Having Fun and Winning Prizes -- at Winster.com!
Dec 12, 2009 (Updated Apr 25, 2012)
I enjoy online games, and Winster.com offers either free or paid membership. I started playing for free, and enjoyed the site so much that I bought one of their membership plans. Let me tell you what works and doesn't at Winster.com.
What is Winster?
Winster is a website that offers online games such as slots, bingo, poker, and puzzle games. The interesting part is that Winster cleverly made these social games where people can share their game pieces. You play in a room with four other people. Not only do you spin to fill your game card, but you can swap your pieces with other players. This allows your spins to go further, and points to accumulate faster.
You are awarded points as you play. For example, the slots game awards different point values for spinning five-of-a-kind or if you spin a jackpot. These points add up, and Winster provides prizes when you reach certain point levels. The prizes are good, too, including gift certificates to places such as Amazon.com, Restaurants.com, Papa John's, Walmart, etc.
Free Play vs. Paid Membership
When first signing up for Winster, you are asked to create a member name, password, and to provide your email address. There is also the option of filling out a basic profile. You can upload an image to appear on your profile page, too. When playing, everyone is given a smilie avatar to represent them during the game. The smilies are in different colors and can be customized with different hats (more about that later).
I use a consumer website that directed me to Winster.com. I was offered a bonus if I tried out the site. So I visited the site and played for free. When playing for free, you are awarded minimal points. You are also given a maximum of 200 spins a day that you can use. The most annoying aspect of playing for free is the advertising interruptions. You will be playing a game, and an advertisement will block out the gaming screen for about 30 seconds. Since you cannot move the ad window, you are forced to watch the advertisement until it disappears. Once the ad is gone, game play resumes. I played a month for free and then decided that: 1) I needed more spins a day in order to prolong the fun I was having with the new friends I had made, 2) The ads were really annoying and paid membership would get rid of the pop-up advertisements.
After much consideration, I purchased a basic membership. For $4.95 a month, I receive 300 spins a day, and there are no annoying ads that block game play. I also received a medallion with the letter "B" in it beside my smilie avatar. Another benefit to membership is that I can create a private game room and invite other paying members to join me. This is a huge advantage since experienced members of Winster can play together, extending their spins, and earning more points toward prizes.
There are three paid membership tiers: Basic ($4.99 a month / 300 spins a day), Silver ($7.49 a month / 500 spins a day), Gold ($9.99 a month / 800 spins a day). I found that the 200 spins of free play lasted me about two hours, depending upon whom I was playing with. The 300 spins lasts me over three hours. I can also accumulate unused spins up to 3,000 spins. Note that paid membership grants the player higher score values for all the spins.
What if you want more spins but don't want a membership plan? Winster sells additional spins in their Gift Shop. For 99-cents, you can buy 300 spins. Of course, if you make a regular habit of buying spins, it would be cheaper to invest in a membership plan.
Playing the Games
These are the games Winster offers: Slots, Poker, Spell Squad, Match Maker, Burger Buddy, Doku Deluxe, Bingo Bash, Picture Magic, Chain Gang, Facets.
My favorite game is slots, so I'll use that as an example. Normally, I find slots boring and avoid it. However, I love playing slots at Winster. Basic game play for all the games is similar ... except slots is like a slot machine, bingo is similar to numbers being called to fill bingo cards, Picture Magic is assembling a jigsaw-type puzzle, and poker is ... well poker.
Click on a games icon to be placed randomly in a playing room. If you don't like that room, you have the option of viewing other rooms and the players in them, and you can switch rooms. If you are a member, you can also create a private room and invite friends to join you. In all rooms, there is a public chat feature so that you can communicate.
Once in a room, you are placed in the center position with two players to the left and two other players to the right. Most likely not every position will be filled; but sometimes they are. The more players in the room, the better for sharing and earning more points.
In slots, there are five windows to fill with slot spins. Click the spin button to set the wheel in motion. When the wheel stops, the icon (cherry, banana, grape, an assortment of bars, diamonds or a 7 will appear). The object is to collect five-of-a-kind for maximum point value. There are also icons that are Wild Cards, and an orange circle with a W in it, referred to as a Winnie. Collect four Wild Cards and a Winnie for a jackpot, which is the highest point value. Also on the wheel are point amounts that you automatically earn if you spin them (free membership awards 20 points; paid membership awards 80 points).
Since this is a social game, you can trade pieces with other players in the room. You see what they have spun, and they see what you have spun. Click one of your pieces and drag it to the other player's board, dropping it on the icon you wish to trade. The player has the option of saying "yes" or "no". Trading pieces this way is great since it allows for much quicker accumulation of points. It also allows you to see who is a good player, who is a selfish player, and which players don't have a clue.
