays and when it will stop depending on how much you win or lose. I set mine at $25 bucks either way.
In 10 auto-plays, I am down almost 10 bucks. The free games keep showing up, but it’s never enough.
I decide to take back control and click the button myself. Forget you, autoplay.
Big boost in Virginia Cash Expander
I get down to 28 bucks, but then I hit big, and I double my (fake) stake.
Then finally, I hit the free game. Three silver free game symbols fill the fifth column. It’s awesome. Ten spins. The music changes. The vibe changes. Symbols are flying. The totals are going up.
This was fun. The free spins hit for $21.70. It’s the highest my balance has been: $68.20.
I get more free spins, and this time I win 28 bucks. I play some more, but the symbols get cold. It basically brings me back to $68 again.
It’s 11 a.m. now. I told myself 30 minutes max.
So, I throw caution to the wind. I’m going to do it: Back to $5 a pull.
It starts badly. I’m down to 28 bucks, but then I hit the key/keyhole thing. I’m still not sure what it means, but I’ll take it. Then, boom, another free-game spin. Here it goes again, 10 spins one after the other.
They pay off for $45.50. My balance is now $73.90. The cash has expanded!
And 31 minutes later. I’m out.
Does this game deserve to be No. 1?
Virginia Cash Expander is pretty simple. There are standard symbols and plenty of ways to win. I never did line up any of the diamonds in 31 minutes of demo play. And I guess I didn’t come out ahead, because I lost my initial $50 when I got reckless.
The free games thing was easily the best part. The syntho-drumbeat in the background got really old, though.
And I just have a phobia about auto-play. I always like to press the button myself.
But to me, slot machines (and slot machine-adjacent digital games) have always been about riding out the waves and pulling out when you get ahead.
Virginia Cash Expander is a classic game that gave me just what I was looking for: a little fun, a little (fake) cash, and the feeling of a winner.