App spotlight: Long Game (one of my favorite new addictions)
Updated: Sep 30, 2019
Two weeks ago I stumbled upon an app called Long Game. It has turned out to be a complete no-brainer in the realm of both iPhone games and savings.
The point of this app is to save small amounts of money while satisfying any urges you may have to gamble. You make deposits into the app and in turn you accumulate coins. You then gamble away those coins. The genius part of the whole thing is that your money stays yours.
Prizes on the games, which are mindless, range from 2 coins to $1,000,000. Yep, that’s right, there’s a legit lotto-style game that has a grand prize of one million US dollars. And while it's always fun to fantasize about what you would do with a million dollars, it spoils the exercise a bit when you realize that the $1,000,000 prize is awarded in the form of an annuity that pays out $50,000 per year for twenty years. Factor in taxes and, well, I wouldn't turn it down, but I also wouldn't buy a new house.
Besides the lotto-style game, the other mindless games are created to replicate a scratch ticket, a slot machine and a spinning wheel. The top prize in these games is $1,000.
I have been playing this for two weeks and have won $9.50. This is currently better than anything you’re going to find on the market in the form of a no-risk savings account. However, in the current market, the $1300 I have accumulated in Long Game would be doing better in the stock market. Of course, that is just in the current climate, and Long Game has no risk. It also has an upside greater than the stock market due to the $1,000,000 prize. Even a $1,000 win would give me a nearly 100% return and unless you are currently investing in the next Facebook (which is up around 650% from it's bottom), it's pretty rare to see that kind of return.
If you want to read up on strategy, this guy has done the math for us on the expected value of each game. My personal strategy is to entertain myself with low-coin games (the 5 coin flip and 5 coins on the slots) and if I ever hit 500-1000 coins in these games, I’ll take a few rounds on the 100 coin wheel. it's rare, but it happens.
The optimal sign-up strategy is to use a referral code to sign up (mine is LH48GQP) and you will start with a free Mondo Spin, which gives you at least 300 coins and at most $5,000. I spun the wheel and won $5 right off the bat. Not a bad way to start. The next step is to max out their incentives, which resulted in me depositing $1,000 and setting up a reoccurring deposit of $125. I ended up cancelled my reoccurring deposit after the first week because the best way to get more coins and brains (which only serve to “power up” to the next level) is to accomplish missions (such as deposit streaks and deposit goals).
The psychological trick is really in the Missions, which are small, attainable goals that up your weekly coin earnings and give you extra brains. For example, as you can see in the screenshot below, I just need to deposit $59.60 to hit the next step in coin accumulation and earn 350 brains (which often translate to free entries in the Omega Millions drawing). Additionally, if I activate my Deposit Boost (see below), I can also accumulate up to 500 extra coins at the same time that i am completing this Mission. Next thing I know, I have saved an additional $100. The only downside being that I don’t have immediate access to this money and the account I am pulling money from has a limit on the number of transactions I can do per month (in hindsight, I should have attached a checking account instead of a savings account).
Besides missing out of stock market gains, the only downside is that it takes forever for transfers to clear. It took well over a week for my initial deposits to change out of pending status. As far as playing games and accumulating coins and brains, they make calculations off of what you have initiated, so you are not waiting on funds to clear. I have not initiated a transfer-out, so I have no idea how long that takes. Your money is held at a real bank - Blue Ridge Bank, and transfers are facilitated via Dwalla.
If this app seems at all sketchy, or if you just want to like it more, here’s an interview with one of the founders, Lindsay Holden, on the Forbes website.