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Aaron Todd

Aaron  Todd

Home-game hotshot Aaron Todd was an editor/writer at Casino City for nearly eight years, and is currently the Assistant Director of Athletics for Communications and Marketing at St. Lawrence University, his alma mater. While he is happy to play Texas Hold'em, he'd rather mix it up and play Omaha Hi/Lo, Razz, Deuce-to-Seven Triple Draw, and Badugi.

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Top-10 fun skill games

9 Mar 2015

By Aaron Todd
Early March is a tough time of the year, at least here in the Northeast. Spring is technically only a couple weeks away, but the four feet of snow still sitting in my yard makes me feel like this winter is never going to end.

Of course, the NCAA Men's Basketball tournament is coming up next week, but it appears that there won't be a $1 billion bracket challenge this year. Going 10-for-10 to start the tournament last year was one of my sports highlights of the year (I only needed the next 53 games to go my way and I would have been set for life!), so the fact that there's no big prize to play for anymore has me wondering if I'll even fill out a bracket this year.

But if you're waiting for nicer weather to get outside and can't find a good game to watch on TV, you might as well use some of that competitive energy playing some games online.

The Internet offers a wide range of games to challenge you, and several sites offer you the opportunity to play with a little skin in the game. Skill game sites like GSN Cash Games, Game Duell and Funwin have a wide range of time-wasters that will keep you coming back for more. And if you play well enough, you just might win a little money along the way, too.

Here are 10 great online skill games you should give a try.

10. Wheel of Fortune (GSN Cash Games)
Based on the popular game show of the same name, Wheel of Fortune is a single-player game where you attempt to solve a word puzzle, spinning a wheel to determine how many points each consonant is worth along the way. You can also buy vowels, or solve the puzzle at any time. The faster you do it, the more bonus points you get.

Solve the puzzle without losing five turns by guessing letters that don't appear in the puzzle or landing on a "Lose a Turn" spot on the wheel, and you'll advance to the bonus round, where you're once again presented with a word puzzle. The R, S, T, L, N and E letters are revealed, you get to pick three more consonants and a vowel, and then you attempt to solve the puzzle, just like in the TV show.

9. Magnoid (Game Duell)
A Breakout clone, Magnoid is a challenging brick and ball game where you must break the golden bricks to make a hole in the game board appear, then you guide the ball through the hole to advance to the next level. Several bricks offer power-ups that you can catch to make life easier, while others make the game much harder. Do your best not to touch the one that makes your paddle go in the opposite direction of your mouse, because if you get it, you're sure to lose one of your balls.

You earn more and more bonus points with each level you complete, but game play gets increasingly difficult as each level progresses, making it very difficult to beat all six levels before time runs out or you run out of balls.

8. Swipe Hype (GSN Cash Games)
In Swipe Hype, you're presented with a game board with various colored symbols that look like marshmallow cereal bits. Click and drag your mouse across three or more like symbols and you'll clear them away. When you clear four or more, a color bomb appears, and you can score lots of points by connecting any two color bombs.

There are four basic missions: Score a predetermined number of points, clear a set number of specific colored pieces, get one or more "O" pieces to the bottom of the game board, and clear "milk" spaces, which appear white behind the colored game pieces.

Each level you clear gives you 1,000 bonus points times the level number, so if you manage to clear level 8, you get 8,000 bonus points. But keep in mind the game gets progressively harder every four levels, as a new color is introduced.

7. Kniffler (Funwin)
This is really just a Yahtzee! clone, played in an online interface. But Yahtzee! is a lot of fun, and so is this game. The goal is to get a point total of 285 or higher to advance to the next level. Do that, and you get to keep playing. But it's not as easy as it sounds – you'll have to get a little bit lucky along the way.

6. Bubble Speed (Game Duell)
There are a lot of web games based on this concept. You have a shooter and need to hit balls (or in this case, bubbles) of the same color to clear them from the screen. As you clear space, more bubbles descend upon you.

What makes this game unique is that you have a time crunch, but can extend that time by 10 seconds every time you free up a bubble with a "10" in it. It seems easy at first, but the difficulty quickly escalates. Make it through more than two minutes, and you're doing pretty well.

5. Bejeweled Blitz (GSN Cash Games)
Chances are you've played Bejeweled before. The concept is relatively simple: You're presented with a box full of jewels. You can swap any jewel with its neighbor to create three or more in a row or column. They are cleared away, and the jewels above the area you just cleared fall into the empty space.

What makes this game amazing are the extras. Match four jewels in a row and you'll be left with a glowing jewel. Create a combination with that jewel and it will explode, and a jewel with a multiplier will appear. Keep getting those multipliers to build your score, and go as fast as you can, because you'll also get a speed bonus when you make matches in rapid succession.

The sound effects are incredible in this game, rising with each speed bonus, culminating in a "blazing speed" round, where every match you makes explodes and gives you another multiplier.

4. Rush Hour (Funwin)
In Rush Hour, you get to play traffic cop, and the best part is, if you screw up (and you will screw up), no one really gets hurt.

Cars approach a four-way intersection from each direction, and you can stop or accelerate the cars to get them through. Watch out for emergency vehicles like police cars and ambulances, which you don't get to control, and don't leave someone stopped at the intersection for too long, or they'll get impatient and start going on their own.

The game continues until you fail three times, and keeping everything in order gets progressively harder and harder the longer you play.

3. Jungle Jewels (Game Duell)
Jungle Jewels is similar to Bejeweled, except that you are given specific colors to clear in each level. Clear the color combinations provided and a coin appears. You must clear all the jewels below the coin and get it down to the bottom to clear the level.

Each new level brings a new color gemstone, making it harder to make combinations, and you'll also have to get an additional coin in each new level, as well. Get through all four levels before time runs out and you'll be an expert.

2. Penguin Attack (Funwin)
This game is basically Risk with penguins. You try to take over all the icebergs in the Arctic Sea, sending half of the penguins from one iceberg to another claiming territory as you go. Every territory you claim allows your penguin army to multiply, making your subsequent attacks stronger. The game continues until one color has claimed every iceberg in the sea.

1. Vegas Nights 2 (GSN Cash Games)
This is another switching game, similar to Bejeweled, but all the symbols in this game are Vegas related (7s, Aces, dice, casino chips, cherries, etc.). The biggest difference, however, is that you can switch more than one symbol at a time, allowing you to create monster combinations for big point totals.

Create matches of four or more and you'll get a "V" coin, with the exception being the cherry, where you are rewarded with a bomb when you match four or more. The best power up is the cherry, which changes all of one type of symbol into cherries, giving you an opportunity for a huge score.

The game features a Vegas-themed soundtrack, and when you make a good play, you'll be rewarded with a "Good" or "Outstanding!" or even an "Incredible!" shout from the game.
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