While still a fairly new game type, scratch cards have become super popular among casual gamers who don’t want to learn any complex rules (such as those behind table games like blackjack or poker, for example) but still want the opportunity to win a decent amount of money. Therefore, we’ll show you how the vast majority of scratch card games work, discuss some of the different types available and show you how the online versions are played compared to their physical equivalents. So, let’s grab our virtual coins and start playing right now…
The basics and how to win
Anyone who has ever bought a scratch card from a local shop or petrol station will understand there’s not much to the rules of the game, but more about how prizes are given out for winning combinations. The typical scratch card requires that you scrub off the silver foil with a coin to reveal if you’ve won. The winning combinations are detailed either on the front of the card or else given in more detail on the back. The same principles apply to online versions of the game. The only real difference is that you scratch virtually using a mouse or touchscreen, there will be plenty of cool animations, and there’s a high chance a few mini-games will be included, too.
A typical scratchy involves matching three symbols out of a possible nine. These are arranged in a three-by-three grid and can be scratched off in any order you like. Depending on the theme of the scratch card, you’re likely to find fruit machine symbols, such as bells, fruits, and 7s, used as the winning symbols. If you match any three of the symbols regardless of their position, you will win the amount stipulated in the prize table. For example, matching three bells may yield you a €500, whereas three money bags could net you something like €1,000. It all depends on the prize table, so be sure to read through these to ensure you know what you’re playing for.
Of course, not all games providers stick to the standard three-by-three grid with three matching symbols equaling a win. Others have more symbols, which could be arranged differently, and prizes may be given for three in a row, etc, etc. Let’s explore some different mechanics now…
Different types of scratch cards
As discussed above, the main difference you’ll find between different instant win scratch cards is the theme. Many of them keep things simple by basing all the symbols from the fruit machines and one-arm-bandits of yesteryear, while others will have more elaborate themes and prizes (including electrical goods rather than cash). One such example of this is the amount of branded games based on Hollywood movies, TV shows, or popular characters. Rocky, Gladiator, King Kong, Pink Panther, The Mummy, The Six Million Dollar Man, and Who Wants to be a Millionaire scratch cards are just three examples of this. Others will be based on some of the most popular slot machines, such as the Irish Eyes 2, Foxin’ Wins, and Star Raiders, to name but a few.
There are various ways to win, as well, depending on the game mechanics employed. The most common one is the instant win scratch card, which involves rubbing off a panel and seeing if you’ve won by matching a certain number of symbols. Others will involve multiple chances to win – for example, a symbol is randomly chosen, then the player has a certain amount of tries to match that symbol. Another variant sees the mechanics of slot machines being employed – in these versions, players must match symbols in a line or a row according to the paytable.
All of these are produced by the likes of NetEnt, Playtech, and Microgaming, as well as a few of the small companies, so you shouldn’t have too much trouble finding your perfect scratch card games. But you may be wondering why you would play online versus going to a local store…
Online versions versus physical ones
There are many advantages to playing online rather than in the real world. Chief amongst these is the sheer convenience of it all. You can play from any device so long as you have an internet connection – so whether that’s on the bus to work, while you wait for your friend to arrive at the bar, or just from the comfort of your own living room – you’ll never be stuck for a few rounds of entertainment. In addition to this, you don’t have to take time out of your day going to a store that sells physical scratchies. On top of this, you don’t have to return to the store to pick up your prize, either. And when you win a jackpot prize, there’s no waiting around for the organizers to send you a check in the mail, but you get your online casino account credited instantly.
The online version of the game also saves a lot of hassle. You can quickly reveal the result with a click of your mouse or via a light rubbing action on your touchscreen – there’s no need to hunt down a spare coin from the back of the sofa in order to find out if you’ve won! The graphics, animations, and sound effects that accompany modern online versions are far more exciting than the so-called real thing. Plus, the software allows developers to get creative with bonus mini-games, additional features, and creating multiple chances to win in some instances.
Finally, the main reason to pick online games versus buying from a local shop is that the prizes remain in place. Whereas physical scratch cards may have lost all of their top prizes by the time you get around to playing them – this cannot happen online, as everything is updated instantly.
Are the online versions random?
You can rest assured that all online scratch cards are fair and, yes, each round is completely random. All of this is mathematically assured by the fact that all games suppliers use random number generators (RNGs) to ensure that the games produce a random result each and every time you scratch. Furthermore, the RNG software used by such companies is regularly tested by regulatory bodies that run millions of calculations to calculate the chances of winning.
A way that you can check the probability of winning a prize, in the long run, is to look at the return to player (RTP) given for all releases. Usually, there is an ‘i’ or ‘?’ icon, or else you can look up the rules and paytable information somewhere in the interface. Clicking there should tell you the RTP for that particular game. You may see, for example, that a title has an RTP of 98%. This means for every €100 spent, €98 are paid out in winnings. Of course, it’s just a matter of luck if you’re one of the few that takes home a top prize rather than picking up small wins.
Top tips for scratch cards
While instant win scratch cards are purely a game of chance, there are certain things you can do to either increase the number of wins you get over time or else to limit your losses if you’re having a bad streak. The main one to consider is how to manage your money. For example, you never want to spend more money than you are willing to lose on a few hours of entertainment. So, before you even spend a single euro, set aside an amount that is purely for gambling ahead of time. Then, divide that amount by how many games you want to play during your session. You could go for broke in a short space of time, or else bet much lower and win gradually.
You can get a feel for a game before spending any money, too, of course. Simply try out one of the many free-to-play or ‘demo mode’ releases out there. Once you’ve got the rules down and you’re ready to go, then you can begin wagering your hard-earned money on scratch cards. Furthermore, don’t only go for the biggest jackpots – the chances of winning these are quite slim, so be sure to try a few games in advance and pick the one that provides the most entertainment value. After all, playing these games online is meant to be fun!