Building a Friend's List
As you play, you will find excellent people who you wish to play with again. Winster allows you to invite players to be your friend. If they accept, they are automatically added to your friend's list. The list will show who is online, what game they are playing, whether they are in a public or private room, and if the room has an empty spot for you to join. From this list, you can also invite a person to join you in your room, or you can send the person a private message, and even delete them from your list.
Winster also has a rating system: Thumbs Up or Thumbs Down. As you are playing, you can hover your cursor over a player's name. A submenu appears that allows you to rate the player, invite them to be a friend, or to send them a private message. I found it strange that negative player ratings are only held in place for a week. However, this is good if a player unjustly rates you with a Thumbs Down.
Here are some tips I've learned along the way.
Friendships are important. Collect a list of players that you enjoy being with and who share the bounty. The more people who share, the better the games become. I have made some excellent friendships.
Private rooms are the best way to play if you don't want frustration. There are players who will not share or who pretend to befriend the room and then disappear with all the Wilds and Winnies they have collected. Other players refuse to understand that the object of the game is to collect five-of-a-kind or a jackpot. They will unthinkingly cash cherries with Wilds or Winnies (low score ... and sure to anger some players). A private room with trusted friends is a great experience. However, public rooms are a way to meet new players.
Playing "Team Jackpot" is the easiest way to earn the highest ranking scores. You may see people saying "Are you playing jp?" That means is a team jackpot game happening in the room. My friends and I start by saying we will play "jackpot alpha", meaning that we will take turns accumulating a jackpot in alphabetical order by a person's name. Players give the designated jackpot player all the Wilds and Winnies they collect. A jackpot is usually four Wilds and one Winnie, but as long as there is one Wild, the rest can be any combination of Wilds and Winnies. Since Winnies are usually harder to come by than Wilds, we try to keep one Winnie in the game room as a spare (trading it to others as needed).
Which brings me to the word "hold". If you are playing and someone types the word "hold" in the chat box, that means the player needs someone to hold a piece for them. It also means they expect to receive the piece back. Having a "held" piece stolen or spun does not go over well (unless it is an accident).
The Winster Toolbar is also a point collector for you. If you download the toolbar, it offers a search option as well as links to the Winster games. Click on a game link to enter Winster, and the website awards you 500 points once a day. Those points add up to winning prizes.
Prizes - Yes, I have Won!
So far I have won several prizes. Winster is very quick to send them out, too.
I have won both $25.00 and $15.00 Amazon.com gift certificates. To receive the $15.00 prize, I had to accumulate 3,000,000 points. Sounds like a lot of points, but it only took about two months of playing to achieve it. Once my point tally flipped to 3,000,000, a pop-up window appeared letting me know that I should claim my prize. I clicked on the link, followed the instructions, and the same day received an email with the Amazon.com gift certificate code. I always receive the prizes, and the codes work fine.
Extras and Perks
Occasionally, I have received emails with special "thank you" codes that are good for making a small purchase in the Winster Gift Shop. The shop does not offer a lot. You can purchase extra spins, or a week that is advertisement free. They also have a large selection of "hats" to top your smilie avatar. The hats cost between 99-cents and $1.99 each. I used one of the codes to get a hat for free. The hats definitely add character to the smilie. Hat selections include everything from bonnets and football helmets, to hats related to specific jobs, and even fantasy hats (wedges of cheese, space helmets, halos, and mops of hair).
Winster also sometimes offers extra spins at no charge. We sometimes receive extra spins as a thank you from the advertisers. It's always nice to receive gifts.
Some Negatives ... More Like Pet Peeves
For me, the positives far outweigh the negatives. But here are some pet peeves.
1. Even though I am paying a membership fee, there are still advertisements. They don't pop up to cover the game, though. Instead they are to the right of the screen. Resizing the browser window will hide the ads if they become too annoying.
2. Winster has been regularly updating their website. This is good and bad. The constant changes have some of the members grumbling. Sometimes the site lags a bit and unexpected things happen (like uninvited players entering a private room).
3. It would be nice if I could invite any player into a private game room. There are great players that have not purchased a membership. In order to play with non-members, I have to enter a public room where players might or might not be good at trading.
I enjoy playing at Winster.com. The website offers a small number of games, but the ones I play are entertaining. I enjoy the social aspect of sharing game pieces in order to accumulate more points toward winning prizes. Best yet, it is a great place to meet some very nice people. You can play for free or purchase one of three levels of membership. It's a fun site!
UPDATE -- April 25, 2012
Sad news. Winster sent a newsletter announcing they are closing the site effective May 31, 2012. People have until that date to play games and redeem their points for prizes. I've met some great online friends through this site.
I hope you found this review useful.
Enjoy your day,
Please read my other reviews:
Pogo.com (online games)
Radica 20 Questions Electronic Game
LCR Dice Game
Apple iPod Nano - 5th Generation
Sony Walkman Digital Media Player
Philips Portable DVD Player with screen
Copyright 2009 Dawn L. Stewart
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